Friday, July 30, 2010

For the Joy of Running

I finally got to run today! Yay! After 2 weeks of 0 miles of running, I ran 3 miles around Lake Eola tonight. It was super humid and my Garmin didn't cooperate, but I didn't care because I got to run! And there was NO pain! To say that I am super excited is a major understatement. This run reminded me of why I run and put my priorities into perspective.

I had lofty goals of getting faster and becoming a marathon maniac this season by running 3 marathons in 90 days, but none of that seems important now. The only thing I care about is that I keep running for the joy of running and for the rest of my life. Races come and go, but the pure joy I experience when I run will only last for as long as I take care of myself and never forget why I do this.

I started the season with a new faster running group, running 3:1 intervals, and doing track work. Things were going great; I was enjoying the runs and the new routine and felt really strong. Then I developed Plantar Fasciitis and that put an end to speed work and hills for a while. My first thought was how this would affect my training and if I'd be able to try to run a 5:15 marathon and become a marathon maniac. I was initially bummed when I realized I may have to give up on my goals, but then I realized that I was asking a lot of myself for no good reason. Sure it's good to have goals and push myself beyond my comfort zone, but not at the risk of injury.

Three weeks ago I decided to switch back to my beloved 2:1 group halfway through my 11 miler because I was struggling in the heat and there was no reason I should be running a long run as fast as the 3:1 group. It was wonderful and it reminded me why I was doing this. What good is it to get faster if I can't make it to the start line of my next race?

At that moment I was at peace with my decision to step back my pace and run for the joy of running. Everything else melted away and I no longer cared if I didn't get to run a particular time. Then I fell off my bike and I couldn't run, so I took a week off to heal, enjoyed some non-running activities and it was wonderful. I hadn't really had a break between seasons, and it felt good to rest and fill my days with other things. One week quickly turned to two and then I got antsy. My head began to fill with fears and doubts, and it made all those race plans seem even more trivial and arbitrary. I just wanted to run!

So when I got to run today, it was amazing. I didn't care about anything else but the fact that I was out there running again and it felt effortless. Now I am adjusting my expectations and will be content with becoming a half fanatic or not. If I am able to fit in the training to still run the Space Coast Full marathon, I will. But I am not going to put any pressure on myself to make that happen. I am going to enjoy running and the rest will just be a bonus :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Racing Against Mother Nature

Today's bike ride home was an adventure, but this time it was all my doing.

Since I still can't run,  I convinced myself to bike to work this morning with the promise that I'd take the bus home if my knee protested or if the weather didn't cooperate. My knee and I were feeling good this afternoon, and the radar showed the rain was nowhere near yet, so I left work on my bike even though the heat index was supposed to be 100+. I was immediately assaulted with a wall of heat, and I felt ill.

I convinced myself that biking home in the heat was a bad idea, and that it surely would start pouring on me any minute, so a mere 2 miles later I turned left on Rouse to catch the bus at Colonial. I waited at the bus stop for about 15-20 min, and the bike racks were full! Ugh! So I trek back to the trail, thankful that it has cooled off a bit. This is probably due to the thunder I hear in the distance and the impending rain.

I tell myself that I can take the bus at Goldenrod, so I take the long way that adds an extra 1/2 mile to my trip when I get to the bridge. I am still too early and would have to wait another 15-20 min to catch this bus IF it even has an open bike rack. I reason I'd better use that time to make some forward movement before the rain arrives, and so I keep trekking along.

As I cross Semoran and turn onto the Cady Way trail, the air feels much cooler and the clouds look much darker. I pray I can make it home before it starts to rain, and I speed up in an attempt to beat mother nature. With about 4 miles to go, I see the biggest and loudest lighting strike ever. It's surely near me and I now fear for my life. I consider calling Amy to rescue me, but with only 3 miles to go and still no rain in sight, I don't want to inconvenience her unnecessary. Plus I figured it would take me about the same time to rush home from the mall as it would to wait for her.

While the clouds still look menacing, and there is the occasional rumble in the sky, the rain has stayed away and I'm almost home free. I urge the light to turn green at Colonial, and I speed off as soon as it does; of course, I catch every red light. After I turn onto Livingston from Primrose, I see what looks like a wall of rain in the distance as I near Bumby. I take off my glasses in hopes that I am seeing things. No such luck. Sure enough, the rain catches up to me at Bumby and I get drenched during the last mile of my ride home.

I arrive home 2 hours after my departure from work, starving, cold, wet, and looking like a drench rat.  Had I ridden home without the detour in the first place, I would have missed the rain, thunder and lighting, and been home at least 30-45 minutes earlier. Oh well, you live and learn.

ETA: And of course, as soon as I finished writing this, I got an email alerting me of a severe thunderstorm warning. I'm so glad to be home where is dry and away from the lightning :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Week 29 Recap

My right knee still hurts from the bike fall last Sunday, so I've not been able to run for a week. I tried yesterday, but the pain is still there. I am past smelling the roses, and I am now rather frustrated, but I know patience will pay off in the end. However, I biked 36 miles over 2 days this weekend and it was a lot of fun. I'll be posting all about it soon. The plan for this week is to take it easy in hopes that the knee will heal in time for my 13 miler this weekend. If I am able to run, I'll be stepping down to a slower pace group to ease into it, and may walk part of if.

Week Totals (rounded)

  • run - 0
  • walk - 18 miles
  • bike - 36 miles
  • total - 54 miles / 9.5 hours

Workout Summary

See details on Dailymile
  • Monday - walked 2.5 miles (bus)
  • Tuesday - walked 2.5 miles (bus)
  • Wednesday - walked 7 miles (Universal)
  • Thursday - walked 3 miles (bus)
  • Friday - walked 2.5 miles (bus)
  • Saturday - biked 15 miles (Cycling Savvy - Orlando Tour)
  • Sunday - biked 21 miles (S-Cargo Ride)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Stopping to Smell the Roses

At Hogwarts I have not done a single workout this week, other than incidental exercise -- walking to the bus stop and at Universal. After I fell off my bike last Sunday and realized I would not be able to run for a few days until it healed, I opted to make lemonade out of lemons, take a much deserved week off, and have some fun. So we took Wednesday off from work and spent the day at Universal/IOA. The knee is healing, but the foot is still nagging. I may have a hill spur, so I'm going to go to a doc to get a real diagnosis so I can heal and not do more damage. Wednesday was an amazing day, and I plan to take it easy this weekend and enjoy it too.

We woke up at 6:30 Wednesday morning. After a big breakfast, we hopped on the bus to Universl at 7:45 am. We almost missed it, which would have sucked because it only comes once an hour. We arrived at IOA just after 9 am and headed to the Harry Potter land. The line to get into the land was already long, but we got passes to return for priority access at 11:20. In the meantime, we rode a few rides with very little wait: SpiderMan, Doom, Cat in the Hat, Seuss Train, and Poseidon's Fury.

We walked right into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at 11:15 and headed straight for the Castle and the Forbidden Journey ride, which had an hour wait. The line moved quickly, and I am sure we didn't wait that long. The inside of the castle was really impressive, specially the projections of the characters. The ride was amazing and very well done, but I was not as impressed with the land as I thought. It's just not Disney :) It was crowded with longe lines just to get into and browse the various shops, so we left, ate some lunch then headed to Universal. We saw Shrek 4D, which was pretty good, then ate some Dipping Dots. Why have I never had these before? Yum!

We took a break from the sun and let our feet rest while watching Inception on IMAX, and eating some popcorn and curly fries. WOW! The movie was incredible and had an amazing cast. I am already plotting to go see it again. After the movie, we headed back to Universal for a few more rides before dinner and the concert: MIB and Mummy. Dinner was shared tofu bowl at Moe's with some chips and salsa.

With no more ways to kill time, we headed to the concert early to rest in A/C and met up with Aaron before the Weird Al concert started. The concert was pretty good, although I could have done with a few less costume changes because I did not care so much for the videos they played while they transitioned. We were exhausted and wanted to hop on an earlier bus, so we left the concert early. We got home at 11 pm, promptly passed out, and slept like a baby. I think I'm too old to pull an all day of fun, but it's worth it every now and then :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Week 28 Recap

I already posted yesterday about the best part of last week, so I won't repeat myself. Also, I updated my Bike vs Bus post to include scores for each criteria. Check it out and let me know if you would score them the same. Which would win for you?

Before cycling class yesterday, Jason switched the pedals on my comfort bike so I could try out my new sandals. I forgot I was clipped in and fell off my bike within the first few minutes of class. Doh! In addition to the road rash, there is some bruising and a big welt. I won't be able to run for a few days because the impact makes it hurt; it doesn't hurt to walk, but I cringe every time I bend it and put weight on that leg when going up or down stairs.

I'm a little bummed of course, but I'm not letting this ruin my awesome mood leftover from the weekend. I only have to make it through one more day of work, then we'll enjoy another long fun-filled day at Universal. I am sure walking around theme parks all day Wednesday will be more than enough exercise and I rather take it easy this week and still be able to run 13 miles next week.

Week Totals (rounded)

  • run - 10 miles
  • walk - 9 miles
  • bike - 32 miles
  • total - 54 miles / 7.5 hours

Workout Summary

See details on Dailymile
  • Monday - walked 2.75 miles (bus)
  • Tuesday - ran 3 miles; walked 4 miles
  • Wednesday - biked 30 miles (work); walked 1 mile (publix)
  • Thursday - ran 2 miles
  • Friday - walked 1.5 miles (bus)
  • Saturday - ran 5.1 miles
  • Sunday - biked 3 miles (plus on and off for 3 hours at bike handling class)



  • Have fun! =) I am cutting myself some slack this week and enjoying life :D 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Race Report: Cool Summer Mornings 5K #2

3rd Place in my Age Group Yesterday was an amazing day. We were up at 5 am, and didn't get home and in bed until midnight, but it was so worth it.

The day started with a 5K in Clermont that I didn't even want to run. I figured I'd do awful, and I had tummy issues in the morning, but I somehow didn't feel pressured and I did much better than I expected. I missed a PR by a mere 30 seconds and placed 3rd in my age group! Considering this course includes a few hills at the start, and it was hot as hell, I am really pleased with my effort.


  • age group: 3/9
  • female: 25/49
  • overall: 51/85
  • time: 32:47 @ 10:33
  • splits: 10:43 - 10:21 - 10:51 - 8:08 (.1 in 46s)

It was a small race, but there were 9 in my age group, so I'm excited that I beat 6 other people. I ran using 3:1 intervals for the most part, and walked up the 2 hills at the start. I walked extra during the last mile because of a side stitch, so I didn't run negative splits. I ran 1 mile to warm up before the start, which I finished with 10 minutes to spare and do a few stretches. That really helped. I'm doing this race again in 3 weeks; maybe I can do it in under 32 minutes.

I ran another mile to cool down, refueled, then I cheered on Jason at the spring triathlon. The 5k started at 7, and the tri at 7:45, which worked out great; he could cheer me on as I passed the finish line before the 2nd turn around, and I was done with plenty of time to see him exit the water. He did amazing.

After we showered and ate, we checked out the sale at David's World while we still had Dad's truck. Jason bought a new touring bike and I finally got a pair of cycling sandals, another grocery bag pannier and rear rack for my road bike. I'm hoping to alternate between the comfort bike and road bike when commuting to work. We'll see how that goes.

We had lunch at Sweet Tomatoes then went to Universal Studios to see Counting Crows. We bought annual passes, so we didn't feel rushed and we'll be back very soon to check out the Harry Potter World. While we waited for the concert to start, we rode ET and saw a hilarious taping of two Family Feud episodes hosted by Steve Harvey.

I just love it when all the stars align to create the perfect day. I slept like a baby and then went to the Cycling Savvy Bike Handling class this morning. I'll post more about that later. We're planning to go back to Universal Studios on Wednesday, check out Harry Potter World, spend the day at the park, then see Weird Al in concert! I can't wait!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Work Commute: Bike vs Bus

Riding in a skirt
Jamis Explorer that I use to commute,
but not usually in these clothes
and I swap the basket with grocery bag
panniers for better maneuverability
My primary modes of getting to work without a car are riding my bike or the bus, so I thought I would compare the two looking at various factors: time, flexibility, cost, multitasking, exercise, weather, cargo, route, and effortIs there an important factor I left out that I should consider?

As you will see, there is no clear winner with each having their share of advantages and disadvantages. It's almost a draw most days, but other circumstances usually make one more attractive on any given day. If I lived closer to work, and I was not training for a marathon (or 3) the bike would probably win every time.

Time (draw)

Both take roughly the same amount of time, about 1.5 hours, to arrive to work from when I leave my apartment. This is the total time including walking to/from bus stop, waiting for the bus to arrive, or waiting at lights/intersections when biking. I have to allow time to shower when I get to work if I bike, but I don't necessarily see that as added travel time since I have to shower before I leave when I take the bus.

Flexibility (+1 bike)

When riding the bus, I am restricted to a fixed time schedule and speed -- the bus only comes every 30 minutes and stops frequently. Biking to work is more flexible and I can potential make up time by biking faster if I'm running late. If I am running late for the bus and I miss it, even by a few minutes, I automatically add 30 minutes to my commute.

Cost (+1 bike)

It is $2 per trip, one way, to ride the bus or $50 a month if I buy a bus pass. Biking is free, although there is the occasional maintenance cost like replacing tubes, etc. I lost my bus pass a few days after buying it, so Jason and I have been sharing his further reducing our cost. This has worked for the past few weeks because we've been biking and taking the bus on different days due to our workout schedules. On days when we both ride, I pay cash and he uses the bus pass. If our schedules remain the same, we may continue doing this and just alternate who buys the pass each month. The pass is only cost-effective because we are not biking as often as we'd like due to training for the other sports, but it is also more convenient than having exact change every time we need to take the bus.

Multitasking (+1 bus)

I can do other things while I ride the bus, such as read a book/email/news, play games on my iPhone, knit (when I learn) or listen to music/news. Other than exercising while I commute, I can't multitask while I bike (except maybe listening to music/news/book, but riding while wearing headphones is illegal). Biking does give me time to think, and I suppose I could use my phone or other recording device to record notes.

Exercise (+1 bike)

If I take the bus, I walk a total of 2.5 miles (less than 1 hour) to/from bus stop. When I bike, it is 29 miles roundtrip or 2-2.5 hours of exercise a day. Bike is a bit more strenuous than walking, although I try to ride at a somewhat leisurely pace so I am not too exhausted to work and it doesn't affect my running workouts. Sometimes I walk/ride a little less or a little extra depending on which office I go to or if I make a detour to the store on the way home, but the difference is usually 1-2 miles at most.

Cargo (draw)

When I bike to work, I need to bring a change of clothes, bike repair kit (tube, tools, pump), extra water, and extra food. Sometimes I plan ahead and bring things to work the day prior to biking, but that doesn't always happen. I have a grocery pannier on my bike where I keep all this stuff (I need a 2nd to better balance my bike), and 2 water bottle cages on my bike. I also have a rear rack and basket (which I usually remove) if I need to carry more stuff. Carrying more stuff affects my balance and maneuverability on the bike, specially in the front basket, but it's not too bad.

When I ride the bus, I still carry a tote bag full of stuff. I need to bring lunch, and sometimes breakfast if I am running late, and never leave home without my Kleen Kanteen water bottle. I bring headphones and mp3 player to keep me entertained. I sometimes carry extra clothes or food so I don't have to when I bike the next day. If it's going to rain, I may carry an umbrella or poncho. It is actually harder to carry more when I take the bus because I have to walk 1-2 miles with the stuff, whereas on the bike I just roll.

Weather (+1 bus)

If it is raining, I only have to deal with it for a short while while walking to the bus stop and I can use an umbrella/poncho. Riding in the rain requires a lot more gear and is just not very pleasant unless it is a light drizzle. Heat is another factor, and as long as I stay hydrated is not too awful on the bike. Since the humidity is a bit insane, I usually wear workout clothes to walk to the bus then change when I get to work.

Route (+1 bike)

We are really fortunate that our 15 mile bike ride to work is mostly on trails. We spend about 6 miles total on roads the entire ride. Riding on the Econ Trail is gorgeous and I always see at least one bunny and lots of other fauna. The bus roue is a direct shot along Colonial Dr with a detour to VCC. It stops a lot, so that is why it takes longer than driving, but the stops are less frequent or quicker depending on the time of day.

Effort (+1 bus)

Obviously, it takes more effort to spend over an hour pedaling to work than seating on a bus, even if I ride slow, so some days the decision not to bike to work is based on my level of exhaustion or body aches. However, there are other additional considerations that take effort when commuting to work regardless of method.

I need to bring a change of clothes because it's not feasible to bike 15 miles in my work clothes in the Florida heat without being a sweaty, smelly mess when I get to work. I need to bring supplies to take a shower (towels, toiletries). I  keep a set of these at work, but do have to monitor them to replace them when they start running low. I need to bring more food because I need more calories on days I bike. I need additional gear to bike than to walk to the bus, i.e. helmet, gloves, bike tools, water bottles, etc. So yeah, a lot to consider. I try to pack my bag the night before, but that doesn't always happen, so that means getting up earlier to do it in the morning.

Commuting by the bus takes some effort too. I still need to get up on time and time everything just right so that I don't miss the bus or stand out there for too long (I always do because the bus is always late). Because of the increasing humidity, I've started wearing different clothes to walk to the bus and then change at work. This does not require a shower, but I do need to pack clothes. I need to make sure my iPhone and/or mp3 player are charged to entertain myself on the bus.

With either method, the effort required to prepare before leaving is minimized if I just plan ahead and pack the night before. But that cuts into my seating around on the couch surfing the web or blogging time =P

Final Score: bike 4; bus 3

So there you have it. It's pretty close. Given all the facts, which do you think you would you choose more often?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bike Camping Adventure

Last Supper On Saturday, we had the (maybe not so) brilliant idea of biking to Blue Springs State Park to camp for one night with some friends.

Because riding 40+ miles in the middle of the day heat is apparently not enough torture for us, I ran 11 miles that morning at 4:30 am and Jason spent a few hours helping with the mountain bike park clean up.

When I got home from the run, I showered, packed our gear, ate breakfast, and took a nap. When Jason got home, we walked to Graffiti Junktion for some lunch, loaded up the bike trailer, and headed out just before 1:30 p.m.


Because we had to carry everything we brought with us, we only brought the necessities. We were not camping alone, so we could have sent extra stuff with the others, but we wanted to try to be as self sufficient as possible. We skipped a lot extras we'd normally bring for added comfort, such as chairs, sleeping bags, and the air mattress. We improvised a bed with blankets and towels, and used our bags of clothes inside the pillowcases as pillows. It turned out to be a lot more comfortable than expected, and certainly a lot lighter and compact to haul for 40 miles :)

Here's what we brought:

My comfort bike with grocery bag pannier

Camping Gear loaded on bike trailer
I rode my comfort bike and carried a grocery bag pannier with snacks (granola bars, gu gels, bananas), bike repair kit, and wallet. We both wore camelbaks with ice water, plus extra bottles on our cages. I attached a case to my camelbak to carry my iPhone and camera.

Jason hauled the bike trailer attached to his mountain bike with the following:

small tent
I think its supposed to fit 4, but really it fits 2 comfortably with extra room for our stuff

small plastic bin - camping/cooking supplies
  • first aid kit, flash lights/glow sticks, bug spray, hand sanitizer, 
  • skillet, metal cooking utensils, lighter, garbage bags, ziplock bags, napkins, paper plates, plastic utensils
  • can corn, can beans, peanut butter
  • inflatable pillow, pump (for the air mattress that we did not bring)
big plastic bin - bedding, clothes, food
  • 2 pillow cases, 2 sheets, 2 towels, camp blanket, poncho
  • bagels, bread, small cooler with veggie dogs, veggie brats, veggies in foil, and jelly
  • a change of clothes, underwear, socks, bathing suits

The Journey


Bridge Crossing

View from Bridge

our gear and bike trailer

the truck that rescued us!
We used Google maps to find a suitable route. We opted for a longer route that kept us on trails most of the way, and it was great for the most part. We took the Cady Way Trail to the Cross Seminole Trail, then cut across Tuskawilla to shave off a few miles. We averaged 13 mph for first 17-18 miles, which was faster than I planned. That plus the heat was really taken a toll on me, and I wasn't even hauling all the cargo! I was glad when we took a break at the Environment Center to refuel and cool off around the 20 mile mark. I've ridding the Cross Seminole Trail before, but had never stopped here before. It's gorgeous!

I was already exhausted at this point and was seriously questioning my sanity. The heat and humidity was absurd, and I simply could no longer maintain that pace. Our pace started a slow decent during the 2nd half of the trip, and I must admit it required more mental toughness than I expected. I had ridden this distance and similar before, so I did not think it would be a problem, but it was cooler last time and I had not run 11 miles prior to biking. I was so tired and achy towards the end that I felt like crying, but I pressed on somehow. It's possible that this was more mentally challenging, or at least as much as running a marathon.

We got our first and only honk at mile 29 after we turned left on Oregon St from Rinehart Rd as the lady in the passenger seat of the car that passed us on the left lane advised us to  "find a bike path." I just laughed and commented that at least we made it 29 miles before that happened. Around mile 38, Google had us turn right onto Dutchman's Bend Rd, which is a narrow sand road and things quickly went from bad to worse. I guess the "enter street at your own risk" sign at the intersection on W Highbanks Rd should have been our first clue. The sand was so bad at places that we had to hop off our bikes to walk a few times, but I was grateful for the break. When I was on the bike, I just got in a low gear and rode slow while continuously chanting "you can do this" and "you are ok." It's amazing how much a little positive affirmation can help.

We "rode" this perilous rode for about 3 miles before we realized we had missed our turn. I was ready to just pitch our tent in the nearest patch of grass. We turned around and found the "road" Google wanted us to turn into, Magnolia Ave, was non-existent. It was a narrow service road inside the park behind a "no trespassing" gate that was mostly sand and overgrown grass. It was barely driveable, let alone bikeable.

We called for an assist, but no one answered, so we began walking for about a mile. It felt like a death march as we walked under the hot sun and I risked a twisted ankle with every step. I seriously started thinking about what I would do to survive if we got stuck out there, when our friends called! It took a little while for them to figure out where we were and come to our rescue. Thank god one of them had a truck to haul us and our bikes back to camp. I really wish I had taken some video or photos of these roads, but I was just too tired and irritable at this point to think straight.

Once we made it to camp and got some food, I felt much better and I slept great that night. I still felt really worn out the next day and was glad we did not have to bike 40 miles back home. Our wonderful friends made room for us, our gear, and our bikes and drove us home. We promptly when out to dinner then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening lounging around. I was too tired to even blog or upload photos :P

Lessons Learned

funny face Even though we had to be picked up, I would call this a success because we did bike 40 miles and make it to the general area with all our camping gear. We would have made it there by foot eventually, and certainly could have made it with better directions. Yes it was tough, but I would do it again, maybe in October, with a better route.

I learned that we could camp with a lot less gear than we thought, and I think we could have been fine with even less. Comfort on the campsite means less comfort on the ride there, so we have to make some tough choices, but camping is not about comfort; it's about adventure and stepping outside your comfort zone for a bit. That being said, I think things would be a bit different in the winter, but still manageable.

I want to try this again just the two of us at Turkey Lake, since it is only a 10 mile bike ride, to see how we really do with minimalist supplies and no friends to bail us out. Granted, this park is not as isolated, but it would still be a great experiment.

One thing is for certain, me and my body can handle a lot. I love the person I have become who was even willing to give this a try. Two years ago I would not have even considered it, let alone want to try again.

View all photos on Flickr

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Atypical Afternoon Bike Commute

Wow, two posts in one day! I actually have several more in the queue (spoilers: bike camping recap; commuting by bike vs bus; the joy of running), but I just have to post about my very bizarre bike ride home this afternoon.

About a half hour before I left work, it was pouring sheets of rain and the radar showed a huge angry red blob on top of us. I almost got a ride home with Amy, but the rain stopped by the time it was time to go so I headed home on the bike. The rain was moving towards downtown, staying mostly in front of me, which made for a cooler (almost cold) ride. It started to drizzle a bit, but it was quite enjoyable. I counted 6 bunnies while riding in Blanchard Park, then things got weird. 

As I rode under the Econ Trail overpass, some guy sprints (on foot) ahead of me across the wooden bridge.  I figured he's just some random runner. When I get to the end of the bridge, there he is with his pants down exposing and pleasuring himself at me. I turned and shook my head and sped away. I was dumbfounded and a little uneasy, but then I saw 3 more bunnies and put the incident behind me ... or so I thought.

I crossed Harrell Rd and saw him again behind a tree waiting and looking for me, I presume. WTF! As soon as I saw him, I sped up. He whistled and shouted at me when he spotted me; I flicked him off and shouted some colorful words and sped off. Now I was really freaked out. Was this guy following me? How the hell did he even get in front of me on the trail? The more I go over this in my head, the more I question it because it just seems impossible, but it looked like the same guy in the same clothes.

I felt uneasy for the rest of the ride, and kept looking in my rearview mirror expecting him to pop out of thin air at any moment. I stopped at the mexican store to call Jason (he had rode ahead of me) but he did not answer. The rain picked up a bit, and I considered hanging out at the store until it passed, but I just wanted to get home. I didn't see the guy anywhere, and there are more people around for the rest of the ride so I pressed on. I felt a little cold, so I put on my cycling jacket. The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. This was certainly a first!

My Morning Bike Commute

Biking to Work on Econ Trail
It was a gorgeous morning for biking to work, and I had so much fun. The photo on the right is my scenery as I bike along the Econ Trail in Blanchard Park. Near here is were I often see bunnies, but I only spotted four today and they were scattered throughout the park.

I set out to take it easy and enjoy myself this morning, so I left a little earlier so I would not feel rushed, yet I still managed to average 12 mph. I know this is not that fast, but I really have to work at going much faster on my comfort bike with panniers. I wore my tri shorts with my running skirt over them, and that immediately added a bit of fun to the ride. I was cheerful and courteous, saying "Good Morning" to everyone I passed on the trail, and most returned the greeting. This made a world of difference.

Biking to Work on Econ Trail
The photo to the left is a lady I see on the trail on almost every ride to work. She has a 2-wheel recumbent bike with a seat on it and a canopy to keep her cool and shaded from the sun. Brilliant!

I made a few adjustments to my route based on Keri's suggestions at Monday's class, and it went great. Riding on Colonial, even for one block, still had my heart pounding and threatening to bust out of my chest, but the moron who honked at me may have had more to do with that.

I encountered very little traffic or resistance on Colonial. While I still have to wait at the light to turn left on Maguire, the nice thing is that almost everyone passes me on the left at the intersection itself and then I have the lane to myself most of the way. It gives me plenty of time to command the lane and by the time new cars enter the road they are far enough behind me to change lanes long before they reach me.

I am still not comfortable riding on Semoran or Hanging Moss Road, so I rode the sidewalk most of the way there. I know I shouldn't and the road is safer, but I take it nice and slow and I am very alert of all driveways. Maybe after I finish the Cycling Savvy course I'll give it a try again :) I did use the road and wait for the green light to turn right onto Forsyth. Cars patiently waited behind me for a chance to pass me and I was at Partridge Ln before I knew it. Rode down that road, instead of the zig zagging trail that jumps from one side of the road to the other, and that was awesome.

After that, is all trail riding on Econ through Blanchard Park until Alafaya, where I hop on the road at Science drive to make the left onto Alafaya and ride the bike lane to Research Parkway. This intersection is a bit tricky because there are always a ton of cars waiting to turn right. When the light turned green, I let them all pass me and turn first, then I turned just before the light turned red. This basically gave me the lane all to myself for a bit, and a lot less cars turn onto that road and see me with enough time to change lanes to pass me.

It is amazing how much more enjoyable riding your bike can be with a little patience and the right mindset. I wish my commute was shorter so I could rock the Cycle Chic. I need to get more casual cycling shoes, though this bike doesn't even have clips or cages so I can wear anything I want. I am just not sure how comfortable riding in sandals or other girly shoes would be for 15 miles.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cycling Savvy Course in Orlando

Last night Jason and I attended The Truth and Techniques of Traffic Cycling. This 3-hour classroom session is one part in the Cycling Savvy Course. This course is designed to show students simple strategies to eliminate obstacles and ride with ease and confidence in places they might never have thought possible.

It was great to review the bike laws in our state/city, including how to interpret the new mandatory bike lane use). We also discussed traffic dynamics and problem-solving strategies for safely riding on the road, even at night or in the rain. Keri is a great teacher with plenty of first hand experience and the video footage to prove it. Through a series of flash animations and videos of cyclists riding on our local roads, we could really see how to apply the principles to ride safer in our community.

This weekend we will attend the Bike Handling portion of the course, which involves a set of progressive drills designed to increase control and comfort handling our bikes in various situations. The course culminates next weekend with an experiential Tour of Orlando roads, where will apply our knowledge and skills to real life situations in our community.

If you have been wanting to ride your bike around Orlando more, I highly recommend you take this course. It will help you gain confidence and the skills you need to make cycling safe and enjoyable. Even though we already knew most of the laws and strategies for riding on the road, and we've been doing that for a while, we still learned a lot. Riding on the road is still not 100% comfortable for me. Smart route planning solves the problem most times; I'm hoping this course will do the trick for the rest and I won't be afraid to tackle any road.

Upcoming Class Offerings:

  • Train Your Bike — Saturday 7/17 @ 8-11 am
  • Train Your Bike — Sunday 7/18 @ 8-11 am
  • Tour of Orlando — Saturday 7/24 @ 9 am - noon
  • Tour of Orlando — Saturday 7/31 @ 9 am - noon
They will be scheduling more classes soon, so visit for details on the course and upcoming class offerings, and sign up today! :)

ETA: If you do not live in Orlando but would like to attend something similar, check out the Bike Education page at League of American Bicyclists site for options in your state. They have a lot of information online and you can search for upcoming classes or instructors in your area.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Week 27 Recap

I am still recovering from our weekend bike camping adventure, so I haven't found much time or energy to blog about it. Overall it went well, it was more challenging than expected, but we learned a lot. I'll have a full recap of our experience soon. In the meantime, here is a quick recap of last week.

Week Totals (rounded)
  • run - 17 miles
  • walk - 5 miles
  • bike - 43 miles
  • total - 65 miles / 9 hours
Workout Summary
See details on Dailymile
  • Monday - walked 1.2 miles (bus)
  • Tuesday - ran 3 miles (easy)
  • Wednesday - rest / sick
  • Thursday - ran 3 miles (MRP); biked 1.6 miles (publix)
  • Friday - walked 2.5 miles (bus)
  • Saturday - ran 11 miles; walked 1.2 miles (lunch); biked 41 miles (camping)
  • Sunday - recover!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Three Things Thursday: Bike Camping, Watermelon 5K, Week 26

I've been a blogging slacker, among other things, so I'm going to use this Three Things Thursday post to catch up, in reverse.

#1 - Slow Week / Bike Camping 

This has been a slow week so far, exercise-wise. I had Monday off and I did absolutely nothing, other than walk to Publix for what I'm sure was junk food. Then I called in sick on Tuesday and Wednesday, which also meant no biking. I could have, and should have, done some yoga, but I instead got distracted resting and playing with my new iPhone 4 -- it was a much needed upgraded from my original iPhone!

I seem to have developed plantar fasciitis (boo!) so I've not been doing any speed work and trying to take it easy on the runs I do. It's not too bad yet, but I don't want to make it worse. While I do want to work on speed this year, it is more important that I stay strong and healthy and make it to the start line of the full and half marathons I have planned. I need to keep reminding myself of this over and over =P I got a night splint and that has been helping, but it's still lingering.

So far I've gotten both runs in this week, shorter than usual, and I expect to make up for the lack of exercise this weekend. I've got a 12 mile run scheduled for Saturday, then we are going camping at Blue Springs by bike, which means 40+ miles each way. Jason will be hauling all our gear in the bike trailer. This ought to be interesting :)

#2 - Watermelon 5k Race Report

On Sunday I ran the Watermelon 5k with my parents. We wore matching shirts that I made us and had a blast. Jason volunteered instead of running it. The humidity was insane, and the race is pretty crowded, so there were no attempts at a PR; I just wanted to have fun. Dad lined up a little bit ahead of us and because of the heat/crowds finished in over 30 minutes for the first time ever (lol). I stayed with mom the whole time and took photos and video of us as we ran. It was a blast and nice not to feel pressured to run fast. I'm sure my foot appreciated it too.

My Running Family @ Watermelon 5K 2010

#3 - Week 26 Recap

Week Totals (rounded)
  • run - 15 miles
  • walk - 11 miles
  • bike - 68 miles
  • total - 94 miles / 12.5 hours
Workout Summary
See details on Dailymile
  • Monday - biked 29 miles (roundtrip to work)
  • Tuesday - ran 4 miles (hills); walked 2 miles (bus stop)
  • Wednesday - biked 29 miles (roundtrip to work)
  • Thursday - ran 2.5 miles (easy; plantar fasciitis); walked 2.5 miles (bus stop)
  • Friday - walked 3.5 miles (bus stop + cvs)
  • Saturday - ran 5 miles; walked 3 miles (errands, etc)
  • Sunday - ran watermelon 5k; biked 9 miles (roundtrip to race + publix)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Five: Life without a Car

It's been 3 1/2 weeks living without a car -- commuting everywhere by foot, bike, bus, or train -- and so far it's going well. There have been a few challenges, but overall we're adjusting well. Below is a combined list of my top 5 pros and cons. Can you think of others? Any questions about how we've handled specific situations?
  1. [pro] save money on gas, tolls, car insurance, and car maintenance
  2. [proguaranteed daily exercise -- even when I don't bike to work, I at least walk 2 miles to/from the bus stop
  3. [protime to be productive/rest while I commute to work by bus; I don't always take advantage of this, but I'm trying to use the time to read. I need to get some audio books
  4. [con] takes longer to bike or ride the bus to work than to drive
  5. [conrainy days can be challenging, especially if I biked to work that day

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June 2010 Recap

I ran almost the same as last month, but walked more and biked 7 times as much due to the fact that I am now living without a car. Overall, I was more active than last year and last month; I suspect that will be a continuing trend for the rest of the year as I plan to run at least 2 half marathons and 1 full marathon before December. I met or came close to meeting all of my goals. I ate out more than I planned, but most of that was during our mini vacation so I'm ok with it. I still had over 90% of my meals at home, so that's good enough for me.

I'm really pleased at how much of the meals we cook include local and fresh ingredients. I think I've completely weaned us off canned foods (diced canned tomatoes and tomato sauce were the hold outs, but we no longer need this crutch). We now only use either fresh or frozen veggies. I even made my own humus this week and I finally got the recipe down. There are still a few processed foods we keep around, but it's mostly sweets and other snack foods. We can't let go of all our guilty pleasures =P

June Stats
See details on Dailymile
  • run = 61 miles; 15/wk avg (62 miles in May; 21 miles in 2009)
  • longest run = 10 miles (HM in May; 4 miles in 2009)
  • bike = 242 miles; 60/wk avg (34 miles in May; 228 in 2009)
  • longest ride = 15 miles (18 miles in May; 50 miles in 2009)
  • walk = 27 miles
  • total = 331 miles / 43.5 hrs (avg 1.5 hrs/day)
2010 Goals Progress
To be on track, percentages should be around 50%
  • run = 410 / 700 miles (avg 68/mo; 17/wk; 59%)
  • cycling = 552  / 1750 miles (avg 92/mo; 23/wk; 34%)
  • tri 2010 challenge = 1060 / 2010 (53%)
  • total exercise hours = 213 / 365 hours (avg 1.2/day; 58%)
  • 101 things = 16 / 30 done (53%); 11 in progress
June Accomplishments
Goals for July
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