Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sentence continues...

Sigh. Met with the doc this past week and he wants me off of running for another two weeks tomorrow (but who is counting?). This was not unexpected news and there is no reason to rush back to running unless the stress fracture is healed. I've not had any pain for weeks and had gotten hopeful. No pain is really the best news however and doc was amazed that I was already pain free.

Road biking in the dark and bike on the trainer has gotten old real quick so I thought I'd resume commuting in by bike as an easy way to get in miles. I last did this regularly in 2002/2003 so it has been awhile as I've only commuted in very occasionally since. I use my trusty mountain bike with commuter tires, upright bars, a rack and panniers to ride in. Now that I'm used to going longer distances, I add onto my commute by doing a longer ride in which is fun because I can do different routes.

What have I noticed bike commuting to work this week?

Hauling the heavier bike with panniers is a good workout. It's certainly building strength and makes going back to the zippy road bike with skinny tires ever so much fun.

There are so many bicycle commuters now! Ok, this week has been gorgeous and dry for the most part but there must be 100% more cyclists out there than I used to see when I commuted if not more. Hoards of cyclists on all kinds of bikes (too many fixies though..) on all routes. I am amazed! I took a longer way home and was on the Burke-Gilman for a couple of miles around GasWorks Park and it was like being on a biking freeway which isn't really a good thing.

Kudos to Seattle for the sharrows and new attention to bike markings on the roads. Practically every street I ride on has had some changes to it with bike markings. I used to commute up 11th street but now Stone Way is better. It is nice to have some choices.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On the ferry boat - Not my bike.

Orcas Island was really great but both K and I were a little frustrated about not trail running and not biking. Another reason to go back! The goal is to go to the island sans car.

Orcas Island!

is just a ferry boat ride away? How come we've never been? We've been missing out!

We left after a leisurely morning in Seattle on Friday and arrived early evening on the island.
We ate at Chimayo, a New Mexican restaurant, which as K pointed out was appropriate. 10 years ago, we had gotten married and had our wedding dinner with friends and family at our favorite New Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque. As with most Mexican food in Seattle or the Northwest, the food was not quite what you'd expect but it was very tasty.

K had found a great B&B in Eastsound called the Kangaroo House. It was a beautiful craftsman and we had a wonderful suite. It was so wonderful that i think I slept 9 hours that first night because it was so quiet and comfy with no distractions (ie Dex the Duck!) and no responsibilities.

the next day started out clear and cold. We had a lovely breakfast provided by the B&B and set off for Moran Park and Mount Constitution after stopping by the store for picnic supplies. Mount Constitution was a little cloudy on top but it was still a stunning view. The drive down the mountain, we found a great spot to stop and admire the views north. We were treated to watching four (4!) bald eagles circling upward on thermals right in front of us. We could hear them calling to each other with an interesting chittering which I've never heard before.

On the recommendation of the Charles and Jill, the B&B owners, we went on an easy walk around Mountain Lake and up towards Twin Lakes still within Moran Park. That was the best! Very few people out and about and it was just beautiful with fall color, still waters and lots of interesting nature. We had a picnic of salami, cheese, yogurt and pears and were happy!

Since Charles and Jill's recommendations had been perfect, we decided to follow up on their beach recommendation. They had suggested hiking along the short trail in Obstruction Pass State Park to get to the pebble beach on Obstruction Pass. This was more of a hike over trails but nothing difficult and a beautiful beach as a reward.

Well after all that hiking about, we were tired and ready for dinner rather early. But it was too early so we made it into Eastsound to wander about the touristy shops. We did enjoy the Crow Valley Pottery "in town" store. It had pottery, artwork and various other items and we liked some enough to buy. Always a sucker for preserves, we got some pear and blackberry preserves for us and our neighbors who were cat sitting for us. The shop owner told the interesting story that the pears were from his orchards which were all over 100 years old and were Orcas Pears. Orcas pears weren't planted for prettiness but for taste and used to be shipped all over the country. I cannot wait for pancakes this weekend!

I slept another 9 hours that night. There must be something about island time. Breakfast was a more ornate affair and we caught up with the other guests at the B&B. They were determined to make an early ferry to leave the island and bolted quickly. We enjoyed our breakfast and thanked Charles for the excellent suggestions from the day before and did he have any more?

Being the great host, he did and recommended checking out the new park on Turtleback Mountain. An interesting success of opening a new wild area and I cannot wait to see what they do with this park in the years to come. It just opened in 2007 and there are only a few trails right now. We did a quick mile hike up 900 feet onto Shiprock and then right back down.

Then off to Orcas Village to safely make it onto the ferry we wanted and hang out and wait. Orcas Village is rather dull unfortunately. WE got onto the ferry and found our B&B breakfast companions. After bolting from breakfast, they missed the earlier ferry by 5 cars and then were stuck waiting in line for four hours. Ugh! We were pretty smug about the hike we had managed to sneak in.

Orcas was great. K and I can't wait to go again. It felt far away and yes, it can be tricky with ferry rides but all the great outdoor activities were fantastic. As the mark of a great getaway, it felt like we were gone a week for only a long weekend. Love it!

Full photos are ----> click here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lake Washington Loop

This is a very common ride in these parts. I've never done it and have always had it on my list to do. Today was the day! For four plus hours of riding, here is what goes through my brain:
  • Chemical hand warmers are da bomb! It was below 40 degrees when I started. I tucked one on the top of my road shoe but under my booties and that worked very well to keep my feet comfortable. Usually if it is under 50 degrees, my feet go numb on a ride. Not today!
  • I hate the Burke-Gilman. There I said it. The clueless pedestrians/runners (Hey! I'm a runner and I know how to behave on that trail), the washboard effect of tree roots, the annoying street crossings, those dillweeds in Lake Forest all get to me. So I decided to try the Sand Point Way detour for "fast riders" which only makes me snort a little bit. I am not a fast rider at all. Sand Point Way was hilly, with a fair bit of traffic and torn up in places but I liked it better than the good ol' B-G. This route put me on Highway 522 for a little bit. It's a bit dicey just north of 145th but I just held my line and soon enough a wider shoulder opened up.
  • Juanita Drive Hill. I've heard of this hill and I climbed it today. It seemed to go on for quite a while but it was never very steep. Looking at the elevation map, it ends up being a mile and a half climb and the elevation is the same as the hill that we live on top of. Hunh. I guess I'm used to climbing that everytime I go out for a ride. No biggie.
  • Buzz. A huge white suv buzzed me around Kirkland. There was no other cars on the road and the gleaming tank made sure I knew it was going by as close as possible on the wide road. I was shocked but not scared and then pissed.
  • Bellevue. Uh that just sucked. I chickened out of climbing up the NE Points Drive which is just to the north of 520 and south of Kirkland. I've run up that hill many times but the thought of biking it was a bit much so I ended up riding right through downtown Bellevue. I couldn't remember the turn off to hit a quieter street nor where I'd have to make my next connections. I should've brought a map. Traffic was light so no problem and then I got a little lost trying to figure out where to turn off to the Mercer Slough area. I found a really bad place to cross a very busy street. Oh well. I made it. I won't go that way again.
  • A Happy Surprise! The washboard area on the bike trail paralleling 405 just north of Renton has been repaired. Smooth pavement is a joy.
  • Emergency Pancake Call. At mile 42, I was at Seward Park and realized I was out of food and really hungry. I called K to ask that he have pancakes and coffee ready when I got home. I figured it would take about an hour. That kept me focused!
  • Lake Washington Shore. If there is a happier sight than watching large dogs bounding into the lake water to fetch things, I can't think of it. Lots of joyful dogs out there having a blast.
  • Lycroids. There were large packs of those similarly lycra clad cyclists out and about. I find them quite snooty. Please don't let me ever get a bike jersey like that.
  • Form check. There were tons of runners out along Lake Washington as usual on a sunny day with the Seattle Marathon looming. I sometimes want to yell at runners when I am riding past to stop running like a sack of potatoes. Form! Run like you mean it! I don't think it would be appreciated.
  • Lake Washington Blvd switchback climb to the Arboretum. This has gotten easier! I was really nervous the first time I climbed this road earlier this summer. No problem today.
  • Montlake. I tried crossing Montlake instead of the University Bridge. It's a little confusing in that area even by car. The well placed bike trail signs were much appreciated. Uh. Do you think they'll fix those roads. Ow!
  • Pancakes are the best post ride eats!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How distractible are you?

I've been making good use of my bike and starting to add in ellipticating this week. (Ok, I don't know if you can use that term but I am using the elliptical machine at the gym which is a pretty good running substitute.)

It was quite stormy and windy here for a few days this past week and in those conditions, I prefer to ride my bike on the trainer in my living room. No, really. To ride my bike on the trainer or to use the elliptical requires much entertainment to keep me on the machine and focused. Riding, in particular, for longer than about 45 minutes inside requires movies, music, podcasts, reading books and magazines, more music and I still always get off sooner than i would wish.

This brings up an interesting point to me. RPD suggests that I don't particularly lose myself when working out on the trainer or the elliptical. No. I do not. I am always aware of every freaking minute and only by distracting myself with entertainment am I able to keep the focus on the workout. Overall, I will enjoy sweating buckets and listening to music and whatever but while in the midst of the workout I am counting seconds and playing with intensities to give myself a focus. It is purely mental stamina and not physical stamina which keeps me going on these workouts.

Running outside lets me put my busy brain on automatic and I am unaware of time passing. I am anti-music/entertainment when running or biking outside. I don't need the entertainment. Just the sensation of my body working well is satisfying and occupying. I'm always aware of my pace, my stride, my breathing and I revel in it. My brain is entertained as well. I plan what I want to focus on at home, at work, at life. I work through things that are bugging me and enjoy the scenery passing.

It's an interesting revelation to me. the gym in general has never appealed to me and now I know why. It takes a lot to keep me distracted. The gym environment alone doesn't cut it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Crosstraining Issues

It has been a summer of biking and I really have enjoyed it. With Fall here now, it's harder to plan biking however. I don't like riding in the rain and since it's completely dark when I ride in the morning I have to limit my routes or ride on the trainer. The trainer is ok for me because I like to listen to music and I can read but (or butt) it is more comfortable to ride outside.

This am on Day 2 of no running (but who is counting?), I had planned on riding on the trainer as it was supposed to be rainy. When I got up I was pleasantly suprised to see dry pavement outside and it was warm so I decided to head on outside for a time trial around Green Lake. I contemplated doing my usual loop but after just a mile I realized my headlamp was dying. I had forgotten to charge it because I hadn't been expecting to have to use it. I don't particularly need it to ride on lighted city streets as it is more a safety item so cars can see me. So I decided to limit my ride to just the Burke- Gilman and around Green Lake which has few hazards.

I had finished my second time trial loop of Green Lake and was lazily riding along heading home when I see a cop car ahead of me at the stop sign. Uh oh.

Revised Code of Washington State46.61.780 Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.(1) every bicycle when in use during the hours of darkness as defined in RCW 46.37.020 shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the state patrol which shall be visible from all distances from one hundred feet to six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.

Sure enough, the cop car pulls me over and says over their speakers that i need to get on the sidewalk and walk my bike because I have no headlamp. I am three miles from home, idiot. Fortunately I manage to keep my mouth shut. He finally rolls down his window to talk to me and I say the light has died and I'm far from home. Doesn't matter according to Mr. Cop. I turn the light back on and it puts out a feeble glow. He is grumpily satisfied and takes himself off either for a shift change or more coffee. The light dies within a mile but hell if I'm walking home.

I know I am in the wrong and my light needs to work. I am riding in a bike lane on a lit street. Last week there was a shooting in our neighborhood. On my bike I see the remains of car windows which have been smashed because of theft. How about pulling over the cars which drift into the bike lane because the driver is on a cell phone (illegal now in WA)?

Can I go back to running yet?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A New Accoutrement.

It goes really well with my wardrobe. :-/

Stress fracture confirmed with a bone scan on Monday. Off of running for 6-8 weeks but could be less because I have a magic bone healing machine. I'm trying not to get my hopes up however. I can bike, I can use the elliptical and pool run. Considering how little I have been running this summer in general, I know I can stay in shape with not any trouble. I'd still rather be running.

I've moved past the teary sad stage to the pissed accepting stage. Have I mentioned I'd rather be running?