Tuesday, April 28, 2009

First Bike Commute

After weeks of saying I was going to do it, I finally commuted to work via bike! I ended up riding 20.71mi in about 1:30min. I gave myself 1:45, just in case I got lost, which I sorta did. Here's the commute map:

Today was the perfect day to ride. The morning air was already in the 60s. I only had a tank top and shorts on and was only cold a few times. I woke up around 5:30am and got out the door for 6:20. The first few miles felt so long and I was nervous it was going to take me forever. I got up the hills with hardly any problems, and my average speed was 13.5 which isn't terrible considering I didn't stop my Garmin for crossings.

In the Woodmont section of Milford, I had the biggest surprise of my ride. I had been in the Woodmont section twice, once in my car checking out the commute and again on my birthday ride. I immediately noticed what I thought to be giant squirrel nests. Well on my ride this morning, I saw what I thought was a brilliantly bright Goldfinch. On further inspection I realized it was NEON GREEN. What are PARROTS doing in CONNECTICUT?! It wasn't until later at work that I found out more about the Monk Parakeets of Milford.

Most of the ride was really enjoyable. The shore areas are beautiful, so are the colonial style New England town centers. I went from urban New Haven, through West Haven and Milford's shoreline, suburbia and quaint town centers, across 95, down the Sikorsky bike path which crosses a scenic Housatonic River. For all those out there who may happen upon this blog, the Sikorsky bike path can be reached at Wheeler's Farm Rd in Milford. I tried so many times on my morning commute to figure out where the entrance was when I got on 15.

I arrived at work for 8am so I got on the treadmill and ran 2.25mi. I need to get used to running after biking, and I figured it'd be a good opportunity to practice. Unfortunately I did not ride back home. I was feeling great and energized til about 3pm when my body crashed. I tried to drink some highly caffeinated tea, but it only worked for about half an hour before I was feeling tired all over again. Lame. Thankfully my coworker drove me home, and he lives close enough by me it's not too out of the way for him. I hope to ride in once a week, and perhaps one of these days ride both ways.

In other news, I purchased pedals tonight. After much research and guesswork I decided upon the 2009 Look Keo Sprint Pedals, in red:

I really hope I made a good decision, though who the hell knows. I searched for so long, liked the reviews about them and found a site with them for the cheapest price. As soon as I added it to my cart, when I looked again at the description it said sold out. So apparently I had the last ones available in my cart. Either that or they have some coding trickery going on. In any case I felt it was now or never at the price I was getting on the site, and had to make a decision. I'm sure they'll be fine, I just wasn't expecting to pay over $100 for freaking pedals.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Green Week

Last Sunday I started my balcony garden. I went to Home Depot and went crazy buying seeds, seedlings, window box planters and potting soil. I celebrated Earth Day this week by planting seeds. I planted two types of basil, oregano and rosemary. I'm kind of scared none of my seeds will grow. This Saturday I started clearing out the backyard garden area and getting out all the weeds and junk that's in the dirt. I planted lettuce, Thai basil and a few pansies. Unfortunately I can't do much in the backyard because my landlord is having a new fence put in. I'm excited for the new fence, but not the possibility that the contractor might damage what I planted, or take a really long time completing the project. My landlord also wants to replace the wood wall that separates the garden from the lawn with stone. I hope it doesn't take too long!

Today I went to Home Depot, and again went crazy buying plants. I even bought a couple indoor plants. Here are some pics of my balcony garden and the backyard:

Pansies and Lettuce in the Backyard

Pansies in Pail

Cilantro, Jalapeno and Curly Parsley

String Beans

More String Beans and some Spinach

Purple Pansy


Monday, April 20, 2009

Week of April 12, 2009

Goals for the Week:
Swim: 4000y
Bike: 60mi
Run: 15mi
Strength: 2hrs
Rest: 1 day

Actual Totals for the Week:
Run: 16.85mi
Strength: 1hour
Rest: 0

So I ended up biking 15 miles more, and almost running 2 miles over my goals and not meeting anything else. Whoops. I have to admit my goals were pretty lofty. This week was insane. Mid-week my roommate decides he's moving out, out of NOWHERE. He just wrote me an email saying some friend of his asked him to move in with her and decided to pack up and go. Whatever, his cigarette smoking was disgusting and out of control. I found a new roommate within 3 days, a new record for me. This was the third time since moving into this apartment I've had to find a roommate. This place seems cursed but I love it so I deal with it. Thought I'd give a quick run-down of the week.

Sunday: It was Easter Sunday, the Trifitness group met up in Fairfield for a group ride. I decided it'd be better than riding alone like I had planned to. We did 27mi and it was so hard for me to catch up. First of all I'm still kind of dumb when it comes to shifting. Secondly, everyone had clip shoes and pedals except for me. Third, I only had a protein shake before I rushed down to Fairfield and not enough carbs. After I shoved down a mini Luna bar around the 15th mile or so I felt a lot better. Later in the day I tried to bike one of my commute options. Got to the most ginormous hills I've ever attempted and decided I'd plan a different route. Rode 40mi total.

Monday: Swam 2000y on my own, no drills. Timed myself for my second set of 1000y and did it in 21:50. That comes out to 2:11 for every 100y. I dont know what's a decent time, but 21:50 had me pretty happy.

Tuesday: Ran 6.77 miles before work down in Shelton. Decided to start by running up a giant hill without much of a warmup. Lesson learned. My boss seemed horrified that I'd even attempt the route I did. The giant hill (Coram Rd) is not only steep but cars usually speed around it and don't think to look out for runners. Saw a dead possum followed by a dead beaver, gross. Road kill is a lot more disgusting when it's at your feet.

Wednesday: Kettlebells and kickboxing. Kickboxing was intense. I did about five 3min rounds with kettlebell/medicine ball/ab work between each set. First kickboxing session in a long time where I felt totally wiped afterward. I loved it.

Thursday: Ran 5 miles in the morning at an 8:20 pace. Not bad for running up some hills. At night I did my first computrainer class and I loved it! It was only me and another woman which was sort of nice, until she wouldn't stop talking. The bikes are set up to trainers with special equipment which connects to a computer. TriFitness has a projection set up, so you can see the route on the computrainer program you are doing. When you go up a hill, the trainer tightens as if you are going up a 2%, 6% or whatever grade hill you're supposedly on. During the session you see where you are on the route, how fast you are going, the watts you are putting out, how far behind you are the leader and so on. I did okay, especially for no pedals or shoes. I was completely soaked with sweat. I actually had to have Pascale run and get me more water because my right calve started pulsating and I knew immediately I was dehydrated. We did a 10mi route with two gigantic hills.

Friday: Ran almost 4 miles with Kelly. It was my first time running with someone and it was pretty nice. My pace was awful since my legs were still tired from Thursday's madness. Left her behind after the second mile, my legs just needed to go faster. I hate leaving people behind even though she was fine with it.

Saturday: Birthday! Instead of resting like I was supposed to, the day was far too beautiful not to go out. I planned out a 25 mile route to celebrate my 25th year. I actually ended up doing almost 26 after getting a little off course. Rode down to Milford, CT along the shoreline. It was a good time until I saw a horrific car crash. I was going really fast down this one giant hill and when I turned the corner to go up a hill realized the road was blocked off. There were a few ambulances and a few cop cars. Got off my bike to walk around it, neighbors were out watching the scene. The totaled car was the same make, model and color as mine. I started to dry heave a little when I realized the entire driver side door was crushed. It looked like a comet had exploded into the car. I couldn't see into the car or make out how the accident happened. Ever since my accident when I was 18 I have a really hard time seeing wrecks.

Out of nowhere one of the neighbors I walked passed said, "Woah you have a lot of tattoos. I only have one." It was some random guy in his 60s. I looked over at him and he rolled up his sleeve to reveal an ancient tattoo in old school lettering that read "Vera". "I was just a chicken shit, I only got one. I wish I got as many as you, they look good on you." It was definitely a nice change from the old man scowl I usually get. To my left an old woman who either saw the accident or didn't know what to do because the road was blocked was sitting on her car looking really upset. I couldn't tell if that's just how she always looked or if she needed attention, I wanted to say or do something but I didn't know what to do.

Overall my birthday was awesome. The weather was awesome, my parents came down to visit and that made them really happy. I wasn't completely excited to have them come down, but seeing how happy they were was worth it. I showed them how East Rock is a beautiful neighborhood, and the cherry blossoms in Wooster Square. My party went well and as usual I have way too much beer left over. I didn't get too drunk so I was fine going to swim class on Sunday.


Saturday, April 11, 2009


Late November into early December 2008, I was traveling in Vietnam. I went through the travel group Bike Hike Adventures on their Vietnam "Paddle and Play" trip. I finally got around to finishing up editing together a video from footage I took while I was there. I'm not 100% satisfied with it, but it has been four months or so since the trip. I figure it's about time I get something up. The trip included several days of biking, hiking and sea kayaking. It went from Hanoi north to Lao Cai and Sapa, then back down to Hanoi and then to Halong Bay. This year I hope to bike from Hanoi south, into Laos and Cambodia. Maybe Thailand too if I can fit it in.

I recommend playing it in HQ, which you can select once you start playing it.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Long Ride, Long Day

I woke up this morning around 4:50am trying to get up for Kettlebells and Kickboxing at 5:30am. I hit snooze over and over again. Nope, wasn't going to make it. I looked outside, the weather's been unpredictable all week. It looked good and I readied myself for a long bike ride. By the time I got some food in me and geared up it was 5:45am. I started my ride around 5:50, figuring I'd have about an hour and a half to ride. My goal was to go about 20mi and speed up my average of 14.5mph from Sunday's ride.

The more I ride the Roubaix the more I feel I made the right decision. I was going down the top of Whitney Ave around 16mph. With my Amphipod blinking, and only a few cars on the road, I felt safe. The only thing that sucked about my ride was the amount of snot pouring from my nose. It was unstoppable! Many times I had snot running down my face, flinging off in the wind. I felt like a 5 year old! I stopped about every few miles to blow my nose and wipe off. When I stopped completely, I'd stop my Garmin.

Once I got onto the canal, I didn't see anyone else for 5 miles or so. There was one section by some water where it sounded like a thousand song birds were meeting up. It was a beautiful but eerie sound, like they were having some giant convention. At one point, around mile 8 I noticed what I thought to be pollen floating down. I looked around for the culprit tree, until I realized the "pollen" was melting on my leg. It was snow!! It flurried on and off for the rest of the ride. At mile 9 I stopped and ate a mini Clif bar, and enjoyed the scenery.

At mile 11 I realized I should turn back and move it! I decided to stop stopping so frequently and just deal with the snot. I pushed myself and kept checking my Garmin, I really wanted to up my average speed. I thought back to spin classes, and the trainer I like shouting encouragement. I got back to the apartment around 7:35am, which was my goal. Stripped, stretched and plugged in my Garmin. Damnit, there was 14.5 staring back at me. I hope when I get the proper fitting, pedals and shoes I will do better. Also, it is only my second time on a road bike!!

Overall it was a great ride, and made me feel confident that I can commute the 14 miles or so to work no problem. I plan on talking to HR tomorrow about getting a locker in the warehouse to keep things overnight so I have less to carry with me. They offered me a spot there before, but I was slacking in my gym time around then. I also hope to see if I can chain my bike up in the warehouse or... (crosses fingers) maybe in the game room? The game room would be ideal for me since I don't exactly trust the warehouse staff, and the game room is pretty empty most of the day. We'll see.

Twelve hours after my bike ride, at 7:30pm I was at pilates on the pool deck. I was WEAK! Could hardly finish any of the exercises. The pool swim was a struggle. Thankfully I was in the second lane with two girls I talk to and a guy who was pretty cool. At first I felt like the slow poke, and wondered if I should just go into the slow lane. At some points the water felt like pudding, everything was so heavy and I was so tired. My lane was doing the B distance, 2800 yards. Gulp! I wanted to do the C workout of 2150! I sucked it up and just pushed myself.

It wasn't until we were doing kick only drills I had an Ah-ha! moment. Without the kickboard, my kicking is AWESOME! I was coming up on the guy in front of me every time. Oh! I CAN be fast! My kicking ISN'T HORRIBLE! It was the BOARD! I mentioned to the guy this discovery and he said, "Oh yeah! I hate the board! My kicking is WAY better without it!" I proceeded to flip off the kickboard on the deck and beat it with my catch-up stick. "Hey hey Heather! Tsk. Behave!" Pascale, the coach chided me. I don't know why, but it makes me feel like a naughty little kid being scolded by a heavy French accent.

After that I felt much better about myself, and my times improved. I concentrated on kicking like I did during the drill and noticed I was going faster. It was the boost I needed to get me through the rest of the workout. Luckily my comrades decided they didn't want to do the last 150y drill, and just do the cooldown. Yessss. Turns out we only got to swim 100 more yards before they kicked us slow pokes out. It was great being in a lane with people about my speed, and we pushed each other on. I didn't have to stop, and I only got caught up to once. It helped me to push myself and we all walked away a little annoyed we didn't finish the entire plan, but happy we did it together.

Tomorrow is definitely a rest day!


Saturday, April 4, 2009


I finally got a new road bike! A 2006 Fuji Roubaix RC! For 40% of the original price, new, I think I can live with this purchase. If only it wasn't so windy today! I'd be off for the rest of the day riding! Absolutely excited for long rides!!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Adding Miles

Monday night I went to the gym before swimming class, and ran a moderate 3.47mi on the treadmill to kill time. Then I went to swim class in time for most of the pilates session. Unfortunately I'm not getting the emails from the trainer anymore for some reason, and I don't have the night's swim drills to look at. Basically the swim that night was A LOT of kicking. As awesome as my kicks are out of the water, they aren't that great in the water. It took me two minutes to kick 50 yards with the kick board. The trainer, who thankfully was more attentive than usual, told me to put on flippers. I hadn't put flippers on since I was 8 or something, so it felt pretty weird.

Once I got in the water and started moving my legs I was flying. I was doing 50 yards in around 45 seconds. It was FUN and I couldn't believe how great it felt to go fast. Later in the showers, one woman exclaimed how I was beating people in the fast lane who had flippers on too. I don't know about that, I don't think the few I noticed passing had flippers on, I do know that she did and I flew past her. So... all I need to do is have my feet grow like 7 inches longer and I'm golden.

This morning I woke up and added more miles, my first 8.5 mile run! I woke up at 5:30am totally awake. I haven't been as sluggish in the morning lately, either I'm getting better sleep or it's the warmer weather. I think the latter. So I decided to run, see if I could go past 7. I planned my route, which is down Whitney Ave, and heading onto a part of the canal trail, back home again. I used to bike it in the morning all the time, and thought it was around 8 miles. Yeah, about 8, more like 8 and a half I would realize on the 7th mile.

I took the time to really stretch and drink my magic 3 pints of water (I use mostly pint glasses even though I hardly drink beer!) and cinnamon graham crackers. I left a little later than I had hoped to, but figured it'd be motivation in the end to make me run faster so I'm not late for work. Right from the beginning I knew my 8:30 pace from Monday was not happening. I pushed and pushed, but I was always around 6.5mph. It was so frustrating, but I had done over 3 miles the night before, and the 2800y swim. The map shows little elevation change, but there are hills, I swear! It felt way more hilly than Monday's run. I don't get it! I don't remember any visible hills from Monday, and this run has hills, or I've lost my mind.

I had safety pinned a pocket thing I have from this crazy gothic Japanese outfit I have to hold tissues and a Clif gel. Thank god I did that, that gel was overdue at mile 6. I needed something to give me a boost cause I felt myself getting weaker and weaker. I tried so hard to push myself to go faster, it was around here that I was running 7.5mph and a little higher, but I couldn't sustain it for long. When I ended my run and walking back to my apartment I used my iPod's calculator to figure out the pace. Around 9min miles. Sigh. I found myself talking out loud. "Not only did you swim last night you ran. You usually don't even work out after swimming. 9's okay. I mean you did good Monday. You're tired, 9's are fine." I'm insane.

I peeled off my clothes when I got in my apartment. Standing in my underwear in the middle of my kitchen, the bags of frozen vegetables felt amazing on my legs. My roommate wasn't home, but even if he was I wouldn't of cared, all I cared for was freezing cold ice on my legs. When I took off my socks I discovered a sweet blood blister. It's a baby, but it's the first one I've had on my foot. When I was in the shower I remembered that during the first mile I felt the weirdest sensation in my foot, like fluid moving around. I realized it was in the same spot, so I think I actually felt my blood blister form! Sick, I know. Weird that it'd happen so soon into the run.

Anyway that's that. I've ran almost 20mi this week so far. At the end of my run I had a moment of thinking how insane this all is. How could I run 5 more for a half marathon? How could I ever run three times that amount for a marathon? It all seems so far away for the first time. I know I have to slowly build miles, and it will come, but it just seems further away than before. You'd think it'd be the opposite, the longer my runs the better I'd feel. Maybe because this particular run, even though it was my longest thus far, I felt so worn out. I think I'll be smart and wait a week or so before attempting 9 miles.