• Category Archives Bicycling
  • 2014 goal check-in: March

    Well. March sure had a lot of ups and downs in my world, but I’m in an upswing at the moment, so maybe I should do my goal check-in. (I’ve now added a “Goals” category to make this easier for me to go back and reference.)

    1. Qualify for the Boston Marathon: Won’t happen due to not running.
    2. Set a new personal record in the marathon: Same.
    3. Run sub-1:45 in a half-marathon: Same.
    4. Do a century bike ride: Honestly, this is iffy. I did a 25-mile ride outside and was exhausted — turns out, barely working will take its toll after three months.
    5. Run 1,500 miles: Nope. But here are a couple pictures from a hike.
    6. Bike at least 700 miles: I rode 162 miles in March, for a total of 504 miles for the year. Yep, I’ll beat that goal (though I had planned on a lot of running when I made these goals).
    7. Does this count as a spin class selfie?
    8. Go to the gym at least 150 times this year: Hmm. I went 12 times in January, 11 times in February and now only nine times in March. This means I have to go 118 more times in the next nine months, or 13 times per month. I better get my act together. (There were a lot of “downs” relating to going to the gym this month.)
    9. Read at least one book a month: I finished March’s book (“Freckles” by Gene Stratton-Porter, a book I read many years ago and randomly thought of months ago) a few days into April — oops. It should have been a fast read but I read it on my phone via the Kindle app, and that was kind of weird. That was my first e-book, and I wasn’t thrilled with the concept.
    10. Cook dinner more often: Oh hey, maybe I did this a little? Meanwhile, Angela said this about her attempt at doing more cooking at home, and I laughed when I read it because it sums me up: “If I plan one meal per week ahead of time, I put it in the win column, because PROGRESS! Two meals? I am a god damned wizard.” And another reason Angela is a good egg? She included a recipe that called for 4 ounces of white wine, then said: “In case it isn’t obvious, all of this should be paired with the rest of the wine.” Anyway, here are a few pictures of what I cooked this month, though the photos are refusing to share a line.
      Chicken, grains, green beans, wine
      Grilled smoked gouda turkey avocado sourdough
      Cheesy enchilada pasta (looks bad, tastes good)

      Tofu stir-fry (slice tofu thin; marinade it in soy sauce)
    11. Go to bed at 10 p.m.: I actually did this about half a dozen times. I don’t have my phone in bed for now (more on this experiment later), so I think that helps.
    12. Get down to XXX amount of pounds: No change.
    13. Blog an average of twice a week: I only blogged twice in March. I wanted to sit down and write something after a terribly sad death, but instead I came home completely drained from the memorial service, somehow picked a stupid fight and then cried so hard that my eyes were a mess the whole next day. (And people wonder why I say that I hate to cry and therefor rarely do so.) And I just had no drive or desire to come up with “Tuesday Time-Waster” posts. It happens, and I’m OK with that.
    14. Find a cheaper place to live: As in January’s update, this month I came across another “Bay Area rent sucks” article, this time about how the “rent shouldn’t be more than one-third of your salary” rule doesn’t generally work here anymore. In my case, it’s true. Painfully true. As in, 41 percent painfully true.
    Bonus photo! This is what happens when I text on St. Patrick's Day (while wearing shamrock earrings).

  • 2014 goal check-in: January

    Somehow, it’s February 6, already?! Huh. Anyway, without further ado, I decided to document how badly I have failed so far in my 2014 goals.

    1. Qualify for the Boston Marathon: I’m on the injury list with an angry IT band, and a doctor ordered me to rest it. In the midst of my full-blown endorphin withdrawal, I mentally (and on Twitter, so that counts?) removed this goal from my list. That was a relief.
    2. Set a new personal record in the marathon: That wasn’t planned for January anyway, so no further comments.
    3. Run sub-1:45 in a half-marathon: See above.
    4. Do a century bike ride: I had a spectacular failure of a planned outside ride, in which I gave up less than two miles into the ride and poor Kimra had to do the rest of it by herself. I owe her a drink. However, I did do a 22.8-mile ride outside with Kristen and didn’t fall over, so there’s hope for this goal.
    5. Driest California January on record = outside biking.
    6. Run 1,500 miles: Since I ran a whopping 10.5 miles in January (see number 1), I really doubt I’ll reach the goal this year.
    7. Bike at least 700 miles: Finally! A goal in which I am not failing! I biked 201 miles in January! 174 of those were inside, but that’s fair game in my rules.
    8. Go to the gym at least 150 times this year: I went to the gym 12 times in January, so I’m barely on track.
    9. Read at least one book a month: Fail! I used to read a book a week! Argh.
    10. This book, given to me in early February, is an inspiration for many reasons. And it's definitely one of the most thoughtful, appropriate gifts I've ever received.
    11. Cook dinner more often: I still haven’t settled on a way to quantify this one, though some of you had great ideas. I think “cook a full meal once a week” is certainly reasonable, along with “try two new recipes a month.” I also think this was sort of a fail in January.
    12. Wine in the best glass ever, along with stir-fry.
    13. Go to bed at 10 p.m.: Hahaha! The running failures had a valid explanation, but this one has NO EXCUSE. I even moved my phone’s “do not disturb” mode to 9:30 p.m., but I think I went to bed at 10 p.m. once in all of January. Why?!
    14. Get down to XXX amount of pounds: Umm, let’s just say that I moved in the opposite direction.
    15. Blog an average of twice a week: I wrote seven blog posts in January. Most were simple Tuesday Time-Waster posts, but hey, it’s my blog so that’s OK. At least my “Finding happiness” blog post was thoughtful and made me actually write something of substance.
    16. Find a cheaper place to live: That didn’t happen, but I didn’t plan on it in January, anyway. I did, however, see this list of the 25 most expensive cities in America and found myself thinking of nearly each one, “Hey, that’s not so bad.” Yeah, this is what happens when I live near the second most expensive city in the U.S.

  • 2014 goals

    Over the years, I’ve sometimes set out “beginning of the year” goals for myself. I’ve always been reluctant to call them “resolutions,” because “resolving” to do something sounds so final. What if I don’t complete a resolution, due to circumstances beyond my control? Does that mean I failed? Instead, I like to call them “goals.” Semantics, maybe, but hey, it’s my blog so I’ll call them goals.

    Anyway, the thing about goals or resolutions is that you need to be able to measure them. “Get in shape” isn’t quantifiable, so how do you know if you succeeded? Plus, it’s awfully vague. So, I’ve done my best to set out quantifiable goals.

    1. Qualify for the Boston Marathon. Honestly, this is my biggest goal right now, and it’s why I removed my “run another ultra and hopefully a 50-miler” goals for this year. This requires me to run a 3:39:59 marathon by September. I’m currently 7 minutes, 23 seconds from that goal, and I have a leg that’s preventing me from doing much running. In fact, I need to call the doctor… So, we’ll see how that goes.
    2. Set a personal record (PR) in the marathon. This is the “plan b” to No. 1 above. So, run a 3:47:21 or faster. I’d really like to do this at the New Jersey Marathon in late April, if my leg will cooperate.
    3. Run sub-1:45 in a half-marathon. I only need to get faster by 21 seconds in order to meet this goal, but again, I have the grumpy leg. (I’m running a half-marathon in a few weeks, but the PR won’t happen there. Maybe in August?)
    4. Do a century bike ride. A few years ago, I bicycled 45 boring miles. So it’s no small task to more than double that distance, especially since it would be a lot easier on a road bike than on my hybrid bike. Doable? Yes. Will I actually do it? Hmmm. I need cycling companions for this one, I think. Any takers?
    5. Run a total of 1,500 miles. I ran 1,401.91 miles in 2013, so it’s doable IF my body will cooperate.
    6. Bike a total of at LEAST 700 miles (spin classes count). I biked 668.65 miles in 2013, with only 38 of them outside. Both numbers need to improve.
    7. Go to the gym at least 150 times during the year. This would be about three times a week, while I averaged closer to twice a week in 2013, so this will require some vigilance. I need a better way to track this, but at least I can manually count in my training logs.
    8. Read at least one book a month. That’s pathetic when considering that I used to read more than 50 books a year. The Internet is to blame for this. And maybe the TV.
    9. Cook dinner more often. Grapefruit and popcorn (not simultaneously) are not really dinner. I can usually follow a recipe, but the challenge is to plan ahead so I have the ingredients and can try to do some prep on the weekend. I need a way to quantify this one, because “cook more” breaks my own goal-setting guidelines. Any ideas?
    10. Go to bed at 10 p.m. Ideally, go to bed at 9:30 p.m. and read until 10. My phone goes into “do not disturb” mode at 10 p.m., to prevent me from seeing texts and notices after that point — unless I’m still on my phone. That happens all too often, thanks to social media. (I love all of you.)
    11. Get down to [undisclosed number because I’m self-conscious] pounds. It’s about 10 pounds less than what I weigh now. That’s a whole bag of potatoes I wouldn’t have to carry with me when running! No, I don’t have a weight problem or an eating disorder. No, losing about 10 pounds will not harm me.
    12. Blog an average of twice a week. Honestly, the Tuesday Time-Wasters (which I revived last month) are fun and easy. So I really only need to come up with other content once a week in order to meet this goal. That said, this is my blog and I’m not paid for it, so I’m not going to cry if I don’t actually log 104 blog posts this year.
    13. Find a cheaper place to live.

    OK, that’s a baker’s dozen list of goals. It will either be a lot of success or a lot of failure. Here goes 2014!

  • Conquering a fear

    After two years, much angst and an incident involving a wine barrel planter, I tweeted this Sunday:

    (Yes, I'm @LaylaBohm on Twitter, though I think all three of my readers are from Twitter anyway.

    In fact, I managed to ride another nine miles without falling over, despite multiple stops/unclipping for intersections and rambunctious children on the bike path. To say that I was relieved is putting it mildly.

    Yep, Facebook got a post, too.

    It only took me 26 years of bike riding (excluding the Big Wheel mentioned in that Facebook post) to reach this point. In the meantime I’ve learned to drive a manual transmission, climbed Half Dome, run seven marathons, ended relationships, jumped out of an airplane, been Tasered and who knows what else. But being clipped to a bike? Nope. No way. That was not gonna happen.

    You see, I have a very strong fear of falling. It’s so strong that I never enjoyed rollerblading, and I finally gave away my rollerblades in my last move. I love going up to high places and looking down, and skydiving was awesome. Somehow, those situations feel more controlled. Falling over on a bike because I’m stuck in some pedals? That’s not controlled. And I just really don’t like banging into the ground.

    In my teens, I used to ride my bike up and down hills until the sun began to set. I’d have a 360-degree view involving a 14,000-foot mountain, a lake, a golf course and many hills. I would write cheesy, horrible poetry about the sunset, then zoom back down and up hills before it was too dark to see my way home. Shifting gears was no big deal, but I’d never even heard of clipless pedals until later in life. The idea terrified me — voluntarily strapping myself to a metal bike and hearing things like, “You’ll only fall a few times”?! No. I fear falling, so why would I intentionally increase my odds of falling?

    But I do like speed. The only law I break is the speed limit. You know those electronic speed indicator signs? I try to beat those on my bike. And I’ve known for a while that the evil pedals would make me faster. Nearly two years ago, I found a couple sales and bought the pedals and shoes. When all of my running plans went up in smoke due to a stress fracture in my shin, I figured it was time to bike more frequently. So I got the pedals put on my bike, then propped myself between my car and my garage wall. I clipped and unclipped each foot 100 times. Then I tried my backyard, because people had told me to start on grass. That did not work at all, because I couldn’t gain momentum or traction, and I promptly fell over.

    However, I was determined. I went out to my driveway, clipped one foot in, rode around the cul-de-sac, got the other foot clipped in, and it wasn’t too bad. I rode up my driveway, trying to unclip and getting extremely stressed out. I managed to unclip, but then I leaned tried to put the wrong foot on the ground — toward the foot that was still clipped in. I fell over into a wine barrel planter, whacking my leg one inch from my stress fracture point.

    That was it. If bike pedals were going to compromise my running, I was done. I hate failing, but I also hate falling, and I was not about to risk further damage to my legs.

    But that failure has always rankled. A few months ago, I started thinking about trying the pedals again. So I went out on my bike and began making a conscious effort to always put the same foot down when coming to a stop. I had (loose) cages on my pedals and those were no problem, so this was progress. Last weekend, I rode 47 miles, my longest ride ever by two miles. The hills sucked all my energy, and I knew they would be ever so slightly easier with clips.

    Sunday was The Day. I put my clip pedals and shoes into a bag, got on my bike, then rode 1.8 miles to a local bike shop. I forced myself to walk into the shop. Believe me, this took willpower. In no time at all, those death-inducing pedals were fastened to my bike. In the meantime, I’d put on the bike shoes. I knew that if I rode home in my other shoes, I would chicken out of actually riding in the clips. No matter what, I had to make it back 1.8 miles home.

    And I did it. I was a bit terrified; that fear of falling was incredibly strong. I’d also neglected to wear gloves, so I was even more freaked out about hurting my hands. After all, one is still not quite fully recovered from an October fall — one that did not involve me being strapped to a metal bicycle.

    I’d previously formed a plan: If I made it home in one piece, I was going to drop off my bag of old pedals/shoes, pick up a pre-filled water bottle, and head back out immediately before I could wimp out. I stuck to the plan. Then I proceeded to ride another 9 miles without incident. I clipped and unclipped. I did it as many times as possible, but I also picked up some speed in between, just to remind myself that bicycling is fun when going faster.

    That ride did the trick. I’m still terrified of falling, and I don’t think that will ever change. But when I think of those pedals, I no longer feel dread. I don’t fear them anymore. In fact, I want to get out there on them again. I want to ride longer and further and faster. For months now, I’ve had this idea of someday riding 100 miles. I’m one step closer to doing that, and it feels so good.

    Fear: conquered!

  • Sports in my childhood

    Over on DailyMile, where people can log exercise and a community of amazingly optimistic people support one another, they have daily conversation starters. Friday’s was: “When you’re working out today, try to remember what sports felt like when you were a kid.”

    I had already done my workout for the day by the time I saw that question — and during that 6-mile run I didn’t think once about what sports felt like many years ago. But it got me thinking and reminiscing anyway. I talk regularly about how I decided to prove my childhood doctors wrong. They didn’t tell me NOT to run and engage in sports, but they said I wouldn’t do well since my feet were so bad. Looking back on it many years later, I’m appalled that they said such a thing. I don’t think I misremember their diagnoses, since I’ve always been a pretty optimistic person who focuses on the good parts of life. I also remember hearing doctors say these things more than once.

    At any rate, that didn’t prevent me from trying to participate in sports. But I can admit now that I was just not good at sports. I couldn’t hit or catch a softball (maybe because of my crazily thick eyeglass lenses?). Though I was pretty good at making baskets, I couldn’t for the life of me be aggressive enough to accomplish anything on a basketball court. So I tried valiantly to play volleyball. Sometimes I could serve the ball well, and I could bump it. But I was too short to spike it over the net, and every time I tried to set it, I’d jam a finger and therefore hinder my piano playing. Plus, it was too hard for my mom to get me to and from practice, so my school athletic career soon came to an end. I did ride my bike a lot,  but I didn’t see it as a “sport.”

    So, how did sports feel when I was a kid? My answer is summed up in one word: disheartening. I wanted to be involved, and I think I subconsciously knew I’d feel better with exercise. But every single time I tried, I failed. I was stubborn enough to keep trying — and failing — for about 15 years.

    Only now do I realize that I never once considered track and field. Doctors said I wouldn’t be able to run, so that sport was not even an option. Looking back, I wonder what might have been. Both of my younger sisters participated in track and field, and the youngest one just finished her four-year collegiate career that included setting some school records in both cross country and track and field.

    After I finally gave up my attempts at participating in sports, it took me a dozen more years to discover that I liked running. I’ll never be a “fast” runner, and I will probably always have setbacks in my running. But I look forward to running, I have to make a sincere effort not to plan my life around it, and I hang out with a lot of runners. I think my classmates on the volleyball, softball and basketball teams had that, and I did not.

    Now, I finally get it. Someday, if someone asks me what sports felt like as an adult, I will say: “Amazing. Gratifying. Life-changing.”

  • Running thoughts while bicycling

    I don’t like cycling. I don’t always hate it, but I’d much rather be running. But since I’m still waiting for my injured leg to be back at 100 percent, I don’t have a lot of other options if I want to get back in shape. I motivated myself Saturday by setting out to ride the longest I’ve ever gone. I accomplished that by riding 43 miles. Yep, 43 boring, un-fun miles.

    I present to you the occasionally nonsensical “Thoughts of a Runner While Bicycling For Two Hours and Forty-Five Minutes”:

    • “I’ve been out here for two hours. I could have run a half-marathon and be relaxing by now.” (The fact that I’d cycled almost three times the length of a half-marathon didn’t matter to my thinking. It still doesn’t.)
    • “Headwind sucks when riding. I will never again complain about it when running.”
    • “Did that driver really just speed up to pass and turn in front of me, making me brake and start looking for an out? Yep, they did.” Five minutes later: “Really? Another driver just did the same thing? I knew I hated the town of Galt; apparently they’re so uncivilized that they don’t know what a bike is.”
    • “Stoplights really suck. They are not an issue when running.”
    • “The wind shifted so I STILL have headwind? I think that’s a sign I’ve been out here forever.”
    • “My back is tired. And why are the bases of my thumbs sore? These things are not issues while running, either.”
    • “Ack, a bug.”

    Suffice it to say that I’m a runner, not a bicyclist.

  • Weekend Wrapup: Biking Lake Camanche

    What do you do if you haven’t run for seven weeks due to an injury, you haven’t biked in a while because you have a (mental) pedal issue, and you live in a pancake-flat place? Why, you go ride up and down a bunch of hills, of course!

    My running buddy, Rick, invited me on a bike ride around Lake Camanche, about 45 minutes east of the town where we live. (If we want any kind of hills, we have to drive.) I immediately said yes, because I would much rather have fun company, and I knew it would actually get me some desperately needed exercise. So we set out Sunday morning, and we were on our bikes at 8 a.m. It was going to be a scorcher of a day — 93+ degrees outside in October?! By about 4 or 5 miles in, I was toast. I’m not used to hills, I’m incredibly out of shape, and the result was that I couldn’t see and my stomach was queasy. After about 10 minutes that I don’t remember very well, I rallied and we pedaled onward and upward.

    Welcome break after riding up HILLS.

    What goes up also comes down: The fastest speed I saw on my Garmin was 37 mph, a new record for me. That was incredibly fun and made the uphills worth it. I live at about 50 feet above sea level, and we started around 200 feet, climbing to around 750 feet. Here’s the profile of the 24-mile ride:

    Rick always says that he labors along running while I slow down for him and do more talking so he doesn’t have to. I don’t quite buy that. But at any rate, the roles were more than reversed Sunday: I was laboring painfully up the hills while he was occasionally riding in circles or slowing down to wait for me. I vowed to greatly increase the frequency of my biking, and then I want to go back and ride Lake Camanche again (maybe adding on another 10-mile part) to see if I made any improvements.

    Our reward was a detour to In-N-Out. Oh, and this: