Dear dog owners…

On my bike ride home yesterday, a big dog that was unleashed in their front yard (no owner in sight), came charging at me as I was riding by. It was very much a “OH S**T” moment, as I was going at least 25 miles an hour on a semi busy street, with a dog charging at me from my front right side not knowing if he was going to run into me, if I was going to have to swerve out of his way, etc. Anyone who has ridden a road bike knows that when incidents like that happen, you do not have much time to react. Luckily, the dog slowed as he got close to me and there were no injuries to myself or the dog. But dear dog owners, please leash your dogs who could very well become hazards to people exercising and cars driving by your house on a heavily used street (especially during rush hour)!

In my last post, I wrote that my wife gave me a Garmin GPS watch for my birthday. Before I got the watch I had been refraining from wearing a watch during my runs because I was just running on how I felt, not necessarily running for a certain distance or time. While I have enjoyed the data from the watch, I do wonder if I am running faster because I am wearing the watch. Is my competitive side coming out more because I now know my fastest mile and average mile pace during my runs? I think yes, but because I was not wearing a watch before I cannot say definitively. Of course, this could also be attributed to the novelty of the watch; it is a new toy, so I am paying more attention to the data on it then if I have been wearing it for a long time. Either way, I like it, I like the information it gives, and I will continue to wear it. So far my average mile pace has been between 7:15-7:25 with my fastest mile about 7 minutes. I know this is very far ahead of where I was four months ago when I wasn’t even able to run.

Mammoth Caves

My wife and I took advantage of the fall break (and to celebrate my birthday) by spending three days at Mammoth Caves National Park in Kentucky. I remember going to some caves in California when I was younger (I cannot remember the name of the caves I went to), but Mammoth was completely different. If you have not been to Mammoth, put it on your bucket list. I was amazed at not only the size of some of the chambers and tunnels within the caves, but also the history and other unique characteristics (massive stalagmites and stalactites). My wife and I went on four tours and saw four different parts of the cave. We went on two lantern tours, where instead of using the electric light systems they have in the cave we used gas lanterns. While the lanterns provided less light, they did provide a different perspective of the cave.

The explored part of the cave system is about 400 miles; we got to see maybe four miles of the cave system. I thought I would get claustrophobic, but there were very few parts where I had to crouch low or make myself small to get through passageways (I did have to duck a lot to not hit my head on the ceiling!). When I did feel claustrophobic, it wasn’t necessarily because I was in a cave, but being in a narrow passageway with people in front and behind me (thus, making the space seem smaller!). The cave lived up to its name of Mammoth, it is absolutely massive.

For my birthday my wife got me a Garmin watch, which is a GPS watch that keeps track of your running pace and distance (among other things). I tried it out a couple times and found out that a run I have been estimating as 4 miles is actually 3.5 and what I have been calling a 3 mile run is 2.9 miles. Considering I have not worn a watch during my runs for a long time, I think my estimations were pretty good!

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Go Sharks!

To celebrate the beginning of hockey season, Go Sharks! I have to pay tribute to my roots in the San Francisco Bay Area. Start of a new season, and time to forget the colossal collapse during last season’s playoffs!

This past week it has rained on my biking days. I hope to be able to bike later this week, but we have more rain in the schedule. I could bike inside on my stationary set up, but it is not inside weather yet! I hope to get another month or so outside on the bike before I pack it in for the winter. Even though it has rained I have continued to run, and run on back to back days. While for many who run consistently, running on back to back days is not much of an accomplishment. However, when you are coming back from a hiatus or injury which prevented you from running for a long time… running on back to back days AND feeling good while doing it is a major accomplishment!

A couple weeks ago the world record for the men’s marathon was broken, well not so much broken, but smashed. The world record was lowered from 2 hours, 3 minutes and 23 seconds to 2 hours, 2 minutes, and 57 seconds by Dennis Kimetto of Kenya at the Berlin Marathon (the second place finisher also broke the previous world record, but he came in second…). What makes this feat just absolutely amazing is that is not only an average of a 4 minute 42 second mile, but he ran the second 13.1 miles faster than he ran the first 13.1 miles (61:54 for the first half, 61:03 for the second half!). I just runner nerded (which isn’t a real word, but too bad!), while I was never that fast (or even close to it), it does make me miss racing and motivates me to get back into racing shape. Watch out for me in the Spring local races!

Keeping up the progress!

Weather is staying nice, and so the biking and running outside continues! Something I am sure I have noticed in the past but I have noticed more recently is how different my body feels after a bike ride versus a run. After a bike ride in the morning (when it is cool outside) my body is still fairly cold to the touch even after biking for 45 minutes. Even after I get inside my body takes a while to warm back up and there is no noticeable sweating (I know I am sweating, but it is not profuse!). After a run on a cool morning (of similar temperature) I am sweating during and after a run. In addition, it takes my body a while to cool back down so I can take a shower and not get out of the shower still sweating! The simple answer is that while biking I am going faster; therefore I am experiencing more of a “wind chill” factor. I guess if I could run 25 miles an hour, I might feel cooler? I think the other big difference is running is a full body movement, all of my muscles are active, but when I bike it is really only my legs (and some core!) that are active. Anyway, that was a recent observation I had. Here is a picture before my run this morning; I think I was still sleeping…

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Let’s keep this weather for a while!

I have been consistently biking to and from work on Tuesday’s and Friday’s (below is a picture before I started my ride to work this morning, got some prescription sun glasses!) and running on Wednesday’s, Saturday’s and sometimes on Monday. I have again increased my minimum runs to about 4 miles, and they are feeling great! I have not felt this good running in a long time. After having to take an 8 month break from running last fall, I certainly understand why people do not like running. It hurts, it makes you very sore, and it does take a long time to condition your body to the abuse of running. However, I still love it and I can see the improvement in not only the way I feel, but the way I look. The bike rides in the morning are cool, as it has been in the high 50’s the last week or so in the morning. But, I will take the high 50’s over the heat and humid weather we had a month ago! I hope we can keep this weather for another couple months before I have to pack the bike away for the winter.

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Interesting week of activities

Last week had a very bad start regarding physical activity. Biking to work last Tuesday I was turning a sharp corner, lost my balance (un-clipped the wrong side!) and fell over! Luckily I was not going fast and the injuries I had were a scraped arm and feeling embarrassed! When I got to work I got the wound cleaned up and went about my day. On my way home, about a mile away from my apartment, my tire blew. Not just went flat, but blew out, there was no chance a patch was going to save that tube. So I ended up walking the rest of the way in biking shoes (if you have ever walked in biking shoes you know they are not meant for walking!). I did not have any spare tubes at home, so I had to go to a bike shop and of course there are none on the west side of Evansville. At the bike shop I decided I needed to replace my seven year old shoes, so you can see my new ones below! I just have to say, they should make all shoes with tightening system they have on there for all shoes (especially children’s shoes). I biked again on Friday and did a couple 3-5 mile runs on the other days. My running is starting to feel comfortable again, and I am looking forward to planning to do a race and really see where I am at.

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