Okay, first of all, don’t forget about my giveaway. And if you don’t mind, please help spread the word. I’m extending the deadline by one day and I may even throw in some more goodies if anything catches my eye in Vegas.

So a side benefit of not running is that it’s easier to multi-task. When running, it’s just too awkward to try and carry anything larger than a cell phone or packet of fuel. But I don’t have the same issue when walking or biking. I already mentioned my walk to the post office and Costco on Black Friday. On Wednesday, I made a quick stop at Albertson’s during the tail-end of my walk to buy some scallions. Then yesterday I had my biggest adventure yet.

I wanted to give my walking muscles a break and decided to bike over to REI and Target (which are conveniently right next to each other) to return some unwanted purchases. It’s about 6 miles each way. Even though it was dark out, I tried to be as thorough as possible to stay safe. I stuck to major roads, had my bike lights on, had my mace easily accessible, and of course I was wearing a helmet. In my backpack I had my heavy duty bike lock and the items I needed to return, along with my wallet, cell phone, and keys.

After locking up my bike outside REI, I had a successful time at REI (bought a headband with extra flaps to keep my ears warm) and Target (found another pair of the petite Champion pants – did I mention they’re on sale for only $14). I was happy to see my bike was still there, and set off on my way home.

Of course, that isn’t the end of the story though. I got about two minutes down the road and realized I forgot to turn my bike lights on. I glanced down and did a double-take. My front bike light was missing!!! Someone stole my light!!! I was so mad. What really pissed me off is that the bike rack is right in front of REI and it’s not exactly a high traffic area. The only people who should have been walking by are people shopping at REI and I figured outdoorsy people aren’t the type to steal. But I guess you just can’t trust anyone anymore.

I ended up turning around and wheeling my bike right into REI while wearing my helmet and everything. One of the employees helped me pick out a new light and showed me how to use it. He was even nice enough to fill up the air in my tires which made the ride home a lot better than it probably would have been otherwise. So I did make it home safe and sound. And I guess the moral of the story is that next time I not only have to lock up my bike tight, but remove the lights too.

Biking, Video Games, Walking

“Green” Friday and the day after

Whew, I had a jam-packed day yesterday. I woke up early to take my mom to the airport. On the way home I stopped at Best Buy and Wal-Mart for some Black Friday deals. I wasn’t even really in the market for one, but I picked up a PS3 at Best Buy because they had a bundle for $299.99 that included Little Big Planet and the newest Ratchet and Clank… both games that I will definitely play. Plus I was planning on buying a DVD player sometime soon anyway, so the PS3 will serve double duty. I was a bit worried Best Buy would run out before I got there, but they must have had over 100 of the bundles available. At Wal-Mart I picked up Sims3 for $25 and a 4GB USB thumb drive for $8.

The Disney forum that I belong to organized a Virtual Turkey Trot 10k, complete with medal if you wanted to order one. (I decided to pass on the medal after spending so much $$$ already this weekend.) I wasn’t ready to do 10k on Thanksgiving, so I pushed my walk back to Friday instead. Originally I was planning to go to my favorite trails at Reach 11, but instead I decided to combine my walk with some errands so I wouldn’t have to drive my car out again. First I went to the post office to drop off a few letters, then I did a lap around the park next to Costco. I stopped my Garmin for a bit while I went into Costco to pick up some photo prints. Finally, I walked back home and did a lap around the neighborhood. I “measured” the distance almost perfectly and was about 1/2 a block from home when I hit 6.2 miles.

Overall time: 1:35:37
Pace: 15:25

Last night I went to see comedian ventriloquist Jeff Dunham perform at the US Airways Center. It was an amazing show, but I was so tired by the time it ended at 11pm. I went home and went right to bed.

Today was fairly busy as well. I went for a semi-leisurely bike ride this morning. It’s been ages since I rode my bike so it took a little getting used to again. About 3/5 of the way in I started to get really tired, but I think it was because there was an ever so slight uphill slant heading home. Once I got back to the flat road I felt a lot better. I’m really loving the weather here in Phoenix right now. It’s great to be doing outdoor activities in the sun. Although I do have to be very careful because sun is one of the worst enemies of lupus. At least it’s cool enough to wear long sleeves all the time and any exposed skin gets covered with lots of sunscreen.

I did more shopping today. Road Runner Sports – my favorite running store – was offering a 25% discount for VIP members. I bought two long-sleeved shirts, a rain jacket (might need it in Baltimore), a pair of long pants (that I’m hoping my mom can help me hem), a pair of Balega socks, another white cap, and some Penguin Sport-Wash (thanks to the recent review by Rio Runs) all for about $160. I may end up returning some of the clothing, but I figured I’d stock up first while everything was on sale.

Since I have a couple local readers, I have to mention my visit to Kohler Academy this afternoon. It’s a student-staffed salon and spa and I’ve always been happy with the service that I receive there. In the past I’d only gone to get my hair cut, but after being sick for so long I decided to treat myself to a spa facial (plus it was a November special for only $25). It was my first time getting a facial and it was fantastic. It was so relaxing and my skin felt amazing afterward. The special is being extended through next month so I think I’m going to have to go back again. I’d definitely recommend Kohler Academy as a great place for affordable salon and spa services. The only drawbacks are that the ambiance isn’t quite as nice as at a real spa and sometimes services can take a little longer than usual because the students are still learning.

I won’t bore you with the rest of my evening except to say that I can’t believe how long it took me to organize all the cables running through and behind my entertainment center. Now I just have to wait for the HDMI cable to arrive so I can start playing my new PS3!

Biking, Random

Bunny, bunny, giant bunny… snake!

Troy and I went out for a bike ride at Reach 11 tonight. It was a tough workout. We did a bunch of hills. Good practice for Sunday, but so tiring.

There’s a lot of wildlife out at Reach 11. Usually we see lots of bunnies, quail, and other birds. Today I saw a rattlesnake for the second time. It was stretched out instead of curled up and looked like a stick on the trail. I only noticed it at the last second as I rode past.

Yesterday I ended up getting a padded mat at Dick’s Sporting Goods. It’s something I’ve wanted for awhile because we have all hardwood floors which are not comfortable for sit down stretching. It was $30, but with my gift certificate I only had to pay $10 out of pocket.

Up was fantastic. I teared up at least twice. But I think I’m too old for sour patch kids. It feels like they burned off the top layer of my tongue. It still feels weird today!

Biking, Random

Question about GU Chomps

I’m realistic about the fact that this blog doesn’t get many readers. And I’m okay with that for now, although at some point I may try to publicize it more. So this post is primarily a question for Mica, although if anyone else is reading and has an opinion, please share!

Mica, you mentioned that you’ve tried GU Chomps. Did you take them with water? While I was at REI today, I noticed that the GU Chomps packaging just says “hydrate along the way” rather than specifically stating that they must be consumed with water. I’m going to try it out later today to see how my stomach handles it, but was curious what your experience was. Thanks!

By the way, I wouldn’t worry about getting a bike fitting unless you find your current bike uncomfortable to ride. I mean, think back to when we were kids. I know I was perfectly happy back then to be riding around on my girly bike from Toys R Us and never stopped to wonder whether it fit me properly. A primary reason I did the fitting was because I want to give myself the best chance possible to do well at the duathlon. If I was just riding my bike for fun I might not have bothered with the fitting.

Biking, Training

Bike Fitting

I’ve been thinking for awhile about getting fitted for my bike because I never quite felt comfortable while riding. Troy has been giving me tips which have helped, but I also wanted a professional opinion. The thing holding me back was the $75 cost, but I finally decided to bite the bullet and went in to DNA Cycles for my fitting tonight.

The guy who helped me was named Ted. First he put my bike on a trainer. We talked a bit about any specific problems I was having and why I wanted to get fitted. Then he watched me ride and made minor adjustments to various parts of the bike. It turns out I was right and I needed to have my seat a little higher. The other major change was to the position of the brake levers – now they’re easier for me to reach. I really appreciated all the little tips Ted offered, such as moving my hands in on the handlebars and advice on turning.

The best part was that in the end it turned out I didn’t need to pay. Ted said that because my bike was from their store, the fitting was free. This is because they want to ensure their customers are happy with their purchases. Isn’t that awesome? Troy bought a couple things before we left because we felt bad leaving empty-handed after all the time Ted had just spent with me. I already liked DNA Cycles, but this great customer service makes me even happier that we bought our bikes there.

I was excited to see how my bike felt so after we got home I headed back out for a ride. I rode part of the route that I’d have to take to ride to work. Other than one hill, it’s a pretty easy route. I can’t say that I noticed a significant difference in how comfortable the bike felt, but I think it was a little better.

Just one week left to prepare before my first du!

Biking, Training

Out of town

It’s been a crazy day. Right now I’m writing this update from a hotel room in Schaumburg, IL. I’m up here for a few days visiting my company’s main corporate office.

I got up early this morning at 7am. I almost never get up that early on a Sunday unless I have a race. But I wanted to make sure I had enough time to get a bike ride in before I left. Troy and I rode 12 miles on the trails at Reach 11. Even at 10am it was hot outside. I think our speed was about 11 mph and I was pretty tired afterward. It’s a little slower than my last few rides but I’ll blame that on the dirt.

I noticed today that my butt doesn’t hurt anymore. Yay for my new cycling skirts. I ended up keeping both the pink and blue SheBeest skirts and returned both pairs of tri shorts. The tri shorts just didn’t have enough padding to make it worthwhile. But the cycling skirts have just enough padding to be useful for cycling while not being so thick that I can’t run in them too. At $50 each, it’s a little more than I planned to spend on cycling clothes, but I couldn’t decide between the pink or the blue. And it’s still a pretty good deal considering that they were $85 each at full price.

We got back home from at 11am and I managed to take a shower and pack for the trip, just barely making my self-imposed deadline of leaving for the airport at 1pm. I love flying out of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport because I always stop at Paradise Bakery and grab something for the flight. Today I decided to splurge and get two extra chocolate chip cookies. I really shouldn’t have because my weight continues to slowly creep up. But I’ve been thinking about those cookies for days. I swear they’re the best chocolate chip cookies ever.

I packed a whole bunch of running gear in the hopes that I’ll be able to get in some short runs after work. Or worst case, I guess I can get up early on Tuesday morning and run before work. I’m not a morning person but I’ll do almost anything to avoid the treadmill.


I’m a wuss

I wanted to check out a new trail so Troy and I went to Papago Park on Sunday afternoon. I’d never been to this part of the park before, but the trail was supposed to okay for beginners. I discovered that I’m just not cut out for mountain biking. I get too freaked out by the rocky hills. I don’t like going too fast and I’m always worried that I’m going to fall off my bike and crash. Looking back at the ride, I don’t think I would describe any part of it as fun. Mostly I was just relieved to have made it through in one piece. I know I probably just need to have more confidence in my bike and myself. But for now I think I’ll stick to riding at Reach 11 and on roads until after the duathlon. Then maybe I’ll try again.


Yay for Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day yesterday, I rode my bike to and from the gym for the first time. Well, okay so it wasn’t really in honor of Earth Day, but it’s a nice coincidence. Troy rode with me to show me how to lock up my bike properly. I’m such a beginner at all this stuff. Becoming a cyclist is much more complicated than becoming a runner.

I’m still a little nervous about riding on the road, especially at intersections and crossing the street. But for the most part Arizona drivers seem to be courteous about sharing the road. Just to be safe though, I asked Troy to start looking for a bike light for me so I’m more visible riding home from the gym at night.

Anyway, it feels good to be getting in some additional exercise while being nicer to the environment by not driving. And it really doesn’t take that much longer by bike instead of car. In a way, it’s even more convenient because I can park my bike right across from the gym.

Biking, Random

Shopping Adventures

I’ve been wearing my running clothes for biking up until now, which is okay but not ideal. So over the weekend I went shopping.

First up was the expo for the Tri For The Cure. It was small, but the three main vendors were decent. I tried on some SkirtSports running skirts in the MarathonGirl style and overall I like them better than the skirts from I also tried on some bike shorts which fit well and some tri shorts which didn’t fit well. I debated buying the bike shorts because they were 30% off at the expo, but ultimately passed. My goal was really to find tri shorts that I can bike and run in. So even though I didn’t buy any clothing, I did leave with another box of mint chocolate GU and some Yankz elastic laces, making it a successful stop. Next year I really hope they still have a duathlon as part of the Tri For The Cure events because it definitely seems like a fun event to participate in.

Next I went to a bike shop located next to the Target off Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd and the 101. The shop was small and the employees weren’t very friendly so I don’t think I’ll be returning. Then I went to Target to check out the Champion clothing and found a pair of tight capri workout pants. There was only one pair and they happened to be size XS so I figured I’d try them on. And suprisingly they fit well and actually don’t look too bad on me. Even though there’s no padding to protect my butt, at least they won’t get caught in the bike gears. The pants were a decent price at $21.99.

The last stop for Saturday was DNA Cycles. What a difference from the other bike store! The employees were great and I loved that they remember me. (Together Troy and I have spent about $1,500 at the store so far, so they better remember us!) The store itself is nicer too, making it a more pleasant shopping experience. I tried on some tri shorts by Pearl Izumi in XS and M and SheBeest in S. I liked the SheBeest tri shorts a lot, especially because they have pockets in the back. I’m all about pockets these days. But I wasn’t ready to buy yet.

Back home I did some googling to find out more about SheBeest. At full price, SheBeest clothing is on the higher end of what I’m willing to spend. But persistance pays off and I found that REI carries SheBeest and they had a couple good deals at the REI Outlet online store.

Troy and I went to REI Sunday. I was hoping they might have some clearance items at the store but they didn’t. I tried on a SheBeest cycling skirt. The size S fit okay, but looked a bit strange because of the splits at the sides of the skirt. While at REI, I got a couple packets of Hammer Gel in vanilla and raspberry because they were on sale for only 79 cents. I tried the raspberry before our bike ride Sunday afternoon. It was tasty, but I didn’t notice any particular surge of energy from it. It seems like the texture of the Hammer Gel is not quite as thick as GU and there’s more of it in the packet. I’ll probably stick primarily with GU for now, but it’s good to know that I don’t have any problem tolerating Hammer Gel.

Anyway, back to the shopping. From REI Outlet, I ended up buying two SheBeest cycling skirts (one in pink and one in blue) and two pairs of SheBeest tri shorts (one in XS and one in S). Of course, I’m not planning to keep everything. I just want some options and will return whatever doesn’t work out. I’m happy that REI offers free shipping to stores so I don’t have to pay any shipping costs. The only drawback is that it takes a couple weeks before I can pick up my order. But hey, at least it’s free.


Trying out my new bike

So after driving back from Lake Havasu City, Troy and I made it over to DNA Cycles about 20 minutes before they closed on Saturday to pick up my new bike! The guys at the store are really great. When we originally ordered the bike they charged me $410. But then I noticed that on their website the bike is listed as $399.99. So when I brought this to their attention, they were nice enough to refund me the difference in cash. They also gave me a free water bottle holder and water bottle. Although they were probably laughing at me after we left because my bike is so small that the water bottle doesn’t really fit properly.

I rode around the neighborhood for a bit when we got home to start getting used to the bike. In particular, I had to figure out how to shift gears. My butt was sore, but otherwise I felt fine. It was really fun doing something other than running.

On Sunday, Troy and I went out to Reach 11. I was a little nervous about riding on a trail, but I figured that would be easier than riding on the road with traffic. We took the trail all the way from Tatum to Cave Creek and back… 8.88 miles in 57:57. And we didn’t stop once. I think I did pretty well for my first real bike ride. It was neat seeing the trail from a different perspective and I really liked how much faster it is to bike than run. Hopefully as I ride more I’ll continue to get even faster. I also need to work on getting on and off the bike gracefully. The only downside of the ride is that now my pretty new bike is all dusty.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to fit bike rides into my training schedule. I guess I’ll start doing my long runs on Saturday and then riding with Troy on Sunday. The rest of the week I’m still not sure about. In May I’ll probably start doing “bricks” – going for a bike ride immediately followed by a run – in preparation for the duathlon. I’m looking forward to riding my bike to and from the gym, and maybe other places around town… but I have to wait for the lock we ordered to get here first.