Training: Skip the Runs, Run the Races

I Like Racing Better Than Training

The Assistant finished in the top 1/3 of his age group.

The Assistant finished in the top 1/3 of his age group. The same pace put me next to last in mine.

I have been an abysmally bad runner lately. Sometimes I struggle to think of myself as a runner when I can’t drag my butt out for even the shortest training run.┬áNaturally, I have registered my ill-prepared self for three 5k races this month.

Wait, what? Naturally?

Hey, I like to race. I like the energy, the experience, the camaraderie. I don’t like running alone. So, if I’m going to run at all without the aid of Team in Training, I’ll do it the only way I know how: serial racing.

I ran with the Tiny Coaching Assistant. He’s normally a whirlwind of speed, but he struggled through this race with a stitch in his side. He was having a rough time of it, and went from running to walking to skipping trying to work it out. “There were times when I wanted to stop,” he said afterward. “But you know… bagels at the finish line.” I think I’m going to put this on a shirt someday. (Mind you, he ate half a bagel, half a banana and a quarter of a massive muffin afterward. And then we went out for breakfast.)

The race was well-managed, but the race shirt sizing was a mess.

The race was well-managed, but the race shirt sizing was a mess.

My next two races are in Dallas mid-month. I don’t cope well with humidity, so this should be interesting.

In other health-related news, I’ve been continuing the bike-riding program set forth by the Assistant. On May 1, at his request, I started officially tracking my miles for the month. They’re divided into two categories: exercise miles — jaunts taken with no errand at the end — and car replacement miles. The latter is exactly what it sounds like. This week, I went carless on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, in spite of temperatures in the mid-90s. I’ve also been optimizing my grocery shopping by buying new pannier bags and a bike basket to make my errand-running more efficient. It’s been an interesting exercise in “can I fit this in my bag?” and “does it weigh too much to haul home?” More on this in a later post.

My 15-year-old hybrid Trek, the best gift from my husband.

My 15-year-old hybrid Trek, the best gift from my husband.

I’ve also been on the hunt for a more upright, recreational bike for the local errands. There’s nothing wrong with my old hybrid Trek 700; it’s a great bike. But I definitely have a pronounced forward lean when I ride it, which is fine for longer hauls when I’m willing to wear bike shorts, but significantly less comfortable when I’m doing short hauls around town in regular old clothing.

The problem seems to be that my “dream bike” — a step-through urban upright — doesn’t exactly exist outside of Europe because I’m taller than the average woman. When I get the seat-to-pedal ratio right, the handlebars feel weird. When I get the seat-to-handlebars ratio right, the pedals feel off. I do better with the proportions of men’s bikes, but I was hoping to find a women’s step-through frame so I can wear all of my clothing, from jeans to skirts, without worrying about flashing passersby.

The good news is that I can order frightfully expensive bikes from Europe that will likely fit. Sight unseen! Yeah, as if I’m going to spend that kind of money without trying it first. Nope, not likely.

What have you been up to lately?

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