Friday, December 30, 2011

Goals for the New Year

It is that time of year when everyone sets New Year's Resolutions of things they want to change or improve in their lives for the upcoming year. My personal feeling on this is that, without goals, resolutions are as pie crust. Easily made, easily broken as Mary Poppins says.

So here are my goals - create your own drum roll!

(1) Lose 20 pounds. I am almost halfway there, having lost 9.2 pounds in the last 7 weeks. To achieve my goal I have dragged myself back to Weight Watchers, become a huge fan of, and managed most of my workouts based on calorie burn. The goal of 20 pounds is realistic and attainable and I am working on it at a fairly slow rate so that later I can actually maintain the weight loss and not end up right back with my pants too tight. Why is the weight loss important? As a triathlete that is a lot of extra weight for me to drag behind me in the water, pedal with on the bike especially up those hills, and stress my knees with on the run. In addition, there is goal #2.

(2) Complete the Tough Mudder. In May of 2012 I will compete with a team of 5 other people to complete the Tough Mudder in Vermont. The race is a 10 mile obstacle course and my friend Pastor Josh thought it would be great fun to create a team from our church to compete. We were able to get 6 of us registered before the race was full. Silly me - I thought it was a 10K when I registered. Fortunately for me, the other 5 team members are all strong men who can carry my dead lifeless body out of the race course and return me to my mommy. To prepare I am working on goal #1 which gives me less weight to heave over the obstacles, I am increasing the intensity of my workouts by including some of the exercises recommended on the Tough Mudder website, and lastly I am trying to maintain my current level of endurance which is already pretty high given my triathlon training. For maintaining endurance, goal #3 becomes important.

(3) Ride 1,000 miles in 2012. I have done some calculations and I believe this to be an obtainable goal, especially if I purchase an indoor trainer. An average of 20 miles a week will more than get me to where I need to be, provided I can ride all winter long. I was inspired in this goal by my friend Sean who has a goal to *run* 1,000 miles in 2012. I was not inspired enough to run with him, however. And I think he is a little crazy... But nonetheless, I will ride a minimum of 1,000 miles in 2012 barring any serious injury in pursuit of goal #2. In addition, I will make some serious progress toward this goal with goal #4.

(4) Go on a European bike tour. I am planning this for the fall with Cori and some of my other tri-girls. We will average 27 miles a day for 6 days touring through three countries. It will be amazing! This is a longtime dream finally coming true for me. All three of the above goals will help prepare me for the rigor of this tour. The good news is that the 27 miles are spread out over an entire day with plenty of opportunity for sight seeing and enjoying being in Europe. And the calorie burn each day will afford me copious opportunities for sampling the local food and wine without compromising goal #1.

How about you? What are your goals for 2012? I would love to hear!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Recent Rides: The Cold 12 Miler and The Portage Ride

This past weekend my little training group got a little smaller. As the weather gets colder and as we move toward the holidays, more and more of us say no to outdoor rides.

The Saturday morning ride was a cold one. I dressed up like a stay-puff marshmallow and did what I call the Cold 12 Miler. There were only 3 of us on this ride and not only was the air cold, but there was a brisk wind that at one point almost knocked me over. For the first 3 miles my fingers felt like they would snap off. Clearly my fingers were not dressed for the occasion! But as we rode the temperature warmed to just over 40 Fahrenheit and the blood started pumping to warm my fingers. We rode a fairly slow pace to keep the wind chill to a minimum and called it a "warm up" for Sunday's Portage Ride. After the ride was over I checked my odometer and I was closing in on the 2000 mile mark! I also headed over to Bicycle Concepts, my local bike shop, and bought myself some fall riding gloves for Sunday. They were out of winter gloves - which means all the smart people got there before me.

On Sunday four of us did the Portage Ride which is a 20 mile ride with portage and 2 decent hills. Before taking off I asked Curtis to check my tires. Well, apparently I have not been inflating them properly for the last 3 seasons (which is how long I have owned the bike) and according to Curtis I was riding at about 50 lbs of pressure. I am a slow rider, but this was slowing me down beyond even what Curtis and I could explain. He had been thinking there was something wrong with my bike, and now he was finally at the bottom of the problem! We took off on a screaming downhill and once again my fingers were screaming at me. But also once again they warmed up after a few miles. It was there and then with my fingers screaming cold that I decided *definitively* to say yes to joining a Tough Mudder Team. (More on that in another blog post.) As I rode along I felt like I was on a cloud, now that I actually had properly inflated tires. Curtis remarked on several occasions that he could see the difference in my ride. Boy could I sure feel the difference!

We had a great ride - hit the portage area, climbed the first hill at about mile 10, and then continued on until the final climb back to our starting point. It was a cold ride, it never quite made it to 40 Fahrenheit. At one point we went over a river and saw a a waterfall and there was ice on the trees in the falls and black ice on the bridge. But we had fun and are hoping for at least one more ride before the Christmas holiday. And at the end of the ride I checked my odometer and was at 2011 miles. It took me three seasons to arrive at 2011 miles, and I did it in the year 2011! For me this is quite an accomplishment. I want to set a goal for myself of 1000 miles in one year, but I really need to think through that before committing myself to it. Stay tuned for my final answer for 2012.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Recent Rides: "Burn the Pie" & "Hills and Chills"

I love to give names to the group rides that I organize. I am not always successful, but over the past two weekends our little group had 3 great rides. Two were post-Thanksgiving "Burn the Pie" rides and today was a "Hill and Chills".

Burn the Pie ride #1 was on Black Friday. While others were exhausted from all their shopping, our little group of 7 rode a quick, flat 12 miles. We were joined by the Schoppe family for this ride. Dad Jay towed his 5 year old daughter Ella behind him. Ella gets the award for being our youngest ever tri-girl! She peddled hard and steady for the whole 12 miles behind her dad. I had my camera, but failed to snap a picture of the group. The weather was beautiful and we barely broke a sweat. I am not sure how much pie was actually burned that morning, but we all had fun. This short ride also gave a great option for people who wanted to opt out of the 32 mile Burn the Pie ride #2 on Saturday. This short ride was a just a warm-up for what followed the next day.

Burn the Pie ride #2 was on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We had another beautiful sunny day in the high 50's (Fahrenheit) and 5 riders. We did a modified version of the Deary Bike route which normally starts at JD Coopers Restaurant in Putnam. Instead we started in Thompson and headed down to Putnam out to Dayville and Pomfret, through Woodstock past the fairgrounds and up Paine District Road, back into Thompson, and ending with a long 1.2 mile climb for a total of just under 32 miles. We had to take a detour at one point due to a car accident and downed wires across the road. This led to a really big hill that almost had us completely physched out and defeated because we knew what was still ahead of us. Cori (below all the way to the right) snapped this picture of the dreaded hill. Be we cheered each other on all the way to the top, and realized when we got there that it only looked bad. It ended up being a fairly easy climb. Some pie was definitely burned on that day. As usual I struggled on the many hills. But my friend Curtis (below in the purple jacket) was good to me and made sure that the group didn't lose me. I know that my ability to attack the hills will improve with practice, but man do I dread each and every one.

Today was our Hills & Chills ride, aptly named because it was mostly uphill and it was never over 40 degrees Fahrenheit. There were also a few sweet downhills but we needed to be pretty bundled up to avoid the wind chill. We had a group of 7 riders -- hard to believe for December! And we even managed to get a group photo. This was a 24 mile ride that had us reaching the top of Buck Hill in Rhode Island right around mile 16. I fueled my ride with chocolate from my recent trip to Venezuela and alternated between Powerade and good old fashioned H20. We once again ended with a roughly 1.5 mile climb and I whined a little coming up the last hill. But overall I felt good on this ride. In July of this year a few of us did a "Quad Buster" 50 mile ride. Today's route covered the final 24 miles of that ride. It was much easier to ride this route today having not ridden 26 additional hilly miles first!

Curtis, Michelle, and I did all three of the rides over the last two weekends plus a ride the Sunday before Thanksgiving with various other participants along for the different rides. I hope to get a few more outdoor rides in before we have to deal with the snow and freezing weather. My odometer is about to turn over to 2000 miles in just under three seasons of riding and I am looking forward to passing that milestone. I had taken a couple months off from riding this fall after the Funtastic Nantasket tri to focus on running and traveling, but am back in the saddle and feeling great!