Thursday, May 8, 2014

February, March, and April Recaps

Midway through March, I realized I missed my February recap, so I just decided to include it with my March recap. And before I knew it, it was April. And now it's May. I actually have a few minutes to catch up on blogging, so here's a quick and dirty recap of my mileage over the past few months.

February Stats
  • Running mileage: 3.28 
    • total time = 0:43
  • Cycling mileage: 219.07
    • total time = 15:11
  • Walking mileage: 24.25
    • total time = 7:30
  • Strength training time = 2:05
  • Total mileage: 246.6
  • Total time = 25:29

March Stats
  • Running mileage: 11.8
    • total time = 2:20
  • Cycling mileage: 178.29
    • total time = 11:53
  • Walking mileage: 12
    • total time = 2:58
  • Strength training time = 
  • Total mileage: 202.09
  • Total time = 21:02

April Stats
  • Running mileage: 7.52
    • total time = 1:22
  • Cycling mileage: 249.25
    • total time = 17:03
  • Walking mileage: 27.73
    • total time = 8:32
  • Strength training time = 0:20
  • Total mileage: 284.5
  • Total time = 27.17

And, drum roll please... 
Year to Date Stats
  • Running mileage: 47.49 (this is just sad)
    • total time = 8:41
  • Cycling mileage: 830.34 (yay!)
    • total time = 57:05
  • Walking mileage: 74.44 (I might have forgotten to record some walks)
    • total time = 22:50
  • Strength training time = 10:01
  • Total mileage: 952.27
  • Total time = 93 hours, 37 minutes
I'm pretty proud of my cycling mileage, especially since so much of it in February and March was spent on the trainer doing Sufferfest videos. I'm a little disappointed with my running (or lack thereof), and I know I need to do more strength training. But for the next two weeks I'll be focusing mostly on cycling, as we prepare to tackle Mountains of Misery on May 25. 104 miles with 10,000 feet of climbing (a good chunk of it at the very end, of course). I don't know why everybody looks at us like we are crazy when we say we are doing a ride called "Mountains of Misery"... sounds like fun, right? 

I have some more stuff to update, like my recap of walking the Blue Ridge 10K, and my first bike wreck, but I will hopefully (or maybe not) get to that later. That's all for now :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On This Day in 2013...

Just ONE MONTH from today is the 5th annual Blue Ridge Full and Half Marathon, and thankfully for me this year, the inaugural Star K 10K. I say "thankfully for me" because I officially dropped my registration from the half marathon to the 10K the other day. Finishing the half this year was one of my goals for 2014, but it's just not going to happen. My running has been off and on for a while now, and I've been mostly focused on cycling recently (and will continue to do so since we registered for Mountains of Misery). I may not have a fast time at the 10K and will probably walk a lot of it, but I will finish and enjoy being a part of this awesome race for the 4th year in a row.

A few quick reminders and updates on BRM: 
  • You must register by March 27 (tomorrow) to be guaranteed a t-shirt. And as runners, we all know it's all about the shirt
  • While you're registering, be sure to check out the info on the G. Love & Special Sauce concert the night of the race - runners can get discounted tickets. 
  • Also, don't forget about the pasta dinner the night before the race. Zoë Romano will be speaking at the dinner. In case you don't know, she ran the entire route of the Tour de France (that's 2,115 miles) last May-July. She's the only person to ever do that, so she's kind of a big deal. 
  • Race photos are FREE this year!! I feel like this is pretty you won't have to show everybody your finish line photo with the big watermark on it because you just took a screenshot of the preview because you were too cheap to actually buy the picture (I KNOW I'm not the only one who does this)
  • There's really something for everybody at this event...a full marathon, a half marathon, a 10K, the kid's "marathon", the official unofficial double marathon for all of the crazy people.

If there's one thing I have learned from running, cycling, and endurance training in general, is that we all go through cycles. Highs and lows. There have been times when I've absolutely loved running, and times I when I've felt like I'm being forced to do it. Times I've been injured, and other times when I'm feeling strong and invincible. Times I've felt motivated or times I've been lazy. 

This time last year when I was one month out from the Blue Ridge Marathon, my very first full marathon, I was doing my last two long runs, 21 miles on March 16th, and 22 miles on March 30th.

From my 22 mile training run

As I mentioned above and in most of my blog posts for the past year, I really haven't been running much. Partially due to injury, but also probably due to burnout from training for a marathon and also because I fell in love with my bike. Sometimes I feel like I won't ever be a long-distance runner again, but truthfully I know that I will be (or can be if I put forth the effort). I don't know how or when I will get there, but I know that I will always continue to go through cycles like this, and I have to remind myself that this is just a phase. I've been in a low point in my running before (when I hated running from birth to 2010 and again in late 2011 due to injury), and I eventually came back and ran a marathon. Anything is possible. 

But for now, my focus will remain on cycling as Andrew and I train for Mountains of Misery on Sunday, May 25, where we'll be tackling 104 miles and 10,000+ feet of climbing and an elevation profile that looks something like this:

taken from someone's Strava

The most worrisome part is the last 4 miles where, after already riding 100 miles, we'll be faced with an epic climb with 12%-16% grades. It should be a fun time. Apparently a number of people either don't make it or end up walking their bike up to the top. Needless to say, this ride is going to require that I focus mainly on cycling, so I'm not at all concerned about being in a low point in my running right now. In fact, it's probably a good thing. 

Have you been through similar "cycles" in your training? 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

January Recap

I feel like I'm off to a strong start in 2014. I've been consistent with doing my Sufferfest videos and I'm occasionally (at least once a week) getting in some strength training. My running game has been lacking since my hip has flared up yet again. I think it's my iliopsoas, and I can't find much on the interwebs about strengthening this area and treatment seems to consist of rest, ice, and stretching (an incredibly difficult area to stretch and ice, by the way). So, once again, I'm taking it easy with the running. Cycling doesn't seem to bother it, so I'll be focusing on that for a while. I'm supposed to be training for the Blue Ridge Half Marathon, but thankfully this year they've added a 10K option, so I'll probably be doing that instead since I'm already behind in my training plan. It frustrates me that I haven't been able to run consistently without something hurting, but at the same time I'm very thankful to be able to ride my bike and I'm enjoying that a lot, too. We are trying to plan out some rides to train for this spring. Our considered options include the Wilderness Road Ride (May 24, 79 miles), Mountains of Misery (May 25, 101 miles), and the Jamestown Gran Fondo (June 8, 100 miles). Lots to consider including our busy spring schedules, varying distances and difficulties, cost, etc.

January Stats
  • Running mileage: 24.89
    • total time = 4:16
  • Cycling mileage: 183.73
    • total time = 12:58
  • Walking mileage: 10.46
    • total time = 3:50
  • Total mileage = 219.08
  • Total time = 20:54

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December Recap, 2013 in Review, and 2014 Goals

December Stats:
Running miles: 5 (not making progress, I know)
Walking miles: 0 (stopped keeping track)
Cycling miles: 148

YTD stats:
Running miles: 391
Walking miles: 125
Cycling miles: 1704
Total Human-Powered miles in 2013: 2220

With Thanksgiving coming very late in November and Christmas celebrations spread out over a few days, December FLEW by. My hip started to bug me at the beginning of December so I backed off the running (what little bit of it there was to back off from, anyways...). I spent 8 hours on the trainer doing Sufferfest videos and got to go for 2 outside rides on warmer days. I did a little bit of strength training, but not as much as I should have done.

2013 in Review and 2014 Goals
Looking back, 2013 was both epic and not so epic. The epicness: running my first marathon and riding my first full century. While I am very proud of these accomplishments, the rest of my year just felt kind When I was running a lot, I didn't really bike much. Thanks to messing up my hip, I really haven't run much since my marathon, so I've been cycling a ton and really loving it. I wish there could have been more balance between the two. Over the past 6 months, cycling has moved from my #2 love to my #1 love. Cycling brings me just as much enjoyment as running does, except it hurts way less the next day. When I was running a lot and when I do get the occasional run in now, I'd sometimes wake up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. Cycling? Not so much. Ugh, I sound like an old person! Anyways, I'm totally fine with this shift, but sometimes I feel like I'm abandoning running like it's some sort of SPCA animal (that sounds so weird, I know).

Fitness goals for 2014:
I considered setting a lofty mileage goal for 2014 of running/riding/walking more miles than I travel in a car. But I realized it'd be a total PITA to keep track of how many miles I rode in a car, plus my estimated mileage was somewhere around 5,000+ miles, so I don't think that's a very realistic goal for me. I don't really have a specific mileage goal in mind, so I'll say more than last year, which was 2220 combined running/walking/cycling miles. 

  • Stop making excuses for not running and be consistent.
  • Finish the Blue Ridge Half Marathon. They made the course 2x harder for 2014 so I know this is going to be a PW (personal worst). I know this seems like a defeatist attitude, but I'm just being realistic. 
  • I've logged 16 hours on the trainer since the beginning of November. I'd like to get to 48 hours before the end of indoor training season (March/early April?). 
  • Ride in at least one century, preferably more.
  • Build my confidence with riding on the road and descending. 

Starting back in January of this year I decided I'd try the Paleo diet, but I always referred to it as my "Paleo-ish" diet because I rarely went a day without eating a little something non-Paleo. I definitely made some healthy changes to my diet in 2013 which I will carry into 2014 and beyond, such as eating more "whole" foods and eliminating fake foods out of a box that have a million ingredients. But recently I've come to the conclusion that a diet, Paleo or not, is not for me. A diet insinuates restrictions. Personally, when I don't stick to these restrictions, I beat myself up mentally. I can tell myself oh, it's okay to cheat occasionally, just do so in moderation. To me, cheating = bad. So even if I tell myself it's okay, it's still classified as being "bad" in my mind. I've realized that this is an unhealthy way of thinking, so I'm backing off of the whole Paleo/diet thing. I have really enjoyed making a lot of new Paleo recipes, so I'm definitely going to keep those in the dinner rotation most of the time. I just won't feel bad for eating oatmeal for breakfast, having some rice with my dinner, or even enjoying a little ice cream.

My nutrition goals for 2014: 
  • Eat healthy stuff.
  • If something makes me feel bad (stomach ache, etc.), don't eat it. This includes feeling the need to finish everything on my plate even if I know it's way more than I should be eating.
  • Eat in a way that helps me to become a stronger, healthier athlete. 
  • Don't beat myself up for having a treat (a treat, not a cheat). 

So those are my fitness/nutrition goals for 2014. I know none of them are crazy, out-of-my-comfort-zone goals, but I like to be able to actually achieve my goals and celebrate when I blow them out of the water. Hopefully in another year I'll be doing just that. 

Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Blue Ridge Marathon Course Changes & Discount Code

The Blue Ridge Marathon recently announced some changes to the 2014 race courses as well as the race options available. I'm pretty excited about these changes so I wanted to pass them along. I also wanted to pass along a 20% off discount code that is good until 12/24/13. Just simply use the code BLITZEN when you go to register.

Instead of offering a marathon relay option as in previous years, the Star K 10K option has been added to the race. I have a feeling that this will be a very popular option this year for those who aren't ready to commit to the half or full...but with 1000 feet of elevation gain, this is definitely NOT an easy 6.2 miles! On the 10K course runners will start just after the full and half marathoners and follow them up Mill Mountain. The 10K and half courses split from the full marathon and continue up to the Mill Mountain Star. Once at the Star, the course takes a quick decent down the "old road" on the front of the mountain. Then 10K runners return down Jefferson street to finish at Elmwood Park. The registration fee for the Star K is $35 before 1/1/14 and $45 thereafter.

Probably my favorite change this year comes to the half marathon course. They made it harder! Like twice as hard. Previously the half marathon course went up Mill Mountain and the rest was relatively flat. The course has changed majorly this year; the half marathon now has two mountains to climb. In addition to Mill Mountain, half marathoners get to climb the infamous Peakwood Drive (aptly nicknamed "Pukewood"), which is Mountain #3 on the full marathon course. This addition means that the half marathon course has a total elevation gain of 1897 feet. Whew! The registration fee for the half marathon is $65 before 1/1/14, $75 before 3/17/14, and $85 thereafter.

The full marathon has also undergone some minor changes, mostly to the last 4-5 miles. My guess is that these changes were made to avoid the Roanoke River Greenway, which has been flooded for the last 2/4 years causing some last minute course changes. The registration fee for the full marathon is $80 before 1/1/14, $90 before 3/17/14, and $100 thereafter.

The start/finish area has been moved from near the Roanoke City Market Building to the newly renovated Elmwood Park. Although I really love the Market Building area, but I feel like this will be a more spacious location and would allow for more post-race activities that won't feel squeezed in between downtown city blocks. There are a couple parking garages nearby so parking shouldn't be an issue.

The YMCA Kids Marathon is back again this year, as is the Unofficial Official Double Marathon (yes, people run America's Toughest Road Marathon twice, back-to-back, starting at 2-3 AM).

Of course, all of the other awesome things about this race will also be back again in 2014...most importantly the amazing scenery, the friendly people, and one of the most challenging road races you've ever done.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

October & November Recap + Winter Training Tips

October Stats:
Running miles: 30 (woot woot)
Walking miles: 12
Cycling miles: 55

November Stats:
Running miles: 19
Walking miles: 1 (I kind of stopped recording my lunch walks)
Cycling miles: 112 (all on the trainer)

YTD stats:
Running miles: 386
Walking miles: 125
Cycling miles: 1556
Total Human-Powered miles in 2013: 2067

As you can see, I've gotten pretty lazy with my blogging recently so I've combined my October & November recap!

I more than doubled my running miles in October (only 12 in September) so my hip is definitely getting better. It did flare up a week or two ago, so I backed off from running a little bit. Before I know it, it'll be time to start training for the Blue Ridge Half (in April), so it'd probably be a good idea to have a good base before I try to start training! I should probably get on that...

With the end of DST at the beginning of November, running after work usually means running in the dark. I really don't mind running in the dark. It's actually kind of fun, as long as you're proactive in being safe. The most important thing is to be able to SEE and BE SEEN. At a minimum, you use a decent headlamp and wear a reflective vest. Anywhere else you can incorporate reflectives or lights is an added bonus.

Cycling in the dark (and cold), on the other hand...well, I think I'll stick to the trainer. All 112 miles in November were on the trainer, and all of them were done with the help of my new Sufferfest videos. I decided to invest in a few of these videos to make my time on the trainer a little more exciting, and I'm very glad I did. All of the videos are "fun" (in a masochistic kind of way), entertaining, and most importantly, a really great workout. All of this makes the time on the trainer go by much faster, and if you've ever spent a significant amount of time on an indoor trainer, you'll appreciate this. I'd definitely recommend these videos. So far I've done A Very Dark Place, Revolver, There is No Try, and Hell Hath No Fury...and I plan to gradually add to my collection. Most of the videos are $12.99 and IMO they are worth every penny. I'm interested to see if they make me a better cyclist once the outdoor riding season returns. I have a feeling they will, but you never know until you're out there riding.

So, those are a few of my winter running and cycling tips...if you have any you'd like to add, please share with everyone in a comment below!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Back Roads Century

I usually like to write event recaps within a week or two afterwards so that I can record all of the little details while they are still fresh in my mind. Not so much with the Back Roads has been nearly 2 months since we did this ride so I'm sure I'll be leaving some stuff out. Thankfully I have a cue sheet to cheat off of. I'm not quite sure why it has taken me so long, but I'll blame my usual business and lack of a desire to look at a computer screen in the evenings after I've been looking at it all day at work. Anyways...on to the recap!

On September 22, Andrew and I rode our first century (that's 100 miles for my non-cyclist readers) at the Back Roads Century, which started and finished in Berryville, VA.

I'm very glad the ride was on Sunday instead of Saturday, because Saturday was nothing but rain, and lots of it. It rained on us the entire way up there and continued to rain through the evening. Thankfully the rain was supposed to clear out before the ride. The morning temps were forecasted to be a bit chilly but it ended up being a perfect day!

We got up there in the late afternoon, checked into the hotel, and met up with Jen (another cyclist from Roanoke) at Ruby Tuesday's for some dinner. After that Andrew and I went back to the hotel, laid everything out for the morning and went to bed early. It took me quite a while to fall asleep, though...I feel like that always happens the night before big events like this just because my mind will But thankfully once I was asleep I didn't wake back up until the alarm went off.

In the morning we ate our breakfast in the room - I had brought some of my usual pre-ride waffles with almond butter and honey. I took a shower to warm up, wake up, and start out feeling fresh. We got ready, checked out, and we were on our way to the start by around 6:15.

It was rather chilly when we got there so I was a little indecisive about what to wear. I decided to go with my long-finger gloves, arm warmers, vest, thicker Balega socks, and no leg or knee warmers. And of course I was sporting my Team Tough Chik kit.

I made a quick stop at the restroom and realized the most amazing thing...since cycling is such a male-dominated sport, there were NO lines for the women's restrooms!! And there was a rare sight...the line for the men's room was out the door. Anyways, a funny and interesting observation.

We rode around the corner to the high school and we were rolling out a little after 7. There was a little bit of congestion at the beginning before everyone spaced out a little bit. The beginning of the ride was just absolutely stunning with the sun just coming up and casting long shadows across the road. As the name suggests, the ride was on all back roads that weaved through "farm country" in the northern tip of Virginia and, in the first half of the ride, through parts of West Virginia.

That's me! Jen has some mad skillz to take pictures while she's riding.

The first rest stop came at Mile 25 at South Jefferson Park, which was plentifully stocked with snacks, water, porta potties, and cheerful volunteers. After a short break, we were back on the bike for the second quarter of the ride.

The route is a figure 8 loop, so at the halfway mark we were back at the start, just around the corner from where we parked. I really appreciated this because I usually fuel with stuff that was not on the course (Nuun, Clif Shot Bloks, and my Caveman cookies), so I was able to re-stock, shed my vest, and stop by the bathroom. There was a rest stop set up at the high school, too, but I did most of my fueling at the car for this one. At the high school we met up with Andrew's mom, who came down from Pennsylvania to see us and followed us around for the second half of the ride!

off for the second half of the ride
The ride from here to the next rest stop was much of the same...beautiful scenery on gently rolling back country roads. Like I said, I don't remember a ton of details other than the fact that it was beautiful. At mile 64 we were at what was my favorite rest stop at the Burwell-Morgan Mill. Not only did you get to go inside of the mill and look around, but they had homemade boiled potatoes, which totally hit the spot...starchy, salty, and warm!!

One of the strategies that was suggested to the riders was to focus on the distance to the next rest stop. In the second half of the ride the rest stops came at mile 64, 79, and 92. That strategy definitely helped the ride to feel easier when you could tell yourself only xx miles until the next break!

The rest stop at mile 79 was at White Post Restorations where they had their "world famous" tomato sandwiches with cucumber, mayo (or hummus), salt, and pepper. Delish! Andrew had fun looking through the garage windows at the old cars inside the antique car restorations place.

After this rest stop we made our way through the rest of White Post, VA, which literally has a white post in the middle of town.

At this point I was riding into new territory as my longest ride before the century was 70 miles. I definitely knew I had enough left in the tank, but I think we were all starting to tire a bit. The rest stop at mile 92 was so refreshing because they had Rita's Italian Ice. I went with the guava flavor and it was sooo yummy.

After this rest stop we knew we just had 8 miles left until the finish, which was nothing compared to the 92 miles we had already ridden. It wasn't an easy coast to the finish though, because miles 94-100 were basically uphill. This climb probably wouldn't have felt so bad if we hadn't already ridden 96 miles. After this last push, we were back at the high school and had finished our first century!!

awkward picture of us eating ICE CREAM!! 

Woohoo!! After our ride we grabbed a bite to eat (a hot dog and some ice cream, unfortunately they were out of BBQ by the time we got there). We rode back to the car, changed clothes, and made our way back home. What a fun day! We were proud of ourselves for finishing our first 100 mile ride without too much trouble.

Final stats: 
Ride Time = 6:17
Total Time = 8:30 - hard to believe we spent >2 hours at rest stops...definitely didn't feel like it.
Elevation Profile =

I feel like I did a good job of fueling, although at times I felt like I was eating too much. I guess this helped me not to bonk though. I drank a ton of Nuun along the way, and I stayed properly hydrated as evidenced by the fact that I utilized the porta potty at every single rest stop.

I can't say enough good things about the Back Roads Century. The organization was top notch, the communication before and during the event was excellent, the volunteers were so friendly, the scenery was beautiful, and the nice weather was an added bonus. This is obviously a popular ride because this year and last, the rider cap of 2,300 was met. I would definitely do this ride again and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for an organized ride to do. If a century isn't your thing, there are also 25, 30, 50, and 65 mile routes.

So, will I do another century? Absolutely!