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Things I’m loving lately

07.03.2014

It’s Thursday… but it feels like Friday! Don’t you love those days?

Actually, between the weather and the prospect of seeing my family this weekend, the whole week has felt like vacation. I started the day bright and early yesterday, with a bike ride. I actually had an alarm malfunction (I forgot to turn the sound on), but woke up on my own at 5:15, and was out the door by 5:30. I’m clearly getting in the habit of the early morning wake up. I met up with the BHCC riders and we headed to Quincy Shore Drive… I made it all of four miles with them before I got dropped. I knew the route (mostly), and had 29 miles under my belt when I got home at 7:30.

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This morning I headed to Walden to meet Katy for a swim. The water is finally warm enough that wet suits aren’t necessary, so we just hopped right in and took off. We went once around the pond, and then did a little more… according to the swim map it was about 2,500 yards. The pond was so pretty this morning, it was kind of hard to leave.

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It occurred to me recently that I learned about some of my favorite products and places through other blogs, so I thought I’d share a few quick things I’ve been loving lately (tri training edition):

1. Dry Pak: I originally bought this to keep my phone safe when kayaking. However, when I discovered that I could take underwater photos with it, I started bringing it on swims too. Not only is it totally waterproof, it also floats, and had a lanyard and a clip so you can attach the bag to your lifejacket/wetsuit. I wear it around my neck and then tuck it into my wetsuit when I take off on a swim. Pretty great.

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2. Strava: Despite the founders coming out to November Project last year, I was a bit slow to jump on the Strava bandwagon. I generally use Map My Run because I like the interface better, and many of my friends use it. But when I started biking more, I found Strava was sort of the industry-standard. BHCC members all use it, and there are a ton of public routes you can peruse. Because my rides are so much longer than my runs, the segmentation that Strava does makes more sense. I also like that I can create “privacy zones” around my work and home, so people who see my ride don’t automatically know where I live. I’ll still use Map My Run for running, but I’ll be on Strava when I’m on the bike.

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typical Strava map

3. Salted Caramel Gu: Energy gels can be pretty disgusting, so I was pleasantly surprised when I tried the salted caramel flavor during the Ashland Tri and liked it. I’ve long been a fan of Gu’s Orange gels, but some of the flavors (and brands) have left me grossed out. The salted caramel has a nice balance of sweet and salty, and contains 20 mg of caffeine.

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4. Yogurtland: Boston has been inundated with fro-yo places over the past year, but Yogurtland is by far my favorite (I might like it a bit too much, given that the people who work there now know me). It’s self-serve, so you can make a treat the way you like it and they have incredible flavors- from the standard tart to graham cracker to guava. I’m a huge fan of matcha green tea, which is hard to find in these parts. but Yogurtland has it pretty reliably. Coconut and taro are also delicious. I’ve long been skeptical of taro (it’s a potato after all), but taro fro-yo is amazing. I don’t know how I lived so long without it. I’m not huge on toppings, but Yogurtland has a bunch- from Capt’n Crunch cereal to mango popping boba. It’s where fro-yo dreams come true.

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5. Trader Joe’s Lavender scrub. I’m sort of famous for ending my bike rides with an ugly bike grease mark on the inside of my right calf. Anyone who’s dealt with bike chains knows that grease is pretty stubborn and regular soap won’t take it off. But this affordable ($5.99 at TJs) and nicely scented salt scrub does the trick, leaving my skin soft and mark free. I used the grapefruit scrub for years and haven’t been able to find it lately. Give me a shout if you see it near you, please.

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Got something you’re loving lately? Leave a comment!

end of June training

06.30.2014

Last week finally felt like a good, full training week. I swam, I biked, I even ran a little and did a brick one day.

A brick is a bike ride followed by a run. I only had time to do two miles after my ride Wednesday, but I’m glad I did. Since I was only doing two, I pushed it a bit harder than I would have if I was aiming for five, and was pleasantly surprised with how my legs felt. I’ll be doing more bricks in the coming weeks, with longer runs added on. These will likely have to happen on the weekends, as I run out of time in the mornings before work.

sbrGot in a bit of everything last week

Workouts this week looked like this:

Monday: swim 1,000, aqua jog 30, bike 6
Tuesday: bike 24, run 2
Wednesday: bike 27, run 2, PT
Thursday: swim Walden, PT
Friday: bike 15, run 3
Saturday: ride 15
Sunday: REST

Totals: Swim 2,700, bike 81, run 7

My weekend plans sort of fell apart. I wanted to ride long on Saturday, but work up feeling crummy, so I pushed my ride back to the afternoon. The plan was to head to Walden with my cousin and then ride home while she drove my car. But when I got out there I realized I’d forgotten my water bottles. By the time I dropped her, got home, and got on the bike, it was 6 p.m. and I was running out of time. So I rode hard for an hour and then called it quits. Not optimal, but better than nothing.

Balancing training and life is tricky. I could have done my ride Sunday, but I also really wanted to go fishing, so I opted for that. I haven’t been yet this season, and I’m not likely to get many chances in July or August. So I took a rest day and fished. Unlike past years, I made sure to bring healthy snacks and didn’t drink, so it wasn’t a total wash. And the fishing was successful, so that’s a big win. I’ve got two larger striped bass fillets to grill, and enough leftover bait to make potted mackerel with. (For the record, I caught the mackerel myself. I wouldn’t recommend cooking with fish bought as bait.)

fishbounty of the sea

I have a similar issue this coming weekend. Originally, I planned to stay in town for the 4th, but then found out that my whole family was going to be in North Carolina. My family lives in England, so I booked a ticket last week. I’ll be there for five days, and while I’ll be able to run and do PT, I’m not sure how to handle biking and swimming. I might be able to find a pool, but renting a road bike is expensive. I’ve mapped out a series of workouts and hikes, and plan to get back on the bike when I return.

I’ve also mapped out a running strategy that will hopefully increase my mileage over the next few weeks without overdoing it. Running is still not an optimal activity, but with a lot of stretching and foam rolling, it seems do-able.

So that’s that. Training continues. Life does too. Just not always at the same time.

Riding with the Blue Hills Cycling Club

06.23.2014

If there was any doubt about my current biking abilities, my race performance last Sunday, showed I have a lot of work to do.

For weeks, I’ve been endeavoring to get out the door by 5:30 a.m. and check out the Blue Hills Cycling Club. Waking up at 4:45 is almost ungodly, but it’s been happening with increased frequency lately. It helps that the sun rises at 5.

IMG_5706Walden. To be in by 6, I have to be up by 5.

 

But in addition to an ungodly wake-up call, the fact is that I’ve been scared to go to a ride. I know I’m not as fast as I once was, and I know I’ll probably get dropped. Cyclists can also be an overly competitive bunch and there have been times, even when I was in peak physical condition, that guys (it’s almost always a guy) have made me feel like I shouldn’t be there. Of course, this always just makes me get mad and motivates me to ride harder, but it also stinks and makes me not want to go back. I wasn’t sure what I’d find at the weekday rides, when folks are trying to squeeze in a certain number of miles before work.

The 6 a.m. rides start a few miles from my place, which means I can ride to the ride, and not waste time in the car/battling traffic. Dorchester between 5:30 and 6 is relatively quiet, and I made it to Milton a few minutes early. Six guys showed up, a big change from the NP workouts that sometimes exceed 700. Folks introduced themselves- a few of them had done the Harpoon B2B ride last weekend, an arduous 130-mile journey from Bedford, MA to Okemo Mountain, Vermont. This was to be a “recovery ride” for them.

We took off towards Quincy at a quick clip. I tucked into the pace line, but as soon as we hit the first hill I got dropped. We regrouped at a stop light and I managed to more or less stay with the group until we got to Quincy Shore Drive. “Go ahead and get on his wheel,” one guy told me as I turned the corner. But despite pedaling at 25 mph, I never caught the guy whose wheel I was supposed to get on. They were FAST. I’m sure that riding along the ocean was beautiful, and that the sunrise was really pretty, but the only thing I remember from this stretch is pushing as hard as I could and watching the group in front of me get further and further away. One guy, recovering from a lung infection, hung back, gave me a pull, and then told me what the next few turns were in case I got dropped again (I did). We turned at Furnace Brook Parkway and rode it to the end, and then I missed a turn, and somehow caught up with them on Willard Street. That was the last I saw of most of the guys. I’m a terrible hill climber, and it took me a while to make it through Blue Hills. The same guy came back for me, and we rode together the rest of the way at a pace that was fast for me (18/19 mph), but no one else.

We made it back to Milton by 7 and said our goodbyes. That guy could have left me at any point, but he didn’t and I was really appreciative. I was actually appreciative of the whole experience. The group could not have been nicer, and while I basically got dropped, I realize that everyone is out there to train hard, and I certainly don’t want to hold anyone back. I also know that pushing yourself to ride with people who are faster than you is a really great way to get faster. Maybe next week, I’ll manage to ride four miles without getting dropped. The next week, perhaps five or six… and so on. I always know where I am, I know how to change a flat and find my way home, so I have nothing to lose.

After the ride, I went online and joined BHCC. I want to endeavor to ride with them two or three times a week, and I figure if I’m taking advantage of the organization, I should pay for the $25 membership. Yes, I feel like I’m cheating on November Project. But I know what my body needs, and I’m not foregoing it entirely. My thought is that I’ll bike Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, and do NP-related things Tuesdays and Fridays. If it rains, I’ll skip biking in favor of NP/running.

Speaking of running, I’ve had almost no pain in my hip since my race last week. Given that, my PT thinks that I can start incorporating some runs into my routine again! Or course, now I have to figure out when/how to do that, given that much of my time is now devoted to swimming, biking, and PT. But I’m looking forward to getting back on my feet again.

My PT has been taking up a good amount of time. I want to do it right, which means doing focusing on form and slowing down. I need 45 minutes to an hour to get through the whole routine.

IMG_5686Clamshells are life.

My workouts last week looked like this:
Monday: REST
Tuesday: REST
Wednesday: Bike 14, 19 sections at Stadium, PT
Thursday: swim at Walden, PT
Friday: Bike 30, run 2, PT
Saturday: Run 3.5, PT
Sunday: Bike 35

Totals: run 5.5, bike 79, swim 1

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