Saturday, May 30, 2009

Strong Kids Ride Report

By the time I parked my bike today, I felt like a strong kid myself.

I did the OCC Strong Kids Ride today, a ride put together to benefit the local cycling club's efforts to help kids get bikes and the YMCA. And while the day started off dark and stormy, by the time I finished the sun was shining and I felt good about the morning's efforts.

There were three options to choose from, a family friendly 13-mile route, a 20- or 31-mile route. Even after I pulled into the parking lot and registered, I wasn't sure if I was going to go 20 miles or tackle the 31 miles. Even though I've recently logged rides of 20 miles, I hadn't ridden anything longer than 25 miles, and that was a couple of years ago.

When the time came to start the ride, I found myself standing next to a bunch of folks who were going 31 miles. Decision made.

I admit, all the cyclists riding their speedy looking bikes in their spiffy gear was a bit intimidating. I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep up, would be dropped in the first few miles and left to navigate a 31-mile route by myself.

I was wrong.

I actually kept pace. Yes, I was at the back of the lead group. But there were cyclists behind me. I realized this when we came to an intersection about 12 miles into the ride and stopped to wait for the entire group to get there and regroup. There were actually about 5 riders behind. I felt good not being the last one to that stop sign.

The ride took us throughout the rural areas in the western part of the county. It was actually really pretty. And a bit hilly. But after tackling the cliff road at High Cliff last week, I knew I could handle the hills. Most of them were rolling hills and there was only one semi-nasty one, and that was only because it was so long. And fairly steep compared to the other hills. But the view at the top of that hill made it worth the climb. And hitting 29 miles per hour on the way down.

We had a rest stop at mile 21, complete with Smuckers Uncrustables PB&J sandwiches, water and mini Clif Bars.

I was a bit worried about the last 10 miles when I got back on my bike after the rest stop. These were the new miles to me since it had been a really long time since I rode this far. But the miles came easy. I felt good. My legs weren't screaming in pain at me, even after all the hills and the headwinds I tackled in the first two-thirds of the ride.

When I pulled into the YMCA parking lot, I actually felt like I could keep riding. I was proud of myself for tackling a new distance. And I kept the route map, because I'm thinking about riding that route again in the near future. It was challenging and scenic. And I liked it.

I also liked the people that I rode with. Part of me thought this ride was going to be a ride it on your own. But we rode as a group. And for the most part, stuck together as a group. Yes, we got pretty spaced out during the last 10 miles, but for the most part, there were always riders near you, chatting with you as you rode.

I think that sense of community is the part that helped me decide to pick up the registration and join the cycling club here in town. They have organized rides almost every night of the week and they have get togethers. I think I'll like it.

And the Strong Kids Ride? I'm glad the miles I pedaled today will help out kids. But I'm also happy with the feeling that I got when I finished.


31 miles? Piece of cake for this Strong Kid.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Miles and mosquitoes

After three days, the raindrops stopped falling, the clouds parted and that bright shiny thing we call the sun came out.

Since the lake flies are still flying around in swarms in my neighborhood, and I was already attacked by those flying bugs earlier in the day, I threw on my running shoes and headed out to the Wiouwash Trail for a run after work tonight.

The 3-mile run felt good. My first mile was the fastest, the second mile was the slowest, but all three miles were in the same neighborhood pace wise. I finished the run in 34 minutes.

The worst part? With about a mile to go I had to stop momentarily to stretch. I'm talking 20 seconds. Max. And in those 20 seconds I managed to get attacked by numerous blood-thirsty mosquitoes. I'm not kidding. I have like six huge red welts around my knees. And they itch!

Thank goodness I had the After Bite stick at home. It may have stung when I slathered it all over the welts (and the smell is kind of nasty), but at least they don't itch anymore!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lukewarm is not good

Hey Mother Nature. I've come to the realization that I'm OK with it raining once a week. It gets me into the pool without feeling guilty for missing out on a glorious day. And keep those rainy days coming on Wednesdays. That day is working out for me.

The swim went well. I had to retire the out suit and break out the new one for today's 1,700 yard swim. Started with a 200 yard warm up and then did two sets of 600 yards followed by a 200 yard cool down. Like a I said, swim went well. Finished in about 45 minutes.

What didn't go so well? How about a lukewarm hot tub. Not cool. I always treat myself to about 10 minutes in the hot tub after my swim. Calms me down, relaxes me. Feels good. Usually. It didn't do any of that today. I stepped in and I swear, the water was the same temperature as the pool water. Not warm. Not relaxing. Not good feeling. I lasted about 5 minutes. It was miserable. Enjoyed an extra long shower instead.

Now if only the water in my ear would disappear.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The hill couldn't beat me.

I took advantage of the long holiday weekend and put in some miles on both the bike and the running shoes.

After getting done with work Friday, I loaded up my bike, some weekend essentials and a bunch of dirty laundry and headed north to my parents' house. I was planning on grabbing dinner with them and calling it an early night since I was supposed to be doing a run with my sister-in-law in the morning.

Plans changed and the run didn't happen. Which is maybe a good thing since it was raining in the morning. But I still had my fingers crossed that the weather would clear up - like the weathermen said it was supposed to do - because I had plans to hit High Cliff State Park in the afternoon to face the cliff road.

It kept raining. And raining. Finally it cleared up late in the afternoon, but by that time my desire to tackle the hill was gone, so I hopped on my bike for a 17-mile ride instead. The roads were still a bit wet and I got a bunch of mud on me, but it was a good ride. One that left me ready to face the cliff in the morning.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny. I got up, had a small breakfast and loaded up my bike and the rest of my stuff. I had plans to tackle the hill a couple of times and then follow it up with a short run on some of the trails in the park.

I admit. I was scared of that hill. It's not a continuous climb. Or maybe it isn't, but it doesn't look like it. There's a fairly short steep uphill portion right at the beginning. But then it looks like it evens out for a while before the second, longer and steeper climb shows up. After riding it, I've come to the conclusion, that flat portion? It doesn't exist. After finishing the second climb, there's another gradual, long climb until you read the top of the cliff. In all, it's about a 1.5 mile climb from the parking lot where I parked to the top. What a great way to start off the 22-mile bike portion of the High Cliff Triathlon.

I buckled my helmet, adjusted the sunglasses, took a deep breath and started pedaling. Midway through that first climb I almost stopped and cried. It was hard. I was standing up pedaling and felt like I was going to die. And I wasn't even to the hard part yet. But I kept going. And I started putzing with my gears. Went to a lower gear. And then lower. Pretty soon I was at the lowest gear possible - gears I hadn't even thought about using before. But that second climb? It was getting easier. I took a quick breather at the top of the second climb before continuing to the top.

Then I went back down - riding the breaks a good chunk of the way down.

I turned my bike around in the parking lot and headed back up again. The second time it was easier. Now that I had that whole gear thing figured out. Made it to the top. Back down. Repeat a third time. As I was going up the third time I was thinking to myself. This cliff road isn't so scary. Or intimidating. I can totally do this on race day. I may not be the fastest one to the top, but I won't be walking my bike uphill. All I need to remember is to keep it in a low gear, keep pedaling and eventually I'll make it to the top.

And I was at the top. So I turned around for my last trip down the cliff. By this point, I was feeling a little bit more comfortable with the downhill and I wasn't riding the brakes as much. And it showed. I broke the posted speed limit for vehicular traffic - which was 25 miles per hour - when I glanced down at my bike computer and saw I was cruising at 27 miles per hour. Those would be tears of joy that were streaming down my face.

The good feeling continued on the trails. I almost tripped over a few tree roots and big rocks that were sticking out of the ground. But I felt pretty good on the run once I got rid of the dead feeling in my legs. Covered about 2.5 miles in 30 minutes. I'd say it was a pretty good brick workout.

Then it was off to a family cookout. And today's run? It got canceled because the swarms of lake flies have returned to my neighborhood. Grr.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I almost gone blown away to the land of Oz

Let's look at some numbers.

83: That's what the mercury in the thermometer was reading. As in 83 degrees. In Wisconsin. In May. When just a week or two ago it was barely breaking 50. Not that I'm complaining. Because I'll take the warmer temperatures.

30: That's how strong the winds were blowing. Constantly. And occasionally they'd gust into the 40 mile per hour range.

4: That's how many miles I ran, even though it was in the 80s, with no clouds in the sky and at times the wind was blowing so hard I was almost blown off the trail into the marsh.

It felt good though. Luckily I wasn't running into the wind ever, it was a crosswind. But still, it was hard to run through, especially in the parts of the trail that were running along the lake and the wind just came howling across the water. On the plus side, since it was so windy, it was quite choppy on the water, with big waves. So when they would break against the shore, water would splash onto the trail and me, which was kind of refreshing 3 miles into my run.

Time wise, I was pretty happy with the run. The 4 miles took me 46 minutes, 23 seconds. Over the first three miles I held a steady pace of 11 minutes, 15 seconds. Obviously my last mile slowed down a bit, but I like to think that was due to two things. No. 1, have I talked about the wind? No. 2, this is the second 4-mile run I've done in over a year. So I'm still getting used to the distance again. In time I hope to become more comfortable with it so that I don't get as tired during the last mile, I get more comfortable with the distance and I moved on to longer miles.

Afterwards I came home and tried to make a smoothie. I had the strawberries, milk and yogurt, which is what the recipe in my cookbook called for. Yes. I used a recipe for a smoothie, that shows how much of a cook I'm not. But the smoothie? It was kind of bland. Any suggestions on how to make a tasty smoothie? Anyone?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The plan, and the weather forecast, were thrown out the window

I had a plan today. And I tossed it out the window without thinking twice.

The last time I checked the weather it was supposed to in the mid-50s and rainy today with nicer weather planned for the rest of the week. So I decided to switch up my schedule, head over to the YMCA and sneak in a quick run before I headed down to the pool for my swim workout.

When I left for work this morning it was sunny. And nice. That's OK, I thought as I tossed my gym bag in the backseat of the car. It's supposed to get cold and wet this afternoon.

Never happened.

In fact, it got nicer out. I left the office briefly in the mid-afternoon to go pick up some documents. It was sunny. A little breezy and the temperature? It was 80. So much for cold and rainy.

At that moment I decided to ditch the swim plan and head home after work to jump on my bike. Normally my post-work weekday bike rides are around 8 miles or so. But it was so nice out today I needed to go farther, even though I started late. I just kept pedaling. Even the wind wasn't a problem. I swear midway through the ride the wind switched directions, so I never really had to ride into the 25 mile per hour winds. I'm not complaining though.

I ended up going 14 miles in about 55 minutes and felt really good after the ride.

I'm skipping the pool as well tomorrow since it's supposed to be just as nice. But tomorrow I think I'll head out to the Wiouwash trail after work for a run. And then maybe I'll visit the pool on Thursday.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Take a few minutes to enjoy this

The following has nothing to do with running, swimming, biking or other triathlon stuff. It also has nothing to do with books or Badgers. Or even the life of me, Badgergirl.

It's just something I stumbled across tonight while I was putzing around on the Internet. I'd never heard of the guys, Jon Schmidt, before. But I watched this video, loved the music and wanted to hear more. So I checked out his Web site.

Good stuff.

Take a listen. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A little running, a little scale talk and some bike news

Headed back out to the trail today for a run.

I just opted for the 2.6 mile run today. And it felt good. I felt like I was keeping a decent pace, but I was a bit surprised when I finished and looked at my watch. 31 minutes. Something like an 11:30 pace. Hmm. Oh well.

I'm still blaming my super slow pace on the extra weight I put on due to the medicine I needed to take to boot the Monster out of my head. But the good news is even though it's taken me longer than I was hoping, I'm starting to see some results. I'm down 11 pounds and I've got some goals in mind: drop another 5 pounds by the time the starting gun goes off for the High Cliff Triathlon next month and lose the last 15 to fit into a super cute dress I already own for my cousin's wedding at the end of August. Both do-able goals I think.

And on a non-running, non-weight loss front, I sent in my registration for the Strong Kids Ride at the end of the month. I toyed with going for the 30-mile route, but ultimately selected the 20-mile route. Maybe I'll be able to change my mind on the day of the ride. But at this point? I just need the nasty lake flies to go away so I can rekindle my friendship with my bike, which I've been neglecting all week. Eek!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The lake flies are still here

Those pesky lake flies are still here.


I even wished really really hard that they would just magically disappear overnight. Or freeze to death the other night when the temperatures dipped into the upper 30s. They didn't disappear or die though.

So I'm still stuck with them. Which means I've had to leave my neighborhood if I've wanted to run or bike this week. And of course, I had the urge to run last night when I got home from work. So I threw on some running clothes and laced up my sneakers and headed out to the Wiouwash Trail, the place where I logged so many long runs in preparation for the half marathon I did in 2007.

When I started my run, I was only planning on heading out to the first trail makers and then heading back. It would have been about a 2.6 mile run. Not too far. Not to short. Just enough to get me out and get my legs moving. But when I got to that marker, I still felt good. Like I could keep going. The next marker was about a half-mile away. So I kept running until I got to the marker. I still felt good but I knew I needed to turn back since I had another 2 miles to go before I was done.

I started on my way to the car. The first few minutes it felt good. My iPod was keeping me company with some Flogging Molly, I was running, it was nice out and there weren't any lake flies to bug me. Things were good.

Then it hit me.

The wind. Gusty. In my face. Steady. Strong.

Turns out the reason the first half of my run went so well? I had been running with the wind. Made it easier. Now I had to fight against the wind all the way back. Payback. I stopped momentarily, but then I sucked it up and started running again. Because even if I stood in one place for a long time, the wind was still going to be there. It wasn't leaving. So I ran. At times I felt like I was barely moving. But I ran. And eventually I made it back to my car.

And as I was driving home I realized, I had just run 4 miles. The first time I ran 4 miles since the days leading up to my half marathon in 2007. Obviously 2008 was not a good running year for me, blame it on the Monster. But I think things are looking up.


Moved the workout indoors today since it was stormy and the lake flies are still here. Spent some time in the pool with a 1,700 yard swim workout which went pretty well.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

So this is what the other YMCA looks like

I find myself torn between two swimming pools.

The weather was crappy today. Cold. Cloudy. Raining. Oh, and did I mention the lake flies have returned? Because they have. And that means I'll most likely be moving my workouts indoors. Or to the other side of town where lake flies don't exist.

So since it was cruddy out, I decided I wanted to get in a an indoor run followed by a short swim. I could have done it at my downtown YMCA, the one I always use since I can see it from my office window, but I didn't want to get up super early this morning in order to make sure the swim was done by the time the pool closed at 11 a.m.

Instead, I slept in and opted for an afternoon workout at the other YMCA across town. The super nice YMCA, the one with an indoor ice rink and soccer field, a ton of fancy new equipment and a super nice pool with eight lanes for laps.

I was in love.

I got there and reacquainted myself with the treadmill. I knocked out a 3-mile run in 32 minutes. Not bad. Actually felt good. And there was no one waiting for a treadmill, so I probably could have tacked on another mile.

But the pool was calling my name.

And we became fast friends. The water felt so good. And it was bright, unlike the downtown YMCA where the pool doesn't have very good lighting so you kind of feel like you're in a dungeon. And the big digital clock poolside which let me kind of keep track of how fast I was swimming.

Sigh. It was wonderful. So wonderful I completely spaced and forgot how far I had swam at one point. So I might have swam 1,000 yards. Or it could have been 1,100 yards. I'm not sure. But I do know it took me about 25 minutes. And even though this was only my second swim in forever, I could already notice a difference in my stamina. I didn't need as long of breaks every 100 yards and actually at the end of the workout, when I was tired, I swam 200 yards straight through. I think that's a good sign. And according to the big red digital clock, at one point I was swimming around a 2 minutes per 100 yard pace. Not bad.

Afterwards I treated myself to a little hot tub time, which was also wonderful.

My first trip to the cross town YMCA was good. I was glad I made it today. And I think I might try to figure some kind of schedule out so that I can do one of my swim workouts there each week. Because although I fell in love with this pool instantly, I do like my downtown pool, bad lighting and all.


Looking back at some numbers, I'd say I'm pretty happy with my week. Workouts six of the seven days. 41 miles on my bike. 2,700 yards in the pool and a 3 mile run. The only thing I'd change would be to have a few more miles in my running shoes. That's what I'll work on this week.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

So this is what a pool looks like

Can you smell the chlorine? Because I can.

Yes my friends. I managed to find my way back to the pool today. And I'm already looking forward to a return trip.

I left nothing to chance. I packed my swim bag last night and had it sitting by my work bag, ready for me to grab when I left for work this morning. I took a shorter lunch today so I could leave the office a little early and take full advantage of the hour and a half I'd have until the kids swim team took over the pool.

I was ready.

After work I didn't think twice. I pointed my car towards the YMCA, like a girl on a mission to reacquaint herself with the pool.

I admit though, as I was walking from the locker room to the pool deck, I was a bit nervous. I hadn't dipped a toe in the pool since the beginning of March for the last indoor triathlon. And before that? It was mid-January for the winter triathlon. The last pool workout I did? Haven't got a clue. But I do know the High Cliff Triathlon is coming up quick. So tonight I walked in, grabbed a lane, put on my cap and goggles and jumped in.

It was just water. I can handle this, I thought. So I started swimming. Nice and slow. And you know what? It felt good.

I kept swimming. I didn't have a plan in mind as far as how far I wanted to go. I went into the workout with a let's just see what happens. I just swam. 100 yards then 200, 300 and pretty soon I was at 800 and I still felt good.

So I kept swimming.

There was an adult swimming lesson taking place in two of the other lanes and every so often I'd find myself swimming faster in order to catch up with one of the swimmers from the class. Most of the time I caught them and actually beat them to the wall. Made me feel good, like I still had the swimming bug in me.

I kept swimming, taking a short 30 second break after every 100 yards. Next thing I knew I was approaching 1,400 yards. That's when I told myself, shoot for 1,600 yards, that's just shy of a mile. Do it. You'll feel good about the workout you just did. And afterwards? You can treat yourself to some hot tub time.

So that's what I did. I finished off the 1,600 yards in about 45 minutes, which included my rest breaks, and then did a 100 yard cool down using the kick board.

It was a good swim. Made me realize I missed my pool time these last few months. And I'm already trying to figure out when my next trip to the pool will be. I'm thinking maybe Saturday morning.
photo courtesy

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Should have just run

I thought I could outsmart Mother Nature today. And I failed miserably.

When I got up this morning I had a plan. One that included going for a run tonight after work. I wasn't planning a long run or anything, just a nice short run to work out some of tightness I was feeling after the two long bike rides I took.

Then I got home from work. And it was windy. And I didn't really feel like running. And plus my toe hurt. I know. I know. Apparently I was looking for any excuse to get out of the run.

So I thought I'd go for a short bike ride instead. Sounded like a good idea to me.

Apparently I forgot about the windy. Which had become quite gusty and stiff in the 5 minutes it took me to change into biking clothes. Hard to ride south in and it felt like I was going nowhere. I briefly thought about turning around and heading back. But nixed that idea, thinking someday I'll appreciate this short 5 mile ride into the gusty winds.

So the ride wasn't the greatest - and it takes a lot for a bike ride to fall into that category for me - and in hind sight I probably should have just stuck with the run. Oh well. Maybe I'll sneak that short run in tomorrow night if it isn't raining.

After I get home from the pool. Because that's the plan for tomorrow. I become a fish again. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I only have energy for bullet points

It's the end of a fabulous 3-day weekend featuring gorgeous weather and lots of fun things to do. And because all of the excitement has left me dead tired. I'm giving you bullet points.
  • For starters. I love monkeys. So when I heard the local zoo here was having a baby baboon as one of its exhibits this year, I knew I had to see him. So when the zoo opened Saturday, a friend and I went over to check out the Baby Baboon. And he was adorable. And very hard to photograph since he obviously didn't know how to sit still for more than 2 seconds. I tried. And I will be going back to check in on the Baby Baboon.
  • After checking out the Baby Baboon and having a very up close encounter with a large tortoise, who apparently gets to roam around the zoo grounds, we took my friend's puggle over to the dog park and got to check out the doggies. It was the first time I've been a dog park. Very fun. Kind of makes me want a dog.
  • I snuck in a 14-mile bike ride before I took a road trip to Madison on Sunday. A friend and I had tickets to see Jason Mraz play. Good times. Well worth the trip down. The Plain White T's opened and were really good. And Jason Mraz? Amazing. If I hadn't left my camera in the car, I might have had some pictures to share with you since our seats were pretty close. But my camera? It was hanging out in my backseat underneath my fleece.
  • Since I knew last night would be a late night, I took a day of vacation today. I took another 14-mile bike ride this morning before heading to Appleton to hang out with my Mom and The Rugrats. We played outside. Walked over to school to pick up my niece (and I think the walk justifies me missing the run I had planned for this afternoon since I was pulling the wagon with the two boys. A wagon ride that featured many, many hills). And then spent the rest of the afternoon at the park. Spent the entire day outside. I'm not sure if they were exhausted. But I am.
  • And on a random note. Today the odometer in my car flipped over to 100,000 miles. Just 18 days shy of its 7th birthday.
Hopefully I'll return to non-bullet point posts next time.

Friday, May 1, 2009

An April reading recap

Where'd April go? Actually, where'd the first four months of the year go?

Even though I'm not quite sure where the last 30 days went, I apparently spent some of those minutes reading. I finished 3 books in April for a total of 1,048 pages. That brings the yearly total to 8 books and 3,298 pages.

Given what I've been able to read so far, I'm on pace to finish 24 books and 9,894 pages this year. Not exactly the 40 books I set out to read at the beginning of the year. Hmmm. Maybe instead of the swine flu, I'll catch a reading bug and put a dent in the 40-book goal this month.

Anyway. What'd I read? Take a look:

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor and Unwavering Hope by Don & Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Colleen & Whitney Cerak
Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

I was actually looking forward to reading Mistaken Identity. It's about the Taylor University student who was misidentified after a bus crash on an Interstate in Indiana back in 2006. It was a bit weird when it happened, and again when I read the book, since I could vividly picture the crash scene. It was about a half hour from where I lived in Indiana and I drove passed it many times when I was living in the Hoosier state and on my way to high school sporting events for work. It was a good, quick read. Inspiring too.

And Jasper Fforde? A friend recommended I try the Thursday Next series, which book of the Jasper Fforde books I read this month are part of. And she was right. I really enjoy them. I'm currently trying to get my hands on the third book in the series.