M&LG Mini-Tri

A few months ago, my crazy aunt posted this to Facebook:

My crazy aunt posted this to FB

It sounded nice and easy, especially since I knew at the time that I would have finished Dumbo a few weeks earlier, and should have some time to get back on the bike. The big unknown was the swimming, since I haven’t really swum in…oh…a few decades. I’ve played around in the water, but swimming to actually get somewhere? Not so much. Though, since we were going to just hop in the river and let the current take us, I figured it would be a fun post-Dumbo goal.

I made up t-shirts and bibs for us, and for our road crew (my husband and my uncle, who would both be accompanying us on the bike portion of our tri).

My bib for our mini-tri

The big hitch in our plan was that the river and air temperatures were too low for us to swim in the river. My aunt lives out in the sticks, so our only alternative was the closest YMCA a half hour away.

Since it was unseasonably chilly, we didn’t hurry out in the morning. Plus, the YMCA didn’t open until 1PM, so we wanted to time it so that we would finish the bike and run, hop in the car, and arrive at the Y just after they opened.

We took off at about 10:30 AM on our bikes with our road crew. My uncle, Jim, took the lead so he could take a few pictures along the way. My husband, Andrew, played the role of the sweep, making sure that nothing went wrong.

Ready to go!
Jim - part of our road crew Andrew - the other member of the road crew

I was probably the most worried about the bike ride, because our route was primarily on gravel roads. I have hybrid tires on my bike, so I can handle gravel; however, as a kid, I had a pretty good spill on sand, and ever since, I’ve been a bit skittish about biking on gravel or sand. I worried for no reason, though, because our ride went really well. We did 6.4 bumpy miles.

M&LG Mini-tri bike ride M&LG Mini-tri bike ride

The finish line for biking was my aunt and uncle’s driveway. Amazingly, Maggie and I arrived at exactly the same time 🙂

M&LG Mini-tri bike ride Finish!

Next, we were off for our walk. I had hoped to run part of this, but we were going on a trail and my ankle has been a bit iffy still, so Maggie and I both walked together.

Ready for our run (walk)

The walk was 1.3 miles through the woods, and it took us way longer than it felt like. I was just glad I didn’t trip on the tree roots!

Next we hopped in the car off to the YMCA. Our legs started getting a little stiff on the way, which we had worried about, but nothing to do, but get there and knock out our 400 meters. No pictures were allowed during the swim portion (our rules, not the Y!). The pool was saltwater and heated, so definitely much better than the river on that account, but we didn’t have the current to help push us along. No matter, we did our 16 laps for 400 meters.

M&LG Mini-tri finishers

And then we had a little party at Maggie’s that evening…after a spin in the hot tub, that is.

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The long-term plan is to do a century bike ride. That’s a 100-mile ride. There. I said it.

This isn’t going to happen this year, or next. Possibly not for several years. But it will happen, or at least that is what my biking seasons are going to be keeping an eye on.

There are two things that need to happen before I can do a century: I need to get faster and 35-mile rides need to become my norm.

  • 35-mile rides

    The general wisdom is that you can train for a ride that is about 3-times your comfortable long-ride. That means that if you can comfortably do 10 miles, then you should be able to train, in about 12 weeks, for a 30-mile ride. So, to do a century ride, I need to first be comfortable with a 33.3-mile ride.

    This one I’ve almost got down. Last year we became very comfortable with 30 miles. 33-miles? Not so much. Anything above 30 was a lot of work. But I have hope, because in 2009 even a 30 mile ride was a lot of work, so we can bring up our comfortable long ride to 33, or even 35 this year.

  • faster rides

    This one is harder, but absolutely necessary. If I were to do a century ride at the same speed I did our half-century, it would take 14 hours. Now, that would make me a total badass for pedaling for 14 hours, but it’s just not practical. So, I must get faster.

    My one worry about this is that I am already pushing my body and heart about as much as it should be pushed (possibly a bit more). So, how do I pedal faster or harder? My husband and I have been looking into this, and found several resources. We’ll be setting up a training schedule this month for the year, with the goal of a half-century ride mid-summer, done faster than last year’s ride (I don’t care how much faster.).

    Of course, one thing that would make this whole thing easier would be if I were carrying around less weight. That is certainly a goal of mine. On the other hand, I would like to make progress without putting all of my success on the scale – that always fails miserably for me. So, we’ll be trying the sprinting and interval training on the one side, and I’ll be working on my nutrition and continued exercise on the other side.

    I won’t consider doing a century ride until my average biking speed is at least 15 mph.

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Fitness Friday…a day early

This post is partially for all “my girls” running in the Disney Marathon this weekend.  I want to start by telling you all how proud I am of all of you – you are an inspiration. Reading all your posts and tweets about your training runs has kept me exercising through the “cold season”.  Sure, I’m not biking much (at all, really, other than New Years Day when it got unseasonably warm), but I am playing exercise games on my Wii, and just generally trying to keep active.

Here’s what I hope is a bit of inspiration: I’m a morbidly obese woman (as in, the doctors think I should just keel over an die from fatness), but I did a 50-mile bike ride in September. That ride took me a bit over 7 hours to do did I mention I’m a little slow. However, despite being slow, it was an intense ride for me – my average heart rate for that 7-hour ride was 154, or 85% of my max heart rate. Did you hear that? I kept my HR at 85% of my max for 7 hours.

This isn’t meant to downplay anyone else’s accomplishments – all I’m saying is that if you are out there on race day, thinking that you can’t do this, I say that you can. My longest training ride (40 miles) took me 4 hours 45 minutes with a similar intensity, and I had to add more than 2 hours on my half-century day. And I did it. You’ve done the training, so I’m certain you’ll succeed, too.

My mantra on my ride was: “Just keep pedaling, just keep pedaling”, sung to the tune of “Just keep swimming” from Finding Nemo. Find your mantra, dig deep, and enjoy the day. You’ve earned it.

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Looking Upwards

Last week my husband tweeted a link to a story musing about how a professor who makes $450,000/year could consider himself just an average middle class bloke. One part of the problem, the blogger proposed, was that the professor was looking upwards, comparing himself to those richer than he, rather than looking downwards at the 99% of the population doing worse off than he. By looking upward, he could only see that he did not have as much as those he compared himself to.

As I was thinking about it, I came to realize that much of my struggle lately with being happy with myself and what I can do (and the source of my little breakdown last week) is that I’m looking upward. I compare myself and my biking to those who pass me on the trail, rather than being proud of the fact that I can do so much more on my bike than most people.

Frankly, I don’t even have to look “downward” – besides, that sounds a little condescending – I just need to look sideways at my own progress. Eight years ago Andrew gave me a bike for my birthday. We went for short rides, but I didn’t feel comfortable going more than 2 miles. We worked up to 5 miles…then 6…then 10…then 12. And then the steps became larger each year – worked up to 20 one year, then 30 just two years later. Now 50.

It’s not about comparing myself to others…at least, it shouldn’t be. It’s about what I can do today that I couldn’t do yesterday. And that’s something to be proud of.

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Bike DC

[Cross-posted on My Silly Life]


This was the first time I’ve done an organized ride. We tried to do the WABA ride several years ago, but it was cancelled by damage from Hurricane Isabel. Each year since then we have had some conflict with the ride. I was excited that this year’s ride worked out for us…excited and a little nervous. I’m not exactly the fastest rider on the planet, so one of my biggest fears was that we’d get “swept up” before finishing the ride. I knew I could do the 19 miles – that’s actually a couple miles short of what our long ride should be this weekend for our training schedule…I’m just not as fast as many other riders.

I wasn’t certain about the weather, since I’d woken up a couple times in the night to hear downpours and thunder. We got up at 5:30 and checked the weather reports – one said 10% chance of rain until about 11AM when it would go up to 40-50%; another site said 90% chance for rain going up to 100% at 11AM. Hmmmm….they could not have been more different. We decided to at least head downtown, and if it was raining hard, we could always bail.

We had to be on the first Metro train out of the station in the morning so we could check in at registration. I’d been hoping to be one of the first riders out, but the 7AM train didn’t get us into DC until about 7:40. We checked in at the Registration at Freedom Plaza downtown and got going on the ride a bit before 8AM.

Andrew at the Bike DC registration

The route brought us right by the White House.

We rode past the White House

Then we went into Georgetown along the Whitehurst Freeway. It’s a little sad that this freeway is usually occupied by cars with drivers who probably don’t enjoy the view, because it was quite lovely. From there we crossed the Key Bridge and hopped onto the GW parkway. Part of the Parkway was closed off for the ride. It started drizzling a bit on this stretch of the ride, but it wasn’t bad. The route was a bit of a bear, though, because it was uphill, it seemed, for about 1.5 miles. Coming back down? Fun!

Biking on the GW Parkway

The next stop was a trip around the Iwo Jima memorial.

Iwo Jima Memorial

Then it was on to the Air Force Memorial. It was a huge uphill trip from the main road up, but worth it for the view. It was also my first time at this memorial.

We also biked up to the Air Force Memorial   View from Air Force Memorial

From there it was just a few miles to the finish in Crystal City. And I didn’t get “swept up”! We arrived around 10:30AM, so 2.5 hours for 19 miles, photos, and a pit stop. Mostly I had fun – the only questionable part was that uphill on the GW Parkway, but hey, it’s in the bank, right?

You can see the rest of my pics from the ride here: Bike DC

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Training Schedule

Okay, I’m making it public so everyone can keep me honest. Here’s my first stab at a training schedule for our training for a half-century ride in September. This is based on a much shorter schedule for a century. The Wednesday ride should push our speed/pace faster than the target for our final ride. The other rides should be at our target speed/pace.

Week Dates Mon Wed Fri Sat Total Miles
1 4/5-4/11 5 6 5 15 31
2 4/12-4/18 5 6 5 16 32
3 4/19-4/25 6 7 6 17 36
4 4/26-5/2 6 7 6 18 37
5 5/3-5/9 7 8 7 19 41
6 5/10-5/16 7 8 7 20 42
7 5/17-5/23 7 9 7 21 44
8 5/25-5/30 7 9 7 23 46
9 5/31-6/6 8 10 8 24 50
10 6/7-6/13 8 10 8 26 52
11 6/14-6/20 8 11 8 27 54
12 6/21-6/27 8 12 8 28 56
13 6/28-7/4 9 14 9 30 62
14 7/5-7/11 9 14 9 32 64
15 7/12-7/18 9 14 9 33 65
16 7/19-7/25 10 15 10 34 69
17 7/26-8/1 10 15 10 35 70
18 8/2-8/8 10 17 10 37 74
19 8/9-8/15 11 18 11 40 80
20 8/16-8/22 11 18 11 40 80
21 8/23-8/29 11 18 11 34 74
22 8/30-9/5 11 18 5 50 84

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Monday Project: Project Me

The Monday Project

Okay, this is my first Monday Project, so I’m going to start at the beginning of the projects and try to catch up (though this might take a few weeks!!). The first project was Project “Me” – a chance to look at what’s worked/not worked in the past, goals for moving forward and reflecting on both of these.

I’m not sure how much to write here, but I have been thinking about these questions throughout the week.

One of my big issues has always been exercise. I *know* that my weight-loss and goals of getting healthier only work well when I work exercise into my life. In fact, they go best when I have some form of weight or resistance training. Fitting into my schedule has always been the problem. Last year I tried getting up before work to do a 20-30 minute workout – this entailed setting the alarm for 5AM and getting up at the first alarm (no snoozing). I managed to do this for nearly 6 months…but it was a fight every.single.time. I figured it would get easier over time, but it was a constant fight. It also meant that I had to start getting to bed no later than 9PM – in bed, lights out ideally by 9:30, no later than 10PM. I ended up basically quitting exercise as of October/November last year. I just couldn’t face 5AM.

So, I’ve gone back to exercising in the evenings, after work. When I get home, I change into my exercise clothes, and head downstairs. One of the reasons I got away from evening exercise was that my husband now works later. When he got home relatively early, I would go exercise when I got home, he would start cooking dinner when he got home, and usually dinner would be ready about the time I was done showering. Now with him getting home later, I feel like I need to get dinner going, so we’re not eating at 7 or 8 PM. However, he’s making an effort to get home a little earlier, and he wants to support my efforts to exercise, so we’re making it work. And its a lot easier than getting up early.

Another thing about exercise – I’m a biker, and I do much better biking when I have a clear goal for that season’s biking. I push harder when I have a goal I’m working toward. SO, my husband and I have decided to train for a half-century ride this year. It’s a little scary, since we’ve only ever done a 30-mile ride twice (maybe 3-times), and when we did, it took everything out of us for that weekend. On the other hand, it means that we’re going to push this biking season; and we’re setting up a training schedule, and with both of us on board, we’ll be pushing each other (prodding when necessary!).

Eating-wise…that’s a bit harder. I’m still figuring out what works there, though I seem to do best when I’m not on a formal plan – instead, I just need to be constantly aware of what I’m eating and why. I’m a little embarrassed to say that in the past several years, the best I did was when I was following Dr. Phil’s plan…I may need to resurrect my copy of that book and go through it again.

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