Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A LONG Labor Day

Thanks, SD. It's hard to say how much it means to have good friends, especially the ones who ride 120-mile bike rides with you, and then throw a celebratory cookout for you at their home.
One of my two-year old goals was finally met yesterday when SD and I departed from my house in Florence and pedaled ourselves up the Natchez Trace all the way to the home of the 10AcUtes. They had come down on Sunday to spend the night at our place and invited us to celebrate a Labor Day cookout with them at their place yesterday evening.
With the hassle of finishing a dissertation, I have maybe ridden 25 miles on my bicycle in the whole of 2009. I have wanted to ride from Florence to Nashville (or the other way) since we moved here two years ago, but other things have taken priority. With those out of the way, this ride seemed like an appropriate end to my graduate career, and I was tempted to take my bike to Nashville on the day of my defense and ride it home to Florence immediately following the defense. (Logistics made that desire more difficult than what I was willing to hassle with, so I opted for the Labor Day ride.) I have a strange mind that thinks such physical suffering is an appropriate accompaniment to the mental and emotional suffering that is associated with earning a Ph.D., and I wanted the ride to effectively purge all of the frustration and anxiety that has been accumulating in my mind over the past few years. Now that the ride is over, I will admit that the dissertation and defense provided motivation in some of the more challenging parts of the ride, but it didn't change anything about me. I am still me, only I have completed a fairly significant physical labor that allows me to feel pleased with myself.
We left at about 6:20 a.m. under the crepuscular light of morning, temperature about 65 degrees Farenheit. The roads were fairly quiet, especially in the first 14 miles between my house and the Natchez Trace. There were still patches of fog surrounding many of the creeks which dropped the temperature 15 degrees or more in places, but riding through them was far from unpleasant. We hit the Trace at mile 338 and headed north. At mile 342, SD remarked that the Trace ended at mile 442, so we had a century plus about 4 miles before the end of our ride. At mile 339, we began to sing "99 bottles of beer" at each mile to distract us from the monotony and encourage us to count off the miles as they passed. I eventually opted for a modified version of the song, "99 miles left to ride on the Trace, 99 miles left to ride, we'll pedal along, singing our song, 99 miles left to ride on the Trace" and so on. It worked, but our math was off a few times. Having not been on the bike for any significant amount of time this year, my backside is not conditioned to sitting in the saddle for that long. By the time we hit the Trace, I was beginning to think I had made a terrible mistake. Fortunately, the pain eventually gives way to numbness, and an occasional stint out of the saddle allowed me enough relief to finish. I just need to be sure and ride a few hours each week so I can condition myself better.
AM and the kids caught up with us at Meriwether Lewis, just past the halfway point and we restocked our food and gatorade supplies. I ate a Clif Bar and suffered tremendously for most of the next hour. Just outside of Meriwether Lewis is Big Swan Creek and the longest, steepest climb on that portion of the Trace. We averaged 4.7 mph up that hill, and I felt like vomiting all the way up. AM stopped at a couple of places and took some photos of us suffering, but we eventually crested the hill and had an easier time of it from that point on.
CJ came along a couple of hours later and overtook us at the Tennessee Valley Divide. We stopped for a 15 minute rest, restocked once again, and only had 35 miles left on our journey. That rest was much needed and left us restored enough to actually finish the ride. We were both surprised at the long and winding climb from Leiper's Fork to Nashville. There are a number of places where the road levels out for a couple of hundred yards, but then ascends again for a hundred yards or so. We rolled into SD's driveway just after 3:30 p.m., about 9 hours and 20 minutes after we left Florence. We had ridden for 8 hours and 10 minutes, and our various stops along the way amounted to just over an hour. Total distance: 121 miles. Average speed: 14.8 mph.
We veged for a few minutes, then separated for showers and a nap. My legs are a little tired today, my knees are a little stiff, but I feel remarkably well for having ridden 121 miles on my bicycle in 85 degree heat.
Next year, we'll take the trace south from Nashville to Florence. Anyone willing to put up with a couple of slow moving cyclists is welcome to come along.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Just another random post

Yesterday I extended my run from one mile to two. It took 22 minutes to run the two miles while pushing WH and SR2 in the jogging stroller. IA alternately lagged behind and surged ahead on his bicycle based on the terrain. My quads feel a little sore today. CJ wanted to watch HP5 (Order of the Phoenix) last night, and I only made it about half way into it before I dozed off. She brought me home a medium chocolate frosty treat from Wendy's, which I dutifully ate (without any coaxing, of course,) and I don't think it was all that great for my energy level today. The diet is going to be the most challenging habit to break and reestablish in this push for greater fitness. I think it's best if I just keep running. The diet will come gradually, as it always does.
Labor Day plans: bicycle with my friend SD, the 10aCUte, from Florence to Nashville. I get my bikes back from the bike doctor today. I am looking forward to 120 miles of good old fashioned suffering. (Okay, I won't suffer for the full 120 miles, but most likely anything after 60 will be pretty miserable.)
I'll post again Monday night or Tuesday with the results of the ride.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The New Me

I just realized that I haven't posted to this blog in nearly fifteen months. That's almost embarrassing to me.
At long last, I have finished my education. On Monday, August 31, 2009, I successfully defended my Ph.D. dissertation and became "Dr. Infanger." The reality of it has not set in, and quite frankly, my life has been pretty constant since I began working at UNA two years ago. I guess that means that there's not much surprise or change to be expected, although now I am credentialed and can look at the nameplate on my office door without shame. (It's said Dr. Infanger since I took occupancy of the office two years ago.) With this finished, I can now get back to the things that I have wanted to do, but always had the dissertation looming as an impenetrable barrier.
So, with not a little shame and embarrassment, I resume blogging about my fitness goals. I really like what my friend Goat has done with his blog, so I will attempt something similar.
It's been a long time since anyone has browsed this blog, so I enjoy relative anonymity again, but it's at least a place for me to keep a record of my own goals and achievements.
At present I weigh 205 pounds. I am heavier now than I have ever been in my life. My clothes don't fit, I am sluggish and tired much of the day, and I don't enjoy the way I feel. Even my Wii Fit calls me a couch potato.
This is a far cry from the person I was when I began this blog. I have fallen so far out of shape that I don't know how long it will take to get back into it, but I am going to get there by the end of the year.
I began running again last night. One mile, pushing my two youngest boys in the jogging stroller. I'll work up to four miles by the end of the week and hold it there for a while. I want to establish a habit of running for 30-45 minutes a day, and I think four miles will be pretty good for me, especially since the stretch of road I live on makes a nice 2-mile loop.
There's a lot more to catch up on, but I need to consider this blog like my exercise program and take it slowly to start. One mile last night, a little writing today. More tonight and tomorrow. Keep it going, but keep it manageable.