Friday, April 12, 2019

The challenge within a challenge

Day 12, 30 Days of Biking included
Errand #1 of The Errandonnee
With quite a lot on my plate already — training for a half marathon and several charity rides, swimming on Tuesday nights, and doing anything and everything I can to prep for Alaska — I’ve been squeezing in small rides to fulfill Year 6 of 30 Days of Biking. I hadn’t planned to participate this year, but it just didn’t seem like April without forcing myself to get out on a bike every day.

Adding to that quest, I’ve opted in for The Errandonnee as well — 12 errands in 12 Days (minimum total, 30 miles), from April 12-23. It’s a challenge within a challenge!

Like the Coffeeneurring challenge I love so well, The Errandonnee has a few rules. For example, your 12 rides must cover seven of nine categories; Arts & Entertainment, Store, Non-Store, Personal Care, Personal Business, You Carried What?, Work/Volunteer/School, Wild Card etc.; You can’t repeat a category more than twice; and you must document it in some way.

Today I kicked off the challenge by including an errand to the school! Chip left a check at home for his Track team fundraiser, so I opted to ride to the school and drop it off! On the way home, I stopped by the beach to watch a few folks hauling out the turtled sailboats the SHS sail team capsized this week. (Lol. I know Chip misses sailing, but I’m so glad he’s running track.)

Tough luck in the harbor this week for SHS Sail

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The family that runs together (sort of)

Chip and his buddy Michael at a recent meet. Go Blue!
I'm chuckling a little that we all seem to be on a running kick here in the Cronin household. In addition to my half marathon training to prep for Alaska in June, Mike has begun his own half marathon training as well, waking at 4:45 a.m. twice a week to get in a run before heading to work. (Longer runs on the weekend). It's still ridiculously cold (and dark) at that hour in April, so he's been working out on the treadmill for now, planning to move outdoors when the weather improves.

Chip is running distance events on the high school track team this Spring, (opting not to sail this year). He's building on the success he had last Fall in cross country, and is running the one or two mile events on the track. He and Mike just purchased new track-specific racing spikes for his events. My pre-conceived notion that track was going to be the least expensive sport of the several he's been involved in has been proven wrong. Running shoes, running-specific insoles, track spikes, and team gear has come damn near close to lacrosse as far as expenses go. (Ka-ching).

I ran the Andrea Carey Memorial 5k run on Sunday and got my best time in a 5k(!), but not my best time in a 3-mile, which actually happened yesterday! Wahoo! I also rode in the rain for 30 Days of Biking and had an hour-long swim session last night, so I'm pretty beat today.

I mean, totally wiped out.

Wiped. Out.

Just a friendly reminder

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

30 Days of Biking, Year Six (Week 1)

April 1: I said last year was my last year,
but that was last year.
April 2: Dawn patrol. Quick to catch the sunrise.
April 3: Life’s short, cake first.
April 4: Go Blue! Catching Chip's first track meet of the season
April 5: Still Winter. Cold cold day on the trails
April 6: Saturday ramble, gorgeous sunshine
April 7: Early ride before the Andrea Carey 5K Memorial run

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

C’mon, Spring! April arrives.

Bike, run, and now swim. March ends.

March went out like a lamb, with temperatures in the low 60s on Saturday, so I turned the heat off in the house — only to then turn around and fire it back up again this week when temps dropped back into the 20s. Hahahahaha. I was so optimistic!

April is going to be a busy month! For some unknown reason I decided to once again participate in the 30 Days of Biking challenge for another year, (number six), despite saying last year I was “retiring”. With so much on my plate, many of the rides will have to be short ones as I don’t want to overtrain, but I hope to get out on the bike every day this month. (We’ll see how that goes.)

My four weeks of base work towards half marathon training wrapped up and segued into the Hal Higdon plan this week. I ran three miles yesterday after a short bike ride to the beach, and then had a swim lesson at 7pm. This morning I’m feeling muscles I didn’t know I had.

We have twelve weeks to go before Julia tackles the Alaskaman XTri. It's still possible she may find a seasoned support runner for the Mt. Alyeska leg, but I'm still training for it just in case.

I got this.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Keep on running. And riding.

Spring has arrived!

Training for AK2019, (“Alaska 2019”), continues as I’m slowly increasing my base miles this month. I ran a partial 5K for St Patrick’s Day by running the first two miles laid out in my training plan, and then walk/running the remaining mile. I completed the race (which measured 3 miles, not 5k) in 41 minutes. Not very fast, (13:06/mile pace), but probably better than a few of my previous efforts. I have another 5k coming up in 2 weeks. Hopefully I’ll see some imporovement!

The weather was surprisingly mild last week, so I took the bike off the trainer and hit the road. It felt good to ride outside, although the streets are a mess of potholes, sand and debris from the winter. March is usually a time to protect the trails by staying off them as they dry out from the winter, so I tend to ride my road bike more often than the MTB. I occasionally see mountain bikers posting their rides on Strava in areas I’m sure aren’t ready for riding, and it irritates me to think of the damage they are causing. They should know better.

New workout routines are being introduced soon. It’s going to be hard getting out of bed in the mornings. Hopefully it will pay off in June!

An earlier rise and grind starts soon. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Base Week 1, Done

Love this track but it’s actually buried under snow this week.

My first week of training, following what I’m calling The Mary Plan, went well! With snow and ice still on the ground, I’m getting my workouts done indoors. I managed to fix our treadmill belt this week and pair a cadence sensor with Zwift to track my runs. Week 1 of base work included 3 runs at 1.5, 1.2, and 1.5 miles respectively. (Of course Chip jumped on the treadmill after school today and ran 2 miles flat out in a quarter of the time I did, but, whatever.) Slow and steady — no injuries.

While writing out my monthly plan last week, I realized I have still have a metric century coming up in May — the Boston Brain Tumor Ride! (Those early season rides always sneak up on me!) I’m riding with Alison on Team Noggin, in memory of her mom who died of brain cancer. (Jennifer, Amy, and Kristen are joining us as well.) I have 12 weeks to prep for the ride (still plenty of time) and have added that to my training calendar too.

Run, bike... no swim

I’m not falling down that rabbit hole.

Monday, March 4, 2019

March is in like a lion, as always

Snowshoe adventures at Appleton Farms

So, February was a whole lotta nothing as far as training goes. The gains I made in January were pretty much negated during February... but what can you do except keep moving forward. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯   After checking in with my girlfriends for advice on jumping back into a training plan for Alaska, I’m now focused on a solid plan. (You would think after years of doing this on the bike, and then coaching, I would be better at managing my own training, but running and cycling are just not the same and I want to do it right.

My first concern is, of course, avoiding injury. I’ve had lower back soreness and occasional (horrific) back pain flare-ups of unknown origin this past year. (I have some suspicions of what could be causing my back pain, but nothing pinpointed.) I’ve also had knee/IT band issues from ramping up my miles too fast.

So the next four weeks are base building, followed by 12 weeks of Hal Higdon’s half-marathon training program at Training Peaks. Credit goes to Mary for laying out a good running plan for me, with nods to Alison, Ruth, Lila, Lisa, Amy and Jennifer, who all chimed in with similar thoughts..

After a snowy, gray Saturday, we woke up to sunshine yesterday morning and a promising window of opportunity for some snowshoeing before the next storm! My sister Heather and I strapped on the MSRs and snow hiked at Appleton Farms in Hamilton. It was a fun and challenging workout that left me feeling a little creaky today. Fortunately, the new training plan starting today begins with a REST DAY!! (Phew!) 

Oh, wait. Scratch that. We had over a foot of heavy snow last night and I just spent 2 and 1/2 hours shoveling. (Bring on the Advil.)


Welcome to March.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Alaska Bound

February 20th, sunrise after the storm

I made a plane reservation last week for a summer adventure in Alaska. In October, I committed to joining my friend Julia’s support team for the Alaskaman Extreme Tri in Seward at the end of June. The race entails a 2.6 mile swim in frigid Resurrection Bay, a 112 mile bike leg along the Seward Highway to Girdwood, and a 27.5 mile run that includes climbing Mt. Alyeska twice. Kinda insane. Julia competed in Challenge Roth last year in Germany, while our friend Christina took on Alaskaman that same month, so it makes perfect sense (to me) that Alaskaman would come next on Julia’s bucket list. These girls go hard!

Christina’s husband, Schreck, who Julia and I rode with during the EOD Undefeated Ride several years ago, also planned to race Alaskaman this year. With Julia’s husband Jim onboard, it was shaping up to be an EOD reunion! (Minus Tim Brown, but plus Christina, who was deployed at the time of our ride. Go, Navy.)

Together again? Me, Schreck, Julia and Jim, (with Tim Brown, front)
EOD Undefeated for the EOD Warrior Foundation

Despite the many Ironmans and triathlons my friends have competed in, I’ve had no interest in doing the same. I’d much rather be on the sidelines giving aid and support where I can. Different from most triathlons, Alaskaman requires athletes to have a 1-3 person support team during the race. I planned to join Jim, and their son Elye, as part of Julia’s support team — assisting with transitions and driving the support vehicle along the route, (much like I did during the Race Across America). Jim planned to run the final ten miles of the ultra marathon alongside Julia, as each participant must have a run partner on Mt Alyeska. Christina planned to be Schreck’s support runner for his final 10.

And then plans began to unravel. Jim and Elye will not be traveling to Alaska with Julia, after all, so I am now her only support. (Hopefully she’ll find a runner in Seward for the final ten miles. She is reaching out to triathlon and running groups based in Alaska. Meanwhile, I’m working on a training plan to be her backup runner.) Next, Schreck tore his ACL while skiing and is going to require surgery, so he and Christina are out as well. (Both will now race Alohaman in Hawaii, another X-Tri produced by the same company, at the end of the year.)

I’ve gone ahead and booked a one way flight to Anchorage. It’s possible that Julia will have to bail on the race, and I understand if she does, but I still want to move forward as if it’s a “go”. I had planned to spend the week before the race exploring the Kenai Peninsula with my mountain bike, doing some day hikes, and seeing the fjords and glaciers. The excitement of seeing Alaska is what’s getting me through the long gray days of winter.

February has always been a tough training month, but I do have a plan underway. There are four months to go before race day — I know it will go fast.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Family time at Waterville Valley

Not my best

It’s been waaaaay too long since I’ve been out on my board, and it definitely showed on Saturday. Mike, Chip and I joined Mike’s company, InterSystems Inc., for a family outing at Waterville Valley — so much fun! Despite the -12 degree windchill, (35 mph winds with gusts up to 65), we woke early and hit the road for New Hampshire just before sunrise. We haven’t had much snow this year in Eastern Mass, but the further north we got, we found cold, white, visual evidence of winter. Driving up, with a death grip on the steering wheel as wind gusts knocked the car around, I had doubts about the skiing conditions at our destination, but I’m glad we didn’t back out. The high winds closed several of the lifts for the day, but Mike and Chip still enjoyed several hours of skiing while I struggled mightily on my board. (I just couldn’t get in a good groove, I have no core strength to speak of right now, and every strong gust of wind knocked me on my ass. It was ugly.)

We had a really great time, though, with many laughs all around. InterSystems is phenomenal when it comes to planning family outings. We truly are thankful for their attention and investment in family time. It’s really exceptional.

Time to crack down on core strength training. Just one more thing to add to my list.

Fam, minus one.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Taste of Spring

After a week of temperatures in the single digits, it felt good to have a blast of warm weather hit us at the beginning of the week. Since the trails were muddy from thawing snow and ice, I disengaged the road bike from the trainer and headed out on the streets on my Trek. It felt great to ride on the road, although sand and debris made it somewhat tricky. The sun was shining, New Englanders were in a euphoric mood over the Patriots Super Bowl win the night before, (drivers seemed especially courteous), and it was warm. We still have quite a bit of winter left to go, but it feels less discouraging than it did a week ago.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Can we really trust a groundhog?

Coffee and a cookie break

We had a relatively storm-free January in New England but have not escaped the Arctic freeze this winter. Today’s temps barely nudged over 20 degrees. I was feeling restless after a week of bitter cold, so I bundled up and headed out for a trail ride at noon. I did not go far. By the time I got to downtown Marblehead, (just 3 miles), I was stupidly frozen and frustrated, and needed to stop and thaw my numbed face. Coffee and a cookie lifted my spirits slightly for the slog home, but I kept wishing I had called someone to give me a lift back. I’ve really been dragging this winter.

My rides and runs were inconsistent last month and I wasn’t very diligent in my training. It’s been hard to focus on summer plans with the polar vortex bearing down on us. On the bright side, it’s 15 degrees as I write this, while Will has 6 degrees in Ann Arbor, (up from -17 yesterday) and Chip has 2 degrees in Quebec City, (in Canada for the weekend) — just a reminder that it can always be colder.

Are we halfway through the winter, yet? Just two months to go!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Sunday Unfrozen Pond

Cold but sunny at Breakheart Reservation

Sunshine! Today’s 90 minute lost-and-found ride at Breakheart Reservation felt good after a bitter cold week in the mid-20’s. At 36 degrees, it practically felt balmy out and, I kid you not, I passed two runners in shorts. Ah, New Englanders.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Cold January

Cold, cold cold at Appleton Farms

Arctic temps on Sunday kept my ride at Appleton Farms a short one. I like the challenge of riding in the winter, but I made judgement error when choosing my gloves on Sunday and my fingers were painfully frozen after 30 minutes. I love the rooty, rocky challenges at Appleton on a cold day, but 20 degrees and the frostbite potential was just too much of a challenge. My mistake. I'll be better prepared next time.

#frostbite #needbettergloves

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Week 1 of 2019

With Jaclyn Norberg, Alison Eagan, and Lila Gardella

I’ve laid out a few big goals for the new year and my training calendar is starting to come together. In addition to working on my mountain biking skills, (never ending), I plan to get back on the Trek for a few road events this year. I’ve also amped up my running plans in 2019 in anticipation of a big challenge this Spring. (More on that to come.)

We had surprisingly mild weather on New Year’s Day for the Wicked Running Club Frosty Four (mile) run. I joined speedy Jaclyn, (my relay teammate in last year’s Pumpkinman Triathlon), Alison, and Lila for the run, but as I hadn’t been running since having back issues in October, I took it slow for just a 2 mile run — 1 mile out and 1 mile back. Perfect.

And as I was bib #2, I ran my number!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2018

2018 Comes to an End

We are approaching the New Year (!)... and a semi update to the blog, from which I took a hiatus in 2018, is long overdue. I hope to post more frequently in the coming year.

Wrapping up 2018, I have to say it was a good one both personally and "professionally". I continued coaching our athletes at Indoor Ride, helping them reach their cycling goals throughout the year.

Sadly, we closed the training studio at the end of November due to several factors, including lease issues and changes in the owner's personal life. We had an amaaaazzzing 2 year run --- I really had a blast -- so the last few weeks since closing the studio have been a little sad. I'm no longer seeing my favorite athletes on a daily basis, coaching them through intervals or mixed terrain, although I'm doing my best to stay in touch virtually. (Cycling and comm apps Zwift and Discord are helping.)

Indoor Ride, Nov. 21, 4:45 a.m.
Opening the studio to coach my final Intervals session.

I started 2018 with a back injury, which wasn't a good start -- but I managed to get through the Disney 10K in Florida with the help of great friends. Also in January, I started working with professional cyclist Crystal Anthony tackling an eating disorder that had been plaguing me for a few years. I probably never would have sought help in this area if I hadn't been coaching my own athletes and realized that I needed some help in this area! I'm happy to say that after a year of mindful, focused nutrition, I've gotten my health back on track, and grateful to Crystal for all of her help.

Walt Disney World 10K, January 2018

Thirty Days of Biking, Year 5, was a cold, wet punishment. It always is. Somehow, I forget this factor every March when I'm anxious to get out on the road again and eager to sign on for the April challenge. I managed to ride every day in April, with encouragement from the boys, who joined me for a few rides themselves, including Will in Ann Arbor, where I hauled the bikes out to Michigan to ride with him before midnight on Day 27 of the challenge.

Unfortunately, also during 30 Days of Biking, I had a rather spectacular crash on a night ride with Chip, where I went over the handlebars, head first into the pavement, and smashed my face and broke two teeth. It took several weeks of dental work to repair the teeth, and for an injured hand to heal, but heal I did and I only have a small scar on my upper lip remaining to remind me not to brake hard with my left hand.

Bruises heal, bones mend, and teeth can be fixed.
Photos from Instagram follow, catching up on the year now ending. 2018 was a fantastic one -- I'm already excited for 2019.