No Brick Award For Me

Unlike the last two years (2010, 2011), you may have noticed a distinct lack of chatter from me about earning another Brick Award. Yes, that prestigious prize that can only be earned by completing the Tour de Palm Springs on Saturday, February 11 and following it up with the Palm Springs Half Marathon the next day.

2010

2011

After last year’s fiasco of a ride, I felt like I’d never want to ride the Tour again. The crowds of riders, many of them rude and/or ignorant of the etiquette of riding in large groups, my broken chain, not to mention that Alan crashed after almost being hit by a car, well, all that kind of took the thrill out of the ride. The organizers, after feedback from the riders (including me), did make some changes, including offering staggered starts for both the 100 and 55 milers. But I also took into consideration that I haven’t ridden more that 35 miles in the last three months, so it was probably a wise decision to skip it.

Alan and I did take a ride today, though, leaving from our house, heading east where the traffic is light and stop signs and traffic lights are few and far between.

So instead of this:

photo credit tourdepalmsprings.com

I saw this:

and instead of dealing with this:

photo credit tourdepalmsprings.com

I had the joy of this:

No crashes, no crowds, great weather=Bike riding heaven.  We did spend some time on the course, which passes by our house at mile 73, but early enough that just a few riders were coming along. Of course, those few riders were the really rude ones I referred to above, not calling “on your left,” not saying hello, just barely clearing my bike before they cut back in front of me. Nope, I didn’t miss skipping this ride at all.

Rude pace lines of riders made me happy I wasn't doing the century.

I won’t be doing the half marathon this year either. While I have been increasing my mileage, I’m still not in shape to run 13 miles. Of course, I wasn’t last year either, but this year I decided to be smart and not endure a suffer-fest just for the sake of, well, of nothing. Alan will be announcing the race, so I’ll go along for support and probably head out for run while he is working. It will be interesting, because all my recent runs have been on the trails with my dog, long, slow runs with lots of stops. So a steady eight miler on the road may be a bit of a challenge. But, compared to the half marathon, I’m pretty sure I’m ready for it.

Spring into Spring

Yes, I know that we are over a month into it. And here in the desert it will soon (some will say already) feel a lot more like summer than spring.

But spring means starting over, refreshing, new, and that is how I feel right now. Winter in the desert means great weather (especially relative to the rest of the country), but it also means “the season.” “The Season” means Snowbirds. For those of us in service businesses, like personal training in my case, Snowbirds means “too busy to do much else besides work.”

So, the dawn of spring means the end of 10-12 hour days, relief from the horrendous traffic, the ability to walk in to places like restaurants, hair dressers, Starbucks, etc. without an appointment or reservation and not be turned away. Spring means, in a word, recovery. And, oh God, are we desert dwelling service providers ready for it. Quick, now, before we snap each others heads off!

Not yet, but soon

For me, personally, it means more time to play. Meaning running and riding my bike. Hurray! (gosh now what will I use for an excuse?)

May is still a wind-down month. Many Snowbirds are starting to leave, but many remain. A lot depends on the weather “back home.” Several of my clients will stay until June, so I can’t totally relax yet. But, I can feel it coming. The gym is quieter, the traffic is lighter. And we have the freedom to make plans. So, in addition to probably getting an extra day each of running and riding during the week, here is what is going on in May:

May 1st is my sister’s 45th birthday. This has nothing to do with spring or our plans (because she is in Texas), but I like to keep reminding her that she is catching up with me (hope you’re reading this, Lis!). edit: Whew, I got the card in the mail! Always a challenge for me.

The following Saturday, May 7, usually a riding day, is the Run for Ike. Ike was a police dog who was killed in the line of duty a couple weeks ago, saving his partner’s life as he gave his own.

Alan and I are volunteering, he as the announcer, me as, well, whatever they want me to do. Probably at registration and the finish line, since I’m good at that stuff. I’m not sure how many people will be there. This was put together pretty quickly, plus it’s probably going to be hot (another reason I was happy to volunteer instead of run)!

Friday the 13th is Alan’s birthday. That weekend we plan to take our six year old grandsons to Disneyland. Although I’m sure that Alan and I must have been there since we’ve been together (15 years!), the last time I remember is when my youngest son was six years old. He turns 30 in a couple weeks, so it’s been a while. A very long time for someone who basically grew up at Disneyland. We lived about 15 minutes away and it was cheap back then (about $10)! I like to say I spent my teenage years on Tom Sawyer’s Island.

On May 22, my lovely girlfriend who lives in the valley (that would be the San Fernando Valley for you non-LA types :-)), invited me to WorldFest 2011. She is the one who stayed and rode with me on our disastrous Tour de Palm Springs century. I can hardly express how excited I am about this. Just a bit of the description from their website (click through for more…but come back):

“The WorldFest 2011 Earth Day Festival will be held on Sunday, May 22nd, 2011, from 10:30am to 7:00pm, at the beautiful outdoor setting of Woodley Park in Lake Balboa, CA. We will welcome our attendees to a magnificent day filled with entertainment, education and enlightenment. The combination of great music, empowering speakers, environmental, humanitarian and animal welfare non-profits, kid’s activities and a delicious food court make for an earth-friendly experience that is sure to be inspiring and enjoyable for all.”

Seriously, I can hardly wait. I get to go to this very cool event, plus, best of all, I get to visit with a friend I don’t see too often. If we actually have time to ride together I may just faint from the excitement!

The last weekend of the month is Memorial Weekend. I have to work on Saturday, but I’ll have Monday off, so it should be a nice weekend. We haven’t made any plans yet, so maybe we’ll just chill out here in the desert (can a sentence be an oxymoron? If so, that is definitely one, because I’m sure it will be over 100 degrees by then). Even so, as much as we love traveling, we’re always happier at home with our dogs (and my vegan cooking!).

Spring is here!


>A Beautiful Day to Ride

>

It felt so good to get out and ride this morning. Because of the cold weather and other wimpy excuses, my weekly before-work ride had become a distant memory. Helped by the 60 degree temps, I got out the door by 6:30 this morning. Perfect timing, because I got to see this:

And this:  

And this: 
And all of this:  

And someone was nice enough to put up a welcome sign (I’m sure it was just for me!).
All in all, a beautiful day to be alive, outside, and riding my bike.

>Victory

>

Well, I did it. I rode my bike. Yes, I know, my dear readers, that I’ve been writing about riding my bike for over two years now and that it is no big deal.  Well, I’m here to tell you that it is a big deal. While I’ve been busy wimping out, a month had gone by. Yes, you read that right. More than a month, actually, my last ride was on December 11, 2010!
Last Saturday, I had no excuses. The weather was gorgeous in the desert (in most of Southern California, really). Alan and I were heading to Huntington Beach after the ride to visit family, so we wasted no time getting going. The great thing was, even at 7:00 in the morning, arm warmers were all that were needed. In January!
I felt much better that I’d expected. We only rode 26 miles, a little less than two hours, but it felt perfect.

V for Victory!

The weather at the coast was just as nice. We pulled into Huntington Beach shortly after 3:00. Alan headed straight out to the beach to meet his son and grandsons. After a lovely evening, we got up on Sunday anxious to run along the coast. Another beautiful day, a great six mile run. I felt so good, I even attempted to mix a little fartlek in my run.

Imagine. The weather in January was much nicer than the weather through most of last summer, when it was cold, damp, and overcast. After the run, we sat with the family in front of the house, just enjoying the sun.

What a nice weekend. Best of all, I’ve defeated the wimp inside me. Victory!

>When Did I Become Such a Wimp?

>Two years ago, which was the year I rode 6,000 miles, nothing could stop me. Heat? Ha! Bring it on. At least up to about 105, I’d get out for a ride. Cold? Dark? No problem? I had lights. I had leg/arm/toe/head warmers. At least once during the work week, I’d head out before work for a two hour ride (I worked at 10, so it’s not quite as crazy as it sounds). I’d come home after work on another workday (when I got off early) and hit the road. Think about it. I managed to average 500 miles a month, work about 50 hours a week, and still prepare dinner most nights.

Now, as I sit here on January 9, I haven’t ridden my bike for at least three weeks (I’m not even sure of the date it’s been so long!) It’s been too cold (you’ll have to imagine the whine in my voice as I say that.)! More whining…it’s been too rainy, it gets dark too early, it gets light too late, it’s too windy…too, too, too. My knee, neck, back hurts! I’m so full of excuses I’m surprised I have room for dinner. Dumb analogy, but you get my drift.

She made it out on her ride in the cold!

 When the hell did I become such a wimp? I first noticed this trend last summer. I didn’t want to ride in the heat (a little tough here in the desert). I did ride, but early in the morning, cutting my rides short frequently when it started to get hot. It continued into the fall, I could always find some excuse (the too hot excuse works all the way through October here). Now that we’ve had some cold weather, I just don’t have the urge to get out and ride (I’d say ‘balls,’ but that would be crude).

It actually has been very cold at times here. Lows in the 30s definitely qualify. But today, for example, my plan was to run a few miles with my dogs, then head out for a short ride. I had to work yesterday, so I missed out on the Saturday ride with my husband. I managed the run (can’t disappoint the doggies!), but that was it. It was probably about 58 degrees when we finished running. The sun was out, there was no wind. But, I didn’t go.

I have been running a little. Two or three days a week I run between three and five miles with my dogs. That is all that has kept me from turning into a total sloth over the holidays.

So, when did I become a wimp? I don’t have an answer, but I hope I have a solution. I have two goal events that are coming up very quickly. The Tour de Palm Springs Century, which I will be riding with Merider from My Dog Party, is on February 12 (ack! That’s a month from now!). The Palm Springs Half Marathon is on the following day. Yes, I plan to do them both again, because I want to earn the coveted Brick Award.

That being said, I’d better get it in gear. Fortunately, the weather has warmed up a bit. I will make a training schedule and stick to it. I know that deep down inside of myself, I have an inner warrior. From today on, that warrior will be in charge.

>Weekly Training Report: On the Way to 113.1

>With my new commitment to training, I decided that it would be a good idea if I started to report on each week of training. After all, who better than my followers to get on my ass call me out if I don’t keep up with my training.

Until recently, I always had a written training plan. Years ago, I used a calendar, then as technology advanced, started using the computer, then my old Palm, then finally my Windows mobile phone. That changed with my upgrade to an Android phone. I’ve been unable to find similar programs that I so loved in windows. I’m left to enter my plan on my calendar (or not at all), and reduced to recording my workouts on Daily Mile or Bike Journal. I’ve also started using Garmin Connect, but I haven’t got into the habit yet and forget to upload the data.  I really miss my running/biking log!

In any case, I’ve started training again, with my goals in sight:  The Borrego Springs Century on January 1 and the “brick” weekend, the Tour de Palm Springs on February 12, followed the next day by the Palm Springs Half Marathon on February 13.

With that in mind, I need to start increasing my mileage, both running and riding. Now that cross country is nearing the end of the season, I know I’ll have more training time (no more Saturdays dedicated to traveling to various invitational meets across So. Cal. Yeah!). This week was still a bit of a challenge, though. The rain during the first half of the week kept me off the bike (riding once a week is not a great way to get ready for a century!) The cooler weather brings the arrival of the snowbirds, which means I work longer hours, especially on Monday and Thursday, when I have private clients at another country club.

Enough of the excuses. Here is what I managed to accomplish, training-wise, this week.

Monday, October 18: I did NOT make it to the gym (in spite of working in not one, but two fitness centers). My snowbird clients returned, so I worked from 5:15 am and finished up at about 4:00 pm. I will adapt to this schedule and happily head off to the gym afterward, but this first day back I was pooped, so I went home (and cooked dinner, but that doesn’t count as exercise).

Tuesday, October 19:  I ran one mile with the dogs, then headed to cross country practice where I ran about 4 more with the team. Total for the day: 5.2 miles/51 minutes.

Wednesday, October 20: This is usually a bike day for me. I don’t go into work until 10:00, which gives me a couple hours to ride in the morning. Because of the rainy weather though, the streets were very wet, plus there was still a lightening storm going on to the southeast of us that I was a little leery about (that’s the direction I ride!). Instead, I decided to go for another run (it is so nice to have options!). There were just a few sprinkles coming down as I headed out with my dogs. They were so happy to run four miles (many times I’m in a hurry and they only get one mile or less). I brought them home, then headed out for another three. The sun was just coming up, which made for some beautiful scenery:

Total for the day: 7 miles/1:09

Thursday, October 21: Long day, no gym, wimp out.

Friday, October 22: Now that the weather has finally cooled down, Friday will be the day that I get a third ride during the week. I get off early (the one advantage of working at 5:30 am), so I’ll have time for a one or two hour ride most Fridays. Not this week though. Too much to do getting ready for the Mt. SAC Invitational which was on…

…Saturday, October 23: The cross country invitational at Mt. San Antonio College is the largest one in the country. Last year, over the course of several weeks, over 22,000 elementary, middle, and high school, not to mention college, athletes participated in this huge event at Mt. SAC. Celebrating its 63rd year, the course at Mt. SAC has changed little over its history, offering challenging terrain for all the different levels of runners.

This year our first race was scheduled at 7:10 am, meaning a 4:30 departure from Palm Desert for the 100 mile trip to Walnut. For yours truly, that meant a 2:45 wake up, even though the van was packed, the snacks were made, the coolers were loaded.

I’m getting off track a little, but the bottom line is, we didn’t get home until about 2:00 pm, exhausted and ready for a nap. (In the old days, we rode in a school bus. We could nap both before and after the races. Now, with financial cutbacks, we drive vans and they expect us to stay awake, since we’re driving those vans.) So, unless you count dashing back and forth to follow our team during their races, no exercise.

Here’s a picture of the Varsity girls team. They are the best posers!

Sunday, October 24:  Finally! I ran two miles with my dogs (I figure that makes up some for no running on Saturday). After that, Alan and I went for a 52 mile bike ride. Two points here: One, it sure is nice waiting for it to warm up, rather than trying to beat the heat. Two, it is hard to build up mileage when you are riding only one day a week.  Because of the rain this week and our home course cross country meet the week before, my riding time has been severely limited. I was, however, determined. By the time we finished, my quads burned, my neck ached and my back was sore, but, dammit, I did it. On the way to a century! A few photos from the ride:

It stayed cloudy and cool for the whole ride. In fact, I kept my arm warmers on until the final four miles. I was very tired by the end, feeling more like I’d ridden 100 than 50. So another nap. I’m not sure all these naps are necessary because of my early hours and hard work, or just because I’m getting older. Probably a little of both.

In any case, total for the day: 2 miles running/20:15, 52.1 miles cycling/3:42
Weekly mileage totals: 14.2 miles running/52.1 miles cycling
Plan for the upcoming week:
Monday: Gym-Done!
Tuesday: Run with the cross country team (about 5 miles)
Wednesday: Bike (25-30 miles)
Thursday: We are taking the team out to practice on the course we’ll be running for the league finals. I’ll bring my running gear and my good intentions.
Friday: Bike (20-25 miles)
Saturday: Bike (60 miles)
Sunday: Run (8 miles)
I’ll be sure to report back about my efforts.