Monday, June 24, 2013

Fighting with Mother Nature

Mother Nature and I didn't get along very well today. First, my alarm went off at 4:45am - it's time to run!  It wasn't just raining... it was pouring with loud thunder and banging lightning. Needless to say, I wasn't heading out the door; however, I was now awake. I hate the fact that I can't fall back asleep.

Once the rain stopped, I stood on my deck in the cool breeze, craving for a run. By now, hubs had left for work and I was on kid-duty. I announced to the girls that we'd be heading downstairs shortly to run on the treadmill.  It's been awhile (long while) since I've had to resort to the dreadmill. My girls, on the other hand, were rather excited to watch mommy run and hurried down to get the treadmill set up. I thought that meant switch the on/off switch, so imagine my surprise when I found this...
Cheer signs taped to the treadmill dash... priceless

I decided to knock out my intervals (key run #1 on the Run Less Run Faster plan). It's my least favorite workout, but intervals do make time tick faster on the treadmill. I opened up my FIRST training app on my iPhone to find my interval goals for the week...

These times are so darn aggressive for me. I pushed, nearly killing myself, but didn't come anywhere near the goals. Regardless, it was a tough workout for me, a good training run.
Actual Completed Intervals 
2 mile warmup @ 6.0mph (10:00pace)
400 @ 8.0mph (7:30pace)
600 @ 7.9mph (7:36pace)
800 @ 7.8mph (7:42pace)
600 @ 7.9mph (7:36pace)
400 @ 8.0mph (7:30pace)
400 Recovery between each interval 
1 mile cooldown @ 6.0-5.6mph (10:00-10:43pace)

By time we came upstairs, the sun had heated up outside. I needed a shower, but instead we all jumped in the pool... Ahhh!

Tonight I arranged a sub for the Spinning and Strength Circuit classes that I teach every Monday evening. Today was the last night for the local Kids Run Series, which my little girls have not missed one run - thanks to their daddy!  Big Girl has progressively gotten faster in her 1/4 mile run and was so anxious to show mommy her newfound speed. I was excited to finally be able to see them run and receive their trophies. Mother Nature once again had the last laugh and foiled our run plans today.  A storm blew up out of nowhere - quite brief, but just enough to cancel the event 15 minutes before it started. Drat!!

Setting my early alarm again and hoping to even the score with Mother Nature...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Reverse Duathlon

Self portrait on the bike...
This takes extreme coordination!
Today is a rest day. It was pre-planned since my long run is set for tomorrow. However, I have a hard time sticking to my schedule, specifically abiding to the rules of a "rest day". To force myself into compliance, I wear myself out the day before. I earn my rest day.

Yesterday morning, I did an easy 3 mile run, testing out the final course for the Sole Sisters 5K this Saturday.  It was a perfect summer day - bright sunshine, warm but not-too-hot temps. By afternoon, I was craving a bike ride, but I already had my weekly run with the Sole Sisters on deck. Training for two sports makes for complicated decisions. The crazy idea hit me to ride to the run. I got on and planned the safest route into downtown. Hubby was cool with it, so off I went.

A duathlon is an event that consists of a running leg, followed by a cycling leg and then another running leg - in a format bearing resemblance to triathlons.

I flipped it around to make a REVERSE DUATHLON...

9.25 miles on the bike - It was the hottest time of day with heavy traffic at the 5 o'clock hour. I need practice riding my bike in traffic, so it was good for my confidence. I had one huge ass hill to climb, the kind I usually avoid. Again, I need the experience of hill climbing on the bike... I made it up, slow and steady without falling over.

5K (3.1 miles) run - group run with my Sole Sisters. We had a great bunch last night as we tackled the hills of Springdale Cememtery. My legs felt weird to be running and it took me a good mile to find a groove.

8 miles on the bike - By 7pm, the day was winding down. The setting sun brought cooler temps and not-so-bright sun glare (ideal for cycling!). Plus I had less traffic to contend with later in day. Unfortunately, on the way home though, I had to deal with two big hills this time. Now tired, my quads and glutes kinda screamed, but I crawled up them without stopping. Yes!

Photos from an awesome Sole Sister... Thank you Laura!

I dropped into bed exhausted last night (nearly 7 miles running and 17 on the bike). Thankfully, I got to sleep in this morning for a change!  Unfortunately, I awoke to the crying of my Big Girl. She lost another tooth yesterday... and the Tooth Fairy didn't come!  Oh-Sh*t, mommy fail!! The price we pay for hard training.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Race Recap: 2013 Steamboat Classic

Saturday morning started in a frantic dither. I overslept my alarm (first time ever for a race!), thus my heart was racing long before the start of the 40th annual Steamboat Classic. Hubby and I quickly whipped on our clothes and dodged out the door. I didn't get a chance for breakfast, coffee, water or that pre-race number two. Not a good start.

Hubs had a pre-race photo to make, so I dropped him by the start and then went in search of a parking spot. It forced me to park further away, but I was pleased to get in a pre-race warmup. I jogged the 1/2 mile up the street to my own pre-race photo with the Sole Sisters...

I literally stepped in the photo and then shot off to the bathrooms. Sorry ladies, I was really non-social that morning... highly unusual for me. By time I made it through the bathroom lines, the National Anthem was playing and I was cutting it too close for my comfort. I jogged up the sidewalk and slipped in by the 8 min/mile pace sign.

The gun went off and the crowd was slow to get going. Finally, I hit the starting mat and saw some holes in the crowd to shoot through. The first 1/4 mile is the toughest part of this race since it's super crowded and also the only uphill portion of the course. There are no assigned corrals thus lots of walkers and slower folks up front. I can normally get by with ease, but Steamboat is packed and it is tough to maneuver at the start.

I hit the first corner (nearly tripping on a couple kids who cut in front of me) and let out a sigh. Here we go... one long shot to Glen Oak Park and then a turnaround to come back downtown. Straightaways are great in races for speed - no crowded corners to slow you down, but it can also be mundane on the brain. The temps were nice this morning in the low 70's, but that summer humidity still hung in the air.

Mile 1 - 7:58
Mile 2 - 8:27
I didn't feel particularly fast this morning, but when I saw my first mile split at 7:58, I knew I should back it down.  I do want to look alive in the last stretch.

Mile 3 - 8:29
I hit the turnaround and pushed into the third mile, which everyone agrees is the hardest of this race. Fatigue is starting to set in and yet you're only halfway done. It's always my worst mile split of Steamboat. I felt myself wavering; my chest compressing, searching for air. At one point, I slowed and caught my breathe. Then I started repeating the names of all my friends who were injured, on the disabled list. It's a long list right now. I focused on remembering every single one of them and just kept repeating their names like a roll call. It took my mind off the discomfort and helped to get me through mile three.

Mile 4 - 8:09
Shortly after crossing under the mile 3 banner, my friend Erin came up on my side. Her words were simple and short... but perfect. "Get that PR Jess... pick 'em off one at a time." I really didn't know how close I was to my 4 mile PR (33:54 at the downhill River Trail Classic), so I just focused on the upcoming turn... Reach it. Push to the corner. Once I made the turn, it was a beautiful downhill shot to the finish.

The past two years I've run Steamboat, I've always had a pile up of people in front of me that make it difficult to sprint that final stretch. This year it was still a busy street, but there was a perfect window of room for me to run. It was like they parted ways for me. Loved it! Perhaps my best finish yet.

I came through the chute exhausted.  My secret goal was to get under 33 minutes and I missed that. I still didn't know if I had toppled my PR, but was pleased with my run regardless. I grabbed a couple bottles of water and headed back down the stretch to cheer in my hubby - who is on a streak lately, breaking his PRs at every race he runs. I guess it pays off to not train. Ha!

Official Chip Time 33:28
8:22 average pace
Overall #722 of 3495
Female #171 of 1809
Div F35-39  #16 of 260

In my third year of running Steamboat, I've managed to improve each year by at least a minute...
2011 - 35:55
2012 - 34:33
2013 - 33:28
One of the most common questions I get is "How do you get faster?" In my mind, it's simple... Consistency. Get out there every day and keep on running. The speed increases naturally as you become a stronger, more fit runner.

Now the BEST part of Steamboat... the after party! Honestly, I run this race year after year just for the happy runner reunion afterward. It's likely the most popular local race in Peoria, so I get to see lots of my favorite people. It even calls back runners who have moved away to return for a visit. I simply love our time on the grass along the riverfront. Did I mention FREE BEER?!

And after the race beer ran out, we continued our shenanigans at the local Hooters.
After all, it was a long walk back to our car and we needed a bathroom stop...

CHEERS to happy running!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Giveaway: Venus de Miles

I've struggled lately with TIME. There never seems to be enough time in a day for all the things I want to do. This is nothing new of course, and I'm sure many of you feel the same way. One of the things I'm stressing over is my upcoming bike event, the Venus de MilesJuly 28 on the north side of Chicago. While I do Spinning class several times a week, it's not the same as road miles. With a little over a month to go, I'm feeling unprepared for a race. And I never do that!

This morning I was browsing their website and read this...
Venus de Miles is a lot of things, Northern Illinois' first all-women's road ride a celebration of sisterhood, support for Greenhouse Scholars, and crazy fun – but one thing it’s not is a race. So, don’t be afraid to walk your bike up that hill, and, most importantly, enjoy yourself.

It put things into perspective and set me at ease. Venus de Miles is not about how fast I can cover the miles. It's about a fun experience with fabulous endearing women. Yes, the mileage itself will be a challenge... I signed up for the 61 mile event, but there is also a 25 mile event. I may have a sore booty the next day, but surely I can do this! Yes, I can!

Her Majesty (my bike) was so good
to me during my first triathlon
My plan for the next six weeks is simple... Give Her Majesty some love! Love being equal to road time. I will also be starting up my new Half Marathon training plan, so it will be a balancing act between the two sports.

Six-Week Training Goals
Spinning / indoor cycling: 2-3x each week
This can't change much since I teach classes.

Outdoor road ride: 2x each week
One fast tempo ride of 7-10 miles
One comfortable paced ride of 20-35 miles

I wish I had devised a more definite training plan, but to be honest, I've never done real cycling training.  It's always been a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of thing for me... mostly dependent on the weather and scheduling. I did a little research looking at training plans for the bike, but there's not nearly as much out there as compared to running. And most plans talk specifically to the illustrious Century Ride. It kinda overwhelmed me and I quit reading. I'm not up on the cycling lingo and admittedly have a lot to learn about the sport.  I'm a huge book hound... so I am looking for a great cycling book. Any riders have a recommendation??

Next task... What shall I wear?!?

Who wants to be my training buddy? Hold each other responsible for the miles and learn from one another... and then meet up on July 28 at the Venus de Miles women's bike event!!

If you'd like to be a part of this exciting ride, enter below to 
It's gonna be EPIC fun!

Are you a West Coast gal? Check out the Colorado Venus de Miles event in September!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 10, 2013

Can running ruin your marriage?

I read an impactful post here from SwimBikeMom (and Dad) this morning. They talk quite frankly about their marital struggle during Ironman training. It hit home for me... in a big way, at just the right time.

Training for race events can be tough, both physically and mentally. Whatever level you are at (Ironman, marathon, 10k or your first 5k), a new training schedule alters your focus. Let's be honest, it can consume you. A training plan changes your daily routine... but more importantly, there is a change in your heart and soul, in the very fiber of who you are. This can make your life flourish... or completely ruin your marriage.

No doubt about it... my running hobby has become a family affair.

When I started my running in 2009, my hubs wasn't exactly fond of this new hobby. I left him home with two little babies. In my absence, he was 100% responsible for their well-being. As a new father, the 'what ifs' kinda freaked him out. Nothing ever happened. Everyone survived. Mommy got her daily run in, lost the baby weight, and everyone lived happily ever after... right?

Me and the hubs in the starting chute
of my first marathon. It meant SO
MUCH to run that first mile with
him by my side. (He ran the 5k)
Instead, Mommy got sucked into the world of running. It literally changed my life... No doubt, it changed ME. I was no longer the same woman that my husband married. I was changing fast and furious. I loved having a big race event on the calendar, training my butt off, making new friends in the process, and then finally, the glory of accomplishment when marathon day arrived. The changes inside me were evident... all positive, right? Perhaps.

All this new activity inherently takes time away from other things... quite naturally from those we often take for granted - our family. There were many nights (still are) when family dinners don't happen. Instead of grocery shopping and preparing meals like a good little housewife, I was consumed with reading running blogs or writing this one.  There are countless Saturdays that I missed a lazy morning with my kids watching cartoons and eating pancakes. Story and craft time slowly transformed into gym time. We've skipped numerous weekend events because mommy is just too exhausted or has a long run in the morning.  I party (a.k.a. drink alcohol) much less now... which was quite often, couple bonding time in our "previous life". There is no doubt that athletic training involves a certain amount of sacrifice... and creates a new way of life.

So how does one keep doing what they love without losing the ones they love?  It's the million dollar question, right?  First of all, I'm no expert. I make mistakes; I do and say things I regret. But I feel like we have been up and down the mountains of adversity... and have come out of it happier than ever. Honestly, I can not imagine a better life than mine right now, at this exact date in time.  My hubby is incredibly supportive of my nonstop running (and now cycling) escapades, but honestly, he probably wouldn't shed a tear if I stopped it all right now.

With every training cycle, athletes learn more and more about their bodies... how they react to workouts, how they get injured and recover.  We push and push for the next level, squeezing the most out of every workouts - without doing any damage. It's been the same balancing act for me with my family - moreover, my marriage.  With every race I train for, I learn better what works for us. There is a delicate balance of too many races (him) and not enough (me).

So without further ado, here are some of my tips to keeping it all happy...

As an (early) Father's Day present this year, I bought
hubs a fancy new bike. He WILL be a cyclist yet!  LOL
Include your spouse (and family) in your passion. And be a part of theirs. Sometimes this can be difficult - especially when your spouse has absolutely no interest in taking up running, cycling, etc. That's pretty much how it started with me and my hubby. It can be rough and hard to stay motivated when your spouse isn't the least bit interested. Explain your passion and continually invite them to join the experience. Eventually, my man became interested, ever so slightly. He has now run numerous 5K's as well as a half marathon (never again, he says).  I wouldn't say he likes running. In fact, he doesn't even train for his races. He likes to brag that he's perfected the art of couch-to-5K... quite literally.  On the flip side, play an active role in wherever your spouse's interest lie. It's a give and take kind of game. My hubs likes golf and baseball games. I'm not always an active part (I hate golf!), but I do buy him gift cards for rounds of golf and try to give him the space to slip away as needed.

Make your training as tolerable as possible.  It's no secret that I get up real early in the morning to run. Partly because I like mornings, but that wasn't always the case. I started setting my alarm for the buttcrack of dawn to ease the stress on my family. I cut my sleep short so I don't cut my time with them.  It really helps relieve that feeling of "sticking him with the kids". I can be done with my run before they even finish breakfast, many times before they're even awake! If early mornings aren't possible for you, I know a lot of working moms who do lunchtime runs. Even others who squeeze in their run between the kids' bedtime and their own. As a stay-home mom, I've done a lot of runs with my kids... in the stroller or with them on a bike by my side. It's not always easy; but where there's a will, there's a way. The key is to find what works best for you and your family... without feeling guilty or that you "owe" your spouse. Of course, I also know women that are fine with "owing" their spouse and pay up in fun ways... wink, wink.

Have I mentioned yet how much
I love this guy!?!?
Renew relationships in your down time. Every athlete should schedule down time in their training cycle. Again, when that time is varies for everyone. I typically have a big race in the spring (train hard Jan-April), and then relax before I gear up for a fall race. So my down time falls over early summer and again during the Nov/Dec holidays.  I try to schedule fun family time during those periods. In summer, camping is our thing. The solitude away from home (and electronics) is the perfect renewal for us. I always return home, feeling completely in love with my little family. This past weekend we had one of those great camping escapes - in which we even squeezed in a 5k race. This mother runner is smiling ear to ear this morning.

I'm a firm believer that running (and the fit life in general) has made my life and marriage better. But it definitely has been work to get it to that point. Initially, there was a lot of juggling and arguments compromise to figure it out. We may not be perfect yet, but life is good. After all, when momma is happy, everyone is happy. This rings true in our household, which makes my hubby even more supportive of my running addiction. Some days, he even pushes me out the door, "Go Run... for the sake of us all!"

I'd love to hear how you make it all work with your spouse/family. 
Please share the methods to your madness in a comment below...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Race Recap: Tremont Turkey Festival 5K

The alarm rang through our camper at 5:45am, which felt incredibly early after a six-pack of beer the previous night. The whole family got dressed and made the short drive to Tremont for the Turkey Festival 5K.

The start/finish line was in the heart of the Tremont Turkey Festival

This was an unplanned race for me. A buddy of my husband's was running his first 5k, and hubs wanted to be there for support. Of course I was happy to oblige... under one condition - his teenage daughter watch our kiddos so I could run too. Deal done.
Hubs (far right) and his buddies

I wasn't exactly feeling in mint condition for a speedy run. A PR was the last thing from my mind with this mild hangover. In fact, the thought of running made my stomach turn. But I lined up at the start to make the best of it. I decided to just run how my body felt, rather than trying for a certain pace. I've been running naked for almost three weeks now, so this has become quite natural for me.

It was a perfect sunny morning with cool temps in the low 60's.  The gun sounded and off I went. My legs knew immediately what to do... and in a blink, one mile was done.
Mile 1 - 8:00

Love having my babies at my races!
We headed out a country road for a long out and back, which I personally enjoy. I saw several of my friends - infront and behind me. We exchanged high five's and cheers. The leaders, as always, were amazing to see whizzing past. (Overall winner finished in 15 minutes!) Out and backs give you a good view of the competition ahead. This race had a strong fast field; there were so many runners infront of me! Awards later confirmed that unless you ran a sub-23, you were pretty much shut out of age group awards here.
Mile 2 - 8:29

I was running pretty well (and didn't feel like I was dying), so I tried to make an honest effort in the last mile. There was a gradual incline in the last 1/2 mile that kinda hurt, but I got up it.
Mile 3 - 8:24

When I made the final turn, the 24 on the clock shocked me. Holy cow, how can I be so close to my PR (24:48)? I pushed it down the final stretch in hopes of crossing sub-25. I just missed it, but am still pretty happy with this race. I didn't think I had this kind of speed in the engine anymore...

Official Chip Time 25:01
8:04 average pace
Overall #120 out of 360
Div F35-39 #6 out of 36

We hung out afterwards for the pancake and sausage breakfast, and watched the awards ceremony. The trophies were cool looking, and I was sad I couldn't snag one. Rebecca, a blog reader whom I just met, took 3rd in my age group. Congrats! It was great to meet her, but seriously... we can no longer run the same races until I turn 40 - she's way faster than me!
I love to meet readers... except when they snag awards in my age group!

Bonus... this 5K race was only $22 and came with one of the neatest t-shirts I've gotten in a long time. Most of our local 5K races have skyrocketed this past year to a $30-35 price tag. I don't like it, fundraising or not. We're cutting back our 5K races this summer because of it. I just can't rationalize $70 for us to run 30 minutes... especially when the cheap shirts end up in our garage sale pile the next week.  The Turkey Festival 5K is one we would repeat... especially since we found a really nice campground (Kentuckiana Kampground) just 10 minutes away. I loved the small town friendly feel of this event.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Spartan Race Entry GIVEAWAY!

If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you know I'm a road runner. But... I do like the occasional adventure race if I get to dress silly and beer awaits me at the finish line {proof and proof}.

The ULTIMATE in adventure racing comes under the name SPARTAN.

The Spartan Race series has long intrigued me, but I'm a bit gun-shy after a friend broke her arm in one. Spartan is not for the weak at heart. It is straight-up hard core. I have several friends who have completed a Spartan - both the Super and Sprint distances. I look at them with great pride and admiration... and slight jealousy. Make no doubt, SPARTAN is a title I crave. I want to be as tough and badass as these ladies...

These photos just scream... I can survive ANYTHING!
And that's the attitude I try to have through life.

Cassie and Patty are both fellow Sole Sisters with whom I run and train. When asked if they would repeat their Spartan experience, they quickly replied "YES!"

Cassie illustrates how monumental Spartan was in her life... "Completing the Spartan was pretty symbolic for me. I wasn’t much of a risk taker in the past. If I thought something would be hard or require too much effort, I’d pass. When I encountered obstacles in life, I’d take the easy road because it felt safer. When you finish a Spartan and you look back at the grueling course that you completed, something inside you changes. You realize that you can push through anything and still be standing on your own two feet in the end." Just last month, Cassie completed her first 26.2 marathon. Indeed, anything IS possible!

- - -

Spartan Race is on a mission to get you active, healthy, excited about change, and return to our ancient roots where running through woods, getting dirty, and facing adversity was part of everyday life. Our events are all about challenging today’s perception of normal. Our events challenge the familiar, today’s perception of normal living and getting you out of your comfort zone! At Spartan Race, we do this everyday and it shapes everything we do.

Do you want to run a Spartan Race? 
Enter below via Rafflecopter for your chance to WIN A FREE ENTRY into any open heat of a 2013/2014 Spartan Race in the continental U.S.  
Find a Spartan near you here.  My favorite picks are ChicagoMilwaukee, NebraskaVirginia, and Philadelphia. Hint... You just may see me at Miller Park in Milwaukee on September 7...

I CAN'T WAIT... I'M IN!!  
Go ahead and register now, but save some cashola
by registering through the link HERE to receive 
15% OFF your race entry!

Spartan Tips (courtesy of my friends Patty & Cassie!)
  1. Work on cardio and strength training and never, ever give up!  If you're already a trained runner, you'll be fine with cardio, but work on upper body strength. The more you do beforehand, the better the race will be. You don't want people carrying your load. Be self-sufficient.
  2. Like any sport, what you wear (or don’t wear) is very important. NEVER wear cotton! There are many obstacles where you will be fully submerged in muddy water. The last thing you want is to have your clothing weighing you down or God forbid, falling off. I saw more naked rears climbing out of the water than I care to remember! What I suggest the ladies wear are compression capris or pants. When you’re crawling under that barbed wire, your knees with thank you!
  3. At any time during training, if you have doubt or just needed a pick-me-up, go to and watch the motivational videos and read the blogs. If those don’t inspire you to get up and get moving, nothing will!
Being able to say you are a Spartan is a privilege.
Wear the badge proudly! AROO!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

5000 Giveaway

I dangled the idea of a big giveaway last week out on Facebook. No surprise, everyone was interested and excited for free stuff!  I'm nearing 5000 likes on the Run With Jess Facebook page. I normally don't  get too involved in the popularity contest numbers game, but 5K is just too cool of number in a runner's world to ignore.

I've been mulling over what kind of prize seems appropriate for a 5K celebration. There are so many valuables to pick from, but in the end, I've settled on several products that are "can't live without" items in my own running journey. These are items that I believe in, trust and recommend to any runner. So without further ado, here is the GRAND DADDY 5K PRIZE PACK...

• A pair of Pro Compression socks - your size and style (knee-high or low trainers)
• A Bondi Band headband
• Sample collection of GU fueling products: gels and chomps
• Tube of Nuun electrolyte tablets + Nuun sports bottle

Holy cow... HOW do I win??

First, Run with Jess has to hit 5000.
LIKE IT if you don't already... and by golly, SHARE MY PAGE with your friends and followers!!!

Second, you gotta complete a 5K this week.
5 kilometers = 5000 meters = 3.1 miles  
Get it... run a meter for each of my 5000 likes!  Run it, walk it, bike it, elliptical, I don't care how... just GET ACTIVE and DO IT!!  You didn't really think I'd give away a big prize without making you work for it, did you?! The whole purpose of Run With Jess is to encourage and motivate others to run and lead healthy active lives. I won't stop until everyone slaps "runner" on their resume!

Once you've completed your 5K... comment below -OR- post on my FB page, telling me about your 5K. Include a photo if you'd like (I love to see sweaty run photos!).  All comments/posts will get an entry into the prize drawing.  Just that easy. Limit 1 entry per person. Winner will be drawn/announced 48 hours after I hit the big 5000... so you'll have plenty of notice to get running.

This is just a fun contest to say THANK YOU for reading and following Run With Jess!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Back in the Saddle

I've been putting off an important task for quite some time. Finally yesterday, I pulled up my big girl britches and got it done...

I changed the flat tire on my bike... all by myself.

Late last fall, my back tire went dead.  I'd re-pump every time I went out, but the slow leak persisted. Then cold set in and I hung my bike up in the garage and returned to the Spinning room for winter. The poor weather this spring has made it too easy to ignore my bike - especially knowing that I'd have to tackle the flat first. But I'm too stubborn to "take it in" to get fixed. I mean seriously, if I'm going to be a real cyclist, I have to learn to change a flat eventually.

So I got out my hands dirty and figured it out last night. An hour later, her Royal Majesty was fixed up and ready to ride. When my alarm went off at 5am this morning, I gave my running shoes a rest... and reached for my bike helmet instead. There was a giddy excitement percolating inside me to get back on the bike.

The saddle felt small and the tire so skinny. It took me a solid mile to find my balance again... and then I was off like a rocket, my confidence growing with each pedal. I love the FAST feeling that I get from a bike (versus running).  Everything sails by so quickly and the wind kisses my skin so cooly. I fall into a deep focus - working the gears with elevation and maneuvering around rocks and cracks in the road (no more flat tires please!)  It's been so long since I've ridden my purple beauty... and oh, how I've missed it!

The morning sunrise on today's bike ride
Views on my ride

On my first ride back, I put in 16.5 miles along my favorite country roads. Pure heaven! Time to get back in the saddle again ... and start my training for Venus de Miles in July.

Coming up this week... 
Your chance to WIN A FREE ENTRY into the Illinois Venus de Miles bike event on July 28.
I'm giving away a free entry... who wants it??