Monday, August 26, 2013

Snohomish River Run - Part Deux

Last year, I ran the inaugural year of the Snohomish River Run Half Marathon. I am looking forward to doing it again this year, although I am in worse better worse better shape than I was in last fall. Truth be told, I don't know what kind of shape I'm in right now. :) I was running more then, and I felt stronger and more confident in running. Last week I ran 3.1 miles on the treadmill - really ran - and I felt it for days afterward. Biking translates loosely to running, I would say. As far as cardio goes, I would say I'm in great shape, running or biking. My legs are obviously very strong. But I was surprised at how really opening it up on the treadmill* (*bahaha, this is a VERY subjective term!), while feeling AWESOME, definitely made me pay a price in terms of overstretched, sore muscles. I really need to follow a training plan. To do this, I feel I need to quit my job and move to a desert island with no children, or dare I say, significant other.

Anyway! I like the Snohomish River Run. It is very, very flat, which makes me happy. It had a couple long out and backs, which I don't mind. I think I may actually like them?? It somehow makes me feel like I am closer to finishing.

Happy finisher from 2012.
I am anticipating, nay, EXPECTING, that they will have more potties along the route this year. That was my chief complaint last year, but I chalk it up to rookie mistake. I know they got a lot of feedback about it from me and other runners. The race organizers are super-responsive, as I have learned from their facebook page and the emails I get about the design of this year's t-shirts, etc. I am finding myself getting excited about the event, if not as prepared as I would like to be.

Which I should really get on the stick about. :) The event is 10/27, and besides that, Alli and I are doing the Biggest Loser Half Marathon on 10/13 in Seattle. I am feeling ill-prepared, haha.

HEY! If you want to join me at the Snohomish River Run, here's a discount code for you to use, too: TRIING_SRR13

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Just Think About How Much You've Changed Your Life

A coworker said that to me yesterday. I was talking to him about the locker room facility I use daily now after my ride in. We were mid-discussion about these locker rooms, which are available to all employees. And right in the middle of it, he paused and smiled and said, "Just think about how much you've changed your life over the last couple years."

Now, these days, I am thinking about biking, and weight fluctuations, and I-really-need-to-be-running-in-preparation-for-two-half-marathons-this-fall, and that sort of thing. I don't think much about Fat Julie anymore. It was kind of a nice reflection when he said it, this guy that I've known a little for several years but we're not close or anything.

You go, girl. I may be stressing over "seriously, what happens if you're fall cycling jacket doesn't fit this year?" but in the grand scheme of things...way to go. I'm a hundred-something pounds lighter, I don't smoke anymore, I don't take anti-depressants, I don't take narcotics for pain, I'm active nearly every day. The differences are amazing.

On a different, but related note, I'm going to claim credit now for biking to work every day this week. :) That's premature, but I was tired on my ride in this morning, and I think if I claim it now I'll have to do it, haha. Although I am also contemplating taking a vacation day tomorrow...hmm...well, if I come to work, I will come via bike. How's that? 

This will actually be my first time I've commuted in every day! I've done three days, I may have done four days. I'm a little bit cheating here, because it's also the first time that I've ridden in and thrown the bike on the bus home. I'm trying to become a full-time bike commuter, but here's the thing. It's EXHAUSTING! By Thursday morning, I've been spent. It's been hot here in Seattle, and those commutes home were tiring me out. Okay, that last mile home (straight uphill) was tiring me out, and I am too stubborn or proud to throw my bike on the bus for just that last mile, although I certainly have the opportunity.

Anyway, so my strategy for this week was to ride in every morning. That in itself will give me a happy feeling of accomplishment. I actually enjoy the morning ride more than the afternoon commute, anyway. I'm happy and refreshed when I get to work, I feel sharp and physically fit. Those afternoon commutes, when I arrive home hot, sweaty and tired, facing three kids who have been waitingallday to "air their grievances," as I think of it...well, it can be a bit much. And now, I might as well throw in that besides three kids, I also have a neatnik boyfriend who is pretty much also waiting to air his grievances about my messy children, as well. Oy. You need your strength to walk into that house, let me tell you.

Go back to school, kids. I'm actually taking off a fair amount of time next week to accomplish just that: getting ready to ship everyone back to school. I got my daughter's high school packet in the mail yesterday. DO YOU KNOW IT WILL COST ME $350 JUST TO GET HER ADMITTED INTO HIGH SCHOOL?? ASB card, year book, orchestra fees, cross-country fees, PE fees, etc etc etc. Criminy. The boys will be expensive, too, but thankfully less so.

I better keep riding in, all that exercise keeps my head clear and wards off depression. Yikes.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Kickin' it off Right (the Week, that is)

Yay, bike commuter! I did it! Rode in Monday and Tuesday, and here's the thing: I was excited about doing it, too! Sunday night, G asked if I was riding in: unequivocally, immediately, my answer was "YES." There ya go. That's what I'm looking for.

I am really glad I started using the shower at work. When I first started riding in, it sounded like a real PITA to me. But very quickly after I tried it...oh yes, that feels good. Long, hard ride followed by a nice hot shower and I'm good to go for the day.

Unfortunately, I had a couple hard PM commutes home already this week. Monday afternoon, I got a flat rear tire. Pancake flat, with a big ole gash in the tire. Not sure what I hit! Well, I have a flat repair kit, and I have a replacement tube, but I broke down in a terrible place. A trail under the freeway with bad visibility and a ton of cyclists zooming through quickly. I walked it out of there and ended up pushing it quite a ways. I called G and asked him for a ride home. Of course it was rush hour traffic and he was at the north end of town, and he's unfamiliar with the area, and, and, and. Well, he did come get me but the whole thing was a pain in the butt. I won't whine too much about how he didn't want to come get me in his brand new car to dirty it up with my filthy bike. WHINE. But he did. :) There's love for ya.

Anyway, I rode off Tuesday morning with brand new tires on the bike (yay!) and had a glorious commute in. On the way home, though, it was blazing hot. My commute is about 12 miles, which isn't bad, but the last mile is straight up hill. What a stupid place to put a hill.

At the bottom of the hill, I was already exhausted. I simply had no gas in the tank. Before the red light, I had changed gears, but didn't have time to cycle through the complete gear change. When the light turned green, I forgot that the bike was mid-change. I put all my weight on the pedal to take off, and WHAM! the chain fell off. I didn't fall, really, but somehow I banged around enough that I got a nasty contusion above one ankle and a bleeding gash above my knee on the other. What the heck? Well, I still had that stupid hill ahead of me, too!

The hill is a hairpin curve at the base that quickly turns into a 12% grade. Normally, it's hard, but doable. Yesterday, though, I think I was just not mentally there anymore. I hit the hill in the wrong gear, so busy trying to build some momentum at the base of the hill, I didn't downshift for the steep change in grade. Hit that 12% and physically could not push the pedals. Oops, off the bike. I didn't even try to get back on it, I just walked it a couple hundred feet and then got back on.

I was soooooooo glad to get home. I think it might be too hot for me to ride home right now. I stay awfully well-hydrated and eat plenty. I think the sun and heat just got to me. Anyway, I didn't even attempt to ride in today. :( I was so bummed because I wanted this to be the week that I did all ten commutes on the bike!

But hey - I'm thinking like a bike commuter! Yesterday, I stopped at a bakery in the International District to get my son some hum baos. He has been dying for them. Unfortunately, they were closed on Tuesday. So this afternoon I was planning my stop there on the way home - I can probably fit six easily in my backpack, etc.

Hey. I took the bus this morning! The bus takes me nowhere near the hum bao bakery. It's interesting to me the mindshift change I'm making toward riding my bike in. Now to strategize for those real crap days where biking is the last thing I want to do! That doesn't really count for this week - I was enjoying both rides home, right up until the minute I wasn't. :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

I Don't Know How Else to Convince You

Silly girl, there are just not many other ways I can say it. You feel so great when you ride your bike to work. Don't you? Isn't it fun? Don't you just feel so ALIVE when you get to work? Aren't all your concerns about the numbers on the scale and tight jeans shoved to the back of your mind, even for just a little while?

Doesn't it feel great to SWEAT?

And didn't you just love getting that whole locker room to yourself this morning? Who else is tough enough to ride to work on the first rainy(-ish) morning in over a month? No one, that's who! You got to play your radio station out loud, strut around naked, take your time and not share the little benches.

So, why, why is it so hard for you to commit to riding in? Every day, it's the same old thing. Are you masking not wanting to go to work with not wanting to ride your bike to work? You need to get a handle on this, lady.

Remember, your ultimate goal is that bike commuting is just how you get to work. Period. Some people drive, some people take the bus, some people bike. You bike. With some exception, at the most one or two days a week, you can pretty much ride every day. Yeah, it's harder when you have appointments before or after work, but I'll bet you could solidly ride in at least 3-4 days a week. At 12-ish miles and 50-ish minutes each way, that's a hell of a work out program. You've got your long, fast flats, you've got your brutal hill climbs, you've got your screaming fast downhills that make you nervous and happy.

You can do this. You DID this, this morning. Yay, you! You didn't wanna. G didn't go to work today, and you thought it wasn't fair that in order to ride, you didn't just have to get up, you had to get up SOON, and leave QUICKLY.

Perhaps you could have prepared a little better for this morning. That's sort of an ongoing theme with you, isn't it?


  • Your handlebars needed re-taped before you could ride again. Did you know that last time you rode? I think you did. Perhaps you could have done it then. Or last night, when you knew you were going to ride this morning. It's how you get to work, remember? It worked to do it this morning, but it sort of added to the chaos, huh?
  • Hey - you like to wear your fingerless gloves every time you ride, don't you? Pretty much? Where are they? Hmm. Maybe you should keep them in the same place every time. Kind of a bummer to use your thin winter gloves this morning, wasn't it? It was the sort of day that would have been perfect for fingerless gloves. Hope you find them!
  • Same thing goes with your glasses. Remember, the expensive cycling ones you bought? Or the cute Kate Spade ones that you actually prefer? Where do you suppose they are? Well, I'm really glad you found your cycling glasses this morning (after finding the empty case on the opposite side of the house). But you just sort of luckily stumbled on them, didn't you? Maybe you could have a box of cycling stuff where this all goes every day. Oh! You already do? That's so funny! Use it!
  • That's cute that you couldn't pull out of the driveway until your Strava GPS time-tracking app finished updating on your iPhone. Next time, plan ahead.
  • Minor details: You wear clothes to work every single day. This can also be thought out in advance. This one doesn't even pertain to cycling that much, as long as your clothes fit in your bike bag.
In short, good job to you for biking to work this morning. It took a bit to convince you to get going, but you did it, and I'm proud of you. You've started off the day so well! And your legs are looking good, too. So toned, and dare I say, even a bit sculpted. What a nice perk that those skirts that are easier to pack in the bike bag than jeans or other bulky bottoms - you get reminders of all your hard work when you check out your own gams in the full-length bathroom mirror. You should stop doing that so much, by the way, your coworkers are starting to talk. It's a little conceited. I know, I know, it's only because G. put his dresser in front of the only full-length mirror in the house, but even that excuse is wearing a little thin, isn't it?

Just like the many excuses you've been able to produce about not riding your bike to work, missy. I'm on to you.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Library Books and Blow Dryers and Aren't You Just Looking for an Excuse, Missy?

I rode my bike home yesterday - it has been a long week of doctor appointments and school appointments and commitments after work that preclude a bike ride. It felt so good! Major detriments that put a damper on the ride home: the six or so block stretch of busy, busy downtown streets between my building and the "relaxed, relieved breath" point of the commute where I am not focused on not being creamed by a bus or an aggressive motorist.

Seriously, people, be nice to bicyclists on the road. It is so hard to ride in busy traffic or even not-so-busy streets. Cars are big and scary. I'll admit, since I started cycling so much, I am much more tolerant and conscientious of bikes on the street. Hey - our dang feet are locked onto the pedals! It's funny how even that can affect your maneuverability on the road...or at least my own perception of it.

Well, cars may be big and scary, but I am a badass scary bicycle commuter and I have the uber-cool backpack to prove it!

Look at my super-strong legs, not my lunch lady arms, por favor.
I had already brought my bike bag home (poor little Carema - my bike - had been left overnight at City Hall for a few nights) but I had stuff I needed to transport. I had coincidentally gone to Old Navy yesterday and bought that backpack for my soon-to-be-8yo. I think I will keep it for myself! Skulls are inappropriate for young children, I've decided. Such a good mommy.

Anyway. This morning, the right thing to do would have been to hop on the bike and ride back into work. I couldn't do it. Greg and I had a not-so-great-isn't-family-blending-fun-no-not-really-at-all evening last night, and I was spent. Wiped out. Biking would have cleared my head, but I wanted a few minutes of our short commute together, alone. I did not want to sweat. I wanted to wear a pretty dress.

And I had library books. A buttload of them to return to the Seattle Public Library, where I almost never partake in their fine book collection. I'm a King County Library System (only the very best library system in the free world, thankyouverymuch) girl. But a few weeks ago the kids and I had come over for the very, very lame See Jane Run expo (long story - my daughter wanted to see a big expo. Last year, it was a good one. This year, it SUCKED). We stopped at the library next door and loaded up.

The SPL is NOT FOOLING AROUND when it comes to overdue fees. A quarter a day, per book. My library system charges $0.10/day and it caps at $3/book. SPL caps at $8/day. Their terroristic ways work: my books are returned on time, every time, haha. With KCLS, I consider overdue books my way of supporting the library system. You're welcome! At $10 in accrued fines, they freeze your account. I pay my library subsidy willingly, but always strive to mend my ways, haha.

Ok, so there were books, and then there was the blow-dryer issue. Sure, I rode in allllllllllll that time without showering before work, but then I did it one time and now I don't wanna ride in without a shower when I get here. Spoiled. And at my desk, I have the blow dryer I brought in, my new padlock, my flip flops, my hair product. All at my desk. Which is not at the locker room, and not even in the same building.

Today, I have committed to carrying all these things over to my locker and settling in. No more excuses.

There was a thunderstorm on my bike commute home last night. A little scary. I decided my tires would ground me, though. It was so bad that my 12yo called me mid-commute to ask if we had just had an earthquake, because the windows rattled so loudly. Yikes.

Blended family. Double yikes. I won't say we are struggling, but I will say that it is not seamless cramming all these personalities together under one roof. Admittedly, I am by nature not a tidy person. I looooove a tidy place, I just don't know how to get it there or keep it there. Since G and I got back together, I have really been trying. It's not that *I* am so messy, per se, it is that I have not done a good job at all teaching my children to clean up after themselves. G is not quite but almost clutter-phobic. He is challenged, daily, by his decision (emphasis "his decision") to move into our busy and messy home. We are all trying. Why, just last night I told my 12yo son, "look, if you are going to repeatedly blatantly disobey my direct orders to not eat on the couch (Greg's brand new couch, oy), then at least have the good sense to clean up the evidence." See? Trying. G would like instantaneously-reformed children (as would I, haha) but he has a fairly solid grasp of reality in this regard and knows that's a pipe dream.

Last night, though, what started about clutter and mess turned to my 8yo. As his mother, I am the first to admit that this kid is HARD. He's always been hard. Always a little more than you expect or are prepared to handle. I have been letting him sleep with his brother, primarily because his room was such a disaster area and I did not have time to clean it, secondarily because of photo opportunities like this:

Did I tell you that my boys were with a boy that drowned, right after school got out in June? I don't remember. It was horrific. An 8yo boy of X's girlfriend's cousin, at a family picnic at someone's lake house. My boys weren't just there, they were there. And since that day, my 12yo, who was always a worried, protective older brother, is now a worriedprotectiveolderbrother. And he has become incredibly tolerant of his little brother, including letting him sleep with him. Anyway, it was time to get R back into his own bed last night and this created a freakout tantrum crying jag of epic proportions. It was awful. It was awful for me, as his mom, it was awful for G as a man who must by now be questioning the wisdom of joining our family.

Ah well. We arrrr what we arrrr. My almost-8yo is lit from within like a beacon: his highs are blindingly bright and vibrant and joyous, his lows are tearful and trying and terrifying. The other day, for example, my 12yo picked him up from day camp. His dad had dropped him off that morning, so he didn't have his bike to ride home, as he normally does. His coping strategy, when faced with this disappointment? Lay down on the ground. Refuse to leave.

Sigh. My 12yo called, "I don't know what to do." Sigh. Me neither. I invoked some sort of threat over the phone via B that got him moving, this time.

Anyway. He's hard. He's epic. He will grow up to be a rich, rich charismatic man: kids love him (because he knows the best ways to get in trouble, perhaps). I fear a throng of girls (hopefully not baby mamas!) one day beating down our door to tousle his hair and beat out their BFFs in the competition to be indifferently treated by him, haha. I see a young man being funded eagerly by venture capitalists who back his latest idea. I see a strong, confident, charismatic leader (oy, for good, for good, I hope and pray! Leader, not ringleader...)

But right now I see a kid who is often a real pain in the ass to be around. And I say that with every cell in my body screaming out how much I love and adore him. Truly. And yet in the midst of his tantrum last night, some primal urge was in my head telling me to eat him, haha.

When I was dating, I was overjoyed when I met a man without children. I have always said my dream was a man who had wanted children, but sadly, had been unable to have them due to childhood mumps, perhaps.

So I get it. Believe me. G's children are older and not around much at all. I do not have any expectation that my brood will drive him away - this was an issue for him last time around (aka v1.0) and G is nothing if not a thoughtful and measured man. He weighed heavily the pros and cons of being with me. The kids are no surprise and he is open that he loves me and wants to be with me, but that the kids wear him out sometimes. I get it.

And so. That's why I didn't ride my bike this morning. Library books and blow dryers and a glass of wine in bed and hey, and a see how nice it is when we're alone commute.

p.s. I am inspired by all these July workout summary posts this morning (Kim and Lindsay) to say that I biked 189.3 miles in June. I didn't run more than a couple times, although I should be well on my way to the Biggest Loser half marathon training program with my daughter. Thankfully, she is doing well on her own in that regard.