A friend of mine has a cut-off temperature for outside biking. At one point it was 60 degrees, although she has been out in lower temps since she told me that. I think she might have dropped the threshold a few points as she became a more experienced rider. What’s my cut-off? I’m not exactly sure, but I think we’re there! I know I’m not happy riding in the 40s, and it snowed (ok, flurried) over the weekend. Sure, I’ll continue to commute my 3-4 miles each way to work and swim, bundled up like the Michelin tire guy – unless it’s icy – but I am by no means hard-core enough to road ride through the winter. Do you have a temperature range?
I did the Rapha Women’s metric century ride over the summer. FUN! There’s another one in December. The Rapha Women’s Braver than the Elements Ride. NOT SO FUN! I won’t be doing that one – I’m really not braver than the elements. I get cranky when my hands and feet go numb and turn funny colors.
SWIM! My last Walden Pond swim was on September 23rd. It wasn’t awful in terms of being cold, but I could tell I was done. I rejoined Cambridge Masters Swim Club and am happily (?) getting my ass kicked in the pool 3-4 times/week. I need a push every few years – I was due. I’m curious to see if my shoulders get bigger with the increased yardage and effort. I’ll keep you informed. I might even do a pool meet in the Spring. Oh shoot, now that I’ve said that, I might actually have to do it. Something I found out: stroke workout right after spin class doesn’t work so well for me. Swim fail!
BIKE! See above. No more outside riding for me. I finished the season by joining some friends to do another metric century: The Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk on October 5th (early and chilly!). It was my first benefit ride, and I hope to do it again next year.
It was a very well-supported ride through a scenic part of CT. I got out for a few more rides after that, and now I’m adjusting to ~3-4 spin classes/week. It might be time to put a crappy tire on my bike and set up my trainer, though. There’s only so much “Maniac” and “Eye of the Tiger” that this former Deadhead can take. I get gym class music stuck in my head and it stays there for days. That can’t be healthy.
READ! The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. Suspend disbelief and let yourself be taken away. A Nation in Pain: Healing Our Biggest Health Problem, by Judy Foreman (friend from Cambridge Masters). This book explores chronic pain and how it is misunderstood and mistreated and a HUGE problem. It is accessible but still not a super easy read. I might be working on this one for a while. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach. I just started it.
and EAT! Fig and Pear Crumbles by Frugal Feeding. Wow! Next up: something with apples since we just bought 3 bags of them at Clarkdale Fruit Farms while in Western MA for Cider Days in Franklin County.
Last I posted, I had just completed a 3-mile swim at the end of June. My first! Now it’s the end of August and I can check a couple more things off my Summer to-do list.
SWIM! I swam a 2-mile race in CT in July. It was an interesting event: one could swim 1, 2, or 3-miles, or any combination of 1, 2, and 3 miles! I opted for doing only the 2-miler due to time constraints. I was happy with my time – just under 53 minutes – which was good enough for a 3rd place finish overall AND in my age group (40-59). The water was perfect: no need for a wetsuit. Ahhh! Maybe next year I’ll do a couple of the swims. Or all 3! We’ll see how my shoulders are doing before I commit to that. Oh, the best part? The buoys were big yellow rubber duckies! How cool is that?! ALL races should have such fun buoys. I wish I had a picture.
After that, I took a break from distance and swam 1/2 mile in a triathlon relay with my sister (on bike), and another Team EnVision member (for the run). We won! The award was a pint glass. Can’t have too many pint glasses, right?
And finally, the swim that got me thinking about competing in open water races in the first place! This past weekend, August 23rd, was the Race for Swim and Fin in Salem (MA) harbor.
I was worried it would be too cold. It wasn’t – I was comfortable in my wetsuit. I was worried it would be really rough. It was pretty choppy, but not awful.
What was tough was the sighting. The buoys were far apart, so it was too easy to sight on the wrong buoy, which I did for a little bit but figured it out before it was too late. Phew. There was another small mishap, but I still managed a 1st place
finish for women 50-54 (w/wetsuit). I can live with that.
BIKE! In July, some friends and I took part in the Rapha Women’s 100, a worldwide event promoting women and cycling. Our event was hosted by The Ride Studio Cafe. We had a choice of distances – 100km or 100 miles – and speed. We did the 100km at a leisurely pace. It was a great day of riding with friends. Next up? The Honey 100 in mid-September: 100km on cross bikes! It’s an off- and on-road adventure, thanks, again, to Ride Studio! I heard such good things about this ride last year, I decided I HAD to do it. And it was a good (?) excuse to buy a new bike!
After that, I’m joining some friends from high school for a charity ride in CT. The Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk takes place on October 5th. Some of us are doing the metric century (that would include me) and some team members are opting for the 1/2 metric. 90% of the money raised goes to the cause, so I feel good about taking part. I don’t usually do charity rides because I don’t like fundraising, but the obligation for this one is very manageable. Thanks to everyone who helped me reach my goal!
READ! I’ve read a lot this summer. LOVED Chris Bohjalian’s newest: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands. But then again, I love everything he writes! I’m currently reading Sally Ride, by Lynn Sherr, and Love Letters to the Dead, by Ava Dellaira. Both are great.
and EAT! Unfortunately, I have discovered Ben & Jerry’s Salted Caramel Core ice cream.
SWIM! I’m hoping to do a 5k swim “race”, maybe 2 of them, over the summer. The first opportunity is on June 21st (Mashpee Super Swim), the second is in August (Race for Swim & Fin). We’ll see. I got a 2-mile swim in yesterday, so doing 3 miles in another week could happen… I’m a little nervous, not so much because of the distance, but that it could be choppy, and the water might still be a little chilly. I wore a shorty wetsuit yesterday and was shivering for quite a while after being in the water for an hour.
Yes, I’m a bit of a cold wimp – I think the water temp was around 73F
I figure the 3 miles (3 x 1-mile loops) will take me a about an hour and a half. I just want to settle into a forever pace and not blow out my shoulder (thus the quotation marks around race).
BIKE! I signed up to do the Rapha Women’s 100 on July 20th. I’ll be doing the 101km ride through Ride Studio Cafe with some friends (unless it’s raining). It’s my anniversary, so that’s my husband’s present to me: I get to ride all day. I’ve got the best husband ever!
READ! Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes. One of the best books I’ve read in a while.
and Eat! nothing too exciting in the eating department, but we have greens coming up in our garden and it’s grilling season!
I LOVE SUMMER
So what’s all this about mason jar koozies? Apparently the hipsters in Union Square are enjoying their coffee in mason jars these days. My husband, not one to miss out on such a fun fad, told me about it. But glass jars full of coffee are HOT! Enter, the KOOZIE, or COZY. Are koozies only for cold beer? But cozies are for teapots… (they seem to be interchangeable). Anyway, after a few false starts (pics if you’re interested) – one being so small and cone-shaped that it has been re-purposed as a bear hat – I finally got it right. Or at least right enough.
Swim! My old swimp3 died – it wouldn’t hold a charge – so I contacted Finis Inc. and they sent me a new one. I was expecting to get the same kind I sent back, the yellow and black 2g, but when I opened the box, I saw that they had sent me the new Neptune. Hmmm. I wasn’t so sure about this: it looked a little like the original SwimP3 I had oh-so-many years ago: a chunky box-like contraption to clip onto my goggle strap in addition to the ear paddles that I was used to. I kind of liked the streamlined ear paddles + small, light USB port of the 2g. But after trying it out, I’m a convert! The Neptune is really light and the ear paddles are smaller and lighter, too. The sound is great, not that I ever had an issue with the sound in earlier models. And the part that clips to the goggle strap is actually informative! There’s a small screen so I can see what’s playing (if I want to stop and look), and I can choose among playlists and whether to shuffle songs or not. I used to have to guess if shuffle was on by the frequency of the blinking green light. I hope this device lasts a while!
Bike! Spin class is all fine and good, but no comparison to being outside. Except maybe the no cars or pot-holes part… In addition to other rides, for the last couple years I’ve been riding weekly, weather permitting, with a great group of women. We’re compatible in terms of speed, temperament, and desired ride distance, so it works out really well. It’s such a gift to have found the right group. I ride with others, too, and it’s fun, but this group feels like home. Now that it’s finally warm enough, the group is heading out again!
Read! I’ve read quite a lot since I wrote my last blog, so I’ll only mention a few highlights. Thirty Girls, by Susan Minot; Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson; Museum of Extraordinary Things, by Alice Hoffman; Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton; and Ripper, by Isabel Allende. I also read The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. A lot of hype about that one, but it didn’t really work for me, and it was too long. Actually a lot of books seem to be a little too long to me lately! Even some of the ones I mention above could have been cut by about 100 pages give or take. Not Shapton’s book though. That one was just about perfect. As a longtime swimmer, I struggle with how competitive swimming fits into my life, so I can relate to what she says (on a completely different ability level, though, of course!)
and EAT! boring, boring, boring. Except for cookies. Oh, and I made a killer Chicken Marbella (mostly like this recipe) for Shady and a friend. I don’t eat chicken, so I didn’t have any, but it smelled really good!
SWIM: After my February-March slump, I think I’m back. Even during my down time I was still getting to the pool at least 3 times/wk, but I just didn’t love it. Now, even though it’s still hard to actually hurl myself into the water from the dry, relatively warm, deck, at least I’m feeling more motivated and as though I’m swimming better once I do take the plunge. I’m even trying to do some sprints! Left to my own devices, I tend to swim at a constant effort for 2000 yards or so, but I know that’s not helping my racing any. Here’s a sample set from today, in case anyone is interested: 6×150 yds, broken up as 100 sprint, followed immediately by 50 recovery swim. Try to descend the 100s or at least hold them steady. Pick an interval that gives 15-20 sec. rest after the 150. Personal preference: I pick an interval, rather than a rest amount. It keeps me honest! And it’s easier for me to calculate time.
Another couple weeks or so and I’ll be swimming outside! Albeit totally covered in neoprene.
BIKE: Finally riding outside! I can’t believe how great it feels. I really don’t want to head back inside to spin classes, but
since it’s still early Spring, and often chilly when I have the opportunity to ride, I’m resigned to doing a few more classes. I think spinning over the winter might have actually helped with my horrendous hill climbing. I’m still not about to set any speed records, mind you, but at least I feel a little stronger. I’m supposed to ride with friends this weekend, but since it’s supposed to be in the low 40s, we’ll see. It’s hard to ride when bundled up like the Michelin tire guy!
READ: Hmm, I tried to read IBM and the Holocaust, by Edwin Black, but it was difficult – emotionally – and, unfortunately, somewhat boring and repetitive. Now I’m devouring Esmeralda Santiago’s Conquistadora. I saw her speak at Radcliffe recently. She was there for Harvard’s Diversity Dialogues series. LOVE HER! She’s so full of energy, and such a great story teller.
and… EAT! I made Peanut Thai Vegetable Stew from Let Them Eat Vegan! Definitely a success. I’m not big on soups and stews, but this was really good and not difficult to make. Just lots of cutting stuff up, which is pretty much par for the course… I didn’t want to overwhelm the other flavors so I used the minimum amount of peanut butter suggested. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the extra stalks of lemon grass. Hard to buy just one stalk!
What makes a good bike ride leader? I’ve been on some big group rides, and I never really thought about the leaders. You get the cue sheet and/or find out what road-mark to follow, faster people take off, and then rest of the riders get moving, in some semi-organized way. Or not. There may be some weaving around and jockeying for position as the better riders zoom ahead and the stragglers straggle. I tend to look around to figure out where I fit, and try to avoid the yahoos AND the wobblers. Usually there’s someone around my speed that I end up riding with if I haven’t brought a riding buddy.
But what about smaller “no-drop” rides where the leader might actually matter? Sure, these kinds of rides tend to give a pace range, but there are always riders at both ends. Have you led this type of ride? What do you find works best? I had the opportunity to lead some no-drop rides over the summer – kind of by default: I came up with the routes! My philosophy is that everyone should get the workout they want. I am definitely NOT the fastest on any of the rides I lead, but my strategy is to provide a cue sheet and suggest some strategic waiting points. It has worked so far…
Thoughts? Ideas? Experiences?