Now You See Me

20 11 2012

Recently there seems to be an increased number of accidents involving pedestrians at night, with one local high school student losing his life. I’ve also seen a number of people walking, running, and riding their bikes at night wearing dark clothing and not carrying a flashlight. Not taking the proper safety precautions could cost you your life.

I often run at night, and now thanks to the time change I’m out there in the dark. Despite running mostly on sidewalks I make sure to always have some sort of reflective clothing and a headlamp or flashlight. I even have a vest for my dog Oakley to wear! I do venture onto some of the side streets as Pottstown’s sidewalks are just too torn up with tree roots to run on at night. You should be aware of your surroundings when being on the roads at night but I believe I am safer due to the precautions I take to make sure drivers can see me. Trust me that you want drivers to see you, I’ve been hit by a car twice in my life in the day light, once walking and once on my bike, I was very lucky that I wasn’t hurt seriously either time and I don’t want anyone to have to experience the pain that comes with an accident.

Let me demonstrate the power of reflective and bright colored clothing with my black lab Oakley…

On the left you can barely see Oakley in the shadows, I circled him to help you spot him a little better. As you can see when he has on his bright colored and reflective vest he’s a lot easier to spot!

If you plan to be on the roads at night please follow some basic safety precautions…

Walking/Running

  1. Wear bright colored clothing or clothing with reflective features
  2. Carry a flashlight or a headlight
  3. Try to use a sidewalk when possible
  4. Walk/Run against traffic
  5. Cross streets using a crosswalk or at the corner
  6. Wear an identification bracelet such as a RoadID should an accident occur

Biking

  1. Wear a helmet – Protect Your Brain, Wear Your Bucket
  2. Obey traffic laws – in PA a bicycle is considered a vehicle, ride on the right side of the road and obey stop signs and red lights. NEVER RIDE AGAINST THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC
  3. Wear bright colored clothing
  4. Put reflectors on your wheels (so cars can see you from the side), front and back of your bike
  5. Use a headlight on the front of your bike or helmet and  an active red light on the rear of your bike – it is the law that you must use a reflector or light while riding at night that is visible at least 500 feet away– see page 6
  6. Wear an identification bracelet such as a RoadID should an accident occur

Please be careful out there and make sure drivers see you…better safe than sorry!

Also, I hope that everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!! Try to squeeze in some exercise before eating your big meal so you don’t have to squeeze into your jeans to go Black Friday shopping!!





Exercising With Your Dog

19 09 2012

Now that the fall like weather has chased the heat and humidity of summer away I hope it is inspiring you to venture outside. I know I’ve been planning outdoor adventures for the past two weeks!

One of the nice things about the cooler weather is the ability to exercise outside comfortably and perhaps enjoy it! I’ve been doing a lot of activities with my black lab and SPCA rescue, Oakley. Whenever I run Oakley is usually by my side or at least attached to my wrist! There are a lot of benefits to running with your dog over running with a human partner. Dogs don’t care about your times and splits, they are happy to just be with you. Dogs hate excuses, when that tail wags it’s really hard to say no! And a tired dog is a good dog, your pooch may be less likely to get into trouble when he receives enough exercise. I’ve seen this last benefit in Oakley a lot. He’s not a bad dog by any means but when I haven’t walked him or provided him with enough exercise he looks for trouble, much like a child who is acting out because they need attention. Exercise for your dog will also provide the same health benefits for Fido as it does for you, maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening bones, boosted energy levels, and reduced stress.

Oakley taking a break on a recent hike.

So what if you’re not a runner? Taking your dog for a walk or hike is fun too! I’ve started to explore Geocaching to make our hikes more exciting and treasure hunt like. It’s great to be outside and exploring trails that I don’t normally venture on with my mountain bike.

If you are considering exercising with your dog here are some tips:

1) Know your dog – larger/working dogs are built to run long distances. Your teacup sized pooch may not excel in the sport of running.

2) Build up gradually – if Fido hasn’t been running you’ll need to build gradually, not just to build his stamina but also to get his paws used to running

3) Watch your paws – be mindful of hot black top, glass, and other roadside hazards, your dogs paws are sensitive and you should make sure to check them for dirt or glass after a run or walk. Also in the winter the road salt can be a hazard, be sure to wash your dog’s feet when you get home.

4) Stay hydrated – make sure you bring plenty of water for yourself and for your dog

5) Leash your dog – I hate being out on the trail and there is a loose dog. This is dangerous for your dog and for other users. Fido may listen well but if you run into other users such as horseback riders you could spook their horse

6) Poop happens – Pick it up! Make sure to have a bag or two along to take care of nature, even if it happens in the middle of your run or hike.

Hopefully this inspires you to venture outside with your dog and try something new!  If you have any helpful tips feel free to share!

Also, if you have a pup, my aunt has a dog walking and pet sitting business. She’ll even do midday let outs if you’re at work and Fido is in the house too long! Here’s her flyer. Oakley loves getting a break on those long days while we’re at work. However, one of my favorite things to do after dinner and a long day is take him for a walk. He doesn’t usually let me sit and watch TV for long because he knows it’s time to get outside!!





Summer Sizzler

8 07 2012

My title of this post isn’t in reference to our most recent heat wave but to the name of the mountain bike race on Saturday. Although I’m sure the irony of the name isn’t lost on anyone who’s stepped foot outside in the past week!

After the 5k on Wednesday my focus quickly shifted to preparing for the bike race on Saturday. I knew the most important tool in my recovery would be hydrating and fueling properly. I made sure to drink plenty of water after the 5k and continued with an increase in my water intake through Friday. I typically drink 1 liter of water while at work plus a few glasses of water or lemonade at night. I also made sure to eat some carbs and plenty of fruit in between races.

I wasn’t too worried about the heat they were predicting on Saturday. In my previous life I spent plenty of time in the heat catching multiple softball games or wearing long sleeves and gloves playing goalie for my soccer teams. The heat just doesn’t scare me because I know my body can handle it when prepped properly.

Before the race I drank two 16 oz bottles of water mixed with Gatorade. I can’t do straight Gatorade but I don’t like any of the powdered energy/electrolyte drinks so I just dilute the Gatorade. For the race I had a third bottle of Gatorade water on the bike and carried my Camelback, which I ditched for the second and final lap. I decided to depend on the bottle and some GU to get me through the second lap. I felt good throughout much of the race and felt like I had prepped properly. I had a small incident with a root that put me on the ground at the beginning of the second lap. Unfortunately, by the time I picked myself up the group I had almost caught were gone. I finished in 5th place and was happy to have gotten through a tough, hot race!

Now that summer is here, I can’t stress the importance of hydrating and fueling enough. Everybody’s needs are different and it may take time to learn what works best for you. I know that I get dehydrated and my blood sugar drops very quickly while working out or racing. Therefore I carry more water and energy products than someone like my Dad who can ride for 2 hours and hardly need a drop of water or food. It’s all about learning what your body requires. It is also important to take care of your body after a ride by drinking more water or a recovery shake. This is an area that I really need to work on. Can anybody recommend a good recovery shake?

Two of the best tips I’ve heard are 1) You should drink 16 oz of water for every hour on the bike and 2) Never try something new before an event, your test kitchen should be during your training

There are lots of schools of thought on hydrating and refueling and I am the farthest thing from an expert on it. I’m always looking for new products and ways to fuel my body before, during, and after. What have you found that works best for you?

Here are two helpful articles from Bicycling.com:

1) Hydration Tips

2) Drinking Problems





Goal Accomplished…Nearly

4 07 2012

This morning I ran in the Pottstown Patriotic 5k. I’d been focused on running this event since early spring. I hadn’t been running much so I really started packing in the miles.

I was a little nervous this morning but I tried to follow my normal morning routine that I do for mountain bike races. I knew that I could run the distance but I wanted to hit my time goal. It was a little hotter and more humid than what I typically like but I thought ‘hey, at least I’ll get a good sweat on’. I know I’m weird, I like to sweat. Registration was smooth and quick thanks to having preregistered. I did some stretching, hung out with some family who were also running or walking, and headed over to the start line.

The start was fairly smooth, I started in the middle of the pack and the first hill really stretched everyone out. I hit the first mile mark at 9:15, which was way to fast for me and I knew I couldn’t maintain that speed for the rest of the race. It was HOT along High Street in Pottstown, not much shade and zero breeze. I was happy to see the water station on Franklin and gulped down a cup. When I hit the 2 mile mark I was at 20 minutes and just about on mark for my goal of finishing in 30 minutes.  Just after the 2 mile mark my right foot started hurting. I’ve been struggling with some pain there for the past 2 weeks.  I’m not sure of the cause but it’s right under my 3 outside toes and hurts like hell. I tried to push through it as best I could and did take a few quick walk breaks. Unfortunately, the final mile was up hill which aggravated my foot even more but I wanted to hit my goal. There was a nice spectator who had his garden hose out and gave us a nice spray down as we ran by. This helped me tremendously! Just before the 3 mile mark I could see the finish line and picked up the pace knowing the suffering would be over soon. I finished in just over 32 minutes.

I’m happy with my result and proud of myself for pushing through. I really missed my running partner Oakley today and realized how much more fun it is to run with him. At one point in the race I told myself this would be my last 5k but looking back on it I think I’ll do another. I’m too competitive with myself and already want to improve on my time!

Here is the Strava information from my iPhone (I didn’t stop it as I crossed the finish, probably have about 20 extra seconds on it): http://app.strava.com/runs/12445913

I hope everyone has a very Happy 4th of July!!





Countdown

30 06 2012

The countdown is on to the 5k on the 4th of July. I haven’t been running as much as I should but I’m feeling pretty confident in my ability to do well in the 5k. My goal is to finish around 30 minutes. It is a modest goal but still a goal that I will have to work for on race day.

Earlier this week I completed my first really long run/walk on the SRT in Parkerford. We did 5 miles and I think that we ran about 4.5 miles of that. I was a little sore the day after but I blame this on still getting used to the Altra running shoes and the gravel of the trail. I also ran with my cousin who is much faster than me, I was working the whole time to keep up.

This morning I headed out for a run a little later than I wanted. It was a bit hot to push my running partner (my dog Oakley). So we did an easy 1.5 miles but in that 1.5 miles I see improvement. Through Strava I can see that my splits are better and that I’m faster on some of the segments I created.

In the final days leading up to the 5k on Wednesday I plan to mountain bike on Sunday, a longish run (2.5 miles) on Monday and just a slow/run walk on Tuesday. I think this will make sure that I’m used to the heat and I stay nice and loose for race day.

The Tour de France started today! I’m so excited for this years race. I’m hoping to be there in person next year!





Schuylkill River Trail – Parkerford to Cromby

14 06 2012

I finally had the chance to explore a new section of the Schuylkill River Trail. I rode my bike on the road from Pottstown to the trail head in Parkerford. I needed to do some interval training and found this section of trail perfect for doing so. The trail is not paved but is a fine cinder that is well packed. I didn’t have any trouble with my road bike and hardcase Bontrager tires. I think the cinder added some nice resistance to my workout.

There are powerlines which run the whole length of the trail to the Cromby trailhead. They are perfectly spaced for doing the interval training. I sprinted for two and relaxed for one or visa-versa. On my return trip I focused on maintaining a strong steady cadence. There weren’t many other cyclists on the trail but it was full of joggers and walkers! I highly suggest checking out this portion of the trail and even follow the road into Phoenixville to have lunch or a snack or stop in Royesford on you way back!

Running Update

I’ve had a pretty good week with my running. My biggest frustration is not gaining any speed. I know interval training will help. But I often finish a run and feel like I could have gone faster. Does anybody have any tips to motivate myself to run faster? I’m able to convince myself to ride faster on the bike pretty easily but running is a struggle.





Progress

6 06 2012

The month of May was the month of new things and progress. Not only did I purchase new running shoes in an attempt to improve how I feel about running but I upgraded my mountain bike. I am now the proud owner of a Niner Air 9! I’ve been on the bike a number of times and have completed my first race on it. I raced the new bike at the Bike Line Fair Hill race and improved my time from last year by 19 minutes! Amazing what some training and confidence can do! I absolutely love the feel of this bike and the way it handles. It’s given me a level of confidence that I’ve never had before. So what made me decide to upgrade my bike and why a Niner?

My new Niner before taking it out for my first ride!

I’ve been dying to get on a 29 inch bike for about a year now. I wanted to experience the benefits of this wheel size – less rolling friction, more comfortable ride, better traction, and most importantly obstacle rollover. I never felt like I could get over anything on my 26 inch bike and I know that’s mainly due to lack of confidence. I also wanted to move to a hard tail bike as I feel like it suited my riding style better than my full-suspension bike. I like to climb and I like to climb out of the saddle. This isn’t something I could do comfortably on the full-suspension and I would often become frustrated. But I already miss how my full suspension handles bombing down rocky descents. The Niner is obviously a much stiffer ride and I have to work a little more to hold onto it downhill. I chose a Niner because I could customize the bike they way I wanted to. What wheels, components, and the ever important color, it’s black and orange!! It’s a bike that I can easily upgrade as I want and is uniquely mine. There are a lot of great 29ers out there from companies like Trek (which can be purchased at Bikesport).

My 2010 Trek Fuel EX 8

The biggest lesson that I’ve taken away from this whole experience is that it is important to get a bike that suits your riding style. Unfortunately, I didn’t do this the first time around or my riding style has changed immensely in the past 4 years. So with that, my Trek Fuel EX 8 Women’s Mountain Bike is for sale!! Make me an offer, I’ll even accompany you on a test ride!

Just a brief update on my new shoes (see previous post) – I’m enjoying them and I have completed a few runs in them. Tonight I did my first back to back run and I could feel some pain in my feet but this is normal as you make the adjustment. Tonight’s run will be completed in my old shoes. I’m planning to run the Pottstown Patriotic 5k in the new shoes on the 4th of July. I’m currently up to 2.5 miles and will soon be focusing on some speed work to reach my goal of running a 30 minute 5k. So therefore my Strava account will look like a runner’s account for the next month with the exception of the 50 mile bike ride coming up on Sunday for the French Creek Iron Tour.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 610 other followers