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Archive for the ‘bike’ Category

So…  A few months ago I put my name into the lottery for the famous Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.  I won a spot (!!!!), thought about it for 20 seconds then payed a large sum of money for the “opportunity” to swim from Alcatraz, bike around the Presidio hills and run up the Baker Beach sand steps with 1,999 other crazy people this June. A few days later when my exhilaration wore off I decided to check out the details. I learned important details like, the 1.5 mile swim has a 1 hr. cut-off time (which would currently be difficult for me in a swimming pool without a current). There’s also a half mile “warm-up” run from the swim exit to the bike transition area. Then after the 18 mile bike ride, we run 8 miles, not the usual 6 like most International distance triathlons. Looking on the bright side, even if I’m not finished, the race course closes at 1pm so I can still make it to my 2pm Don Giovanni!

What have I gotten myself into?  And exactly when am I planning on training for this race?? That second question came from my husband.  It hadn’t even occurred to me until he brought it up. 1 hour at the gym several times a week is certainly not going to prepare me for this race so I’ve been brainstorming about how I can use my time most efficiently and which parts of this race will be trickiest.

Let’s evaluate: Currently I can comfortably swim half mile, less comfortably a full mile. I can run 3 miles pushing a stroller and I haven’t been for a training ride on my bike since before I was pregnant with Eitan (he’s now 20 months old). Most of my bike training will need to occur in spin classes, which are excellent and utilize the Y’s free childcare. Most of my runs will be done pushing a growing Eitan in the running stroller, so probably not as hilly as the course but difficult nonetheless. In a few months I’ll start walking the Baker Beach sand steps with Eitan in a backpack. Again, not like running them but probably by that point in the race I won’t be running anyway and they’ll feel easy without a baby on my back. Right?? My major concern is fitting in open water swims and a few outdoor bike rides. I’ll either need to pay a babysitter or do them on the weekends when we usually enjoy family time. Oh, and then there’s the 7 weeks of travel time smack in the middle of training season. Back to my first question; What have I gotten myself into???

the workout: I pushed myself to do two consecutive days of spin classes Sunday & Monday. Just to see if I could. (No problem!) I threw in a short run before yesterday’s class (doing a reverse brick) and instead of feeling extra exhausting, I was energized throughout my spin.  My heart rate monitor did report that I was at the top of my workout zone through most of the class. We’ve got these new alien-looking bikes that I’m still not comfortable on but my favorite drills have to do with watts.  A few to try in your next spin workout:

:20 @ watts = body weight -10, :10 recovery x 8

:30 @ watts = body weight, :30 recovery x 4

1:00 @watts = body weight, 1:00 recovery x 4

1:30 @watts = body weight, :30 @watts = body weight +10, 1:00 recovery X 2

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Technically speaking, I wasn’t kicked out of Ulpan today, I was simply told I couldn’t come back because my month was over and I didn’t pay for the next month.  I don’t think it unreasonable of me to not want to pay for an entire other month since my class ends next week, but they were completely unwilling to be flexible, so I left at the first break.

Since our nanny was planning on staying all morning, I took advantage of the free time to grab a workout.  I hopped on a green bike  and started pedaling toward Yafo.  Riding bikes around here is very unlike San Francisco.  There are bike lanes on all the boulevards, but there are no regulations about who can use them.  (And if there were, nobody would follow the rules anyway.)  The most common sight is a parent on a motorized bike, with kids on front and back seats.  Also, there’s the more-than-occasional person riding top speed on a motorized bike while smoking.  And talking on the phone.  And perhaps, running the dog.  Sometimes motorcycles use the bike lane.  Sometimes kids with scooters go between the bikes, ringing their bells because the bikes are in their way, even though the rest of the boulevard is empty.  Oh wait, that’s my kid.  Yes, he thinks he owns the sidewalk.  How very Israeli of him.  Anyway, you get the picture.

My ride today was quite pleasant.  I’d fortunately chosen a green bike that was in good shape, with two tires pumped and brakes working.  I rode along the water, enjoying the view.  Then my friend from Ireland called and I tried talking on the phone while biking.  And not wearing a helmet.  How very Israeli of me.  And also not safe.  I promise I won’t do it again.

I arrived back at my favorite swimming beach in one piece and returned the bike in just under the allotted free half hour (what’s with me and saving money today??).  I changed into my suit and slowly walked into the clear, cold water.  And walked.  And walked.

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It’s shallow for quite a long time at that beach!  I’m not one who likes to tiptoe into the water and feel the cold slowly creeping over me.  I more of a plunge-and-get-it-over-with type of person.  Oh well.  I swam back and forth – from the end of one cafe’s green lounge chairs to the end of the next cafe’s green lounge chairs – twice.  Maybe half a kilometer.  Maybe more, but who knows because the software for the fancy watch I bought still hasn’t been updated to include the advertised swim distance function.  It tells me only how long I swam.  How practical.  Since I couldn’t just check the time on my watch to see how long I’ve been swimming while I’m actually in the water.

Once out of the water and hurrying along to gather a baby and pick up a preschooler, I realized that my legs were sore.  What a great feeling!  Does that sound weird?  You probably have to be an exercise addict like myself to think being sore after a workout is a good thing.

Just for the record, now that I’ve been kicked out of school, I’m planning on keeping the nanny and using my free mornings to swim and bike and run.  Maybe I’ll study a little Hebrew on my own and practice some violin too!IMG_5652.JPG

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getting those abs

While practicing violin is certainly not going to get me abs like this, I appreciate that I might be burning some calories while learning notes.  Gotta love multi-tasking.

I just finished washing dishes, which is apparently an activity that utilizes abdominal muscles.  Who knew?  I am aware of every little muscle in my body today after my introduction to Pop Physique yesterday.  I may not end up with those abs from playing violin, but this class is sure to give results.  The abdominal exercises were the only sequence that I successfully completed without resting (several times) in the middle and not surprisingly, my abs are the sorest part of me. Pop Physique is another barre-based class but the website looks more like an American Apparel underwear add.  The website also specifies “Even though our promotional images feature super hot shorts and tiny leotards that zip…we recommend long slim exercise pants that cover your knees and fitted tanks or t-shirts.”

Before the holidays I was on a roll  getting back into cycling shape.  Then I stopped riding my bike and stopped attending spin classes.  Back to square one.  I’ve got a babysitter booked for upcoming Wednesday rides but today I did a spin at the gym.  A quick web search found a couple 30 minute classes from my favorite YouTube fitness channel, eFit30.  The highlight of today’s workout was during my first climb when the instructor told me in her charming Australian accent “your butt should flirt with the nose of the seat”.  I wonder if that was scripted or if she threw it in because she was bored?

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’tis the season for speed

I love off-season because I have the chance to fall into a great workout routine!  During the past two weeks I’ve made good use of the gym daycare and hired a sitter on Wednesdays so I can ride outside with a friend.   She’s way faster than me but is encouraging me to be more efficient with my energy output and I’m moving faster!  In a couple of days we will tackle Paradise Loop, which is almost 40 miles and used to be my regular ride.  The last time I did Paradise was before I was pregnant- and I never completed it in 3 hours, which will be our goal this week.  Wish me luck…

Happily, my newfound speed is translating into other workouts also.  I’m no longer doing lazy swims just to say I got in the IMG_0236water, but I’m working on 100 and 200 yd splits, making each faster than the previous.  I’ve added a second spin class into my week and am doing my best to follow all given instructions for RPMs and watts on the spin bike computer.  Finally,I’m back to running again.  I did a short loop around the Presidio this morning, choosing music with a quick beat to inspire quick foot speed.  I recommend 2Pac and Cypress Hill if you’re into that stuff.  My foot has been relatively pain free for over a week, since my manual therapist released my left ankle joint.  I’ve got renewed flexibility, which felt weird even when walking the first couple of days, and I’m consciously working to keep the joint from compressing again.  My physical therapist showed me several balance exercises to stabilize and strengthen all the little muscles in my foot.  My favorite is standing on one foot on an upside down Bosu ball and asking my husband to toss me a medicine ball.  He throws it at me, not to me which makes the exercise somewhat tricker (and more entertaining).

Some days I’m still pressed for time so I’ve become more creative with my multitasking.  After this week’s ride, I dove right into violin practicing, doing calf stretches with my scales and balancing over a Beethoven Trio.  Ironically, practicing on one foot helped me feel more grounded and be more expressive in my playing.

We leave town soon so my goal for this holiday season is to gracefully let go of my current routine and embrace another, enjoying  swims and runs with my family in a warmer climate.  Hawaii…. here I come!!

weekly totals:  1900 yds swimming, 48 miles biking, 4.3 miles running

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fourth

I was utterly shocked when I looked up my See Jane Tri race results today and found that I’d placed 4th in my age group and 29th out of 325 women.  The funny part of this was, my sister and I were joking through the awards ceremony that we should be listening for our names as they recognized the top three in each age group.  I had no idea how close I was.

posing before the swim

posing before the swim

I’d gone into Saturday’s race knowing that I might need to skip the run if my foot hurt, so I gave everything I had to the swim and run.  I went out really strong on the swim and surprised myself with my pace.  Toward the end of the swim I spaced out as I tried to remove water from my goggles and de-fog them so I could see where I was going.  I came out of the swim fast and hurried through my first transition.  Once on my bike, I flew by many other cyclists, my only goal being to catch my sister so I wouldn’t need to start the run alone (in the event that my foot didn’t hurt).  The 8 mile bike course went by surprisingly slowly but right at the end I spotted my sister (who’d done the entire ride in one gear because her borrowed bike was making suspicious noises whenever she tried shifting).  We changed into running shoes together and ran out of the transition area.  My first thought was that my feet were blocks of ice and I had no idea if my foot was hurting.  I’m used to running triathlons on frozen feet so this wasn’t anything more than a pleasant surprise to me since I felt no pain.  We chatted though the run but kept a decent pace.  As the finish line came into view, I yelled “let’s go” and she took off at a sprint.  I was sort of kidding since I wasn’t sure I could sprint all the way in but we managed to cross the finish line together and smiling.

Baby A was disturbed by the loud start

Baby A was disturbed by the loud start

This race has become a special event to me.  The first year I entered, I made a new friend from a last minute carpool and enjoyed wearing my really cool SuperJane race shirt for months after.  Last year another new mom friend joined me to do her first triathlon and my first post- baby race.  We felt triumphant for completing both the training and the race with six month old babies.  This year my sister flew in from Georgia to participate in her first triathlon and I was reminded how much I love sharing my passion for racing with others!

showing off our medals

showing off our medals

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Find Joy!

Our Maestro spoke during yesterday’s Falstaff rehearsal of finding joy.  Specifically, when something isn’t seriously harmful and you can live with it, attempt to turn the experience into one of joy.  To me, this is so much more appealing than the old saying, “that which won’t kill you will make you stronger”.

Today I had a window of time to go for a bike ride, thanks to Baby A’s grandparents.  I was so excited to get on my newly tuned-up Supersix and ride somewhere other than to and from work!  The 15th avenue climb into the Presidio felt so easy and I immediately attributed it to my bike.  Then I remembered that since there’s no granny gear climbing should be harder than on my Bianchi and I thought maybe, just maybe the ease had to do with my legs getting stronger.  My bike commute is short but regular with a climb on the way home that I often do with violin on my back, toting clothes and food (and farmers market treasures yesterday!).  Reaching the top of the hill, I zipped through the Presidio and came to a screeching halt as I approached the bridge.  There were school groups and tourists galore enjoying a fabulous sunny morning and a stunning view.  Argh.  Why in the world can’t they leave the biking side of the bridge open during the day?!  I practiced my balance as I slowed and stopped without unclipping several times, but eventually made it to the other side. Then it was up, up, up the Headlands.  I was immediately humbled by the first steep portion and it was through my grimace that I remembered the quote about finding joy.  Hurting on a bike ride is hardly life-threatening so it was simple for me to take a deep breath and smile out at the sparkling blue expanse of Pacific Ocean.  A Headlands climb never felt easier and I reached the top in record time.  I stopped for several minutes to appreciate the beauty at my feet and chatted with another triumphant cyclist.

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I’d seen signs about construction on my way up but decided to take my chances down the backside and through the tunnel loop anyway.  The very steep descent left me gripping my handlebars, shoulders tense.   There’s nothing like a drop-off, switchback road to get adrenaline pumping.    I think it’s been over two years since I did this descent.  I certainly wasn’t riding it when I was pregnant and I haven’t even been up the headlands since Baby A was born 18 months ago!  The back roads were windy and I could feel fall in the air.  This is my favorite season and most years I feel sad that it doesn’t really visit the bay area.  I make up for it by indulging in pounds of fresh market squash and spiced apple cider.  However, this year we are definitely having a fall season and I love it!  Shortly after I was back to sea level I had to stop in a long line of cars waiting for construction.  Once we finally started moving, I found that the rest of my route was gravel.  Not liking to ride on gravel I chose to turn off and ride back up and over the Headlands.  I almost never used to do the double climb and I’d already decided not to push myself too hard today.  So much for that.  As I gritted my teeth and pushed hard, I commanded myself to “Find Joy!”, then started giggling at the tone of voice I was using with myself.  I was reminded of what the pediatrician told me earlier this week.  She said that I didn’t need to push “please” and “thank you” to Baby A at this point because although he would parrot the phrases, he wouldn’t yet comprehend the meaning.  Her philosophy is that many adults say “Thank You!” because they were taught it is the correct thing to say but they don’t connect the words with an emotional meaning.  So I took a gentler tone with myself and smiled my way up the hill.  (Yes, I know how cheesy this sounds!)

Back at the bridge, I heard a cyclist coming off the expanse exclaim “That’s always a _#_*%_ adventure!”  An adventure is what we call it, huh?  I remember the adventure when somebody stepped in front of me and didn’t hear me yelling and even though I was moving at a snail’s pace I still ran into her then couldn’t unclip my right foot fast enough and fell into the person next to me.  Somehow her white pants didn’t catch any bike grease.  That was embarrassing.  And there was the other adventure when the guard rail was too low on the west side of the bridge and one cyclist decided to pass another who was already passing a third.  They collided and first guy flipped, ending up on his head in oncoming bridge traffic.  By some miracle, traffic was moving slowly that day and he wasn’t hurt.  I’ll save my adventures for somewhere else, thank you!

Now that I’ve taken the leap back into cycling with a double Headlands climb, I think I’ll make an effort to do it more often.  I’ve got about a dozen babysitters on speed dial so I can no longer use the “I have a baby” excuse.  Who wants to join me?

the workout: 15ish miles, two big climbs

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cookies!

When my husband walks into the kitchen and sees a stick of butter sitting on the counter he knows I’m making him chocolate IMG_8761chip cookies.  He jokes (or maybe I only think he’s joking) that one of the reasons he married me is I make cookies on demand.  Tonight I ate half the dough before putting the cookies into the oven and it was super delicious!  Generally after a good workout and a healthy meal I don’t crave sweets as much but tonight seemed to be an exception.

This evening I signed Baby A into child-watch at 5pm and ran a mile before spin class.  It’s supposed to be a 45 minute class but we only did 35 minutes of actual (very hard) work so I was free to run another half mile before my hour of childcare was up.  I pushed myself in the bike class so I would reach 12 miles and took it easy on the runs.  I came out sweaty and exhausted, wondering why in the world anyone would choose to do a duathlon (run-bike-run) instead of a triathlon.  My pool opens again tomorrow!

the workout: 1 mile run, adjusting speed and incline frequently/ 36 minutes spinning, 12 miles, pushing up to 25mph occasionally in sprints/ .5 mile run, 9:30 min mi

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