Posts Tagged ‘training’

adventures on a solo long ride

I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to the cycling thing.  It’s a bit of learn-on-the-go situation, which I’ve certainly had to embrace over the past couple months.  And it makes me appreciate the ease that running has – or at least the knowledge about running that I’ve accumulated over the years.  But as for cycling, I’ll just smile and nod at whatever I’m told.  Or say, “Ohhhh….yeah, I should have thought of that.”

Since I’m working all weekend (hooray!  Fake enthusiasm!), I decided to get my long ride (the keystone of this triathlon training) in on Thursday.  I had great plans to get out in the late morning and then enjoy my afternoon, but these plans were derailed by the fact that I have completely given my life up to night shift.  I can’t seem to fall asleep before three or four in the morning, which makes wake up before noon difficult.  This is why I slept until 1pm today and why I didn’t get out to start riding until 2:30pm.  I’ve given up fighting it.  But anyway.

When I ran with Abbe in Miami last week, she wore a Spibelt, which triggered a thought in my head—I should use mine when I ride!  You may think that the answer to needing to carry stuff with me on the bike would be to buy a bike shirt with pockets, but I’m cheap and have an obscene amount of drifit running clothes.  I’d been stuffing things in the back of my bike shorts and/or my sports bra…but that little Spibelt fits quite well in the small of my back, doesn’t move, and holds enough stuff.  VICTORY.  I ride with my cell phone, credit card, some cash, keys, and fuel.  Spoiler alert:  This is not enough stuff.  On we go.

I had great plans to ride between 40-50 miles, hoping to hit 50 but being okay with anything above 40.  Traffic in the late afternoon on a Thursday is busier than on a weekend morning, so I dodged some cars and yelled at a bunch of cars outside of NYP Columbia…such a disaster.  Life was looking pretty good when I finally got to the GW…until I saw a sign that the southern side of the bridge was closed.  NOW WHAT?

I consulted Google Maps and headed over to 179th St to investigate how to get on the north side of the bridge.  Found the entrance, immediately followed by stairs.  Newsflash:  Going across the north side of the GW is a bit of an obstacle course.  One that requires upper body strength (to carry your bike) and balance (to try and walk on not-so-flat surfaces and stairs in your clip in shoes).  It wasn’t so bad, but I did miss the nice view of the city from the bridge.  I did not appreciate the stairs that were basically mesh, as I have a fear of heights and almost panicked.   But I made it.

Going across the bridge, I was trailing behind a man and a woman, and we chatted at each set of stairs.  Once we got across the bridge, she asked if I was heading up 9W.  (Is there another choice?  The Palisades?)  I told her yes and she asked how far I was going…to which I responded 40 to 50 miles and immediately thought “WHO AM I??”  She told me she had “some training to do” (not sure what that means?), but we’d be out there together.  Lo and behold, she and her riding buddy were maybe a quarter mile in front of me the entire way out.  I probably should have made friends.

It was a pretty good day to ride.  Cloud cover and a coolness in the air that made me wonder if it was going to rain.  (It didn’t.)  Legs felt a little tired, but nothing too bad.  The mile clicked off and I hoped to hit 50 miles for the day.  I got past the NY/NJ state line (19 miles from my apartment), went down the gigantic hills that followed, almost missed the turn the takes you into Piermont, checked google maps, rerouted back to the turn that I missed the first time around.  Which is when I noticed my back tire seemed a little bumpy.  Uh oh.

I pulled off the side of the road and checked my back tire to find that the air in the tire was pretty low.  So I did what any damsel in the distress would do.  Actually, I don’t know what a damsel in distress would do, but I wondered how far you can ride on a mostly flat tire without killing your rims.  Then I hoped another cyclist would ride by so I could play damsel idiot in distress.  But, it was a Thursday afternoon so that didn’t happen.  Then, I had a stroke of genius (the only one all day) and checked for the nearest bike shop.  Piermont, which was only a mile away, has one!  Victory!  Hop back on my bike, hoping it will last the mile, and have some guy pass me saying, “Strong lady, how you doing?” to which I wanted to reply, “HELP ME!” but instead said, “Great!  How are you?”  Fake it til you make it?

Which is exactly what I did at the bike shop (Piermont Bike!).  I walked in, the repair guy said hi, and I spotted a pump.  “Can I, uh, use, uh, this?”  “Sure, do you know how?”  “Maybe…Maybe not…we’ll find out.”  (Why I can’t just ask for help is behind me.  I’m too awkward for life.)  Pump up my tires, head outside.  Mentally battle with myself as to whether I should head out a couple more miles or just count my blessings that I found a bike shop and head back home.  Then, I check my back tire and it’s lost a lot of air.  Back into the shop I go.

I can only imagine what the bike repair guy was thinking the entire time I was in there.  He asked if I lived close, to which I said, “Is Manhattan close?”  He laughed.  He pumped up my tires, which apparently I had done all wrong (slash didn’t put enough air in).  I hung out in the shop a bit just to see if the tires would stay inflated or I needed some more work.  Meanwhile, we chatted about the fact that I need to carry more stuff with me (a pump?  really?  This cycling thing is a lot of work…) and that I should probably ride in a group until I get more experience.  (Anyone want to ride on a Thursday afternoon?  Anyone?  Bueller?)  He also mentioned that my bike (while a nice one!) was possibly too small for me…or I need to raise the seat.

I’m learning so much.

After thanking the bike shop people SO SO SO much for helping me out (seriously not sure what I would have done otherwise…), I started to head back to NYC.  I checked my route once, then started climbing the hills to get back…those hills going south are so hard.  They will break you.  Or at least they’re break me, since I’m apparently not a good hill climber.  (Truth be told, I’m not that good at going down them either, since I’m terrified of going too fast, hitting a bump in the road, and flying over the handlebars.  I’m an ICU nurse, okay?)  But I get up the hills and back to the state line.  My legs are on fire and I don’t feel that great.  Having only had a banana with peanut butter and some coffee in the 16 hours leading up the ride, I scarf down the PowerBar energy chews I brought with me.  I usually spend way too long chewing them in races (chewing at race pace isn’t the easiest…), but I think I ate the whole back in less than two minutes.  Sugar, please.  Must work on my nutrition.

So anyway, I spend the rest of the time alternating between thinking about how awesome biking is and wondered how must a cab from NJ back to my apartment would be.  (I think the answer is $50 – flat rate.  But how would I get a cab?  Pick me up at mile 11 on 9W?  Maybe not.)  Luckily, I made it back closer to the GW.  I stop outside Strictly (bike shop on the Jersey side of the GW) to check my tires – good to go.  Do the obstacle course in the opposite direction back over to NYC.  Ride home, still impressed by how fast the delivery guys on bikes on.  Feel bad about how slow I am.

Feel better about covering 45 miles.  Wonder if I’ll feel stronger on the bike by race day.  Wonder if bike repair guy thinks I’m an idiot.  Because I probably am.

image I would like to run a marathon in 3:11.  Please?

Take Aways

1)  I’m slow at city riding, mainly because I’m terrified of being hit by a car.

2)  I’m slow at climb hills or when panicking about a flat tire.

3)  I really need to either start watching YouTube videos, bribe Baker with beer to teach me everything, or take a basic bike repair class.  Because I really I was stupid today.

4)  Must work on nutrition.  In life and on the bike.

5)  I should be more concise in writing.  So many words, so few pictures.  (I make no apologizes, but props if you read all that!)

How did you learn bike maintenance/repair?  Any tips/basics I need to know?  Anyone ride at weird hours?  Or run at weird hours?  Let me know if you’re in NYC!  (Or Jersey for riding, I suppose.)


07 2014

miami definitely brings the heat

For some reason, whenever I come back from vacation in beautiful locations, NYC likes to greet me horrific weather.  Is this a sign?  Do I need to move south/west?  What is the universe trying to tell me?

But seriously.  Add this to the fact that I can’t seem to fall asleep before 3am when I’m in my apartment, but can fall asleep by midnight anywhere else, I’m beginning to think something is wrong.  That or I need to get a new apartment or stop working nights.  (Spoiler alert:  Both of those might be happening this fall!  Emphasis on the “might,” especially for the night shift thing.)

So yes, Sunday night I arrived back in NYC from Miami for Abbe’s bachelorette party, and it’s supposed to rain/storm Monday-Wednesday.  HOORAY.  But let’s backtrack and discuss Miami.  I was in Miami (left for a cruise out of there) once before in January 2009, right after I finished nursing school…and not too long after I started this blog!  Crazy times, people.  I will admit I was a little skeptical of going to Miami in July, as last time I was in Miami was in January and it was plenty hot then.  Let’s just say that Miami did not disappoint and the heat was most certainly raging.

Since this is (supposedly) a running blog, we can talk about that first.  On Friday morning, Abbe asked if we’d like to join her for a run.  Bojana was smart and said that she was heading to the beach while one of Abbe’s other friends, Katie, also said she’d like to join.  I don’t quite remember what time it was, but it was still in the morning (9?  10?), and we headed out to the beach.  The first part of the beach had pretty packed sand, so it wasn’t bad to run on.  Once it got a bit softer, we darted over to the boardwalk and eventually the sidewalk when the boardwalk area was under construction.  (Newsflash:  Half of South Beach is under construction, apparently.)  It was SO UNBELIEVEABLY HOT.  Some storefronts were opening up, and it was great to run past the AC when the doors were open.  The plan was to run four miles, but I had high hopes for adding on a little bit to make it five or maybe even six (getting crazy in here…I mean, it is Miami), but once we got back to the hotel after four miles, I called it quits.  I really have no idea how people in Miami run in this heat…if I ever lived there (which I’m 99% sure will never happen), I think I’d just give up running.

photo 3 (9) Boardwalk running.  It does look pretty.

photo 2 (15) And the beach view from the boardwalk.  Life could be worse.

Once we determined that we would be crazy to run the rest of the weekend (props to Claire for getting her 14 miles done on the treadmill), we spent the rest of the time on the beach, in the ocean, on the rooftop of our hotel, eating, or partaking in the night life.  Our hotel was right across the street from the beach (we stayed at the Betsy, highly recommended!) and we certainly took advantage of that.

Photo: Catching some rays! #miami #makeherabakerStolen beach picture.

Growing up in Chicago, I don’t have a ton of experience with the ocean, but Miami was fabulous.  It is hot on the beach, but the water is warm and lovely to float around in and jump over the waves.  It’s also pretty clear with soft sand, and I could have spent hours in there.  If I worked three 12 hour shifts in Miami, I’d spent the rest of the time floating in the ocean.  I’d also be the most tanned raisin known to man.

Side note:  Starbucks was on the way to the beach, and this is where I learned that no one in Miami knows how to spell “Susan.”  The hotel people put both “Susane” and “Susana” on my luggage tags, and Starbucks took it a bit further…

photo 3 (10) SOUSON!  With palm trees.

When we were done with the beach, we headed to the rooftop of the hotel for some cooler breezes and lovely views.  (You could also have coffee up there in the morning, which I certainly wouldn’t complain about if I had to do that every morning…)

photo 1 (13) Rooftop life.  Better than fire escape life, which is what I have now.

Otherwise, we spent our time eating.  We had tapas (Tapas and Tintos), Asian gatropub/tapas (Pubbelly), and Cantonese inspired/Asian fusion (Hakkasan).  I don’t know if I could pick a favorite because they were all so delicious…the benefit of having the guest of honor being a chef!  It was also great that we had a large group of lovely ladies so we got to try many different dishes at each place.  Check them out if you’re in Miami!

The evenings, of course, allowed us to enjoy the Miami nightlife where I learned that I am not suited for the Miami nightlife lifestyle, but it was fun for a couple evenings.  (Much like Vegas.)  But it was fun for everyone to get dressed up and head out!

Photo: Abbe's Bachelorette weekend in Miami!Abbe has wonderful friends.  (Seriously, they’re all awesome.)

And because this will be the one time in three years you see me in heels, I must give proof that I don’t always wear running shoes, Danskos, or flip flops:

photo 2 (16) Is that a tricep?  I can’t tell.

So that was Miami…and what happens in Miami stays in Miami, right?  (Newsflash:  Nothing that crazy happened, ha.)  But once I got back to NYC, it was back to business.  And by business I mean triathlon training because this half Ironman is coming up and I only ran and biked once last week.  Oops?

I thought I was going to end up heading to the gym because of the threat of rain, but luckily it was clear in the early afternoon, so I took my bike out for 25 miles of glory along the Hudson.  I’m learning that riding is much easier than running in the heat, as moving faster gives you a nice breeze, and I can carry plenty of water right on my bike with me.  Another bonus is that I loosened the tension on my right pedal, so it is now much, much easier to clip in and out of…which makes riding less stressful.  Life is good.

After a couple hours where I didn’t even bother showering or changing my clothes (I never said I was good at this double workout thing), I headed out for a run.  My legs felt a bit tired from the bike ride/general lack of activity the past weeks/maybe walking distances in heels, but my pace was about 7:45 so maybe it’s just the heat making me feel like a slug.  Then I took the coldest shower and it felt lovely.  Looking forward to a solid week of training this week!

And speaking of that, it appears that there’s a break in the rain that is resulting in flash flood alerts, so I’m off to the gym to get a swim in before work tonight!  (Back to the real world…sigh.)

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07 2014