For the love of the ride

So I’ve stopped training for any race in particular and I’m really having a blast just getting out to run or bike or swim whenever I can. Once you have been training for a while, it gets almost addictive to keep going, even if it’s not in the same pace. While weekdays have been a little less outdoor activity because of work pressure and the TX heat, I’ve managed to get in a spin class or a track workout but nothing too heavy and almost always indoors – but I push myself to go because I know that one or two spin classes or track workouts pay off during the longer workouts. On weekends though it’s been the most fun. On weekdays while I hit the snooze button and then rush into work, get through the day to go to the gym if I can; the weekend is blissful. I’m up by 6.30 (never happens if I have to go work!) – last couple of weekends I even went to run on Townlake trails. The Strides of Hope program is kicking off again and this time Bharath and I both are committing to run as part of Team Asha Austin and fundraise. To kick off the training, we’ve been doing some fun runs on the trails. We did about 4 miles last weekend and I felt ok. It’s been a while since I’ve been out running for the sake of running. Last night I went to the gym to actually swim but forgot the swim goggles at home. So instead I did a track workout – a very loose time trial, if you will. I just made myself run as fast as I could (with recovery slow running/walking in between) for 2 miles and timed myself. I seemed to come in at around 20 minutes and that didn’t make sense to me at all. So I thought I’d do 7 miles today. The longest I have run in a long time, since running Austin. It wasn’t as easy as I hoped – I got very tired and didn’t pace well so it was full of bursts and stops but I kept trying to run faster. I’d stop for recovery but then start fast again just to get used to running faster and trying to go longer each time without stopping. I got pretty tired so I knew I was doing a terrible job of pacing. But yeah, definitely feels great to be back to somewhat medium-longish runs. Marathon season has started too, so lots of people out on the roads and trails.

But the best part of my weekends have been the time I spend on LexaS. So the first long ride I did was with Vish & Cha – we did a north neighborhood ride of about 15 miles. She felt great! She felt awesome on the hills and definitely makes a big difference. On the flatter portions I was able to hit 18-20mph on the bike computer. The rides in Austin are always hilly so there’s no dearth of those to try the bike on. The gear changes can sometimes feel loud but overall it’s a really smooth and nice ride.

The second ride I did was with the Mellow Johnny’s Scout-A-Route ride – a more beginner friendly ride around town with Sangeetha. We did about 20 miles in the group. I definitely prefer riding with a smaller group like we did with Vish and Cha. In the larger group I’m always the slowest! But not because I ride slow. I take forever to start and stop at the signals and stop signs. The group leader was trying to teach us how to stop and start. When we stop she said we should take one foot off a pedal but get off the seat and come to a stop to put the loose foot down, but keep the other one at power-off level (at about 2pm to push off immediately). I tried and failed. I was supposed to practice starting and stopping this week but that never happened. And for the first time I felt really nervous going downhill. I had to get onto the lower handle bars which makes me feel even more nervous. But then someone at the ride asked if I got fitted properly and I said no. I took the bike back to the shop and asked them to fit me. I said my back hurt and my fingers slipped from the brakes and that made me really scared going downhill. The guy who fitted me up then was Kyle. He said I have reaaaalllly long legs but a shorter torso so he changed the handle bar, brought it up closer a bit. And he recommended that I should go down to the lower handle bars on downhill portions. So tomorrow morning I’m aiming to do a 30-mile ride with Mamma Jamma/Tough Cookies and Vish, Cha and Sangy will probably be there so I’m looking forward to both testing out the re-fitted LexaS and riding with my fave riding buddies!

What I do feel really happy about is how I’ve come to enjoy being outdoors and working out without a race target. Sure I probably don’t push as hard as I would but I rarely think twice about going to workout because I rarely don’t feel like it. My frame of mind has changed to if I can get out, work and other stuff notwithstanding, I will. It’s almost as important sometimes as work or other things. And that’s how it should always be. Health/weight loss become by-products in this game of testing your will and endurance against the previous day and then every day is a PR!

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