Things That Kept Me Motivated This Winter Part 1

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So interspersed in my blog over the next couple of weeks will be a few of the fun/functional/motivational tools/toys that I treated myself to this winter. When there is a crap ton of snow in your front yard and the thermometer hasn't seen temps above zero in days, something's gotta keep you motivated, right? So, I bring you, exhibit A:







They're super cute (I know, that's not supposed to matter...), have a carbon sole, and are well vented at the top with holes in the bottom. Plus, they were about $60 off at my local bike shop. My current shoes that fit my tri bike are great. They are comfy, totally molded to my feet by now, and I like the ratchet system for quick adjustments in the middle of long rides. However, they're also clumsy and hard to get in during transitions, and even though a few seconds is not ultimately going to win me any podium finishes, transitions are definitely an area that I need to work on. I'm also hoping the big vents and the holes in the sole will also help them dry after rainy rides. My current ones take days to dry out, and I'm always more than a little worried that the musty funk they take on after getting so wet won't go away. Plus, I've had my Torch's since 2006, so having another pair will help absorb some of the abuse I put them through :)

So how did these shiny new shoes motivate me? Well, first of all, I knew I'd need to break them in and make sure that going sockless in them wasn't going to turn my feet into raw hamburger. Turns out that I really didn't need to worry too much about that one. I've put a few hundred miles on them without any issues (even though I've always been a sock girl on the bike). I took them on a 45 mile ride outside today, and they were great. Looks like they'll be featured in a few of my tris and dus this year!

The second way these puppies motivated me, and this one will come up with a few of my other new goodies, is that I feel the need to match my speed to what I'm wearing. I always find it comical when I pass somebody who's decked out in full kit, on a $5000 bike and averaging 14 mph. It's no secret that I'm not speedy on the bike, and I don't want to be the one dressed in all of the greatest stuff lollygagging through a race. If I'm going to be wearing things that make me look fast, then I need to work on being fast. Crazy backwards, I know.

At any rate, I felt fast out there today. As the temps have warmed up here, I've had my old road bike out on a number of rides, but it's squeaky and creaky and slow. Today I bit the bullet and decided that there would be no more trainer time until the fall. I wrestled with my trainer tire, and with a little help from Steve, managed to get the beastly thing off. I hate the trainer tire. Every year I vow that I'll either be able to get it on or off my myself, and every year I end up needing some help. After putting my trusty road tire back on, I headed out for a ride with some friends. I felt so good after 30 miles that I decided to do a few more when Mark, Haley, and Matt decided to head for home. Matt said it was because I didn't work hard enough on the hills we did, and part of that may be true, but I tacked on another 15 and made it home feeling refreshed and ready for some yard work with Steve. It's going to be a great year.

Out of Hibernation

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Well, the robins returned this week, and the chipmunk that inhabits our downspout is back, so I guess it’s appropriate that I come out of hibernation, too.

I tried to fight it for years, but I’ve come to learn that my body and mind just need a break each winter. The degree and length of the hibernation tends to vary, but it usually starts in November or early December and lasts for one to three months. This year, it seemed to start right after we got back from California in November and last through early February or so. I still got in a few workouts per week, but nothing super intense. All the snow we got this winter made running outside nearly impossible, but it helped the cross country skiing, and if you can’t fight winter, you might as well embrace it a little, right? I got in a trainer ride or 2 each week using the Spinnervals Endurance Pack. I’d highly recommend it. The workouts are super tough, so my brother Matt and I actually had to split up some of the 2 hour ones at the beginning. Coach Troy keeps things interesting, though, so even though all of the workouts are 1.5-3 hours long, they don’t seem to drag out. I also got in several indoor runs sans treadmill thanks to Tuesday and Thursday Dome running. That left long runs outside on the weekends, and since my good friend Haley was training for a half marathon, I had a running partner! Thankfully, she caught the bug and is training for another one in May, so I still have a partner for long runs on the weekends!

After my 50K last fall, I was keeping an eye out for spring 50 milers, but the hibernation took over. I’m in half marathon shape right now, but I’m not in marathon shape, and I’m definitely not in 50 mile shape. Even though I have felt like I’ve lost a lot of speed over the winter, my race today proved otherwise. Steve and I did the MDRA Lake Johanna 4 miler. It’s free to all MDRA members, and we decided Friday that we’d go for it. I haven’t raced a short distance for over 6 months, and since many of my long runs have been at a 10+ minute mile pace, I figured I’d finish in 40 minutes or so. I hit my first mile in 8:29 feeling great, so I decided to stick with the pace. I hit mile 2 in 8:19 and was still slowly passing people. When I hit mile 3 in 8:14, I wondered if I could finish my last mile sub – 8, and I crossed the finish line with a 7:55 final split for a total of 32:56. Not too shabby for me… When I got home, I met up with Haley for her 8 miler and still felt great. Then Steve and I worked on trimming the massive bushes surrounding our house. I’m starting to feel a little pooped.

Well, I hope to keep things up around here, so check back soon. I’m still trying to plan my races this year around my sister Steph’s wedding (and all associated festivities) and my work schedule. I think we’re going to keep things pretty low key and local. Also, I have some sweet new gear to talk about. It’s going to be a great season!