29 January 2011

Again with Big Sur

Just finished the workouts for Week Five, ramping up - again! - to the Big Sur International Marathon.

Last year I was encouraged to run, and encouraged in my training, by guys from church who also ran the 25th Big Sur. This year that encouragement, and training partner, comes with daughter Kathryn. Kathryn was at the finish line last year, and her first word in the recovery area was, "I want to do this!" Well, so we egged each other on, and one day we both registered for BSIM 2011 ... and got consecutive bib numbers!

My goal this year is to run the course with Kathryn. She thinks that will mean "sacrificing" my run. But she is training for a 4-hour marathon, and my time last year was a respectable 4:09. Hey, it sounds like a great idea to me.

We have talked about trying to do the long training runs together, when - or as often as - we can. This week was our first time to actually pull that off. We had hoped to run in Chicago, in her favorite forest preserve, with her roommate Lauren. That changed, we opted for her to come out to the 'burbs and we ran a few loops in neighborhoods contiguous to the homestead.

With temperatures barely reaching 20F, we headed out at 9:30am. It took a while to settle into a pace that worked for us, but ultimately it really did work. We chatted most of the way, and finished 10 miles in almost exactly 100 minutes. That is a pretty solid 10-minute mile, which if it continues to work for Kathryn as the distances increase, will set her up well for the 4-hour goal.

I love the exercise I get with Kathryn. She gets, and does not fear, that cycling and running have as much to do with eating as anything. So we enjoyed lunch with my Karen, a nice way to celebrate our first long run, and a harbinger of May 1, when we cross the finish line together, meet up (again!) with Chris as he finishes the 21-mile walk, and head off to lunch with Karen and Pat.

3 months to go!

10 January 2011

Undocumented 2010

I sort of went offline once summer got underway, blog-wise speaking. I guess, given the choice of riding or writing, I chose the former. Not that I did all that much riding either. The season was much more affected than I would have guessed, by the early spring marathon training. This year, I have a plan to fix that. (And more follows to unpack that comment.)

So, without doing any justice to the highlight adventures of the second half of 2010:
  • June Century with Kathryn - still on her fine hybrid, we were committed to a ride mostly on paths, not roads. We made our way out through West Chicago to the Fox River, with our first - and highly anticipated - first stop: Cocoa Bean in Geneva. Continuing north to St. Charles, we then picked up the Great Western Trail, to our second stop, in Sycamore. I believe I have already sung the praises of Elleson's Bakery, a classic small town shop that is all by itself worth the 60+ mile round trip from my house. Nothing fancy, it is far from Cocoa Bean in every respect. But a worthy stop and one every cyclist should be aware of. At this point I rather cavalierly proposed a little circle on the road, rather than the full 18 miles of GWT back to St. Charles. Kathryn was game, and she was strong. I was a bit addle-pated, and managed to get us lost, adding miles and hills. Eventually we got back to the Trail, and just in time to stop for an excellent margherita pizza trail-side in Virgil (or is it Wasco?). An excellent restorative, and we managed to get home in one piece after about 102 miles.
  • Family Reunion in Tennessee - this warrants a separate post. The sport part of the outing was being able to hike in the Smokies, ride Cade's Cove Circle without auto traffic, and running - hills! 
  • The end of the reunion came with a family surprise, as my Karen's mother had just fallen and broken her hip. So our planned visit to the home county was changed up a bit, and I was able to introduce Kathryn to the glories (so to speak) of Branch County, MI, back road cycling. Through the month of July, Karen and I got back there a bit, so I had more cycling this year, in that county, than at any year since junior high, I'm sure!
  • July Century with Kathryn - well, it was dicey from the outset. Friday evening weather was iffy, and the forecast for the night and Saturday morning was not encouraging. Indeed, we had lots of rain, and in the morning while the rain was "probably" over, the roads bore evidence of danger everywhere. The neighborhood retention pond could have hosted the swim component of a triathlon, and the adjacent street was too deep to drive through, much less ride in. We cut our losses and stayed in to eat a hearty cyclists breakfast ... minus the cycling! By late morning the weather had cleared and we were itchy to do something. Kathryn had a cycle savings wad in her account, dying to be spent. So we went bike shopping. Prairie Path Cycles --- what can I say? They are a first-rate shop, with the best people running and working it. OK, so maybe my Karen would prefer it weren't only 1/2 mile from the house. That shop did not have something that would work for Karen in her price range; but a brief call to the Batavia shop revealed that there might be just the thing for her there. So out we went. On she sat. Off we test-rode. As we were walking out the door, to go home and "think about it," we both said, "Really?" If K. had the money, had done the research, and liked the bike, why wait? It was sudden, but hardly an impulse. So she came away with a sweet Gary Fisher ION Pro GS road bike, green. We had our first road ride together, from home, a 17-mile loop I like to take, and she was hooked. It nearly made up for missing this month's century.
  • So the August Century was a very different outing altogether. My Saturday morning peeps were also headed out that day, to ride from Winfield to Savanna, IL. (They would make the 120+ ride out on Sat., and back the next day. My Sunday job sort of ruled that out for me.) I had the route notes, map and cue sheets, and K. and I were going to head out at about the same time as the guys. So, our plan: meet the guys and head out with them, and let them go on ahead when they out-rode us. We did not in fact see them in the parking lot on our way out, so we thought they must have pressed on early. (I had not told them our plan, so there would have been no reason for them to delay or call us.) Or if they were behind us, surely they would catch up to us. The route included quite a bit of road that I've been over with these guys, so I felt pretty good about it. And it was all new to Kathryn so that was just plain fun. We got as far as DeKalb (30+ miles) without seeing the guys, and I was sure at that point that they must be ahead of us, and that we might even see them leaving the place where K. and I would make our first long stop. But we didn't see them, going or coming. We pressed on to Malta, where our century route looped out and away from the Savanna trip sheet. [Turns out the guys got a pretty late start; and they detoured around a bad stretch which K. and I slogged through.And they had all day!] We rode a nice rural loop around back to Sycamore ... and I had my first roll through Sycamore without a stop at Elleson's! Instead we parked at the grocery and bought a real lunch and sat at a picnic table in the sun (too hot!) and got some real fuel. It was turning out to be a pretty warm day in the full sun. We rode back through Sycamore and south to pick up a route that I know from the Saturday rides. Throughout the ride I was trying to acclimate Kathryn to drafting, and she was trying to pick it up. In the end, I think I benefited more from it than she did. By the time we got to the Fox River in Batavia, we were pretty bushed, but still had about a dozen miles to go. Lots to drink, and some energy foods, and a pretty good sit-down on a bench in the shade - these helped, but we had a long, slow slog home. We managed 108 miles, and I was glad for some decisions I had made that I thought would get us home at about 99 miles. Oh well.
  • No September Century, and a short, brutal "Ride for Refuge" in October turned out to be a less than glorious day on the bike. But it is an excellent ride, well managed, for a great cause. The day was cold and fiercely windy. I had hoped to do the 30-mile loop, twice, and was glad to be able to finish it once. Next year, I want to ride it with others - to expand the fund raising element, and also to be more successful in the wind!
The winter rolled in, and I was glad to again register for the ABD "Boot Camp." Great club, great winter training sessions. I didn't do this last winter, in deference to the marathon training, and felt my cycling season really suffered for it. This year, registered for the same marathon (on this, more anon), I finally figured out how to make Boot Camp my "cross training" for the marathon prep. And so, off and ... well, running!

08 January 2011

Man you old!

Driving through Indiana yesterday, we stopped for gas. Already stopped, and it being still early, I slipped into McDonald's for a cup of coffee. (Note: Indiana, early, stopping for gas. This is not my first choice for a cup of coffee.)

The young boy who rang me up (could he really have been only 12 years old, as he looked?) said, "a dollar nine, please. No, oh, wait." His fingers flew on the cash register face like he was texting. The screen changed, and he said, "that will be 39 cent."

"Whoa!" I replied. "How did that happen?"

"Senior discount." A blank stare from me, mouth agape. "I'm not saying you're old."

Funny thing is, yes I am 55. But this is the first time I've been offered a senior discount, no questions asked.

Drove off singing Paul Simon ...