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Saddle-Less Drills and a Joyride on Old Lynchburg

After a couple weeks off, it felt goooood to get some cycling workouts in Thursday and Saturday. The workouts themselves were pretty night and day. Thursday I worked a lot with the guy who taught me a lot of road biking basics in late July and early August. And today I had a joy ride with a new biking buddy.

Thursday the mission was to get me better at ‘starting.’ You see, to get on my bike I do this awkward little hobble skip to my loo motion. Where I push off with my right foot until I get enough momentum to sit down and take a stroke or two of the pedals. It’s not the classiest looking move and it fails a lot … getting me into scary traffic situations sometimes.

So, N tried to get me to start with a full stroke with my left foot, then sprint for a bit to gain speed, then sit down and go in autopilot. When  I started getting a bit better at this I was even able to start on hills – a huge weakness in my game before. (Let us remember the time N pushed me part way up a hill so I could get going again….those were the days….)

Though, of course I didn’t make progress quickly enough because I was relying on my seat too much. It was like my butt and seat were magnetized. So, he took out  my seat (!!!), and I rode around and practiced sprinting and balancing without being able to sit in the saddle. We were out and about for 2 hours and my quads and arms were definitely DONE by the end of it.

In a post ride exhaustion haze! And I didn't know my shorts glowed!

I also got extra greasy being out of the saddle so much. And...this grease is so annoying to scrub off.

A lot of people give my crazy eyes when I tell them of awkward little drills I do with this dude. And while all this stuff is painful and annoying to do, I know at the end of the day I’m going to be a better cyclist later on because of it. It’s kind of like scales and finger workouts for the piano. Without the basics you have nothing. So while I moan and roll my eyes at some of the weird stuff this dude asks of me, I roll with it because so far I have not been led astray. I am getting better and more confident (and having more fun because of those first 2 things).

Today’s ride was a 20 mile ride to and fro Walnut Creek Park. It was a hot day today, but luckily this path is basically tree covered the whole way. After probably a month of fails, today I finally felt like I knew how to fuel myself properly. I had a high carb breakfast – cheerios, almond milk, and a luna bar – And took some shot bloks every so often in the ride. I also was really ON by water intake. The last time I did this route I was still terrified to reach down for my water bottle. I’m glad things have changed : )

This route definitely makes you swear at miles 7-10 but the way back is smoooooth sailing – full of coasters and rollers that made me remember why I love to bike. And this time I wasn’t afraid to really go for it on those downhills. I felt like I FLEW all the way home.

And i looked good doing it with my NEW jersey that I got 65% off a couple weeks ago. Huzzah! Jerseys are expensive but they sure feel nice....

After the ride I nommed down a delicious lunch and spent the rest of the day working in the lab. I’m so glad I got some activity in so I didn’t feel as slummy working all day.

Salad with produce from a CSA, apple with peanut butter, and part of a spinach calzone. I was a hungry gal.

Hope to hit the pool tomorrow! Also, I’m back to vlogging on a weekly basis. Click the video  tab above if you want to check out my latest video: Question Tuesday! I should have new videos up every Wednesday for the foreseeable future.


Triple Check.

MmmmM! I feel sort of like a triathlete again this week because I ran, swam, and went on a bike ride. SHAZAM! That’s 3!

The run was another 5K – The best part about it was that cardiovascularly I felt like I could have kept on going (which is kind of an ego boost for new runner Karen). But, despite that I had a stomach cramp from the really spicy curry fest I had for dinner. These occurrences reinforce the inkling that I SHOULD be getting up early in the mornings to run….it’s just so painful to even think about. I’m already getting up 2 hours earlier than undergraduate Karen….Ah, Adulthood.

The bike ride was just awesomely beautiful. I felt like I was in a virtual reality postcard…only…it was real reality!  There were some steep climbs, but I never let myself quit….even during the seconds when my whole leg was experiencing a scary burning sensation. It was great to really enjoy the better functioning of my bike since her tune up too! Funnily enough, I’m still not used to the new bike shorts. I’m not used to having as much padding in the back and never fail to get stuck whenever I try to take a seat in the saddle. It would be cute if it wasn’t so annoying.

And the swim today was truly cathartic. I think part of ‘Staying Sunny’ is having good habits in place so that when life gets you down, you cope with positive behaviors. Today I really felt like I left a lot of negativity in the pool (and hot tub!! win!). I swam for 40% more than usual and felt faster, especially my breast stroke. I left the gym feeling strong and ready for a new beginning. The dramas of the Summer seemed to have worked themselves out for the time being. The time at the pool was just a reminder that I need to keep focusing on becoming who I want to be and that I’m succeeding : ).

Dead Batteries and Tour De Cville!!

This weekend was epic in a lot of ways despite a rough start (LITERALLY) on Friday night / Saturday when my car battery died. Situations like these really make me remember fondly how awesome it was to have a Daddy around to help you through these things. If nothing else, it’s convenient to have people on your side that will help rescue you with some battery juice. Thankfully, I’m not totally alone here in Cville – and I know an amazon woman who was willing to drag my butt around town looking for batteries, jumper cables, etc.

And she knows 80 thousand times more about cars than I do – all while looking pretty in a sundress.

Unfortunately, my car’s compactness got the better of us and we decided to run back to the car shop and use our feminine charms on the employees there so they’d change the battery for me. I did not have the right tools for the job. The VW beetle does make everything more difficult under the hood. Luckily I don’t have to deal with it that often and….she’s cute! So, I get over it :).

And while it would have been nice to have my Dad help me out with this, it is immensely satisfying knowing I can figure it out on my own. It may have taken me 5 times as long, but I did it.

Today I had one of those awesome days where you are a tourist in your hometown – doing things you never would unless you were showing out-of-towners around. Today I tagged along with my roommate’s family for a few hours and we were lucky enough to be at King’s Family Vineyards on a harvest day! We even got to try some of the Merlot grapes. During most tours, you just hear them explain the process, so it was sweet getting to see the people in action.

And, got to sample some delicious wines ; )

It smelled so good in there……

After the winery, we checked out a nearby peach orchard and gathered up some of the last peaches of the season.

And, just when I thought this day couldn’t get any more eventful I met up with some fellow graduate students to go on a leisure bike ride around town. A couple had very little road biking experience so it was great to help introduce them to the open road. As I heard one guy complain about a hill – I remembered that being me just 2-3 weeks ago and am happy at how quickly my endurance has improved. I mapped out our route as about 20 miles – a distance that usually tires me out good and plenty – but today I still feel ready to rock and roll!

A couple in our group was even on a tandem bike!

I try to improve something new on every ride – today I worked on timing my shifts a little better and being able to signal left without wiping out. That last one still needs quite a bit of work!

After the ride we had dinner and beer and enjoyed the beautiful weather!

Things I loved about today’s ride:

1. Being a part of introducing new riders to the sport.

2. Meeting new people.

3. Doing something active with friends – I need to work out so I might as well have a great time doing it.

4. Slowing down compared to my usual rides and appreciating the beauty of where I live.

5. Noticing improvements in my comfort level on the bike. I so much more steady, so cars passing don’t phase me much any more.

I hope this becomes a semi-regular thing, because I’m so much more likely to work out when it has a social component to it as well. I need as many people as I can to keep my on track, especially now that classes have started again (though, I’m still in homework denial on that one!).

18ish Miles on Old Lynchburg

Biking is TUFF, ya’ll!

Yesterday, I planned a pretty chill date with my bike, Val (or so I thought!)… Fun fact about Val: Her full name is Valeria (pronounced Val -EER – ia). I took Latin in junior high/high school, and Valerius (male version) is the name of one of the oldest patrician families of Rome. It means ‘to be healthy/strong,’ which I thought pretty well reflected what I wanted to accomplish with her : P. Man, I think me and my bike need to get a room already….

Pre fuel: Apple Sauce (natural-ish…no sugar added at least)

The route: 18.22 miles – JPA/Old Lynchburg Road to Walnut Creek Park.

The improvements: Much less reliant on the brakes when going downhill. I think I still took some ‘chicken’ short brake taps right before a couple steep hills out of fear of the unknown, but…I won’t do it next time on this route…maybe. It’s really eerie going so fast and being so vulnerable, which I guess is a ‘joy’ of biking, but one that I’m getting used to slowly (maybe too slowly for my bike teacher).

I also worked on my water bottle grabs outside of the controlled parking lot setting. I let myself get a little dehydrated early on because I don’t like grabbing for it because it makes me go ‘floopy’ and off in the middle of the road. By the end of the ride I was sipping water even when my buddy didn’t yell at me to do it haha.

We had a really awkward couple minutes when he was trying to get me to grab a gu block and I just couldn’t free a steady hand to do it. It would have been funny if it wasn’t so pathetic at that moment.

The final big thing I worked on was biking straight in a small space. I improved a lot in this area yesterday.

There are definitely a lot more things to keep straight on real rides compared to spin class! But, I guess that’s the fun.

Other Comments: There were a lot of hills that I felt like I was giving it my all (Re: Scary huffing and puffing), but I didn’t dare quit after thinking about the beast I conquered last weekend. I’m glad I have that devil hill to look back on and remember that I’m stronger than my current situation.

I loved this ride, because those last couple miles I just felt the most comfortable I have ever felt riding. I was sipping my water, staying in my area, pedaling strong…I’m happy with my progress and look forward to the next wild ride.

post fuel: WAFFLES! with peanut butter, berries, and a dash of syrup. Best waffles of my life!

Thoughts on Tri-Sport and Why I Work Out These Days

Being a ‘triathlete’ is exhausting, but exhilarating. I use the quotes because I feel like I am such a n00b at all 3 diciplines that calling myself a triathlete is poser-like. But you can’t deny that I run, I swim, I bike (and I play :D). When one muscle group is resting, I tackle the other ones. And, I’m finding variety really is the spice of life. I can usually convince myself to do one of the three things even if I don’t necessarily feel like running. I think once my skill set gets a little bit more of a foundation that biking is going to be my favorite. You can make it as casual or as intense as you want to really.

I run because I want to prove that I can. Plus, I like running because it can be mindless if that’s what I need, and a good way to release stress in a positive way. I swim for the strength training (and for the hot tub….). I bike because I love it: going fast…mechanical nerdy noises…gadgets….pretty scenery….going on adventures. And, I have awesomely long legs, so I might as well use them.

So, here are my end of the week workouts:

Thursday: The plan was to bike, but thunderation killed that thought, so I met a buddy at the pool and we did some laps. I swam 550 meters and kicked 400 meters (with flippers). Swimming is still pretty exhausting to me. I have to take a mini break every 50 meters it seems, just to get my heart rate down enough so I’ll be able to have controlled breath during the swim.

Friday: Nighttime treadmill run at the gym. It ended up being treadmill because there was a cheerleading camp in the main gym. As soon as I opened the door to the track I was nearly knocked over by the sound of 100 pre-teens screaming and cheering. Yeah, I couldn’t do that to myself. I got my 25 minute run in (with 5 minute walking warm-up and cool down), but it felt like a struggle the whole time. I really don’t like the treadmill as much as I once did. I hate not being able to adjust pace constantly and I feel kind of clausterphobic on it.

But…The next run is the 5K!! Almost done! And, by done I mean, almost time to start working on the 10K distance ;)….

On the ‘Results‘ front, I haven’t weighed myself in weeks. I think I’m finally in a place where I’m not working out to keep myself thin or get thinner. One of my coworkers asked me, if there was a magic pill that kept you thin with no side effects, would you take it. For the first time in my life I’m in a position where I would say no. Numerical results (pounds/ inches lost) are great. And if they happen, I will feel good about it. But, now (Finally!) I’m working out for my personal well being – for the joy of challenging my body and to keep my energy level and spirits high. It’s such a healthier place to be. I accept and love my body for what it is, and relish the opportunity to train it and mold it slowly and  naturally. I hope I keep this mental attitude for a long time. And I hope I find a way soon to help friends who have trouble with body image and self acceptance. Constantly critiquing and ragging on your body is not the way to live. I did it for long enough.

Just Keep Pedaling – First Bike Ride in SNP

After a few days of dealing with icky moving chores, it was time to reward myself with a good workout. My bike coach took me to Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. It had lots of hills to practice on and light traffic and a pretty low speed limit for cars (35 mph). So, it was a less intimidating place to play for a noob like me!

I did have a slight aneurysm loading up the bike in the car. I don’t like taking her apart yet..I’m overprotective : /

Anyway, once we got parked it was time to suit up. Here’s my teacher in his slick gear.

And me, fresh faced for now : P

Pretty much as soon as we left the parking lot, it was hillapalooza 1999! And this hill only went up up up….for around 5 miles….

And pretty much the whole first half up I kept chanting, I can’t I can’t I can’t…..Looking back, I want to slap myself.

I mean, it was tough. I had a slight hyperventilating moment half way up, but after getting my breath again, my buddy made me keep going. And as I screamed about how badly I wanted to stop, he just ignored me and kept going.

And, after the half-way point, I just decided I was going to own this hill. Even as I cursed around every bend when I saw that there was no end in sight….

And, I did it. I womaned up, and it felt glorious stopping at the overlook and looking at what I just conquered: 1000 feet of altitude and a lot of personal baggage….

I need to stop saying I can’t because every day I realize that I don’t even know the beginning of what I am capable of. I love the feeling of beating something I never thought was possible. That’s what this year and this blog has been about – pushing my limits and becoming an athlete, one day at a time.

And boy, did it feel good to go down : ) Though, I was scared to push passed 35 mph….I don’t trust myself or the bike enough yet….(And hey, that was the car speed limit anyway!)

If you’re interested in hearing more ramblings about today’s ride, check out my Vlog on my youtube channel. I’m participating in VEDA – Vlog Every Day in August. Should be interesting! And, if you’re one of my real life friends, don’t make fun of me too much….


A Bike of my Own!

After weeks of searching, I finally took the plunge and bought my very first road bike. And, the search made the end product that much more wonderful, let me tell ya. I feel like this machine was made to fit me. It was the bike that when I got on it the first time, I thought it didn’t fit because it was “too comfortable.” Luckily, it was also at the store that I liked the people at most – Cville Bike and Tri. They were fun people and didn’t try to trick me into getting a bike that was too small for me to make a sale like other places….Though, I guess I am a pretty weird customer for them. Some random girl who hasn’t ridden much at all who wants to get a nice road bike and see what happens!

Me and my new friend, Val

Ever since I knew for sure which bike was for me Saturday afternoon I was so nervous/excited for this day when I would make it mine. I knew I was getting a great piece of equipment, but, kind of worried about not really knowing what I’m doing. It is pretty nerve wracking being at the bottom of the totem pole…

I barely got through lunch with my buyers jitters  but managed to get down a veggie sub from subway. It might be my last one for a while. They aren’t as tastey as that first one I had in Las Vegas. It’s kind of been downhill ever since….

But anything with ample jalapenos on it can't be too horrible, right 🙂 ?

The fitting consisted of first adjusting the seat height (basically up up up baby, cuz my legs be loooooong) so my knee was at a 30ish degree angle when extended, then moving the seat horizontally some to get my knee in the right position above the pedal, then moving the handlebars some to improve my shoulder and elbow position.

This store was also really nice and taught me how to change a flat! He showed me and watched me do it. Good stuff!

And, if you thought there was no way a bike could fit in a VW bug, think again!

This pic kind of makes me anxious now though

And, then, of course I had to consummate my relationship with Val (<-the bike!) and give her her first ride! And, let’s get real, about 2 minutes from my house I had a mild freak out because of the traffic and not really feeling comfortable getting on and off.

So, I took a breath, walked to the football stadium parking lot and practiced a lot of balancing – getting comfortable riding around with the left foot in the pedal and moving around by pushing off with my right foot like a scooter. This little drill was pretty amazing. I began to trust the bike and it improved my balance a lot in a short period of time. I’m now able to restart after stopping more glamorously and stop quickly while moving up off the seat. No more almost falling over with every stop. It’s something I didn’t expect because your bike is kind of awkwardly high to get up on when it actually fits right….

I also practiced standing up and riding, riding in a straight line, and water bottle grabbing while on the go. These things probably looked silly to passers by but I now feel so comfy with my new bike and not a danger to myself and parked cars, hehehe.

Then I just took a little ride up and down some on-campus hills. My new bike has SRAM double-tap shifting, and it’s amazing. When I first tried bikes I thought I needed Shimano 2 lever shifters, but these SRAM’s stole my heart. They are so intuitive and my hand it in a more comfy position – in fact, you have a near infinite number of hand positions to choose from! I highly recommend them.

And wow, let’s just say shifting on a nice road bike in general is an awesome experience compared to child department store bikes… sooo smooooooth! The last time I was on a bike, was 5 years ago when I found these rusty things in my friend’s shed that we use to cruise to the beach. This is such a glamorous change!!

So, obviously I’m in love with my road bike. I think it’s going to train me in new exciting ways and I’m excited for what’s ahead.

Don’t worry, I’ll still run…..Next step triathlon right?