Monday, September 16, 2013

Pace Lines, Parties and ... Cereal?

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Get out of my way, this train is rolling down the tracks, full steam ahead! I had an action packed weekend and I'm not slowing down yet. Saturday I joined Neil/TriMore Fitness and a handful of women for a bike skills ride. We covered group rides skills such as drafting and riding in a pace line. Learning this stuff has been on my to-do list for a while now. What's a pace line, you ask?
Pacelines are either single or double. In a single paceline, everyone lines up behind the first rider, who maintains a constant speed. The rotation occurs when the front rider pulls off to the side and drifts to the back of the line. The next rider then sets the pace. Riders stay on the front from a few seconds to several minutes. This type of paceline has the advantage of requiring less road space. -

We met at a Park-n-Ride lot (aptly named for our plans) and Neil went over the skills we'd be covering, which also included climbing and descending. I was nervous about being too slow and holding everyone back. I generally don't have to worry about that because I never ride in groups (for just that reason). But I really wanted to learn about group riding so this was the only way. Neil assured me the group would stay together and that my pace will be fine. I should coin a new phrase - slow guilt.

Which reminds me, I have to stop talking about being slow. Amber (of last week's ride) reads my blog and reminded me that my slow is someone else's fast and that my saying I'm slow sort of diminishes their pace, which is not good. So, no more slow-talk. From now on I'll try to frame it as, "I'm not as fast as you guys," or something like that when I'm needing to discuss my pace vs theirs. Alright, that's settled, back to the skills ride.

We started down Lucas Valley Road, heading straight toward Big Rock (the hill I did for the very first time just a few weeks ago). Talk about keeping up. It's a good thing I rode it once before or I would have been really panicking. Still, I knew there was no way I could keep up with the group while climbing the steepest part - the last mile before the peak that just goes up, up, up - but I had to let that worry go so I could enjoy the ride.

Along the way toward the climb we worked on pace line, riding together as a group and shifting places in the group. I feel pretty stable on my bike so that was fine, mostly I was just pedaling my ass off to keep up. At the base of the climb Neil gave us a pep talk, tips, etc. And then he rode with me the entire mile up the hill, even as I slogged along at 4 - 6 miles per hour. He coached me the whole way, "relax your shoulders, chest up..." which was nice. In the past I would have felt so uncomfortable having him ride with me while I crawled up the hill but it felt fine, I was happy to be learning. And then, around the corner, there's big rock! Whew, I made it!!

Happy to be at the top!
We got some tips on descending and then zoomed down the other side. The descents going that way weren't bad, sort of like rollers (rolling hills), it's the ones that are just down, down, down (like going back down big rock) that scare me. Neil's tips on learning how to manage the long descents? Practice, stay safe, gain confidence, stay safe.

Along the way to Nicasio we practiced drafting. O.M.G. Drafting is so awesome! It reduces your effort by as much as 30%. Thirty percent! I felt a HUGE difference in effort level while drafting. I want to ride like that all the time. Riding at the front of the line is tough work but once you slip in behind someone else you wonder why the group suddenly slowed down. Except it didn't slow down, it just got easier now that you're drafting.  So cool.

When we reached Nicasio at about mile 11 I had to turn around and head home. They were going on to do 50+ miles but I didn't have time. The kids were with a babysitter and we had a pool party on our afternoon schedule. So I rode back to the car solo, cruising along and enjoying the peace. 22 miles in all. Here's the elevation profile from the ride.

Lucas Valley Rd (including Big Rock) elevation profile.

14.2 avg mph - probably my fastest ever!
After the ride I came home and did a super-quick wardrobe change into pool clothes and we all headed off to the party, an awesome Lorax themed event celebrating Ben's 3rd birthday. Despite my best intentions (and being in a bathing suit) I ate way too much at the party - pizza, snacks, cake (mine and Myra's because she's not a huge cake person and only ate two bites of hers and the cake was delicious!), etc. But it was all yummy and I vowed to eat better the rest of the day. Aaaannyway, here are my two precious littles at the party.

Marek and Myra looking all kinds of fabulous!
How crazy cute are they?! After the party we came home for some "quiet time", during which I almost fell asleep while putting laundry away. I sat down in Myra's chair for a moment and started to drift off. Eventually I put a movie on for the kids and took a half-awake/half-asleep nap for about an hour. First time I've been able to do that while alone with the kids. We went to my mom's for dinner and my vow was quickly broken with fried chicken, raviolis, and any other food I felt like eating. You know how sometimes you just want to feel really full? Yeah, I've been having that feeling lately.

I'd planned to rest on Sunday but my eating behavior, coupled with missing a lot of workouts last week, pushed me to make some plans. Marin Tri Club (a local, informal tri group) had a morning run on the agenda as part of training for the Nike half-marathon. I joined them at 8:30am for a timed run - 55 minutes out/55 minutes back. I did some fuzzy math and figured I'd run around 8-9 miles. Yeah, like I said, fuzzy. That's one 1 hour, 50 minutes of running. Even at 11 minute pace that would be 10 miles.

We started out together but most of us ran alone. In the end I did the Paradise Loop (the same route I cycled (twice) last weekend). The loop itself was about 9 miles and by the time I was done I still had time on the clock so I ran a bit more to bulk up the run. In the end I ran 11.75 miles with an average 10:31 pace. I still can't believe I ran a half-marathon (Kaiser, this past February) in a 9:23 pace!

Yes kids, I ran that.

Who did that? Oh yeah, that was me :)
After the run we all went to breakfast. Here's today's crew, 8 runner chicks and 1 runner dude.

Jessica, Amber, Me, Amy, Jack, Leigh, Gioia, Jessica and Leigh's Mom
I had an egg white cheese/veggie omelet with fruit salad and toast. So good. And then it was home for another quick wardrobe change and off to another party! It was at my neighbor's house and I headed over with the kids. The wheels fell of a bit with the beer and by the time I left I'd had somewhere between 5 and 6 beers. Granted the time spanned from 2pm - 9pm so there's that excuse. And I did plenty of snacking and eating throughout the day. The party was great fun. I was overdue on getting a bit tipsy.

Today I woke up with a desire to pull it together with the eating. I ended up having a yogurt/granola/fruit bowl as a morning snack, a little bigger than my normal snack. And then at lunchtime I was tempted by a donut shop but beelined for Subway instead. After eating half of my footlong I started thinking about candy. "No Michelle, don't buy candy, just eat the other half of your sandwich if you're still hungry." So that's what I did. And I felt a lot better about that choice than I would have about candy. Is a footlong (turkey breast, roughly 600 calories) too much for lunch? Who knows, but I know it's better than candy and didn't bring my mood down like a Snickers would have.

After work I hit the gym, despite a strong urge to skip it. I rode the upright bike for 25 minutes and then did chest/triceps/PT exercises. It's been too long since I've lifted weights. Let's hope I'm not sore tomorrow. And after dinner tonight I had a bit of cereal. With tri training I've been going easy on myself when it comes to the evening cereal. I put maybe a 1/2 - 2/3 of a cup into a coffee cup, top it off with almond milk and call it dessert. I know I'm eating a bit more than I need overall (because my scale is up a bit this morning) but I'm leaving the cereal/dessert alone for now. A girl can only handle so much :)

I am a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice offering Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for weight loss and maintenance. I have an office in Marin County, CA and I'm also available to see people via Skype. To learn more please visit my professional website at 


  1. Michelle,

    It must be very challenging. Thanks for sharing.


  2. i love it when some random mile about 2/3 of the way thru my run is my fastest mile.

    i don't think an entire footlong (as long as it's turkey breast or any of the other lower cal subs) is too much for lunch. besides, with your tri training, you're burning a lot more calories and need a lot more energy (read: healthy carbs). same goes for the evening cereal.

    in the month of august, i completely wasted my gym membership. i didn't go once. i don't think i went the last week of july either. when this month rolled around, i vowed to get myself back in the gym. since i love running so much, i decided the way to make the gym more appealing to me was to do a short run prior to going into the gym (i do not like the treadmill, so i do these short runs outside the gym). i love the gym again (YAY!) and i feel more accomplished because i'm burning anywhere from 33% to 50% more calories more than i was before with my gym workouts because my metabolism is ramped up from running.


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