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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sidelined: Starting the aging process young

Remember a few posts ago when I decided I was interested I was interested in running a half-mary? Well, I guess I won't be after all. I've been having a weird hip problem recently; the past few days it's kinda blown up and now it hurts to walk or sit. Ridiculous. I must be the youngest person I know to have a bum hip! I'm off to the school health clinic tomorrow to see what's up. Being a poor graduate student on a very limited budget and one without a car (I have to walk a lot), this could get iffy. But, it is what it is, and I have to play the hand I was dealt. Needless to say, I'm a little sad to give up the half-mary goal. The registration is due tomorrow and I just don't know whether I'll be okay to run in October.

Today, despite the achy hip, my roommate and I went to a Fleet Feet store. All I have to say is: wow. After measuring my feet, looking at my walking gait, a quick discussion of what I do for running, and a glance at my old shoes, the salesman brought out 3 pairs of shoes, all of which fit perfectly and were comfortable. I'm sure they have some kind of formula or something, but to me it was like magic. Buying running shoes by oneself is a daunting process. Apparently, my last pair of shoes (which I purchased on advice from Amy) were pretty good, but I needed even just a little bit more support. The ones I ended up getting were Brooks Adrenaline GTS 9 in a cool slate blue and white color scheme. Interestingly enough, I had gone up half a size since last summer. Guess all the standing at my old retail job combined with all this running had an effect! My shoes also came with one of those metal waterbottles so trendy right now. I am so excited to run in my new kicks. But, alas, no dice until my hip stops hurting.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Get lost: On how to turn a 40 minute run into an 1:45 one

I'd like to share an amusing anecdote from this past week. I had roped my friend into going for a run with me Tuesday night. On the half-mary schedule was a 40 minute moderate run (after switching the schedule around). He living about equi-distant as me from this little bridge over one of the lakes in Shaker Heights, we decided to meet up there around 7pm. To keep things simple, we decided to do 20 minutes up the road on the northern side of the park (aptly named North Park), then turn around and head back.

So we cruise up North Park, up around the second lake, and followed what we thought was North Park straight across an intersection. We keep running until we hit 20 minutes. As there were a ton of people mowing their lawns on North Park, we decided to walk a little bit, as I'm allergic to grass and it was bothering my asthma. So as we are walking down the street, all of a sudden we come to the intersection of North Park and another street. Whaa? Weren't we on North Park? Numerous attempts to head back in the correct direction all ended up looping us around to the same location. Once we finally thought we were going in the right direction, we then realized we were actually headed in the exact wrong direction. This time, however, we found ourselves on a major road in Shaker Heights, this one a straight road with no weird turns! Finally, an hour and forty five minutes later we got back. Crazy! Silly Van Sweringen brothers and their loopy plan for Shaker.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Good-bye summer, hello insanity

Tomorrow is the first day of class, and I'm already double-booked. This semester is going to be absolutely off the hook:
  • 20 hrs/wk at graduate assistantship
  • Full course load, including a time-intensive independent study creating a neighborhood plan for Birdtown in Lakewood (which is kinda a haul to get to).
  • 10 hrs/wk other projects
  • Downtown Cleveland Alliance City Advocate program
  • President of CSU/APA, our student chapter of the American Planning Association
  • Half-mary training
  • Applications for whatever the heck I end up doing after graduation
So, please forgive me if I post infrequently. I'll do the best I can, but merely staying afloat would be a success in itself. :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Half mary

I think I've found my next goal: a half marathon. Why a half mary? When thoughts like "13.1" and "half-mary" and "remember that time you ran 12 miles?" keep popping into one's head, at some point, one has to listen. I haven't officially signed up for anything yet, nor I am solid on whether I even want to do it, but there's a nice race about halfway between Cleveland and Akron in some parkland in October that sounds very tempting. The race would be about six weeks away, but I am confident I could at least finish. Plus I think I've roped a friend into doing it as well!

Having no real idea on how to train for a 13.1 mile race, I consulted the Half Marathon Special article in the August '09 Runner's World. I have a very nice co-worker who lets me read her copies after she is finished with it! In the magazine, there's a beginner's half marathon plan. It seems quite doable, if we start with week 4 on this coming Monday, and with a few modifications. Namely, to sub out one of the XT workouts or the Monday run with interval training of some type. Surges, tempo runs, fartleks, etc., on the track. I am reserving at least one XT workout for swimming!

I did the 7 mile conversational pace run from week 3 today. Lesson learned: fuel properly BEFORE a run. I bonked a mere 20 minutes into the run and had to eat my emergency gel and walk a little. That managed to reverse it because about 10 minutes later I felt perfectly fine and finished the rest of the run without a problem except for stumbling after tripping over an uneven sidewalk slab. My inner-ring suburb is old enough to have slate sidewalks, which don't always lie perfectly flat!

Friday, August 14, 2009

On this steel horse I ride: Jay, my Peugeot

I have a penchant for naming my bikes. First, there was Mike the Bike, the one that started it all. Purchased early on in my college years at a garage sale, Mike was a late 1970s silver Panasonic road bike. We got it and a smaller sister bike, a tiny mixte, for $5. If you're going to purchase a bike as an around-campus beater, $2.50 is a pretty good price. Minus nearly every cable breaking on Mike at some point or another, he was a great bike until I crashed it this past October. Totalling one's bike while riding slowly around a corner on dry, smooth pavement on a sunny Friday afternoon is all kinds of embarrassing and sad, let me tell you. I still have Mike, he's sitting in my room with parts hanging off and a parking ticket sticker on it. 

As I don't own a car, and the public transit system is only so convenient, I needed another bike. I headed down to our local bike co-op and bought the only bike I could afford: Ross the Diamond Cruiser. An early precursor to the mountain bike, it has two inch wide tires, a black frame, and shiny cruiser-style handlebars. Yeah, it's definitely a unique bike. Ross now has a basket and is used for short, errand type trips, except I hardly ever take any, so mostly he sits and collects dust. When I realized I wasn't riding much because my bike wasn't appropriate to the kind of riding I enjoy most, it was time to shop for a new bike. 

Still being a poor graduate student, and one with little time, I trolled craigslist for weeks until I found it: a 1981 Peugeot PH8 steel frame touring bike in electric blue. The beautiful color, the chrome fenders and rack, the integrated headlight/taillight with a bottle generator, downtube friction shifters, and the road bike geometry were perfect. So, I reserved a CityWheels car and drove to a local suburb to test drive my future ride. Got there too early, and went to a local park to kill time, where I saw a blue jay. Some kind of fate, clearly, because the bike was perfect for me and I bought it. I named it Jay - a French name for a French bike, a blue bird's name for a blue bike, an elegant character's name (Jay Gatsby) for an elegant bike. Jay is great because it's a nice commuting bike what with having a rack and all, and it is a light and fast enough bike to do double duty as a road bike. He's had a few upgrades: all new cables, new handlebar tape, new saddle, new city tires (fatter than road tires, but hella more durable), rack bag, bento box, all to make it a comfortable ride. So, here's to many more miles with Jay, my steel horse. :) 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Finishing my educational career

"Educational career" is my way of elevating school to something other than, well, school. The fall semester is nearly here. Gulp. At least this time, though, it's my last first day of school, my last fall semester, my last year. In less than a year, I'll break my streak of 21 years of formal education in some form or another. But enough waxing poetic, and on to the nitty gritty: the course schedule.

I have one last required class before our capstone class in the spring. It's some kind of real estate market analysis. I could see this class being really useful, especially since I will probably get my real estate license if I end up in economic development. This leaves room for two electives. I could pick a concentration, and take all my classes in a certain field, but I'd rather take what interests me and gives me the broadest education. With that in mind, I registered for Sacred Landmarks. It's a historic preservation class that meets alternating Saturdays. I'm guessing (or hoping) Saturdays were chosen because there are field trips. Having done the 9-5 class on alternating Saturdays this past spring, let me tell you, one really needs field trips and other activities to break it up. The last class currently is Distressed People, Distressed Places. I had this professor back in the spring, and realized he apparently has a penchant for unique class names. A highly engaging professor whose lectures I enjoyed, but really, what is up with the strange names? Our introduction to economic development class this past spring was titled Urban Spatial Structures. So I'm not entirely sure what this new class is going to be about, but sometimes you just want to stick with the good professors. If that elective doesn't work out, I'll probably take environmental planning, which really interests me, but it is on a slightly less convenient evening for me. 

School starts in less than two weeks. The one thing I am excited about is that it is nearly over. I have only two more classes after this fall to take in the spring, and then: GRADUATION! But within these two weeks, I must write the essay for my summer internship course credit, and get a million things pulled together for the professional organization of which I am president. I'll get through it. *May 15, 2010* is going to be my mantra. 

Monday, August 10, 2009

I came, I tri-ed, I "conquered" ... now what?

It's been an interesting week since the race. Had caffeine in some fashion nearly ever day, two yoga classes, bike commuted once, swam 35 minutes, and danced my behind off at a wedding. That's it, though. I hadn't intended to take a week off, but that's essentially what happened. A nice respite from trying to do the 3/2/1 (runs/bikes/swim per week) - that felt pretty confining towards the end. Routine is nice and all, but I did routine starings at the black line of a pool for 13 years and I was interested in some variety and flexibility. Thought triathlon training would provide that - and it did to some extent - but I still felt constricted. Regardless, I don't have anything to train for (yet), so now working out will probably feel rather pointless. There's something to be said for simple fitness maintenance, but then again, there's a lot to be said for having a date written down on the calendar as a goal. 

I tossed around the idea of doing a half-mary; after all, I did a 12 mile run unintentionally earlier this spring (long story). Almost signed up for one with my friend until we got some serious sticker shock at the entry fees. As I don't have a car, I'm pretty limited in where I can go for a race, so if a friend is interested in one and they have a car, I always look into it. Tossed around the idea of trying to beat my PR in the 5k, which seems the most likely option right now, but I think I need to convince a different friend to do it for pacing purposes. Tossed around the idea of the Stockade-athon (a 15k race in my hometown), but it is on a weekend too close to Thanksgiving and not worth an entire trip home. I'll do it someday, it's on the list of 100 Things The Furmanator Should Do Before She Bites The Dust. 

I'm also considering taking a month off running. Focusing on my yoga. Building my cycling endurance, as I plan on applying to Bike & Build for next summer. I noticed today during yoga that after a week of not running, my hamstrings and hip flexors responded much faster to the stretches. I had my best downward dogs yet, and I even did a half-moon pose! I also am considering joining a local water polo club, but my skills are a little rusty, so we'll see.

I guess the point of this entry was to say that even though I finished the triathlon, I'll keep the blog going. I may only have 1-2 readers, but it's nice to have a record of life and thoughts. I also have some (potentially provocative) things to say regarding urban planning and Cleveland. Can't quite shut me up yet. :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cleveland Triathlon: Results

Thanks to Amy, who managed to find the results online a whole two days ahead of schedule:

Swim: 10:54 (includes T1), swimming about 1:30-1:36/100m (very approx... and slow)
Bike: 1:02:08, riding about 15.5 mph.
T2: 1:12
Run: 25:58, holding around an 8:23 mile.
Total: 1:40:11, or 6/18 in my age group, or 100/288 (or 100/292 if you count the 4 DNFs).

With improvements to my cycling speed (through training and through equipment upgrades), and increases in my running endurance, I could see an Olympic distance triathlon in my future.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cleveland Triathlon: Sprint Distance RR

Aw, my very first race report. Apparently race reports should be long, drawn-out, epic tales of trials and tribulations, so hopefully mine will not disappoint. It certainly qualifies as long. My inaugural triathlon went REALLY well. I was going to wait to post until I got my final time and my splits and such, but it appears they won't be posted until Wednesday. From the unofficial results sheet posted, I finished around 1:40 and was sixth in my age group. Considering my goal time was to finish under two hours, I was really happy with my result. Okay, let's break it down:

[Jay, my 1981 Peugeot PH8 touring bike, all ready for his first (and hopefully only) triathlon. Hopefully my next triathlon will be done on a racing bike, not a touring bike. Also, my macbook's Photo Booth flips the photo around in case you're confused.]

Pre-race: I didn't sleep as well as I would have liked last night, but when the alarm went off at 4:26 am (ugh) I actually felt ready to go. Quick shower to warm up, ate some breakfast, pumped up the tires, and got on the 5:26 train downtown. Got to the transition area to discover that arriving early was not really necessary as there were only two racks for my "wave" (note: not heat, like in swimming). Laid everything out, including a pile of "just in case" clothes. Met up with my two friends who were also doing the race (one a first timer just like me) and lined up for the swim.

Swim: GROSS. They had us tread water before the start and I kept hitting nasty seaweed (lakeweed?). The start was really disorganized. We were kind of just milling around and all of a sudden they started us. I was expecting to get lined up like the previous two heats had been, so I was kinda chilling in the middle of the pack, instead of out front like I had intended. I spent the first few minutes of the swim trying to get past people, and finally got my own "space" after the first buoy. After the second buoy, started catching up to the stragglers from the heat in front of us, which resulted in me coming to a complete stop at least 3x. I had intended to try to "win" the swim for my heat, but I was also have trouble sighting, so I had to stay behind the lead girls. The water was disgusting and I was so happy to get out of there that I forgot getting out onto a dock is not the same as a pool and fell back in. :) It was hilarious to be helped out by these two volunteers! 

T1: Once up the slippery ramp, I was able to jog into the transition area. Decided to just bike in the outfit I had on (two piece swim top and tri shorts), since it wasn't raining. Note to self: bring a small towel to dry feet off. I kinda rubbed them around on the floor towel then shoved my shoes on. Jogged the bike up to the mount line and I was off.

Bike: I ate a gel as soon as I got on the bike, good thing I managed to ooze it all over my face and the photographer caught it... haha. Starting off the cycling portion all sticky was interesting. Riding on the shoreway was actually quite nice. It is surprisingly hilly. Bike commuting of the Giant Hill of Doom (Cedar Road, Edgehill, Stokes/Fairhill) was probably the best thing I could do training-wise. The only time I was really able to pass people was going up the inclines. Of course, since I don't weigh much, have wide tires, and don't have aero-bars, I kept getting passed on the way down. I also managed to either break my front derailleur or screw up my shifter (I rock downtube friction shifters. Be jealous.) since I wasn't able to shift into the big ring. My only hope on downhills is to be able to shift high enough to pedal downhill, but no such luck today. I tried to tuck myself into the most aero position I could do to compensate. Nutrition-wise, I ate the Gu Chomps, which are like big gummy bears, but ridiculously sticky. The course was actually quite scenic. You pass right by downtown and the lakefront and see all the cool lofts and industrial sites and such. Going by on a bike at ~12-15mph gives one a much better opportunity to sightsee than driving on the shoreway at ~55-65mph. 

T2: I don't have cycling shoes (yet), so I was able to have a really fast transition. Jogged my bike in only to discover our rack had been knocked over. This is probably the only time having a kickstand on my bike turned out to be an advantage. :) Switched helmet to a visor (thanks, Anthony Travels!), put my race belt number on, and was off. 

Run: Coming out of transition straight into a hill was not fun, but there was an aid station to distract me. I got two cups of water, one to sip from, one to dump over my hands in an attempt to de-sticky myself. Only somewhat successful. I felt really good on the run and just tried to maintain a constant pace, and I ended up next to a middle-aged man running the exact same pace. We pretty much ran side by side for about 2 out of the 3.1 miles. The course was okay until I hit some headwind on Lakeside Ave. Cruising downhill around the Browns stadium was fun, but the last little run around the harbor and under the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was hard. I saw a girl in my age group pass me, and I tried to catch up, but didn't quite have it in me. Finishing was fun. Not only did they announce my bib number, but they announced my name and said that I had a good race. They might have been tipped off by me pumping my arms over the finish line (the photographer was there!) but I like to think they were just amazed at my triathlon prowess. ;) 

I'll post my official times when I get them. Right now I'd like to thank my roommate JS for the awesome poster on my bedroom door and the wild goose chase to find a cycling jacket yesterday (only to not need it today, ha), my friend DN for cheering loud enough that I could actually hear and for the ride back, my friends DP and MS for also doing the race, everyone who commented on facebook and twitter wishing me luck, my family for saying they wished they could be here today, BH for providing foundational advice on triathlons back in the fall, and most especially, Amy for providing advice, inspiration, and the chance to witness a rockstar Ironman performance. I'd also like to thank whoever invented showers because man, that one felt good. 

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pre-race preparations

I had a million things to do today to get ready for this race: 
  • One last micro-workout (15 mins on bike, 15 mins jog with one 20 yard surge to make sure my legs were still there). 
  • Pick up the race packet (train trip downtown and then sat through course director's meeting)
  • Fill inhaler prescription
  • Find a cycling jacket (weather forecast is looking iffy) and bar end plugs. Ended up buying a bento box, too (best idea EVER).
  • Buy some duct tape to make sure bar end plugs stay in, this will be my third set for this roll of bar tape!! 
  • Buy Immodium. I'm feeling fine, but you never know what will happen during a race...
  • Strip down all the commuter accoutrements off my bike. Not that they add a lot of weight or anything, but my touring bike with its fenders and headlights already looks a little silly for a triathlon. Leaving a bell on won't help. :)
  • Pack the saddle and bento bags.
  • Assemble a new pair of goggles (note to self: don't leave goggles at the gym). 
  • Pack all the other stuff for the race. Thank goodness I brought my old Speedo backpack, because that thing is HUGE. Good thing it's almost full. I just want to make sure I have everything, because I'm not sure what the weather is going to do. 
I also had some other miscellaneous errands unrelated to the triathlon like dropping a dress to be repaired at the tailor's and buying a gift for my friend who watched my plants while I was away. Thank goodness, because I feel like if I had time to sit and think I'd start pscyhing myself out. 

I can't believe it's here. I've had the goal of completing a triathlon for over a year now, and have been training for it since this past fall. I don't know if I will enjoy or what I will do next (though I have some ideas), but nonetheless, tomorrow is a day to enjoy. Even if it starts at 7:10am by swimming through that nasty water.