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Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

On a fine November day last year, Joel and I decided to sign up for the Sehgahunda Trail Marathon Relay. We ran it as a four person relay two years ago, which was fun, so we thought that it was a good idea to run it as a two person relay. Hmm…

The official training started in February. Luckily for me, Joel figured it all out. Run two short runs during the week and then a long run on the weekends. Seems easy enough. I quickly realized that running two days a week was not very feasible. Working full time and taking care of our daughter, the house, etc. kind of put a damper on my training plan. My weekday runs were 5 or 6 milers, so they worked well enough to run longer during the weekends. But once I hit the 9.5 mile mark, I also realized that I did have to run two days a week, otherwise I would not be able to start increasing my mileage without risking an injury. Luckily for us, my parents live in town so they have been very helpful with watching Julia for us so we can do this thing. I am super grateful for it! Even our neighbors helped us one weekend… so grateful!!

The 9.5 mile run was not too bad. On that run I surpassed my longest distance that I have ever ran since I started running about 5 years ago. Then two weekends ago, we ran 10.5 miles. “That was crazy!”, I thought. I felt super good and it gave me more confidence that I will be able to do this race.

Then, as I was running mile 10ish of my 11.5 mile training run on Sunday and Parachute Youth was blasting in my ear “Can’t Get Better Than This…“, I thought to myself… “Oh yes it can, actually!!”. At least I was in the woods and the song distracted me a bit and made me think of the mountain biking video where I discovered the song.

I remember after riding for a few years, a bunch of my friends were asking me why I was not racing. “You would do well!”, they said. My answer was always that cycling would become work. You have to ride a lot of hours to be able to have the stamina and fitness to be a racer. I ride because I love riding and because I love to explore the area on my bike. It is not my job… it is my hobby. The same goes for running. I love being in the woods and exploring our parks.

I recently read this article, which made me laugh but also resonated with me. It was called “I Hate Running” and the writer’s statement after finishing a 50 miler was on point. When someone congratulated him for finishing the race, his answer was something like “I just ran 750 miles… you just saw the last 50 miles!“. (Another great article to check out is “People Who Say That Running Is Fun Are Lying To You“.) Although my feat is not as great as his, this idea of running three times a week in order to complete a half marathon is kind of a chore. It has become work.

I am not sure why it feels this way. Perhaps all those years that I spent on the bike riding thousands of miles burned me out and this is starting to feel that way. Or perhaps the fact that I love to ride, run, hike, and other things makes me feel like I am stuck with this one thing. I guess that is the downside of having multiple hobbies. Ha!

Nevertheless, I am glad that I signed up for this race. I never in a million years would have thought that I would be able to run 10 miles, 11 miles, or even a half marathon. It is a good challenge and I do not want to stop. The race is on May 20th, so I am almost there. I guess that this race also made me realize that long distance running is not for me and that I am happier if I am able to do everything that I love instead of only one single activity.

As I write this, the weather forecast is calling for rain for tonight, on Thursday, and on Sunday. Another reason not to sign up for a race in Spring. Hooray for training!

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Since my pregnancy is coming close to the end, I started reminiscing about it. I have been so lucky to have such an easy pregnancy, which allowed me to stay fit all along. As I look back, I did do a lot of things as far as fitness goes.

I ran my first race when I was a little over a month pregnant in the Webster Turkey Trot. That was definitely an experience in itself. I did enjoy it more since I ran it with my sister. I told my sister that I was pregnant that same weekend and I remember her saying that she felt bad that she pushed me to keep going. HA!

At the end of the race…

I kept running for quite a while after that, since it was a fairly mild winter. Unfortunately at about 21 weeks, I had to stop running since my legs and feet hurt. I guess my legs and feet could not handle the extra weight that I was carrying. I tried trail running, but that did not feel any better. It was fine though, since there were other activities that I could still do.

During the winter months, Joel started to rock climb indoors. I decided to join him one day. We went to the Red Barn at RIT. Most of the climbing there is bouldering and not wall climbing. That part was a little better since I could not really wear a harness. It was definitely fun, but my belly kind of got in the way. :) Bouldering requires you to be close to the wall to keep your balance. Since my belly was sticking out, I could not really do that. HA! I did have fun, nonetheless, but I realized that it was not a good idea to keep it up.

Climbing at the Red Barn (16 weeks pregnant).

Cross country skiing was another activity that I did during the winter months. Although we did not have much snow this winter, I did manage to get out at least 4 or 5 times. The place to be this winter was at Bristol Mountain, since they made the snow for the cross country ski trails too. Even though the trail was not too long, it was still fun. I was lucky enough to have a few friends come with me, which made the outing more fun.

Cross country skiing at Bristol Mountain (17 weeks pregnant).

Once the warmer weather arrived, I started to bike again. There were actually a few times that I was able to ride in March due to the warm weather. I was able to ride a fair amount throughout my pregnancy. However, the closer I got to the last few weeks of my pregnancy, the more uncomfortable it got. I also felt tired more easily.

Riding belly shot! :) (22 weeks pregnant)

The last ride that I did was at 34 weeks. That was pretty good in my opinion. :) I felt lucky to be able to ride at all, especially as I was getting closer and closer to the end of my pregnancy. I was also lucky to have Joel and my friend Jane ride with me, since I did not think that riding by myself was a good idea. The miles went from 24 miles to 9.5 miles. It was interesting to experience the effects of pregnancy on my riding. The fact that your hips change greatly affects the sitting bones. The outcome is an uncomfortable saddle. Also, as my belly grew, I could feel it more and more while pedaling. That part was not uncomfortable, but I felt bad for hitting the girl with every pedal stroke. She probably did not appreciate that too much. :) It was also interesting how easily tired I got. This was even more noticeable during the rides that I did closer to the 34th week. I could only tolerate about 45 minutes of riding by that point. I must admit that I was a bit sad to give it up, since I really love cycling. But I am sure that I will be able to ride soon after the girl arrives.

After the ride (31 weeks pregnant).

I started taking a yoga class before I found out that I was pregnant. I think that the class has been helping a ton. I am always relaxed due to it, since the class is a restorative class. The poses have changed a bunch throughout my pregnancy. I no longer can lay on my back, among other things, and most of the poses are very supportive. Nevertheless, I still feel great after every class, so it is definitely beneficial. We have also been practicing breathing a bunch, which is good no matter what. I also think that the class has helped keep my balance intact. Everyone mentioned to me how pregnancy causes your balance to be off. That was not the case for me at all. I wonder if cycling helped with it as well.

32 weeks and 1 day pregnant…

Aside from all the activities that I mentioned above, walking and hiking was something that I always did, since they were tame on my legs and feet. I was lucky to have my friend Kristin join me a fair amount of times. I remember a couple of times we decided to go for a run, but then it turned into a hike or a walk. She has been super supportive of my changing body and abilities. We were always just happy to enjoy the outdoors and chat (of course!). :) Mendon Ponds Park, the Crescent Trail, and Dryer Road Park have been my favorite spots to hike. The canal has been a good spot for walking.

Hiking at Dryer Road Park.

As I mentioned already, I have been super lucky to  have such an easy pregnancy, which in turn allowed me to be stay active. I feel like being active was great for me as well as for the girl. I hope that it will continue after the girl arrives too. I am also looking forward to introducing the girl to all of these awesome activities. :)

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As Wednesday was approaching, I asked Joel if he would like to go for a bike ride. Wednesdays are usually our riding evening. He agreed to go, so I was excited.

The ride was pretty good. The route was 24 miles, which ended up a bit too much for me. I got really tired around mile 20 and I was ready to be done. Also, I really miss my regular cycling shorts and I can definitely feel the pressure of the new weight. I was getting pretty uncomfortable on the saddle during the ride, even though I stood up a bunch of times.

Also, since the bike fit is pretty aggressive, I was bent forwards a fair amount. The girl was pushing on the right side of my belly in the beginning of the ride, so I had to stretch a few times. I also kept massaging the side and telling her to move over a bit and she eventually did. She is so nice to me!! :)

Nevertheless, it was still a good ride and the weather was perfect, so I was glad to be out. In the earlier stages of my pregnancy, I kept thinking and hoping that I would be able to ride as much as possible during the pregnancy. So here I am at 7 months and I am still doing it… I am excited about that, since I really love cycling and miss it. I hope that I will still be able to ride as the weeks go by. I will just have to limit the miles to about 20.

The stats: 24 miles, 14.1 average. Not bad for being 7 months pregnant.

Après-ride…

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The weather has been super nice for the past few days and emails were flying around from my cycling friends about riding this weekend. I must admit that I was jealous. I have been itching to get on my bike for the past few days. But my bike was not tuned up and I was not sure if any of my cycling clothing still fit me. Nevertheless, I asked Joel if he wanted to go for a ride with me and he said yes. I was super excited!

Since I was not sure if any of my cycling clothing fit, I looked through my clothes and I picked a few shorts and jerseys. I am sad to say that my shorts no longer fit me. They are tight around the waist, which is no good for the baby. Luckily for me, Joel had a couple of cycling bibs, which he suggested that I try on. I was so excited that they actually fit me! Even better was the bib part, since it extended up my belly and provided belly support.

Next up were the jerseys. I was pretty surprised that three jerseys actually fit me really well. Joel also suggested that I try on a few of his jerseys, which also fit really well. I am now set for riding as much as I can! Wahoo!!

Riding belly shot! :)

We decided to ride around Mendon Ponds Park area, since it is not as hilly as our neighborhood. I must admit that I was a bit nervous about riding. I was not sure if it would feel ok. It was perfect!! I felt really great! It felt as though I did not stop riding for the winter. I am so excited that I felt so great! I love riding so much, I was a little sad about the possibility of not being able to ride this summer.

We rode for a little over an hour, which was plenty. I did get a little tired towards the end. The rolling hills were not too friendly as usual. But I guess that’s how it is for the first ride of the season. Also, as I was pedaling, I could feel my legs touching my belly a little. It was not a big deal, but I can foresee a bike change (my old bike) as my belly gets bigger. One caveat about being pregnant is that the bladder is not in a very good spot. I had to pee for the last 15 minutes of the ride. Next time I will have to find a public restroom or a port-a-potty during the ride. HA!

Our stats were: 1 hour and 15 minutes, 17 miles, and 13.4 average.

I wish that our average was better, but I am still happy. Not bad for a first ride of the season and for being almost 22 weeks pregnant! :)

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We have had a very wet spring this year. Then about two weeks ago, the clouds dispersed and the red ball of fire, also known as the sun, emerged. Finally… a chance to ride the new bike!

The Rochester Bicycling Club calendar includes a ride every Friday evening called Fast Friends Friday. It is one of my favorite weeknight ride offered by the RBC. The ride starts at Dryer Road Park on Dryer Rd and it wonders around the Victor/Bloomfield/Bristol area. I have done this ride hundreds of times and I am still in awe about how beautiful the area is. The ride is fairly hilly, which is challenging, but at the same time it allows you to catch glimpses of the Bristol Hills area. One look at the beautiful scenery and you forget how painful the climbs up the numerous hills were. The ride also includes my absolute favorite descent, which is on Baptist Hill Road. I actually reached 38.5 mph during my last ride. It was so awesome!! Much better than going up it. HA! Another favorite road is Strong Road. Somehow I always find my way to it even when not riding the Fast Friends Friday ride. The road is fairly flat and on the days when there is a tail wind, you can just fly. It is so much fun!!

Unfortunately, the clouds have come back and it is raining again. Hopefully, that red ball of fire will re-emerge soon, because I am really liking my new bike and I would love to ride it again.

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Yes, I did it again. I once again signed up to do the Highlander Cycle Tour ride. As my alarm was going off at 5:00 in the morning last Saturday, I was thinking to myself “Why did I sign up to do this ride again!!”. I did have two good reasons. This year I did not have to work hard to recruit people to ride with. My friend Dan mentioned that he and a few of his friends were going to do the ride, so I was set. Also, the day before the ride, the forecast predicted sunny skies and mid 70s.

There were a couple of caveats though. The temperature was going to be in the mid 40s at the start of the ride. I was not very happy about that. And, the fact that I had to be in the Bristol Mountain parking lot at 6:30 am did not make me very happy either. I did try to talk Dan and his friends into starting the ride later, but they did not budge.

Joel bundled up and ready to go.

Joel and I arrived in the Bristol Mountain parking lot at 6:30 am sharp. We met up with Dan, who was not too happy about the 6:30 am meeting time either. He lives on the west side, so his drive was a bit long.

Dan at the start of the ride.

Once we bundled up, the rest of the gang met us, we snapped a group photo, and off we went.

My crew: Sean, Dan, Shawn, Christian, Steve, and Joel. Yep... 6 guys and me. Classic! :)

We took a right out of the parking lot; right on Route 34; left on Route 33; a couple of turns and then on to Gulick; up on French Hill (Ugh! This was one of the steepest climbs on the route.); south towards Wayland on 36 to 92 to 21, which took us to Neils Creek (I love this road!!); east on Route 7 towards Prattsburg; down on Itally Hill Rd into Branchport (One of the best downhills!! Much better than going up it.); made a loop in Keuka Lake’s bluff (Loved the view!!); north on 28 to 31 to 364 towards Middlesex; south on West Ave to 245 into Naples; up Route 12 (Yes, again!! Ugh! I say it every year… is it really necessary!); left on 64 and back into the Bristol Mountain parking lot. In the end, my bike computer showed 102 miles.

Joel and I at the rest stop in Prattsburg.

I really loved the route this year! It was super scenic and beautiful. Also, 90% of the roads did not have very much traffic on them, so it was a very civilized ride. No car fumes and angry drivers this time!! A few of my favorite roads were Route 34, West Hollow Rd/Route 33, Gulick Rd, Neils Creek Rd/Route 6, Prattsburg-Itally Hill Rd, and the roads in Keuka Lake’s bluff.

Dan at the rest stop in Prattsburg.

As we were riding on Route 34, which was one of the first roads that we rode on, we noticed a house that had steam rising off of its roof. Also, the sun was out, which made the steam look even more dramatic. It was so pretty! West Hollow Rd has always been a favorite. It is located in the valley of Gannett Hill, so it is very scenic. Neils Creek Rd/Route 6 was part of last year’s route, so I was very happy that it was once again on the route. It is such a beautiful road. It reminds me of the Adirondacks. And lastly, Keuka Lake is by far one of the most beautiful places in the Finger Lakes. I always look forward to riding around there.

Overall, the ride was good. I really enjoyed the company. The boys were really nice to me, and allowed me to draft behind them. :) The worst part about the ride was the fact that a few of the rest stops had only one Porta-Potty. The bathroom lines were long, which caused our rest stops to be long. That is not a good thing when riding. It makes it difficult to get back on the bike.

View of Canandaigua Lake from the top of Route 12.

The rest areas were really great though! They are one of the reasons why I do this ride every year. Since it is such a long ride, I don’t have to worry about food and drinks. “So what do you usually eat during such a long ride?” you ask. I ate 3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a bunch of pretzel sticks, a piece of watermelon, a piece of orange, 1 fig newton, and 1 ½ bananas. I also drank a bunch of water and about 5 bottles of Gatorade. I decided to wear my heart rate monitor just for kicks. Apparently I burned 3551 calories. Yikes!! The dinner after the ride sure tasted good! :)

Much deserved apres ride beverage! :)

My recovery was as usual. I was pretty tired the day after the ride. I did feel better as the week progressed. My legs were surprisingly fine. Not much soreness at all. I was very pleased about that. :)

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Two weekends ago, Joel and I drove to Philadelphia to ride in the LIVESTRONG Challenge. The challenge offered a few ride options, such as a 45 mile ride, a 70 mile ride, as well as a 100 mile ride. We opted for the 100 mile ride. Since our families have been affected by cancer, we decided that it was the perfect opportunity to raise money and awareness for the cause while doing something that we both truly enjoy. Our friends Scott and Marianne organized the outing. They booked rooms, organized a Fuelfest dinner the day before the ride, and even had jerseys made for the entire team.

On Saturday morning, we headed to the LIVESTRONG Village to pick up our ride numbers and goody bags. The “village” also included a bunch of booths from numerous vendors related to cycling and fitness.

The LIVESTRONG Village

The rest of the day included lunch at Parc Brasserie (I had the most delicious Salade niçoise there!!), walking around Rittenhouse Square, and shopping on Walnut Street. After our relaxing day, we were off to the Fuelfest dinner.

The Fuelfest dinner was amazing! Scott’s friend Kate and her family outdid themselves. They had several appetizers, a really delicious mushroom lasagna, grilled veggies, salad, and some kind of beef – since I don’t eat beef, I am not sure what it was. :) We were very grateful for the delicious dinner! Thank you Kate and family!!

Theo, Tom, and Suzanne at the ride start.

The ride day finally arrived. All the riders were required to be at the start of the ride by 7:30 am. Throughout the weekend we kept watching the forecast. The night before the ride, the forecast stated 80% chance of heavy rain. I was not very happy about the prediction. I hate riding in the rain. It was already sprinkling as soon as we left the hotel door, but luckily it stopped once we got to the event’s parking lot. The parking lots were filled. I could not believe how many people were there. (According to an email sent from the organizers after the event, 5,700 riders, runners, and walkers participated in the challenge. Amazing!!)

Joel and Mark at the start of the ride.

We rode to the designated ride start, and waited for the official start. Apparently Lance Armstrong was there and was giving a speech, but I could not hear a word. He apparently even started the ride with us, but I did not see that either, since we were towards the back of the pack.

Riders waiting to start the 100 mile loop.

The ride was, well… interesting. It started to rain a quarter of the way, and then it down poured for about half an hour or more. We were drenched! I hate the feeling of the rain hitting my skin. It feels like needles. Also, I could not see where I was going. I debated about taking my sunglasses off, but then the rain was coming into my eyes, so I left them on. My shoes were filling with water too. I really hate that! After the downpour fiasco, the rain finally stopped. For a little while at least. Also, since the forecast was calling for thunderstorms, they closed the 100 mile loop, so we had to turn at the 70 mile loop. I hate to admit it, but deep, deep down inside I was fairly happy about that. I was ready to get off the bike at mile 25. We finished the ride on dry roads. The sun actually came out for half an hour or so, which made me happy.

Scott fixing a flat.

Loren and Tom waiting for Scott to fix the flat.

Despite all the rain, however, I was still happy that I rode. The route was very scenic. The area reminded me of the Finger Lakes, minus the steep climbs. There were also a few very fun twisty descents, which we would have enjoyed more if the roads were not wet. Also, the ride was very well supported, and riders were everywhere throughout the route, which is always motivating.

Kelly and I

The best part about the ride was the spectators who were also out in the rain cheering for us. It was pretty emotional. All of them thanked us for riding. How great is that!! No one has ever thanked me for riding my bike before. As a matter of fact, no one has ever cheered for me for riding my bike. The ride finish was even more emotional. There were a lot more spectators there, and the cheering made it all worth the discomfort and some pain that we endured throughout the ride. If only the cancer patients and survivors were lucky enough to endure that small amount of discomfort and pain. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

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