Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The cyclist is back!!!

Some time last year, a colleague of Sherry’s asked if she was married to Lee Alderman, the cyclist.  While we both still get a laugh out of this from time to time, I can honestly say that description did not fit this year as I prepared to run my first half marathon in over 25 years.  I was more like Lee, the runner.

Now, with the half marathon behind me, it was time to reconnect with the bike.  I intended to use the Memorial Day Weekend as the platform for re-launching my riding.  My plan was quite simple.  Ride all three days and if possible log at least 100 miles in the saddle.  I am happy to say I was successful on both counts.  Although these distances do not seem very long by normal standards, I was very happy with how quickly my form returned. 

To help the plan along I chose routes over some of my favorite, and most beautiful, roads in Sonoma County.  If these routes can’t get you inspired then it may be time to hang up the bike.

1000x563-knights-valley-cows Knights Valley (33.2 miles) – My adventures started on Saturday as I led the Team Revolution ride.  As ride leader, I got to select the route so we headed to Knights Valley.  I hope that every cyclists gets the chance to ride through a place as lovely as Knights Valley at some point.  It is simply stunning.  The only reason we don’t ride it more often is that it is an out and back route (we usually prefer loops).

As the ride began, I immediately felt the effects of my time off the bike.  However, as we rode along, I continued to feel better.  By the return trip, I was driving a solid pace on the front and holding my own on the small climbs.  Plus, in addition to the great people I was riding with, I also ran into many other friends on the road.  It was the perfect re-entry to the world of cycling.

Cols3 Boho Hwy/Pocket Canyon (37.6 miles) – On Sunday, Jeff and I joined the first part of Coach Tim’s Cols & PavĂ© ride.  We headed out Bohemian Hwy towards Monte Rio and returned via Hwy 116 through Pocket Canyon.  Once again the scenery was stunning as we rolled through the redwoods and along streams flush with spring rains.  And, while this was supposed to be a recovery ride, Jeff and I managed to hammer out a pretty respectable pace instead.  It was two days and two great rides where I felt like I just kept getting stronger.

hartford Martinelli Road (40.1 miles) – Memorial Day was overcast, gray, and cold.  It was the kind of morning that makes you reach for your coffee cup and not the bike.  It was such a blah morning that everyone bailed on the morning ride.  So, Carmen and I headed out later in the day.  My plan was to take the single speed and really focus on recovery.  However, the wind was blowing pretty damn hard so I changed my mind.   When the wind is blowing that hard I want gears.  Once again, my plan to take it easy and recover changed once I started rolling.  I felt very good so we maintained a healthy pace through the redwoods and vineyards of the Russian River Valley.  It was another beautiful day on the bike that included Martinelli Road, which may be my favorite road of all.

There you have it.  I managed to cycle all three days and felt much better then anticipated.  And, what about my other goal?  Well, I made that as well as I totaled 110 miles in those three days.  More importantly, each ride was slightly longer then the one before it and I felt stronger as each day passed.

Now that my cycling has been jump started back into action, I can’t wait to see what adventures await as I roll into summer.


Friday, May 27, 2011

A Longing for (the) Vegas

Last year was not ideal for me it terms of cycling.  It wasn’t the people I rode with since they are all awesome.  It was the style of riding.  I got into cycling primarily because of the social aspect of it.  The miles and hours of riding with friends is beyond appealing and a big part of why I ride.  Somehow, in 2010 that didn’t happen.

Instead, I spent a lot of time on rides that I like to call the “race to regroup”.  This means that the rides were hard and fast to a planned regroup spot.  Then, once everyone arrived, we would take off at a blistering pace to see who could get to next regroup the fastest.  I enjoy doing these rides occasionally but I do not want them to be the norm.  Add to this that I am right in the middle it terms of strength so I spent a lot of time riding solo – behind the faster riders and ahead of the slower ones.

The end result?  I finished the year very fatigued and needing a little break from the bike.  That was the catalyst for bringing running back into my fitness plan this year.  Of course, if I was going to run more, I needed a goal and that’s how I ended up participating in the Windsor Town Green Half Marathon last Sunday.

My original plan was to make sure my running did not interfere with cycling.  However, after getting a pretty nasty cold in February that put my training behind schedule, I was forced to cut way back on cycling in April and May as I played catch up.  How far did I cut back on cycling?  By this time last year I had ridden just over 1,700 miles.  This year I have a grand total of 860.

Surprisingly, there is a huge silver lining to what seems like a dark cloud.  Throughout April and May, I found myself wanting to get on the bike but not having the time.  I would be sitting at my desk thinking about how great it would be to ride after work.  Then, on the way home, I would realize I really needed to get in a run instead.  So, I would get home and cast a glance towards the garage where the bikes were patiently waiting my return.  Then I would put on my running shoes and hit the road.  

This happened on numerous occasions and it started to create a real longing to ride that has been missing for a few months.  I actually found myself getting upset that I couldn’t find the time to ride.  I’m sure at one point I was wondering why the hell I decided to run a half-marathon in the first place.

The Vegas Finally, one day after work I decided “half marathon be damned,” I going out for a ride.  Still concerned about the upcoming run, I decided to take The Vegas (my name for my single speed road bike) so I could do a nice easy ride with a high pedaling cadence.  It was awesome!!!

I did my best bike path pokey as I rolled along.  The longer I rode the more I wanted to ride.  I was reminded of how much I love cycling and it re-ignited a desire to do much more of it in the weeks to come.  I can honestly say that Lee Alderman, the cyclist, is back.

Now, with the half marathon in the bank, I plan on putting in some serious miles on the bike.  I plan on jump starting my “more cycling miles” plan by riding all three days of the Memorial Day Weekend.  Plus, our cycling group has shifted back to those of us who want to ride strong but also want to stay together and ride as a group, which is music to my ears.

All I need to do now is clean the bikes, find my kits, and join the fun.


Monday, May 23, 2011

I am the tortoise!

Yesterday I did something for the first time since 1984.  I participated in a half marathon.  The Windsor Town Green Half Marathon to be exact.  Now, just to prove how statements of fact can be misleading, I did run a half marathon in 2003.  It just happen to come after a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile bike ride as I was participating in the Half Vineman triathlon. 

Going into yesterday I was very happy with my form and how I felt.  The route was rolling terrain with only one small hill, which is a great course for me.  I trained well and felt up to the challenge both physically and mentally.  My goal was 2:15:00 although I was secretly harboring the thought of putting in a sub 2-hour effort.  My plan is to run a relaxed, steady pace.  In other words, I would be the tortoise.

I get to the race bright and early and find a good parking spot.  Is this an early omen?  As I am hanging around waiting for the start my biggest concern is what to wear.  I have my tri sleeveless jersey and an ultra lightweight long sleeve shirt.  I’ll spare you the suspense and tell you I decided to go sleeveless (at the last minute).  Plus, my cycling buddy, Jeff, showed up to wish me luck (he also took the photos).

DSCN0929At 7:15 on-the-dot, about 650 of us are off and running.  My biggest concern was starting too fast.  So, I settle into what felt like a good tempo and started watching as numerous people came around me.  That’s when I started my mantra – I am the tortoise!  As I run along, I am paying attention to those passing me.  I anticipate catching some of them before the end with my tortoise-like tempo.  Sure enough, some of these folks are walking before we hit the 3-mile mark. 

I found my rhythm within the first two miles.  I was feeling very good and the 3, 4, and 5 mile markers all caught me by surprise by coming up faster then anticipated.  The small hill was just after the 5 mile mark and I caught a lot of people on this climb simply by keeping my steady pace.  As we came down the hill and start the next roller, a guy who has passed me numerous times only to fade back says “Man, your steady!”  That was all I needed to hear.

DSCN0960 The middle part of the race went exactly as I anticipated.  I found myself starting to look for mile markers at the 9-mile point as each mile started to feel longer then the last.  From the 9 to 11-mile markers I really had to stay strong mentally as I was finally starting to feel the efforts although I still had good form and a nice tempo.  However, once I hit 11-miles I knew the run was in the bank and I was confident of finishing strong. 

Just past 12-miles, another cycling friend, Carmen, appears and rides with me to the end.  I really kicked up the pace for the final half mile and came across the finish line looking and feeling great.  My time?  A very respectable 2:01:53, well within my goal.  And, what about my goal to be the tortoise.  Well, my Garmin is set to cycling so it measures laps in 5-mile increments.  I ran the first 5-miles in46:44 and the next 5 in 47:26.  If you look at MPH then the first 5 miles was 6.4, the second lap was 6.3 and the final 3 miles was 5.9.  I was indeed the tortoise!

In the end, it was a great event.  Although I missed cycling with my friends, it was nice to change things up a bit.  Now that I have this running base, I will keep running a couple of times of week so I can be ready for occasional 10k and I might even consider another half marathon before the end of the year.  But for now, I need to go reacquaint myself with my bike.