Monday, February 25, 2008

All about the bike

Ok, the holiday update is still coming.  Unfortunately Hamish left our camera's battery recharger on top of Takaka Hill, and with both batteries flat I can't download any photos to accompany my holiday tales.  Plus I've been distracted by my lovely Lola.  Once it was all about two running shoes and some tarmac.  Now it's all about the bike ...

I paid a significant amount of money to see a sports doctor on Friday and I really needn't have bothered.  Yes, my ankle was sore after the one hour run.  Yes, we could do some expensive tests to determine whether I have a stress fracture or bone growth.  However the doctor thinks I should just keep resting the darn thing for another month and see what happens.  And just when I was all excited about the one or two runs Duck has scheduled into my new training programme each week ...

So what's a girl to do?  Well, on Saturday all I had to do was ride 10km at speed.  Lola and I hitched a ride to Thorndon Quay in the new Honda.  I was planning to ride from Herd Street to Evans Bay Marina and back (the Special K and SPARC Real Duathlon cycle course).  That sounded like a good idea, but unfortunately I'd neglected to add in the Bike-the-Bays family ride factor, starting from Frank Kitts.  

Checking out the website I could see that the 32km route riders were scheduled to leave Frank Kitts at 10a.m.  Seeing that it was 9.45 I asked Hamish to wish me luck and headed off in the hope of either starting before them or heading out just after.  I used the ride to Herd Street as a warmup, getting a good look at the hoards of cyclists waiting at the start line as I went past Frank Kitts.  I can tell you that knowing those guys were just behind me was REALLY good motivation to pick up the pace!  The whole way to the marina I was head down, heels down, expecting to get overtaken by a mob at any moment.  I couldn't believe my luck when I finally got to the marina, picked a clear spot in the traffic, did a u-turn and raced back the way I'd come. Not more than 30 seconds later the lead pack went past.  Talk about timing!  

Getting back to Soundline was interesting, and involved some careful detouring around the waterfront to avoid all the families lining up for the start of the 12km event.  However I survived, threw Lola back into the back of the Honda again, dumped my helmet, changed my shoes and headed back along the waterfront to meet Sarah at Extreme for Balance.  It was one of those 'Wellington on a good day' kind of days, and apart from the Bike the Bays there was also a dragonboating competition underway.  That meant absolute chaos around Frank Kitts and that little bridge by Te Papa, with people and bikes going everywhere and a small number of marshalls desperately trying to enforce some control.  If there weren't a few pedestrian-versus-bike incidents that day I will be very surprised.

I woke at 7a.m on Sunday morning wondering what on earth I was doing, and why I couldn't just sleep in like normal people.  However before I could even meet up with the Gearshifters squad for my first group ride I first had to negotiate my first commute in the new Honda.  My conversation with Hamish the night before had gone something like: "So, I put my foot on the brake and put the car into drive right?  And then when I want to park I put it back into park again?  And I don't have to hillstart, right?  So when do I use neutral?"  

Faithful readers will be pleased to know that I managed not to crash our brand new car on my first ride in an automatic.  Other than being freaked out by a car that moved off on its own when I took my foot off the brake pedal, I actually kinda enjoyed driving it.  The Honda is remarkably light on the steering, not to mention much smoother and quieter than our Polo (whose shocks were I suspect a little shot, and whose catalytic converter was mysteriously missing).  

I got to Freyberg ridiculously early, allowing myself enough time for two bathroom stops.  Everyone else looked much fitter than me, and they all had much nicer looking bikes.  I was trying not to feel inferior.  Hey, at least I had flash new red, silver and black riding gloves that matched dear Lola perfectly!  The sales guy had even made a point of

asking what colour Lola was, because of course these things matter.  Thankfully I wasn't the only newb... I just felt like I was!  

We rode a familiar and easy route - around the Bays.  Dee said that the faster riders could go up Happy Valley while the slower ones could cut back through Kilbirnie.  Well, I thought, that will be me.  To start we only rode as far as the wind wand.  Easily done, and I rode with the first few riders.  From there it was into a nasty Northerly - ironic after so many still weeks.  

My performance was true to my previous form.  I can cruise quite happily at 30kmph and do 35kmph if I really push (but probably not for too long).  However face me into that Northerly and I drop to 20kmph.  However, I wasn't the only one.  I overtook a fit, muscly looking guy as we were approaching the Naval base, assuming he was out on his own and resting up.  However he was with us, and he and I joined up with another of our riders and drafted off each other all the way to the bottom of Happy Valley, where he mysteriously disappeared.  

Watching me, Dee kept pushing me to drop my heels, and suggested that my saddle might be too high, and that that might be the reason I was losing power in the wind.  Time to book a session with the bike fit people at Penny Farthing I think.  I also need to check how my right knee is tracking, as it starts to ache after an hour or so.  The last thing I need is a return of my dodgy knee issues!  

Once I got the concept of drafting I really enjoyed it, though I made every newb mistake in the book.  At least I knew I was making them, and know what not to do next time!  It certainly takes the pressure off those darn winds.  It seemed really unfair that they kept up all the way up Happy Valley (oh yeah, Dee decided we were doing well enough to go up Happy Valley after all, darn it).  By that stage my small pack of four was down to one young girl and I, so we just continued to practice drafting all the way up to Brooklyn.  I swear that hill has never felt so hard!  I'm sure it was just the wind ...

We hit the green light with perfect timing at the Brooklyn shops, then stopped at the top of the hill.  There was a tennis tournament on at the tennis centre halfway down, so we took Ohiro Rd to avoid the traffic.  Dee gave us a lecture on proper downhill technique and how to corner, but once we were on the incline it was more a case of holding on and just going for it.  I was one of the first four down, terrified but exhilerated at the same time.  It was all I could do to simply try to hold a good line on the corners, forcing myself to keep off the brake.  

Ironically, if we were trying to avoid traffic Willis Street is not a good place to ride on a Sunday, with manic drivers desperately trying to find a park close to the farmer's market.  However I road boldly down the middle of the lane, secure in my pack of riders.  There's something very appealing about the sound of a couple of dozen shoes clipping into pedals simultaneously! We ruled the road ...

So that was it - back to Freyberg, a quick coffee, a quick trip to the supermarket, a snooze on the sofa with Gaffer on my lap, a pot of dahl simmering on the stovetop.  I was still on a high this morning ...

And I really intended to do some weights before work, but Ede curled up under the duvet with me a few minutes before the alarm was due to go off, and I couldn't bare to move her.  She's only just returned home after having disappeared for a few days when we got back from our holiday.  

I was good after work, and substituted my forty minute run for forty minutes on a crosstrainer on a cardio setting.  With my target heartrate only 148 I barely even raised a sweat.  I left he gym feeling strangely deflated.  Thankfully I have the first of the Gearshifters RPM classes tomorrow night.  I'm going to do Duck's RPM class first so at least I will go home feeling like I've had a proper workout.  

While the Gearshifters squad was waiting for everyone to arrive the Tar Babies pack(s) flew past us.  Oh to be fast enough to entertain even the slightest hopes of keeping up with them!  The plan for this week is to ride Lola to Crankworks in the morning for a service.  I'll take the long route home round the Bays on Wednesday night and throw in some interval training.  Kate - I'm supposed to be doing five hill repeats up Happy Valley on Saturday morning if you're feeling masochistic!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mad Dog will win every time

Before the holiday commentary, an update on today's return to exercise.  

It has been a beautiful sunny, calm day here, and I decided that I wanted to try another run after my first day back at work.  I was planning a short out and back to Freyberg, so probably no more than 25 minutes.  Running through Midland Park however I bumped into my physio.  I told her my ankle was tweaking a little, but that it wasn't too bad.  She said to really push it today to see how it responded.  This is keeping in mind that I haven't run more than half an hour at a time since November, and that I haven't run at all in nearly a month.  My physio should really learn to be a little more specific ...

Happy that I had her permission I ran at an easy pace to Freyberg.  I had a little niggle in my side, but it never translated to a real stitch.  I got to Freyberg and decided I didn't want to stop.  I got to Fisherman's Table and was still feeling good.  I decided that I would run to the bottom of Carlton Gore.  I got there and I was still feeling really good.  I looked up Carlton Gore and decided that I felt like testing that ankle a little more.  I ran slowly but easily up Carlton Gore, then enjoyed the shade all the way down Maida Vale.  From Maida Vale, still feeling good, I started to run back towards town.  I looked at my watch as I hit forty minutes, and like clockwork I could feel my body settling down into its long-distance mode, an easy lope that used all my major muscle groups equally.  

And I stayed in that mode all the way back to the gym, which I got back to in just under sixty minutes.  A sense that I had, indeed, really pushed my luck, had me dashing to reception for an instant ice pack.  I iced for ten minutes, stretched, and headed for home.  

So now my ankle is feeling a little achy if I lean forward on it, but it's surprisingly ok.  Tomorrow will be the real test of how much damage I've done, if any.  I know I wentout for too long, but it was just such a thrill to come back from a very indulgent and lazy holiday, and after a long break from any real running, and to still be able to run for sixty minutes without wanting to die.  

Mad Dog won today, but Mad Dog had encouragement from my physio.  How could I resist? Damn but I love running!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Back from the South Island

And in need of a holiday to recover ...

I'll write more tomorrow.  Right now though I need a shower!