Today was my second training run of the year. I was able to run the entire Oyster Creek Trail without stopping, plus a quarter-mile walk on either side. The running pace was a pretty consistent 10:30 minute/mile, with the overall pace including the walking at 11:06 minute/mile. Total distance was 5.6 miles; average heart rate of 150 bpm; 728 calories burned.
Ever year after the MS150 I take up running. Last year I had the wrong kind of shoes and I stopped after only a few weeks for fear of hurting my achilles tendon. This year I went to my local Fleet Feet who hooked me up with a new pair of Mizuno running shoes that felt great and gave me some extra support for my slight pronation.
So this evening I went for my first run of the season. I went for 5 miles today with 2.5 miles of that actually running. The running portions were at a 10:30 minutes/mile pace. The shoes worked out great!
Today I tried a new bicycle route. A local bike store, Sugar Cycles, has a club ride every Saturday that goes from the store out to Rosharon and back. I followed the same route they use with a few extra legs to get from my house to Riverstone Blvd.
The route is really quite a good one. On Sunday morning traffic is very light and the route is well-designed to avoid most of the traffic issues on TX-6. The small stretch on TX-6 itself has no real retail entrances or side streets to worry about and it has a wide shoulder to ride on.
The longest stretch of the ride is on FM-521. I’ve always seen a lot of cyclists on this stretch of road when I’m out driving in the country and it is a good road for a ride overall. The shoulders are wide through most of it and traffic is light. Unfortunately there is a lot of road debris on the shoulders increasing the likelihood of a flat.
The gas station at the corner of FM-521 and FM-1462 is a great half-way point for the ride. The store has all the goodies you’d need for a rest stop and it is fairly easy to park your bike in plain sight while going inside.
From my house to the store and back is ~57 miles so it makes for a great work-out without having to be stuck with a supported ride.
Between January and April every year, thousands of cyclists train for the MS150 held in April. Almost every weekend has two organized charity rides that provide a great training ground for riders preparing for the big ride in April. Many of the teams also organize their own training series separately as well.
The Sun and Ski team I rode with this year grouped with the ConocoPhillips Cycling Club to provide an alternative training series. The Conoco folks and other teams provided a great set of rides that in many ways exceeded the MS150 itself in organization and fun.
Because of favorable weather, and a bit more free time because of a changing work environment, I was able to ride more this season than any other year by quite a large margin. By the time the MS150 weekend arrived, I had completed 1,004 miles of on the bike. I burned through over 40,000 calories over those miles and climbed over 16,000 ft (quite a feat considering the lack of hills in this area!). It was a wonderful, wonderful experience. In previous years, I would usually only reach just over 600 miles of training before the MS150. This year’s extra miles and saddle time has put me in the best physical condition of my life, of that I have no doubt.
But the best part of this year’s training series turned out not to be the physical achievement but rather the social one. In prior years I made several friends and acquaintances during the rides, but only brief ones. This year, because of the ConocoPhillips push to carpool, I met a girl that lives just down the street from me. We carpooled to most of the training rides this season and wound up becoming great friends.
My friend Teri changed the way I viewed cycling. Previously it was entirely about getting into the zone and pushing myself as hard as possible. Now, I temper that with a great deal of social interaction on the rides, with Teri and other folks I’ve met this year. I still enjoy going out by myself from time to time, but during the big rides it is so much more fun to find people and stick with them through the day. This is even more true when riding in pace lines, as the social interaction provides some much needed bonding when riding so close to others and relying upon them not to screw up.
Teri and her husband John are now great friends of my wife Lori and I and I look forward to spending more time with them, both on and off the bike.