Tag Archives: hills

Dreadmill and Longest Run Ever.

27 Apr

Last night after work, I geared up for my 7-mile run. But in the time between getting home from work and walking out of the garage with pooches and Travis in tow, the skies changed from cloudy to stormy. Refusing to be scared by rain, we headed out anyway. A minute later, big lightning bolts streaked across the sky. Hmmm…

We revised our south-bound 4 mile run to a north-bound 1.5 mile run since the skies looked less menacing that way. For the entire run, lightning and thunder boomed at us from the east. Less than .25 mile from home, it started raining and the wind picked up.

Plan B was going to the gym. I convinced Travis to come along and as we pulled out of the driveway, it looked like the storm might have already passed. (Sadly, it only rained for about 15 minutes. Colorado is so dry this year!) But we figured we might as well just stick with the gym.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous. I seriously have not been back to the gym since my near brush with death by brussel sprouts in February. Ever since then, I have associated the gym with thick, warm air that smothers me until I can’t breathe. Not appealing for a 5.5 mile run.

But I sucked it up (because I realized I was being ridiculous). When we got there, one treadmill was open so I decided to snag one while I had the chance.

I set the incline to 1.0, the speed to 5.6 (10:42/mile), and tried to read my magazine, which was unfortunately near impossible. I could only read the ads, which, as compelling and persuasive as they are, didn’t do the trick in helping me zone out.

So I watched the people on the bikes in front of me, scanned the TVs for something interesting (the puzzle on Wheel of Fortune was ‘Fork of the Road Runner’…what the heck is that?), and went back to my magazine.

I tried to be patient and let plenty of time (and miles) go by before I looked at the distance (which was conveniently hidden by my magazine). When my stomach started to hurt, I thought maybe it was time to take my mid-run gel. So I moved my magazine and saw…


Seriously? Seriously.

I made a deal with myself that I at least had to make it to 2.5 so that I could get off and run an even 3 around the track to finish. I made it to 2.76 then the blasted treadmill went into cool-down mode. I restarted it for another .24, then jumped off and did 2.5 around the track.

You know how your legs feel after you’ve been running on a treadmill – like you’re just zooming everywhere, even when you’re walking? Well, that lasted for 2 laps (.2 mile). Then my legs alternated between feeling GREAT and speedy, and then feeling like I was trudging through a swamp. It was quite strange actually.

When all was said and done, though, I ran 7.05 miles in 1:13:50 – an average of 10:28/mile.

I’ll take it.


The Eugene Marathon is this weekend. If I had stuck to my original plan of running that race, this would be THE weekend! But alas, I still have 2 months to go until my race. Good luck to all of those running Eugene! May the running force be with you.

Instead of doing that race this weekend, I’ll be revisiting the course for the bane of my racing existence (this race).

Not only will this be my longest run of this training cycle, it will be the longest run of my life at 15 miles.

This is what the course looks like:

The lowest point is 5483 and the highest point is 5965 – a gain/loss of 485 feet. That race (the Ralston Creek Half) made me realize that I was not prepared to run any sort of hilly race. Since then, I have done 5-6 long-ish runs with 300-400 feet of elevation gain – since the Mayor’s Marathon gains 300 feet over 15 miles, I want to be prepared. And what better way to prepare than get my a$$ handed to me? (Pardon the language, but ‘getting my butt handed to me’ didn’t have the same ring to it.)

So unless I wuss out between now and 7 am, I am planning to run an easy 2 mile warm-up (while I still can) and then run an unofficial hilly half marathon to see if I can beat my February time of 2:38:24. I’ll report back this weekend if I don’t dissolve from sitting in an Epsom salt bath too long.

Do you have anything challenging or exciting planned for the weekend?

So incredibly sore.

6 Apr

After work on Wednesday, I decided to get my 6 mile hill run in. I had my women’s group with church friends at 7, which is only about 15 minutes from my work, and there are lots of hills around my office, so it worked out well. I always feel slightly weird leaving work wearing running clothes, but I actually get the weirdest looks in the bathroom. I change in the big stall because I’m too lazy to walk over to the locker room. Apparently, changing in the bathroom isn’t normal?

Anyway, I grabbed my Poor Man’s GPS (piece of paper with mile splits), tucked it into the waistband of my capris, and headed out. The whole day, my stomach had been hurting and it hadn’t completely disappeared as I started on the initial downhill of my run. But I’m stubborn and refused to quit.

I’ve ran the first 2 miles of this course before and biked the rest (after the killer hill on Simms) but no matter how you get to the top, this hill is a doozy.

On paper, this run doesn’t seem all that much more difficult than my hilly 8 mile and 9 mile long runs. But in practice, it. kicked. my. butt.

The first couple of miles, I felt great. Legs felt light and fast. Lungs felt strong. My stomach was still hurting, so I ate my Chocolate Cherry Clif Shot at Mile 3 to see if that would help. At the very least, it didn’t make things worse. And it tasted exactly like Dark Chocolate covered Pomegranate:

Mmmm… chocolate.

Running up the hills of Miles 2 and 3, I was still feeling pretty good – even smug about how all my hill training has made running hills so much easier (go figure).

Then I saw The Hill. 250 feet of elevation gain in 1 mile. I wasn’t feeling so smug then.

But I ran the entire thing. Even when I could barely breathe. Even when I thought I was going to puke going downhill. Even when I was tempted to call it quits at Mile 5 because my stomach hurt.

I got back to my car exhausted.


1 – 9:58
2 – 10:46
3 – 11:23
4 – 11:40
5 – 11:54
6 – 11:43
.09 – 1:13

6.09 miles in 1:08:40, average pace of 11:16/mile.

I discovered later that my legs were ridiculously sore.

Pilates and a 3 mile run yesterday morning didn’t help. If you’re looking for a good hip flexor strengthener (or destroyer), Pilates leg circles are where it’s at.

Today, the following body parts are sore:

  • Back
  • Neck
  • Abs
  • Hip flexors
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads/IT bands
  • Calves

I am a hurtin’ unit. I’m running 12 miles tomorrow morning with Heidi so I’m going to make sure I do some foam rolling and stretching after church tonight.

What do you do when you’re ridiculously sore from a workout? Any magic tricks I can do before tomorrow?

A hilly long run.

4 Mar

Yesterday, I was scheduled to run 7 miles for my weekly long run. I was going to meet a friend for a killer 3-mile hill run (according to her) so I planned to do an 4 easy miles before we met up.

I got up at 7:00 and after eating a delicious peanut butter & banana waffle sandwich, I was out the door with the pooches by 7:30 for a 4-mile route that would take me up and over a steep but short hill twice.

I had done 60 minutes of P90X Yoga the night before and my legs weren’t that sore, they just felt tired – kind of the way your legs feel during a triathlon when you get off the bike. Your legs feel so strange that you can’t really tell how fast you’re running like you normally can.

I was pleasantly surprised, then, when I got to mile 1 and my watch read 10:20. Since this was supposed to be my easy long run, and I didn’t want to show up for my hill run with dead legs, I focused on keeping my pace comfortable. On the way back, though, my feet felt so light and my legs felt good so I ran at whatever pace felt good. I finished out those first 4 miles at an average 10:58 pace. (I don’t have splits because my phone’s GPS was acting up. Stupid.)

On my way home, I ran by a baseball field and noticed 5 big black dogs sitting out there. They didn’t seem to be moving, but then one of their tails started wagging. I stopped running and stared. What were dogs doing out on the baseball field? And where were their owners? And why were they sitting so still? They were all still as statues, except for the one that was wagging its tail.

Then I realized they were just statues, and the wind was blowing the one’s tail. I remembered that I had seen one of those at another park near our house and that one had freaked the crap out of me too. Once I realized they weren’t real, I was like, What in the heck? WHY would somebody put statues of coyotes out here and scare the living crap out of people? Travis told me today that they’re to scare off geese so that they don’t ruin the fields. I totally understand why the geese would be scared. I’m scared.

Anyway, I got back home and was gathering my things when my friend said it was too windy over at her house (which I totally believe – that wind is ferocious!) and she didn’t have time to drive over to my place. So I was on my own for the last 3 miles. I had changed yesterday to be my hill workout of the week and had been wanting to tackle the devil hills on Carr Street (those same hills that rocked me when I biked to work over the summer). So I mapped out 3 miles quick, grabbed my stuff and drove over to the park I planned to start at.

Before getting out of the car, I ate a peanut butter Gu.


I had heard about these from Amanda at Run to the Finish and thought I’d try them out. After dealing with frozen Shotbloks during the Ralston Creek Half, and getting sick of picking leftover gummy out of my teeth, I decided that I needed to find a different fuel. So I picked up 4-5 different flavors of Gu and some Honey Stingers. The peanut butter Gu was surprisingly delicious. It actually tasted like peanut butter, and the consistency was very close to peanut butter, only slightly runnier. I was definitely a fan.

And with that, I was off. The wind was cold and I had cooled down with the break between runs so I was not thrilled to be out there. But I am a stubborn person when I get an idea in my head. I was going to run 7 miles, no matter what.

I feel pretty good about these hills – a 4% grade for 1.38 miles. With some walking to catch my breath and doing what felt like an insanely slow shuffle run, I made it to turnaround in about 23:20 (11:54/mile). On the way back, though, it felt like I was cruising and I made it back in 20:06 (10:15/mile).

My view heading back:

All in all, I ended up running 7.94 miles in 1:27:27, exactly an 11:00/mile pace. Considering the hills I ran up, I am very excited about this run. It has really encouraged me that all this hard work and dedication is paying off, and I really am becoming faster. Yay! It has also made me very hopeful that there are no hills like this in the Mayors Marathon. Just sayin…

Every time I rolled over last night, and when I got up this morning, I realized that I am incredibly sore from the last two days. My arms, back and core are the sorest and I know that’s from yoga. Seriously, such a good workout. I still haven’t mastered the standing half moon poses. I’m pretty sure they’re tough any time, but they’re especially so on tired legs!

Well, I’m off to bed – starting the week off right, like a grandma.

Tracking Your Training

24 Feb

Everyone has their own preference for tracking their training. Some people keep it all in their heads. Others have complex, color-coded spreadsheets with different columns and rows for every minute aspect of their lives.

I’ve posted what my training plan looks like before but here it is again for your viewing pleasure:

Basically, I take Hal Higdon’s plan, put it into a spreadsheet, rearrange the workouts so that they work for my schedule (I take Wednesday off because we always have care group or ladies’ night), and make it pretty. Pretty simple.

What happens afterward:

I print the plan out and hang it on the inside of my bathroom closet door.

I stash a pencil in my closet and cross off every workout as I do it with a big X across the box.

If I skip a workout, I scribble it out.

I’ve used this system for all of the races I’ve ever done. I like the paper because I can look at it easily when I’m home (and I can look at the electronic version at work); I get to cross off my workout when it’s done (my Type A personality loves that!); and it’s easy for me to keep track if I switch days. If I do Thursday’s workout on Monday, I cross off Thursday. Then when I get to Thursday, I can easily see which workout I have left to do. There are plenty of weeks when I do every workout on the wrong day. But I’m really trying to not do that this time around because I do plan my workouts in this order for a reason.

After my workouts, all of my stats get recorded on MapMyRun.com:

I’ve also used this program since I started training for my first half marathon in 2008. For each workout, I can record the time of day it was, what the weather was like, my effort level, how I felt, and add notes.

I’ve looked into other websites like Running Ahead and Daily Mile but I just really like MapMyRun. And now that it shows you splits from iMapMyRun, AND they’ve added the Gear Tracker back in (so that you can easily track how many miles are on your shoes), I will never leave. I am a person that if I find something that works, I stick with it. I see no need to keep reinventing the wheel.

{Side note: This sometimes is not a good thing. For example, yesterday, when I put on one of my favorite outfits, I looked in the mirror and saw it with “new eyes” – my cords had gotten a hole so I sewed it up with thread that wasn’t quite the right color and the sweater is from junior high so it has a quite a few pills and looks a little ragged. I realized that these might not be considered “work appropriate” but eh, I wore them anyway. It bothers me when perfectly good clothes have to be thrown out or not worn because they get holes in them. Although that probably disqualifies them from the description of “perfectly good.”}

Anyways, I love MapMyRun. The only thing I wish were different is that you could easily choose which Month/Year you want to view. Right now, you have to scroll back using the arrow button, which works but is time-consuming.

And last but not least, my Polar heart rate monitor produces a fun little report for me every Sunday night at midnight of the week’s workouts. It shows how many workouts I did, how long the cumulative time was, and how many calories I burned. Lately, those numbers have been pathetically small and since my chest strap needs to be replaced (which may not happen any time soon, considering it’ll cost me $35), my “calories burned” has been zero. Which makes a tiny bit sad – even though I know I am burning calories with or without my heart rate monitor, I like to see the numbers! Not having a chest strap also means that I can no longer view my heart rate during my runs. So I’ve been running them by feel.

Speaking of which, last night I headed out for my tempo/hill run after work. The dogs are always super hyper when they get to go on a run, especially after being cooped up all day, so they usually pull me along faster than I want to go and I have to keep yanking on them to rein them in. Well yesterday, my legs felt good. I was tempted to rein it in because What if I go out too fast and screw myself later? Then I thought, Negative thoughts be damned. If I feel good, I’m going to run fast.

So I did.

The last half mile was a 9:09 pace! The hill I ran seems so challenging in the moment but when I look at it on a graph like this, it looks like a negligent bump. In reality, it’s a 100 foot gain in .2 miles. So it’s not the worst hill ever but it’s decent. Add some ice and snow to the sidewalks, two impatient dogs that can run fast on ice, and you’ve got a challenging run!

When I got back from that, I took my laptop to the guest bedroom and biked 7 easy miles while watching The Biggest Loser. Meh. That show is just ok. Too much drama for me. I like to see their workouts and what they’re recommended to eat but that’s about it.

My 30 minutes on the bike revealed that my seat problem might not be totally fixed. It’s definitely WAY better but not 100% resolved. But I wasn’t wearing tri or bike shorts (just my running pants) and I was on a trainer (which just like a treadmill, exaggerates every tiny discomfort because it’s all you have to focus on). The real test will be this Sunday – I’m going to wear my tri shorts and go for an hour. Can I do it?

How do you like to log your workouts?

Are you a fan of The Biggest Loser?

New Job for Him, and Hills for Me

17 Feb

Thanks for the encouraging comments on my post yesterday. I was having a rough day all around – mostly because I was absolutely exhausted. I may or may not have slept through an hour-long conference call… and then slept for 10.5 hours last night.

After work, I went to a going-away happy hour for Travis and one of his co-workers because… Travis got a new job! Next week is his last week at his current company and he’ll start his new job the following Monday (2/27). He’s pretty excited. He’ll be doing the same type of engineering (hydraulics and hydrology – what they call H&H) but he’ll be with a smaller company (1 of 2 full-time employees) and will be working from home. He’s also getting a fairly significant pay raise, which will definitely help us be more aggressive in paying off our mountain of student loans.

The thing I’m actually most excited about with this new job, though, is that the dogs will no longer have to live 80% of their lives in our laundry room. I’m really hoping Katy will mellow out – she kind of went berserk when I started back to work after being unemployed and hasn’t gone back to being her regular self.

After sleeping in until 7:00 this morning, I feel more human but I’m still planning on not doing a workout tonight, and on going to bed at a grandma time. Last night, Travis and I both went to bed at 8:30, no joke. He had stayed up really late the night before playing a hockey double-header and I had gone to bed too late all week long. No shame. I’m taking full advantage of blowing off workouts while I can because for the next 18 weeks, there will be none (or very little) of that ::knock on wood::.

Speaking of the next 18 weeks, I got inspired today and updated my training plan with intentional hill days:

After looking more closely at the elevation profile of Mayor’s Marathon, I realized that its hills are similar in length and climb to the ones I ran during the Ralston Creek Half. So… I have to start training on hills, and real hills, not the wimpy little things I was calling hills. Lucky for me, Colorado is full of them.

I thought this article was really helpful about defining the different types of hill work and several articles (including that one) say that because hill workouts are so intense, they should only be done once or twice a week. I went for once a week during the first half of my training, and then once every 2 weeks for the last half. I didn’t want to be too ambitious because this is still only my first marathon.

As with everything, I’m going to continue to play things by ear. If I’m feeling strong, I’ll incorporate some more hills. And if I’m feeling tired or injured, I’ll back off. Adding the hill designation to my schedule was just to get the hill workouts on my radar and give me something of a strategy with timing.

And the most exciting part of my day… it’s Friday and I get a 3-day weekend! Glorious.

Do you get a 3-day weekend?


Race Recap: Ralston Creek Half Marathon

14 Feb

Since the race start was only 15 minutes away from our house, and the wave I was in didn’t go until 9:45, the alarm on race morning was pretty painless. I wanted to leave between 8:30 and 8:45 so I got up around 7:15 and ate a breakfast of 2 pieces of peanut butter toast, washed down with 1/2 cup of coffee and some water. I had done a pretty bad job of hydrating on Saturday and even woke up Sunday with a slight headache from being dehydrated. Whoops. But I also didn’t want to overcompensate by drinking a ton and then having to pee 10 times like I did during the Steamboat Springs Oly Tri. So I drank some water and hoped for the best.

After I got dressed and put my Shotbloks, phone and peanut butter sandwich into my jacket, I decided that it was too much stuff to keep in my coat. So I decided to use my Camelbak after all. I tucked the tube more into the backpack, so it didn’t hang down so low on the front and that actually worked out really well – my hand usually hits the tube and causes me to run weird but this solved that. Although in hindsight, keeping my Shotbloks in my jacket would probably have prevented them from freezing… but more on that later.

The temperature race morning was a balmy 9 degrees. Yes, nine. Nine degrees in a dry climate doesn’t feel as bad as 9 degrees in a humid one but still, 9 degrees is 9 degrees – chilly. I stuck with my plan of wearing my fluorescent yellow jacket over two long-sleeved running shirts on top; my UnderArmour ColdGear tights underneath regular running pants; wool socks on my feet; fleece gloves on my hands; and I went for the hat on my head. I didn’t buy a new one – I wore one I already that had soft fleece on the inside.

By 8:45, we were out the door. By 9:00, we were parked at the race site. By 9:10, I had my timing chip and bib, leaving me 35-40 minutes before our wave was supposed to leave. This race did things a little differently than usual – they had 2 waves, the first for those runners who anticipated finishing in 2:30 or slower, and the second for those finishing 2:30 or faster. I was on the fence when I was registering because I was hoping to do faster than 2:30 but my previous half times put me after that. I decided to go for Wave 2… which I kicked myself for later.

We killed time by going back to the car, standing in the portapotty line again (which was pretty long because there were only 6-8 of them), and I did some high knees and butt kicks. I didn’t do any running warmup – I never warm up before my long runs in training and I wanted to save my energy for the race.

Finally, it was time to go. I was actually feeling pretty nervous – not nervous that I wouldn’t finish but nervous that I would be really slow. That is often a worry of mine before long runs and races. Kind of like those nightmares when you’re running but your legs feel like they’re stuck in quicksand.

I lined up in the very, very back of the pack, knowing that there was no way I’d need to pass any of the people in front of me. And that was true. Within the first 50 feet, I was only near a few other women. Several people came up behind and passed me – they had been waiting for the bathrooms when the race gun went off. I hung with the other two women near me for the first mile. They were definitely running faster than I planned to but I just hated the thought of being dead last. I tried to keep up but when we hit mile 1 and my watch said 10:30, I knew I had to slow it down or I’d be screwed later.

So this was my reality for the first 2.5 miles of the race:

Running all by myself. But then…

My friend D joined me! And so did the course sweeper (you can see her on the bike behind us). I was pretty annoyed at the sweeper because having her ride beside me, or close behind me, made it impossible to forget that I was the last person. My legs were also not cooperating – they felt very heavy. But I’m pretty sure that was because the first 8 miles of the race were all uphill:

God bless her, D ran with me until about mile 6, even though it meant going up the first loooong hill. I couldn’t believe that the second hill could be any worse. Ha, was I wrong.

I saw Travis and D’s husband, Doug, several times throughout the course – the photo above is me throwing my sunglasses at Travis around mile 4. They kept fogging up and nothing annoys me more than foggy glasses. Shortly after, I ate 3 Shotbloks. I had been carrying them in my hand for about a half mile (you can see those and my gloves in my other hand) because they were hard as rock coming out of my backpack. I walked a little while eating them because running uphill + trying to eat frozen Shotbloks = no oxygen.

After D pulled away, the course flattened out a bit (which you can see on the elevation chart). The bike sweeper was riding right beside me again, but I was in a much better mood this time, and decided to actually talk to her. She mentioned something about having to go over the giant hill in front of us and I laughed. “Ha, no freakin’ way.” And then I looked and saw little people making their way along the switchbacks up the giant hill.

You’ve got to be kidding me. This picture doesn’t do it justice but I didn’t want to expend energy trying to take a picture with my camera.

I ended up passing an older guy right before the switchbacks started, meaning I ditched the bike sweeper (sweet!). I knew I needed some extra oopmh to get up those switchbacks so I pulled out my phone and started Pandora on the Lady Gaga station. I ran as much of those switchbacks as I could, but had to walk some. This course made me realize that what I thought were hills on my training runs, were definitely not hills.

One benefit from all the hills I guess was that I wasn’t counting down the miles or worrying about my pace at all. I was simply focusing on survival.

Finally, I made it to the top and I knew from D that the course was all downhill from there. Hallelujah. I passed mile marker 8 and got out 3 more Shotbloks but after holding them in my hand for a while, they were still pretty hard so I just decided to eat my peanut butter bread instead. I took small bites of that for the next mile while I cruised down the downhill. My legs felt great – tired but so welcoming of the downhill after 8 miles of uphill.

This shows it well – mile 8 was a 13:14 pace (killer!). Then miles 9 and 10 were 11:05 and 10:36!

D joined me again around mile 9.5 to mile 11. I realized that even though I wasn’t going to beat my PR, I could still beat my Heart and Sole half marathon time (2:33:50). But I was getting tired but trying not to think about how ready I was to be done. After D left, the wheels fell off. I wanted to turn Pandora on again for that extra motivation but my phone was running out of juice and I wanted my splits more than I wanted music. And I couldn’t get my d@mn earphones untangled. So back in the pocket they went.

I started doing run/walk intervals. My legs, specifically my hips and glutes, were just so tired and so sore. By mile 12.5, my entire body was in pain. I’d run until I couldn’t stand it and then walk until I couldn’t stand it. Doing either hurt. I just kept focusing on running to a landmark, then walking to a landmark, running, walking. Little by little, I was making my way to the finish line. I didn’t care about time anymore. I just wanted to be done.

Finally, I was. My time was 2:38:24. But I didn’t care.  I took my medal and collapsed on a chair near the finish line. Doug was there to congratulate me (Travis got lost in suburbia and was still getting back from trying to see me on the course) but I was so exhausted and delirious that I told him I couldn’t talk.

I was starving so I went over to grab some food. They had chocolate chip banana bread, which I had been looking forward to since reading about it in the pre-race email. But since I’ve had bad experiences with sweet things after races, I grabbed a piece to eat later.

Travis showed up and I handed him my banana bread while I went to get a breakfast burrito. I wasn’t a fan, so then I went and grabbed a couple of orange slices. They were absolutely amazing. I ended up going back to get about 10 more. I just couldn’t get enough.

After I had my fill of orange slices, we headed home for me to take an epsom salt bath and then meet D and Doug at Denny’s. The bath was wonderful but it used up all of our hot water. Poor Travis didn’t get a shower.

At Denny’s, I had a giant glass of chocolate milk and the Super Bird (grilled turkey, bacon, tomato and cheese) with fries. But after my milk, half the sandwich and some fries, I was so ridiculously full that I thought I might puke. It was the weirdest thing. I’m never that hungry the day of a hard workout like that but still, you’d think I’d be able to manage a bit more than that.

I was planning to take a nap but ended up watching TV for a couple of hours and then around 5:30, I decided that I needed to clean, do laundry and go grocery shopping. So I did. I was amazed that I had the energy but getting up and moving around helped me feel less sore. Today, I feel pretty good – not really that sore, just pretty tired.

Official Race Stats:

Time – 2:38:24

Age Group – 30/37

Gender – 184/228

Overall – 369/421

So that’s the story of Half Mary #4. My best time is still from Half Mary #1. I’m thinking I might just have to run the Colorado Half again next year to beat it… that is, if I don’t beat it in the Platte River Half on April 15.

I do feel good that I beat my time from the Malibu Half, which was 2:44:44. I think this course was the hardest race I’ve ever done. Holy hills batman.

Biking Observations

12 Aug

Since I completed my fourth attempt and second successful bike to and from work yesterday afternoon and this morning, I’ve been thinking about biking, specifically in regards to how I’ve improved and what I still need to work on.

Travis and I biking from Frisco to Breckenridge

How I’ve Improved:

1. I can get my foot into my pedal clips a lot faster than I used to. (I still haven’t made the transition to clipless. Maybe next year?)

2. I remember to downshift before getting to a stoplight, successfully preventing the “I.can.barely.move.” phenomena when the light turns green.

3. I know how to put my chain back on when it slips off and I can probably figure out how to change a tire if I get a flat. (I’ve seen Travis do it once – doesn’t seem incredibly hard.)

4. Hills that once kicked my entire butt now only kick part of it. (Simms is still my nemesis.)

5. I’m not terrified of going fast, like Ricky Bobby. Yesterday, I got up to 40 mph coasting down a hill (which happened to be on my nemesis, Simms) – I know other bikers go faster but this was the fastest I’ve ever gone. I felt pretty bada$$.

6. I pedal faster by downshifting instead of keeping my bike in a higher gear and grinding up hills slowly. I read an article that said pedaling faster (higher RPM) made for more efficient pedaling. And I’m all for that.

What I Still Need to Work On:

1. Hydrating on the bike. I am pretty good about eating my Shotbloks (because they’re so delicious!) but am bad about drinking water. In a sprint tri, it doesn’t really matter because it’s only a 5K run. But 6.2 miles is a little more serious so I need to be better about drinking water.

2. Pacing myself. I tend to blow up hills like they’re nothing and then slow to a crawl because I’m about ready to fall over from lack of oxygen. Especially in this Olympic tri, not overexerting my legs on the bike is Strategy #1 for a good run.

3. Getting a new seat. I tried moving my seat forward a bit, hoping that might help. But it didn’t work. Lady parts still hurting after about 5 miles = no fun.

4. Not getting pulled over by the bike police.

Keeping the bike trails safe

Just kidding.

But seriously, as I was biking home last night, I was on one of the bike trails and came up behind a man on a bicycle. He was going slower than me so I was going to pass him, until I realized that he was dressed head to toe in navy blue and had a huge belt on with things hanging from it – one of which was a gun. The bike police. I thought about still passing him but then remembered that usually the speed limit on bike trails is 15 mph. I was going 16 mph. Would I get pulled over for biking too fast? I biked behind him for about 100 feet, debating what I should do. Luckily, just then the path split and he took the opposite way as me. Crisis diverted!

Something you readers probably don’t know about me is that I have been pulled over more times than I can count, given several speeding tickets, and even been arrested (that’s a story I’ll have to tell sometime!), so it’s probably no surprise, then, that whenever I see a cop, I panic and immediately think, Am I doing something wrong? It doesn’t matter the context, the time of day, what I’m done, where I see the cop, if he’s in a car or on a bike. Cops scare the bajeesus out of me. (Kind of like Simms.)

So there you go.