Monday, April 13, 2009

Best that I don't have super powers

Tonight was my cycling night with the Just Tri-It group. It was a perfect night for cycling, not to hot, not to cold and no wind.  The leader of the beginner group wasn't there so I had to take the group out for their ride. We cycled a portion of the Bridge City Duathlon biking course, an event that is happening this weekend. The course runs along the rives and is a 3 km run, a 20 km cycle and another 3km run.  I registered last year for the race but it was cancelled when the weather turned bad. It looks like there will be good weather for it this weekend, so I registered again. I love that there is no swimming, definitely a better fit for me. 

My cycle tonight was really fun. I love cycling because it pushes my body differently than running does. I have this wonderful road bike that is so fun to ride, it flies compared to my mountain bike. The street along the river has a bike path but at this time of year it is full of loose gravel, potholes and other debris making it a danger to anyone riding a road bike with any speed. The street itself also has some significant winter damage that has been filled with loose gravel, making it even more of a danger for a bike ride. Luckily my group had mostly mountain or hybrid bikes so there was less of a danger that they would have an accident caused by the road conditions. During the ride as I routinely looked over my shoulder to see how my group was doing, I kept thinking about Haruki Murakami's description of how he hit a pole while riding his road bike because his attention had been distracted. This made me extra cautious and in the end we all had a great ride.  I was able at times to pick up my speed as I waited on people and then hurried back to take up the lead. It felt great to get my heart beating and push for a bit of speed. After we finished I rode part way home with the "big kids" who were on their way to tackle some hills. It was fun riding faster, despite a guy yelling at us from his car window that we should "stick to the bike path and stay off the road."  My first thought after he drove by was how fortunate it was for him that I didn't have super powers, because if I did, he definitely would have been driving the rest of the way home with his butt for a head (I don't think I ever gave the full premise of "Butts from Uranus," the book Skender and I read together, but this satisfying thought is not original:). 

At the end of the evening I felt so relaxed. While not the greatest workout, I really enjoy spending time with this group of people. However, I agree with Murakami's assessment of cycling. Having to deal with traffic on the roads and pedestrians and runners on the paths makes it difficult to cycle in ways that are optimal for training. The best situation that I have found is cycling on the highway with a group. The highway gives you better road conditions, it is easier to maintain your speed and with a group of cyclists drivers are much more likely to see you. I still feel really exposed to the traffic no matter what road I'm on which takes away from the pleasure of cycling. I have had a couple drivers yell at me (one at 6AM on the Broadway bridge when no one else but the two of us were heading down the bridge in different lanes) even though both times I was cycling at the speed limit. I imagine these folks simply hate to share the road with cyclists and a petite woman on a bike is a easy target for their rage. They are soooooo lucky that I don't have super powers :).

Finished Haruki Murakami's memoir, "What I talk about when I talk about running."  Mike hit the mark, he was right, I loved it. I am unfamiliar with Murakami's writing but because I enjoyed his running memoir so much, I plan to pick up one of his novels very soon. Murakami's memoir was not only about running but it was also about his experience as a novelist and just about life in general. I enjoyed it immensely and I decided after reading it that my love for running is something that I now know I share with a famous Japanese (international) novelist. 

After reaching the 300 mile mark I have been struggling a bit to push myself physically on my runs. While I am keeping up my milage, I have not set a new goal but just maintained my level of training. Reading Murakami's memoir has prompted me to ask myself if there is anything that I want to accomplish this year besides a 1000 miles. Maybe a half marathon? Maybe a full marathon? I'm now contemplating what training goal I want to set. I also plan to buy a second copy of Murakami's memoir and send it out into the world with the intention that it circulate among those who love to enjoyable reading relay for runners. 

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