Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nice and Easy...Mostly

It's the week before my first attempt at a century ride so Saturday's ride was nice and easy. My usual 29-mile loop but easy, easy, easy (except Little Woodley, which you can't do easy because you'll fall over going up a steep hill too slowly). Even went up Balboa in the lowest gear. Interesting to note that the easy pace I was at is the same pace I was at when doing the route for the first few times back in December/January. Ah, progress.

Today's run was planned at a minimum 11:46 pace for 46 minutes. However, I ended up at an 11:15 pace so I shortened it to just a 5.25k (36.5 minutes). Looks like I can pick up the pace or go for distance, but not both.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Yesterday was my second ride with the San Fernando Bicycle Club: the 61-mile version of their "Sierra Highway History" ride (there are also 42- and 74-mile versions). When it was time to go it turned out that there was only one other person heading in my direction (there were two other groups of routes to choose from). I hung with the guy up over Balboa and out of the San Fernando Valley but it was clear that I would not be able to hang on once we got to the first big hill that would drop us into Santa Clarita. I bid the fellow farewell and did my second group ride solo. I can do hills, I just do them slower than most people.

I was humming along nicely when, several miles before the first scheduled rest stop, I was joined by someone (not from the club) who was just out for a ride. We chatted for a bit and he got me moving slightly faster than I normally would have been but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Once we hit some downhills on the way to the stop, he took off (I'm more of a "coast down the hills" kinda guy). I just picked up a Gatorade at the stop, figuring this would be a bad time to experiment with solid foods on a ride, though I did down the banana I took with me. As I was drinking I met someone who was from the club. He explained that he left with a group going on a different route and he didn't realize it for several miles. Since he was clearly faster than me I let him go ahead of me so we could avoid the inevitable dropping of me.

After the break, it was time to pedal some more. I should mention that this was a fairly nice route. Nice views, roads that aren't heavily travelled but are well-paved. I was enjoying myself. At the 40-mile mark I took a left and I made the momentous decision to break with the route slip and eat early rather than ride nine more miles to Carl's Jr. What caused me to make this rash decision? I rode right by an In-N-Out. Who's gonna pass by an In-N-Out at high noon in favor of a Carl's Jr. nine miles away? Not this cyclist.

One Double Double, fries, and a chocolate shake later (note to self: probably should have gotten a lemonade), I felt fueled up. I chatted a bit with some cyclists who arrived while I was eating outside (I spent a lot of time on this trip talking about my Craigslist Special, as I call my bike). I didn't know how long I should wait after a meal to start riding again but I gave myself some time and then got going once more. Twenty miles to go.

Pedal, pedal, pedal. More great views. Part of the ride was going the other way on a part of the Santa Clarita Century route, which I thought was fun. I had to stop and rest up one hill but, on the other hand, I hit over 42 mph at one point and that was with me hitting the brakes because of the gusty winds. Shortly after I hit that I was passed by another cyclist. Too funny.

I was really starting to get tired now. At 50 miles in, which was halfway up the last big hill, I had to take a break. Once I got up that last hill, it was pretty easy getting back (Balboa is much easier southbound than northbound). I did it, though. 60.81 miles and 4:49 of riding (not counting breaks). Today my belts are a half-notch looser.

I would also like to mention that my fueling and hydration plans seemed to hit the mark. I am neither ravenously hungry nor very thirsty, like I have been after other long rides. Gels every 45 minutes (they're 150 cal. gels rather than the usual 100) and water every 30 minutes as well as with each gel. That and the fuel at the rest stops saw me through in good shape. I like to think that I didn't run out of fuel, I ran out of legs. Still, I did make it.

The plan now is to take it easy until the L.A. River Ride in two weeks. Probably no hill workouts until then and just an easy 29-mile ride (emphasis on easy), a run tomorrow and next Sunday and that's it. I wasn't completely recovered from last week's workouts so I want to make sure I am completely rested so I can make that River Ride my first century.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Going out for my 5:15 hill workout the other day, I noticed it's pretty bright out that early in the morning. I'm not usually up that early so it's not something I would have noticed before. This has me thinking all kinds of thoughts about summer workouts. The one I think I'm settling on is having Tu-Th hill workouts and cycling to work on Wednesdays. The Wednesday ride could take the place of my Sunday ride on weeks I want to get yardwork done (I am tired of letting it go so much). Expanded daylight and not having to take my son to school gives me more training options. Mmm hmm.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kick High. Look Funny.

Has it really been two weeks since my last post? It's been a busy two weeks and I'll post more about it soon.

This past Sunday I went for my 5k run early in the morning. It was the day after a 39-mile ride with a bike club and I had a 29-mile ride planned for right after the run. I used the Garmin's pace-alert feature for the first time while running. Things were going fine until just after 2 miles into the run when I felt my right tibialis flaking out on me. This had not happened for a while. I did not think my form was so great on this run and this soreness kinda confirmed it. I stopped, rubbed it a bit, and after a short rest I started up again but this time I really exaggerated my form. Soon, I kept saying to myself, "Kick high. Look funny." Over and over.

A bit of background: One of my earliest posts discussed a problem I had with my tibialis, which is the muscle by your shins. This is not shin splints. It's a burning feeling like I'm using the muscle too much, then the muscle gives out and I can't lift up my foot anymore. When I started running again this past February, the problem came back right away. After a few more sessions I got really frustrated and scoured the internet in earnest for a solution.

I looked and looked but could not find anything. This led me to the nearly-inescapable conclusion that it was just me. I had to do some thinking. If it was just me then it was something I was doing wrong. Well, if the muscle feels like it's been used to much then maybe, just maybe, I was using it too much. It's thinking like that that got me SAT scores higher than the previous President's (to be fair, they were also higher than Al Gore's).

How to stop using that muscle so much? Think. Well, in the few pictures of me running as an adult, I always looked like I was walking (alas, no pictures of me on the cross country team in high school). Perhaps if I put some spring in my step and kicked my heel up a bit after pushing off I wouldn't have to use the tibialis so much?

I put the plan in action and it did seem to work. In the pictures of me running at my first triathlon I actually looked like I was running instead of walking. However, it made running somewhat less fun because I had to think about form so much. Last Sunday showed me that I'm not out of the woods yet, though. In the future I am going to have to chant my mantra, "Kick high. Look funny." over and over until it becomes second nature. I may think I look funny (in truth I probably look less funny than before when I was shuffling along) but screw it. It's how I'm going to become (somewhat of) a runner again.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cycling Madera

This past weekend I traveled to my parents' house in Madera, CA to attend a dinner where my brother would be accepting an award. So, of course, I took my bike. I mean, Madera is in the San Joaquin Valley, which means flat. Lots of flat. Lots of flat in the country with very little in the way of stop signs. I don't get lots of that at home so, of course, I took my bike.

First up on Saturday morning is a trip to Chowchilla. I did some research and found a donut shop near the turnaround point. I woke up to ugly clouds and a chance of rain but the temperature was not cold so I packed the usual and a rain jacket in my jersey pocket and off I went. Routes don't get much simpler than this:

In short, ride down Howard Road until you get to Road 16. Make a right and don't stop until you get to Chowchilla. There are good shoulders for almost the whole way and these are country roads that are not heavily travelled, so when cars and semis pass you, they are able to give you plenty of room. I was not able to go as fast as I had hoped (there was an ever-so-slight incline) but I was able to keep my cadence in the 80-range and if that meant I had to do it in a lower gear, so be it. This was my first long, flat ride with few stops so keeping the motor spinning for over an hour straight was something new.

I made it to Chowchilla and Good Time Donuts was just where Google said it would be (gotta love Street View). I ordered a huge apple fritter (didn't finish) with a hot chocolate and sat down for a restful fuel break. After that, back on the bike for the trip home. This time I would be heading down the ever-so-slight decline (about 1 mph faster, it turned out). I did encounter a couple of loose dogs but, thankfully, they just wanted to pace me while barking.

This trip ended up being 46.39 miles and took 2:49:51. 16.2 mph and 79 rpm on the way out, 17.1 mph and 80 rpm on the way back. I can live with that. A good trip, though I was a bit sore in the saddle by the end. The thing with that is, it doesn't get better by the next day.

Because of the soreness (and, frankly, fatigue), I lowered my sights for Sunday (I'll save that ride for my next trip up) and set out on a 32 mile route suggested by my father.

It's possible my father is trying to kill me.

If you're familiar with the area, I took the 145 out to the 41. What should have been a beautiful ride out towards the foothills turned into a white knuckle-fest because the shoulder of the road disappeared. This meant I was riding on or just to the left of the while line of a two-lane, full-speed highway. Wonderful. I got to experience something completely new: riding in the lane as cars coming the other way pass the cars in front of them. Yes, they pull into my lane, and speed towards me. I don't really have time to stare at them because I have to focus on the white line so I stay on it. Do not take the 145 out to the 41. I know people ride out to Millerton Lake, which was just seven miles further from my turnaround point, but I can't imagine they took the route I did. Bad, scary ride.

An interesting observation about fatigue. On Saturday I was able to take a nap between my ride and the dinner. On Sunday I was not able to so I sat like a zombie in my parents' house. I was able to observe my energy level go down, down, down, then slowly come back up a few hours later. I had my usual recovery chocolate milks and a big breakfast after Sunday's ride so I don't know how much more I could have eaten to keep from having an energy crash. I'm thinking that maybe on these rides lasting longer than two hours I need to take a gel every 30 minutes instead of every 45. With the e-Gels I use that comes out to be 300 cal/hour. I will have to experiment with that.