Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Small tokens of hard-won wisdom

Here's a little advice for new runners (or new runner, because I think only one person reads this blog):

1. Get a good pair of shoes. Find your local running store, and buy your first pair of running shoes there. Make sure you bring an older pair of shoes you've used for running. A competent employee will look at the wear on the bottom of your shoes as part of their evaluation. They will also watch you walk and possibly jog to see if you have any problems with rolling your feet. After all that, they should be able to show you several shoes. Expect to pay somewhere near $100. It sounds like a lot, but good shoes go a long way toward making running more enjoyable.

2. Follow a plan. I used the Cool Running Couch-to-5k plan to prepare for my first 5k. I couldn't jog a half mile when I started. Using that plan, I finished my first 5k in 32:47. The Cool Running plan won't turn you into a fast runner, but it will get you to the finish line.

3. Don't be afraid to walk during a training run. The Cool Running plan is built on intervals, and they are the key to improving your times. I'm stubborn when it comes to walking during a training run, and that has kept my improvements to a minimum. Don't be like me. (There's nothing wrong with walking during a race either, but I'm stubborn, so I don't.)

4. During your first race, don't be surprised or disappointed when you're passed by the young, the elderly, and people pushing strollers. Instead, think about how you're joining their club. Remember what it was like to run as a child. Think about how you're starting an activity that will last a lifetime. Ignore the stroller-pushers.

5. It sounds trite and cliche, but enjoy your run. Unless you're some kind of wunderkind, you're not going to win anything or finish near the top of your age group. Those people at the finish line are cheering for you though, so save a little for the end and finish strong.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

So much dust...

Well, it's clear this is another of my failed projects, but I will attempt to resurrect it. In the time between my last post and now, I've run three 5ks and one 4-mile run. I'm currently training for a 4.8-mile leg of the Brew to Brew Run. If I'm feeling good, I might run the last leg (4.7 miles) for fun. I think running in to Lawrence might be really fun and possibly emotional. Who knows.

When I started running in January 2008, I weighed between 205 and 210 pounds. At the end of the year, when had stopped running regularly, I weighed 195 pounds. I've lost an additional 8 pounds so far this year, and my eventual goal is to weigh 165 pounds by summer. I'm not following any exotic (or rediculous) diets; I'm practicing portion control and making better choices about what I eat. That doesn't mean I can't eat sweets; it means I can't eat sweets like I used to. I've had to cut down on my rapacious consumption of chocolate soy milk too, which saddens me greatly. Fortunately, espresso is pretty much free, and drinking properly sized cappucinos (6 ounces) and lattes means I don't consume too much milk. Other than that, it's water, water, water.

I haven't started cycling again this year though I plan to recondition my old Trek hybrid and put it into commuter use. I came to the conclusion that my neat Albert Eisentraut is a little too big for me. That wouldn't be a problem on my 5-mile commute, but the frame and fork lack eyelets for fenders, and I don't want risk such an interesting bicycle at the company bicycle rack. I would like to buy or build a bicycle for commuting and long-distance rides, but my new employer may lay people off in the next three months, so I can't afford that relative luxury.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

To Brookside and back

I rode to my parents' Brookside rehab house Saturday morning. The temperature was in the mid-50s, so I wore a long-sleeve cotton shirt over my T-shirt. My riding gloves left my fingertips cold, but fingerless gloves tend to do that.

The ride is fairly short, about 3.2 miles each way, and I managed the trip out in a little less than 15 minutes. I chatted with the folks for two hours before making my way back. The return trip took a little more than 15 minutes, but that could be attributed to traffic signals.

Total mileage to date: 12.4

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tour of Misouri Stage 1 and a small success

The first stage of the Tour of Missouri came through Kansas City and parts of northwest Missouri yesterday. I drove down to North Kansas City to the intersection Burlington and Missouri Highway 9 to watch the race on its way out of the city. There were about 50 or 60 people at the park there, and we gave the racers a good cheer as they passed.

A co-worker of mine managed to get a ride in the Toyota-United team car. He had a great time but said the driver, who happened to be the team's director, wasn't as concerned with driving as he was with the progress of his team. Can't say I blame the guy. Whatever he was doing besides driving paid off though; Ivan Dominguez won the first stage.

I watched the end of the race on The live feed was pretty choppy, but it was quite a sight to see the riders framed by the downtown skyline.

Next year I'll take the entire day off and try to get a press pass. I want to ride in a team car!

The small success was riding 4.4 miles today. It wasn't easy, and my legs felt like rubber when I finished. I didn't stop though, and I averaged 12.7 mph. I want to be able to ride 10 miles without feeling like dying before I ride with a group.

I moved my seat up, but I think I could go up a few more centimeters. The bike shorts were a remarkable improvement, and I only felt some discomfort during the ride. I don't think I'll be sore for days after this ride. I need to experiment with saddle angle next time.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Over the wall

Procrastination almost got the best of me. I planned to write an update immediately after I finished my ride. Instead, my sit bones were too sore and my confidence too shaken for me to turn the computer on and describe experience.

In short, not good.

After 1.5 miles and eight minutes of riding, I had had enough. My seat was too low, and I'm afraid the saddle may be too narrow. My plan for Wednesday is to raise the seat substantially. I wasn't extending my legs fully while pedaling, not even close. I may also raise the stem.

In light of the soreness where the sun don't shine, I purchased some cycling shorts from Waldo Bikes. Hopefully that and the seat adjustment will make riding more comfortable. I may install the seat from my old Trek hybrid as a last resort.

I may ride tomorrow morning before work if I'm awake and ambitious.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


So I bought a bike to lose weight and possibly commute to work. After a short stay with the local bicycle store for some maintenance work, I brought it home yesterday. It's a 1996 Albert Eisentraut custom steel road bike with a Sachs New Success groupset, which is indexed. I rode two Treks, a 1000 and 2300, last year, but I decided go with a used bike to save money.

I forgot how different riding a road bike was from riding a hybrid, which I rode to campus in college. A quick ride up and down the street reminded me I hadn't ridden a bicycle in four years.

The previous owner kept the clipless pedals he had on the bike. The bike shop installed some flat pedals (no toe straps either) for me, and I think I'll stay with that setup until I get more used to the riding position. The brifters will take some getting used; my old Trek 720 hybrid used grip shifters.

The radar looks clear so I'm off to see if I can ride a few miles without killing myself.