Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Humbled by Hills

Maybe you will all get sick of me talking about hills, but in my just over 2 weeks as a central massachusettian, I am still getting used to them! However, I am starting to embrace the challenge, and will myself up them each time they get in my way. I have reverted back to sheer terror on the steep bike downhills, however. Hopefully I'll figure out how to be less afraid and use the downhills to my advantage!

When I last wrote, I had not yet started work, and had been on a very spotty workout schedule. After that, I picked it back up, and got in a solid workout week! It started Tuesday with a run in the AM. My task was half mile repeats at easy, medium and hard. I stressed out about this a little, because I haven't yet found a track. I decided that my apartment complex parking lot would have to do, and charted out a half mile loop, so that each time the gradient would be the same, and my E,M, H would at least be self consistent. It worked out great, and I felt good kicking off my week pushing myself with this tough workout!

After work, I went on a 20 mile ride with a coworker and her friend. I was super excited for a few reasons: I hadn't felt comfortable going out on local roads with my bike, so I was happy to have buddies, I am of course looking for new friends (both to exercise with and to hang out with) and they promised me ice cream at mile 15. Not a bad deal! I blindly followed on hilly roads I had never seen before through towns I hadn't ever heard of. We passed one grassy field with a heart lawn-mowered out and 2 lawn chairs facing the view (I will maybe take a picture next time if I feel like stopping), and on to the Wachusett (sp?) Reservoir, where I stopped to take a picture for the blog while they questioned "you want a picture of this because..." I felt like it had been too long since I've shared a picture on here!
Wachusett Reservoir
Wednesday and Friday I hit up the warm Y pool, and Thursday I did a trainer ride followed by a 30 min run. Not a bad way to end the first work week.

Saturday I had to do a 2.5 hour bike ride, and was searching for buddies. I definitely did not want to do that on the trainer, plus i knew a trainer ride was coming sunday with Irene. I went to a group ride at a local bike shop. They had the 40 mile fast group and the 30 ish mile slow group. I wanted to do the 40 miles, around the reservoir from my only other outdoor local ride, but I couldn't keep up with all of these rock star mostly men, and elected to catch up with the slower group for the 2nd half of the ride. We passed by this lovely little body of water (complete with painful hill climb afterwards).

Rocky Pond, I think.
after the 2 hours with the group, I had to do another half hour. The weather was starting to get dreary, and I almost quit there, but then remembered that I eventually have to hit that 56 miles, so no reason to slack now. The only crappy part was that the bike shop, and the end of the route, was on a busy route, so I pedaled my way through some parking lots to get to some side streets, and weaved up and down a few cul-de-sacs until my 30 min were up, then returned to the bike shop by walking my bike down the 'wrong' side of the route, and biking through the parking lots. Not the most desirable/fun 30 min, but at least I logged the extra time. I plan on studying the garmin readout so that I can actually do a more significant supplement to next week's ride!

Sunday was Irene. After my 1 hour easy trainer ride, and deciding to postpone my 90 min run for dryer, less windy conditions, I parked myself on the couch for an afternoon of knitting and reading by sunlight. Here is how the kitties enjoyed Irene:

snoozing twin kitties!
I went to bed at 9, when it was dark and my computer battery died, and headed out for my 90 min run bright and early. I did 10 miles in the hills and dodging broken branches in the lovely post hurricane/tropical storm weather.

Running the risk of making this post too long that no one will ever read it, I will add one more workout anecdote from today before drawing it to a close with a promise to write more frequently and less wordily. This week the pool at 'my' Y was closed for maintenance, so I ventured into Worcester and used a pool at a lovely Y on a little lake. The workout included 2 x 600, 2nd faster than the first. I eased into the first 600 at a reasonable pace, looked at my watched, and wondered, did I do an extra lap? It was about 1 minute slower than what I had expected...I vowed to count the next 12 laps more diligently and swam a little faster, knocking 42 s off my time, but still came up with a total time slower than my usual 'easy' pace for such a distance. Confused, I began the 2 x 400, and had similar results. I started to wonder, is this pool 25 m instead of yd? The lifeguard confirmed it was yds, but another swimmer adamently disagreed saying he was certain it was longer. I haven't found anything in writing, but I am 99% sure this pool is long. Good for longer swims, and now, better for my self esteem!

Ok, longest post ever. maybe I should have broken this up into 2...but my first week of work was complemented by getting back into the diligent swing of regular working out and i feel great for it! And now i vow to be better at posting more frequently, adding more pictures, and staying motivated because there are less than 2 months left before Austin!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Running with hills

So, in my new life, there are hills. I went out for a 90 min run Sunday morning after taking Saturday off to spend the day with my mother and sister shopping at ikea, spending tons of money, and assembling furniture. I knew that I didn't have many (any) non-hilly options near home, so I just figured I would take it easy, not worry about my mile splits, and just enjoy the lovely morning (high 60s and slightly overcast= perfect for a run!). I started out on the main road just outside of my apartment complex, and it has a good long mile or so uphill. So, I took it slow, and just kept chugging along, knowing I'd get to do the downhill on the way home! I kept exploring (the nice thing about a new neighborhood is that there is plenty of opportunity for first-time routes!) and willed myself to be strong up every hill. I actually surprised myself in that while the hills were constant and tough, they were manageable. Plus, how strong these unavoidable hills will make me?! Towards the end, I was struggling mentally at each incline, but I powered through, and finished about 9.5 miles. I was really pleased, and just felt great- like I could have kept going if I hadn't felt guilty about leaving mom and sis to start more apartment settling.

Friday I had done a swim at the local Y- the nice man at the desk even let me try the pool out for free since I didn't officially join yet (though I plan to since it's a nearby 25 yd pool). The only bad thing about this pool is that it was WARM. Now, anyone who knows me knows about how I would timidly sit beside the 6 lane pool at the Etown Y, willing myself to get started. And of course, as soon as I did 1 lap, I warmed up. However, this new-to-me pool is a LOT warmer (probably somewhere in between the 4 and 6 lane pools at the Etown Y, and I warmed up really fast...too fast even. However, after not swimming for over a week, it did feel great to get in there, and I figure, in the dead of winter, it's going to be a LOT easier to will myself to get into the pool! Also, this Y has an indoor track. It's really small (17 laps per mile!) but I think it will be a nice alternative to the treadmill.

I started work today. It was the first day so it was mostly safety training. I did, however, find a coworker who goes on bike rides tuesdays after work (with a stop for ice cream in the middle!) so I'm going to tag along with her tomorrow! I am looking forward to it- both to hopefully make a new training friend, and to learn about some safe bike-able roads in the neighborhood! So far, so good, Metro-west Mass!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My new life in Massachusetts

I think everyone who reads this blog knows that I recently accepted a new job and moved halfway across the country to Metro-west Massachusetts. I have been here for about 4 days, and have been extremely busy getting settled into my new home before starting work on Monday. My wonderful boyfriend helped me the first couple of days, I have a few close local friends who are accompanying me doing some furniture shopping, and my mom and sister are coming to town for the weekend. I am so thankful for all of the people in my life who are helping make this transition a lot easier!

Amidst the crazy, I have been trying to maintain as regular of a workout schedule as I can. While still in Chicago, it was easy- attend the regular group workouts. But, after toting my bike and my cats to NY for a weekend, I only managed to squeeze in one run. After moving to MA officially, I jumped back on the workout bandwagon on Tuesday morning. I bought myself a nice fluid bike trainer, and I decided to put it to good use while waiting for comcast to set up my internet (and additionally, it was pouring rain...). I adapted the group workout I was missing, and had my very first trainer bike ride. Not bad, though I am not totally sure how to figure out the proper resistance. I think that will take more practice. The trainer will come in handy much more in the winter, but I wanted to eliminate the possibility of slacking off while trying to find safe nearby roads to bike on. I found a local triathlon group that I plan to join, but I don't really have time to sacrifice to group workouts while I have guests dedicating their time to helping me get settled.

Wednesday morning I went out for a run in the new 'hood. The weather was gorgeous- after raining for 3 days straight, it was cooler and sunny. I again made up my own workout (coach will give me stuff to do but wanted to make sure i wasn't too overwhelmed during the move). I felt like doing longer intervals, so I did 2 x 10 min hard with 5 min easy in between. After warming up, I started my harder effort, and immediately noticed the hilly terrain that will now be my normal running route. The street I was running on had a long hill which encompassed the majority of my first 10 min interval. During my 5 min easy I turned around, and the second 10 minutes were largely downhill, and a lot faster. I have to figure out how to adjust for that...but I know the hills will be good training for me!

Today was the only 'free' day I had in this transition and settling week. I decided to pretend this was the weekend and do a longer workout, since my family will be in town this weekend so I don't want to disappear for 4-5 hours while they are setting up my furniture! In this area, there is a big movement to make paved bike trails where rail routes once were, but a lot of them are still in the works. I found a local rail trail about a half hour away, which was 7-ish miles long. There are plans to extend it further, but at the moment, this phase is complete, and it is nicely newly paved. I ended up going back and forth about 3x, but it was a lovely shady route, passing by a little lake, and lots of greenery. I really had a lovely time biking for about 2:15, and followed it up with a short 30 min run. It felt great to be on my bike outside after over a week, and I had a great solid workout.

Tomorrow I'm going to hit up the local Y and see about getting a swim in before a fun day of ikea/furniture shopping with friends.

I have decided that since my training friends that I am used to working out with several times a week are now so far away, I am going to try hard to be more diligent about blogging. My first fail is that I didn't bring my camera (or take out my iphone) on my bike ride today to get some pictures. This is unfortunate, because the scenery was absolutely beautiful. However, it was a lovely trail, and I am certain I'll be back there for some more workouts!