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A beautiful day for a 5 hour ride...

Yes, that's right, I look on my schedule and see: 3-5 hour ride, lsd.

At first I am not sure if that means 3 hours on the trainer OR 5 hours outside. OR if it meant I get to choose how long I ride between 3-5 hours. Either way, I am riding 5 hours.

So, I do the math. 5 hour ride @ ~ 15 mph = around 75 mile ride. Making this my longest ride since... well... Ever. Hmm?

Another dirty secret about me: I don't know where to ride around Denver. When we first started biking, Ross and I bought a map and tried to do some experimenting with routes. Every time we tried, it ended horribly. For the sake of our marriage, we decided to stick only to routes we knew or were shown. That left us with A LOT of riding this summer on the Cherry Creek Trail. I now know that trail like the back of my hand. Think you can't do 70 miles utilizing the CCT? Think again.

When I talked with my coach last, here is what he said: "No speed. Work on increasing your cadence. It's lsd (long slow distance), so it is not about the miles, just the time on the bike. Look around, enjoy it."

So, with that in mind, I talked to a friend and got a new route to try heading east out of Denver, looking for new sites to see. And here's what I saw:
Lots and lots of land. At first it was very mind-numbing and I was thinking "I came out here for this?".

But as I rode along, it turned more methodical, beautiful, simple. It was nice to be away from the city. Out on the plains. I just let my mind go.

It was also fun to come upon some small towns. And I mean small. Here is how you know when you are in Bennett.That is about all there is there. Across the way from here are a few local businesses, but that is about it.

Leaving Bennett, you come upon a really neat tree grove. It was a definite shift from the farms I had been seeing and I just thought the trees here were way old and WAY cool. You don't really get a sense of it in this picture, but see those two cool trees in the foreground? Now imagine a valley of them behind them. I imagine it looks even better in the spring/summer. I guess I'll find out next year. :)

And then more cool things you can see only out in the open
So, I kept plugging along. At one point, I made a turn north (I believe) and the headwind picked up. I didn't mind this, as it meant a tailwind on the way back-- or so I thought.

I kept going and came upon Strasburg. Very cute, quaint town with decorations everywhere. I didn't get many pictures, but each of the little businesses was decorated from the general store to the gas station to the propane center(?).

It made me wonder what it was like to live in a small town. I mean, we bank here:
And, if we lived in Strasburg, we would bank here:Quite a difference.

Anyways, I kept plugging along. By this time, it was getting a little long, but I just told myself "only 'x' number of minutes till I can turn around."

And then I cam upon probably some of the coolest thing I saw on the ride, What, oh what, could this be? It looked like a ride from Disneyland, but realized it was part of an old mine shaft-- or so I think. Here's more track:And the entrance to the shaft:

And, I continue on... until my watch hits 2 hours 22 minutes and I decide it is time to turn around.

And WHAM! Headwind. Serious headwind. My speed immediately slows. And it stays slow for probably 10 miles. I look down at my Garmin and see how slow I am going. I do the math. If I continue at this pace, I will be out here for 7 hours. Ugh. I start to think of how to explain to Ross how to come and get me. Umm.... "Honey, go to this one place and take a highway east and follow it until you find me"??? That won't work. Especially cuz we can't fit my bike in the car he has. So, I continue.

Luckily, I turned a corner and TAILWIND! Relief. And so my pace gets better, and faster, and I think I can make it. By the time I hit Strasburg, I am confident I don't have to call Ross and I am happy.

Then I see it, in the distance:
The mountains. The one thing I love about riding out east is coming back and seeing the mountains. Biking towards them, I feel like I am going home. And I never get tired of seeing them, either. Maybe it will wear off after living out here for more time, but so far it hasn't. :)

So, I make my way back home. Tired, but happy, looking at the mountains.

There you have it. My longest ride ever. (So far.) Here's proof.
5 hours 15 minutes (ish). 78.25 miles.

What drinking and training have in common


Seriously. As I write this, it is 3:38 in the morning and I can't sleep.

As I have gotten older, I started waking up in the wee hours of the morning unable to sleep. It took a bit of investigating, but I realized it happened EVERY Saturday early morning one fall when we were playing on a Friday night kickball league. It's not that I would go out and drink loads, but I would have a beer or two after (and during) the games. From that, I quickly realized that it had to do less with how much alcohol I drank and more with how much water I consumed in the process. IE, if I made sure to drink enough water-- even while having some beers-- the chances of sleeplessness greatly went down. Since, I have tried to limit the alcohol intake and up the water consumption. (Not always successfully, but I try...)

So, here I am, clean as a whistle. Haven't had a drop of alcohol all day and it is nearly 4:00 am and I can't sleep. So.... why?

It comes back to hydration. I went for quite a long ride today and didn't drink probably as much as I SHOULD have. Leaving me awake and dehydrated, not from alcohol, but from working out. I guess I learned my lesson. I need to focus on hydrating properly not only during, but AFTER hard workouts.

Here's another lesson about hydrating:
These things are great! They are tablets you drop in water and they dissolve to provide you with a flavored, carbonated water filled with electrolytes. They are mighty yummy on a run when you are depleted and need a boost. Plus, they are not sugary (like Gatorade) so it is a great alternative when you need your electrolytes, but feel over-sugared. I found them this summer via my friend Sonja.

Anyways, what I have also learned is that they are great for recovery. Both after a hard workout or after a glass (or bottle) of wine. They "flavor" your water with both taste and electrolytes, speeding your hydration and improving how you feel. It's awesome. So now I try to have some Nuun not only after a run, but after a night of drinking and it has proved to be most helpful. Think I should be a Nuun spokesperson?

So there is what I have learned about hydrating, dehydrating and recovery. Take it for what you will. I am going to go have some Nuun and get some sleep. :)

Running Roadrunner Style

Believe it or not, cartoons can teach you something about running.

Ross and I met with our coach to work on our running form (again). This is something I am all about ~ working on form. Since correct form = efficiency and efficiency = yielding a better end product with less work, I am all about improving my form. Not to mention the desire to be more efficient (read: do less work) was a primary motivator in having a coach. I can run and run and run, but that doesn't mean I am going to necessarily get any faster unless I change something.

So, we met today and went for a little jog. And along the way, he was reiterating a number of things that we had talked about before and some new things. For 2 hours straight it was running form 101 and practice... with the help of some inventive aids, but we will save those for a different post.

From what I have learned, with running, you use your power to get going, but after that, it is a matter of keeping the momentum going by pushing along the ground with your feet. Make sense? Maybe not (at least the way I am explaining it). But look at these pictures of runners:Notice what they all have in common? Their feet are not touching the ground. They are all just gliding through the air, using their feet to tap the ground and push them forward. Now there is the theory, here is the form part I learned.

Wile E. Coyote vs. Roadrunner

Ever wonder how that dang bird out runs the coyote EVERY time? Think about it. A roadrunner can run up to the speed of 17 mph while a coyote can run up to 30 mph. So why does the coyote never get the bird (other than for the storyline)? It lies in the form of how they run (or, at least, that is what I like to believe).

Here is roadrunner:
See that ellipse behind him? How the roadrunner has a lean forward and basically his feet are just pushing him along. That is what makes him go faster. (That, and the animation, of course.)

Now take a look at our friend the coyote:

Coyote is pretty straight up with some lean forward, but not barely the amount of the roadrunner. With Coyote's posture, his legs are more underneath him instead of behind him, like the roadrunner. He is not allowing his body to take him forward and, by being more straight up, he is stopping himself in a way.

Try it. Run. Now, while running, lean forward, you will automatically speed up.

So, that's what I have got to shoot for. That and a number of other things that I need to do to improve my form, but that was the one that I thought could illustrate best and the best "a-ha" moment I have for you right now.