Monday, May 04, 2009
My husband, a friend and I left arrived in NYC Saturday afternoon under clear skies. We drove to Totonno’s Restaurant to meet my nephew who I hadn’t seen in years. After graduating from Purdue he headed to sunny San Diego and just this past Fall to NYC. It took us about 30 minutes of circling several blocks until we found a parking space. None of the parking garages would permit us to park because we had the bikes on a hitch rack, which took up more than the allotted space for a vehicle. Even though the bikes were locked securely to the hitch and the hitch was locked to the car, I was worried that we’d come back from dinner and find that our bikes had been stripped of everything removable—wheels, handlebars, computers (we should have taken them off!!)—and only the frames would be locked to the rack. But nothing dastardly happened, and we had a great time catching up with my nephew.
Then we headed to the hotel in the financial district. DH dropped us off at our hotel (we spent 30-45 minutes going in circles trying to locate the hotel) and headed to the wilds of NJ to stay. My friend and I were in NYC to ride in Sunday’s New York City 5 Boros Bike Ride—traffic free riding through Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island—and DH was going to the Yankees game. We checked in, took our bags and bikes up to our room and organized everything for Sunday’s early departure.
Sunday morning we awoke around 4:30 a.m. We hadn’t planned to be up quite that early, but decided since we were awake, we’d get up. Line up for the ride was to begin at 6:30 a.m., but we figured people would start congregating long before then, and we wanted to be one of the first 10,000 in line. Thirty thousand cyclists were registered for this annual event.
The weather forecast was not promising—overcast with a 30% chance of rain in the early morning increasing to 60%-80% chance beginning about 10 a.m. We debated about what to wear—be optimistic and dress lightly or be pessimists and dress for the worst-case scenario. We compromised—short sleeve bike tops and rain jackets. We did not wear the warm, long-sleeved shirts under the bike tops (a BIG mistake).
We arrived at Battery Park at 6 a.m. and got in line. And as expected, there were thousands in line before us, but we were in the first 10,000!! By 6:30 a.m., it had started to drizzle. We kept entertained by batting around a number of beach balls that kept flying our way, and looking at the decorated helmets. Riders from Maine had lobsters on their heads, another group had flowers in flower pots, and some D.C. riders had the dome of the Capitol attached. There were birds, rats, palm trees, butterflies, streamers and who knows what else setting atop bike helmets. I wish I had taken more pictures, but it rained hard enough that I was concerned about ruining the new camera. (We’re thinking our cycling group—The Fit Chicks—will have to come up with some helmet decorations for our next trip. We’re from rural Pennsylvania, so maybe Punxsutawney Phil, the famous weather-forecasting groundhog, or a cow—farming is the No. 1 industry in PA—or the Penn State Nittany Lion.)
At 7:45 a.m., a few dignitaries made remarks and shortly after 8 a.m., we were off . . . . at a crawl. Imagine getting 30,000 cyclists underway—it’s a slow start. For the first 2 blocks, we walked our bikes. Slowly, space opened up and we began to walk a bit faster. Finally, we were able to jump on our bikes and begin riding, and it was a good thing, because already we were damp and chilled.
Our ride took us from Church Street to Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) and through beautiful Central Park, which was lovely with azaleas and dogwood in bloom. At times, traffic jams (bicycles, not cars) occurred and we would have to get off the bikes and walk for a block or more. We watched joggers out run us. We were not expecting that, though we should have.
The most impressive bridge crossing was the Queensboro Bridge. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to cross it with my friend. We had gotten separated somewhere along the FDR Parkway. I didn’t learn until I was in Queens that she had her first flat tire (ever!) and had to learn how to do it on the fly. She is a very tenacious and resourceful woman and managed to get the job done. I waited in Queens at the rest stop just before Astoria Park for her to catch up. While waiting, a cyclist pedaling a rickshaw pulled in with his dog, Cooper, running alongside. Cooper looked fine, but Sean looked exhausted. I learned that the rickshaw with Sean in it weighed about 300 lbs. And much to my relief, Cooper was only occasionally running alongside—he was usually riding on the bench seat with Sean. (See photo album.) I’ll admit it; I was more concerned about the dog’s welfare, than Sean’s. In October, Sean, his dog, and a friend, Pierre, are going to bike across country in the rickshaw (see Rickshawusa.blogspot.com) or join Facebook Group: Rickshaw Diaries, if you’re interested in following this crazy journey that begins October 1, 2009.
Just before reaching Astoria Park, my friend blew another flat tire. Luckily, we were within a few yards of the next break area which had a repair tent. She got in line for a repair, and I got in line for the Porta-potty. After a bite to eat, we walked our bikes through the next traffic jam and headed onto Brooklyn. It had been raining the entire trip, and we were cold and shivering for miles and regretting that we hadn’t dressed warmer.
We were about half way through Brooklyn when the third flat tire happened. This time I was alongside her, so we both began walking. We walked for several miles before finding a ride marshall to find out how far away the next repair station was. We still had at least a quarter mile to go, and we had to make it there by 2:15 p.m., because they would be closing that checkpoint down then. It was the last rest stop and the last stop where we could opt for the sag wagon. We didn’t have much time, so I decided to ride ahead and let them know she was coming in the hope that if she arrived a bit late, they’d wait for her. That’s when I got my flat tire. I started to maneuver the bike to the sidewalk so I wouldn’t get run over by other cyclists. As I went up over the lip of the curb cutaway, my front wheel bounced off the lip, and I went tumbling onto the sidewalk. I jumped up and found I had a skinned shin and some bruises, but nothing major except the bruise to my pride. But the fall had knocked the handlebars askew. We walked the bikes the last quarter mile and called it quits. If we repaired the bikes and had yet another flat, we would have no way to get the bikes repaired, and we’d be on our own in a city we didn’t know how to get around. The sag wagon wouldn’t leave until the route closed, which was 5 p.m. We were too cold to wait in a bus for 3 hours. A couple of other riders were calling it quits, too, due to flat tires, so we took off searching for the subway. By now, we were shivering so hard we could hardly talk. Our hair was soaked and the rain was seeping through the helmets and rolling down our faces and necks. We all cracked jokes along the way – we thought we were the victims of a New York Insiders’ joke—every couple of blocks we’d stop to ask where the nearest subway station was, and each time, we were told it was just 2 more blocks that way. We must have walked about 45 minutes before coming to the station. We purchased our tickets and were relieved to get inside a warm train. Then we caught the Ferry back to Manhattan.
Despite all the travails, or maybe because of them, we want to ride again next year. It’s a rare opportunity to ride traffic-free through one of the greatest cities in the world. Being one of 30,000 cyclists is amazing. The organizers and volunteers perform a Herculean task to make this possible. Next year, we’ll plan a little better, and we’ll take our hybrid bikes—they’ll be better to take on the mean city streets of New York.
If you want to know more about the 5 Boros Bike Ride, visit http://www.bikenewyork.org/index.html
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The super-deluxe hitch bicycle rack that I ordered arrived a couple of days ago. It’s really cool—carries 4 bikes, has anti-sway straps for each of the bikes, and has a lock to secure the bike & the hitch to the car. No one is walking off with my prized possessions without a lot of work. The next step was to order the hitch receiver and get it installed.
Time was running out—it all had to be installed by this Friday—so I called around and found a local U-Haul store that had a hitch receiver that would fit my car. I took it in last night and had it installed. It only took about half an hour and the guy said it was the easiest hitch receiver he had ever installed. Hmmm---maybe DH and I should have given it a try ourselves, but neither of us are mechanically-inclined, and we are not quick to drop on our backs and shimmy under a car.
This morning before work, I took the rack out to install it on the hitch. I couldn't believe it, the hole in the rack didn't line up with the hole in the hitch receiver. It was off about 1/4 inch. I pushed, jabbed, jammed, jiggled and wiggled the rack, but it wouldn’t line up. I called out my husband—two heads are always better than one. What am I doing wrong? I asked. He peered into the receiver, turned, the rack over in his hands a couple of times, then pushed, jabbed, jammed, jiggled and wiggled the rack, too, but it wouldn’t budge.
Okay, I said. Let’s figure this out. Is the problem in the receiver or in the rack? We couldn’t tell just by looking at it. A light bulb goes on—take the rack back to U-Haul and ask them to try it in another receiver. If it goes in, then the problem is the receiver and I’ll ask them to install a new one. If it doesn’t, then it’s the rack, and I’ll call the store and ask them to Fed Ex a new connector.
I went into the store, told him my story, and he looked at the rack. Follow me, he said, I’ll give it a try. Again, it wouldn’t go in. He pulled it out, turned it over in his hands a couple of times, then pushed, jabbed, jammed, jiggled and wiggled the rack, but it wouldn’t line up.
Then he peered inside the hitch receiver and found the problem—a weld wasn’t flush. He suggested I file it off. And what if we file and file and can’t get it flush, I asked? Now I can’t return the hitch receiver. No problem, he said. He promised I could bring it back and they would refund my money less the labor fee to un-install it. This might be a really expensive hitch before this is all over.
So I called into work and said I’d be late. Then I rounded up a friend, two files, and the two of us began filing away. I worked on filing the bumpy weld, and she worked on filing the end of the rack. After half an hour’s work, a skinned knuckle and a bruised hand, we pushed and jiggled the rack into the receiver. GIRL POWER!!!!!!!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Finally -- the packet for the NYC 5 Boro Bike Ride arrived. I ripped open the envelope, pulled out my deep green bib & modeled it. Then I dug deeper into the envelope and pulled out the number that gets affixed to the front of the helmet -- 40076. Then I started reading the route guide, the historic buildings we'll be passing & the beautiful bridges we'll be riding over.
On May 3 a friend and I will be riding through NYC's 5 Boros with 29,999 other cyclists. This will have to be one of the coolest bike rides I'll ever have the privilege of riding.
We'll be staying just blocks from the start at Battery Park. We'll literally roll out of bed into our biking gear and be there. The line up starts at 6:30 a.m.--I wonder how early we really have to be there to be one of the first 10,000 in line?
Any other Sparkers out there who are riding in this or have ridden in it before?
Monday, April 13, 2009
That's what the sales clerk said to me after she rang up my pink twin set and bathing suit. " Wow," I said. "That's great. With savings like this, I should keep shopping. I could use some new shoes and a skirt to go with the twin set and maybe a cover-up for the bathing suit, too. I could easily save $200 with the great sales you're having."
I didn't buy anything else, but when I got home and looked at the sales slip, I was surprised that I had spent $104 for my great finds. So much for my great savings!
How we react to information depends on how it is presented. Had the sales clerk said to me, "Thank you for shopping with us today; you spent $104," I would have told her I didn't really need the bathing suit and put it back.
When I'm recording and calculating calories & exercise, I'm always looking at the positive side. "Sure, I'll have that sliver of cheesecake--I ran 3 miles this afternoon and probably burned 300 calories." Never mind that the cheesecake is an extra 560 calories.
It's time I pay more attention to the real cost of eating. Burning 300 calories doesn't seem like such a great deal if I've eaten 2,000 calories.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
3/30/09 Update: Official time 2:24:53
The title says it all—I’m still on a half marathon high. It will be awhile before I come back down.
Prelude to a Race
About 10 days before the race I began checking weather.com to see what was in store. It started out in the low 40s with a 30% chance of rain and some wind. As the week progressed, the forecast kept getting a little better. Then, just two days before the race, it looked like we were going to have 13 mph winds & an increased chance of rain. Bummer!! I was really concerned about the wind. Bring on the hills—they have a downside, but wind can just be relentless and suck the energy right out of you. Every hour for two days I checked the weather forecast. Finally, a friend gave me a good kick in the pants and told me to stop worrying about things I couldn’t control. So Friday, I held off checking the weather until just before I left for Clarion—and guess what, the report stated 61 degrees, partly sunny, 20% chance of rain and drum roll, please, 4 mph winds. Yippee!!!!
My DH, the dog, and I arrived at the hotel about 9 p.m. To my delight, there was a huge whirlpool tub in the room. So I filled it with hot water, sank in, and turned on the jets. By the time I got out, I hadn’t a care in the world and felt limp as a wet noodle. I slept peacefully and without any pre-race anxiety.
We got to Cook Forest about 9:45 and I registered—chip No. 100. This is the first race I’ve been in that was chip timed. The race was held under optimal conditions—high 50s, partly sunny to mostly cloudy, and calm winds.
Brian36 and I met up—it was nice knowing someone else in the race. We planned to start out together, but we would each run our own race and catch up with one another afterward, though we thought we might be running at roughly the same pace.
There was quite a line for walk-in registrations. They may have had a larger number than anticipated due to the perfect weather conditions. The start of the race was delayed by 30 minutes, which was really frustrating. Finally, the gun went off.
I started out very slowly, as planned. There was a short, gradual uphill climb, then a nice downhill and within minutes the route was following the Clarion River. I used a PaceTat (12:01 pace) to time my splits. I highly recommend them. At the first mile, I was just about a minute ahead of pace. At this point, I was treating the race as just one of my regular weekly runs and kept it nice and easy. I felt loose and was enjoying the beautiful scenery—the river on the right and a forest of hemlocks on the left. I carried Shot Blocks and began eating them at the first water station. Just past the first water station, I took a detour into the restroom. It was worth the short delay.
As I ran, I occasionally took inventory of how I was feeling. My right ankle had been hurting a bit during training, but it was doing just fine. Every once in awhile, I’d get a huge surge of adrenaline or emotion and it was hard to keep it in check; I felt like I was going to burst into tears. I was feeling great, enjoying the scenery, ever so slowly passing some runners. At every mile, my splits were getting a little faster.
The route was a runners dream—gentle, rolling hills on a winding road. I don’t think there was ever a point where there was a long straightaway that made you realize how much farther there was to go. I watched the river hoping to see a bald eagle, osprey or heron, but had no luck.
Miles 1-6 glided by effortlessly. I was in my own little world through most of the race. At mile 7, I began feeling some tightness in my ankle. I’d been gaining time at every mile marker, so I knew I had some “banked” time that I could use and still make a goal of 2:37:30. I slowed my pace just a bit. When it felt better, I speeded back up. Several times I kicked up the speed for short distances to see how it felt. I was blown away that I was still feeling really good at mile 9 and still gaining in time.
A friend who has a lot of experience running half & full marathons had warned me that after mile 10, it would become mind over matter. So I was a little apprehensive to see marker 10 near. But it came and went, and I didn’t feel much different. I was still passing people as the miles went by—that was such a great feeling.
Mile 12 was the only significant hill in the entire race. It begins with a short steep climb to the main road—I walked about half of it. The there’s a right turn and the steady uphill climb begins. A couple of times I walked a few yards. Then I came beside Brian36 and we jogged up the hill together. At one point, there were four women running abreast up the hill saying, I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Know I Can, I Know I Can, Come on—We Can Do This!! Chug, chug, chug!!! And we did!!
Then we poured it on running downhill to the finish line! That’s when I felt the beginning of a cramp—in my toes & calf. There was no way I was going to let a cramp stop me; somehow I managed to keep it under control. I was so filled with emotion that I forgot to hit the stop button on my watch and my brain did not record the time flashing on the electronic timer. When I finally turned off my watch, my time was 2:26:15.
I had to keep walking to keep the cramps at bay—my legs were really hurting and I felt like an 80 year old with severe arthritis (my runner friend warned me to expect this). After downing 2 bottles of water and 24 oz. of Gatorade, the cramps began to subside. I said my good-byes to Brian36 (who finished just ahead of me) and we headed home. It was about a 2-hr. drive home, and I could barely unfold myself from the car—everything had stiffened.
Today, I feel the same as when I do a hard training run—sore and stiff. But mentally, I feel great. I’m still getting emotional when I look back on yesterday.
Many friends gave me good advice that made this such a positive experience. There are a few tips (in no particular order) that I’d like to pass on that I hope will help someone else:
1. Be sure to drink enough water starting a week before the race.
2. Get lots of rest (thanks SORGIN!!) the week of the race
3. Practice visualizing a successful race
4. Don’t worry about things you cannot control
5. Start out slow.
6. Use a PaceTat to check your splits.
7. Take water with you—get a water belt or a Camelback waist pack—or stash some along the route beforehand. (I would have like some water btwn the water stations.)
8. Take along some ShotBlocks or EnergyBeans (try these during your training so you’re sure they won’t upset your stomach.)
9. Don’t overdress. Better to be a little cool at the beginning than to be overheated during the race & wrapping a jacket around your waist.
10. Wear the clothes that you’re planning to wear for the race on one of your long training runs. (I bought new shorts just before the race and they caused some chafing.)
11. Use “Glide” anywhere you think clothes may chafe.
12. Don’t take pain relievers prior to the race; save them for afterward. You need to know when you’re starting to hurt so you can adapt and stave off serious injury.
13. Plan on having fun!
Get An Email Alert Each Time 2WHEELER Posts