Life the City - Touring and Triathlon Training

We are entering into that gorgeous time of year in Philadelphia when the trees and flowers have bloomed, the skies are clear and the temperatures are above 70. Though the last two days have been unseasonably warm, nearer to the upper 80's than is normal for late April. Rittenhouse Square looked like the Jersey Shore today, there were so many people laying out sunbathing, playing Frisbee and jamming on instruments.
I was out biking and running and inside swimming all weekend. I felt like I was doing a mini-triathlon spread out over the course of two days. Friday after work I rode 25 miles round trip, with Susan Hill, up West River Drive and into the Wissahickon Trail to Valley Green. It was a wiser ride to do, riding along the side of the river that is less crowded and into Forbidden drive at a less inhabited hour. The ride into Valley Green isn't easy on a road bike with skinny tires. I felt every pebble in my mid-section and bottom. Small painful price to pay for a bit of freedom from joggers, Rollerblades and baby strollers crowded the path on Kelly Drive.
Saturday I went to a run clinic along the Wissahickon Trail in Chestnut Hill with the Danskin SheRox Tri mentors and participants. It was the first of the season's training clinics. I had the chance to meet a fellow Tri-Gal, Ellen, a woman who happens to live near me, and is a first time participant. My SheRox Tri mentor, is surprisingly and funnily enough, a woman named Sue. Seems like so many of my athletic partners are Sue's. If you want to be in our work-out gang of Hearty Girls, you need to be a Sue. I'm Sous Chef. The lady I met this weekend is not a Sue, but she said we could call her Sue-Ellen! The run clinic was fantastic. It was a basic get out and run at your own pace event, with a question and answer session after. Having one tri under my belt, and having continued my training in between the seasons, I could appreciate the work I've done and the things I've learned in the past year, about tri's, exercise and the importance of finding your athletic rhythm and ability. Ellen and I ran a slow and steady pace for 20 minutes through the Valley Green Wissahickon trail. Then we turned around, as designated and ran back to the start. I think we ran about 3 miles, maybe a bit more, for a total of 40 minutes. I felt great! Towards the end, I picked up my pace. I could talk some while running, so I wasn't to exerted. It was so wonderful to see what the indoor running has helped me do for an outdoor run. Running is fun! And it's cheap. I still love the biking, but I'm starting to see that running is addictive and I like it.
After the run clinic, I was home by 10:30 am. Ate breakfast, did some errands and went to the bike shop and bought spandex biking shorts! At 1 pm I had a swimming lesson. Part-two of my triathlon day. Got to the gym early to warm up and do some practice laps. I've been taking swimming lessons to help improve my swim. It's made a tremendous difference. I have learned essential breathing techniques, how to reach forward better, how to utilize my strokes and how to turn to breathe without lifting myself out of the water. Had I had one or two of these lessons last year, I may not have panicked so much in last year's swim portion of the tri. What a difference a year makes. Anyone who is reading this who wants to or is going to do a triathlon - if you can't swim well, take some lessons, it will help you in countless ways. Running is easy - you can power walk, jog or just dash out there. Biking, you just pedal and go, but swimming, you need to have real skills to help you get through the first leg of the event.
In between the running and swimming, I biked around on my beach cruiser, going from place to place, adding in 6 or 8 miles. That's part three of my weekend triathlon. Saturday night, I went to a fundraiser party for the LiveStrong Foundation Ride. I've signed up on a team to bike ride 70 miles, raising funds for Lance Armstrong's cancer foundation. The team I'm on is Margaritaville or Bust - its Sue S.'s brother's group. Her brother is a cancer survivor, and he and his friends have been doing the LiveStrong Ride for the past 3 or 4 years. It's a great cause, that raises money for cancer research and other cancer fighting causes. I have to raise $250 for the event, which I think might not be too difficult. My hope is that I can get 50 folks to give $5 each - for which I will give each donor a personalized photo from my collection. I'm also hoping to get some of those yellow Live Strong bracelets to give away too. So if you want to contribute, you can click here - or check out the side-bar icon on the right to go to my fund-raising page.


Sunday - no exercise. It was City Food Tour Day. I barely had any time at home this weekend, what with being out all day on Friday and Saturday. I made lunch for Liz and her mom who is here visiting. We ate a quick meal before we all had to go off in the afternoon for Opera and Food Tours. The past few weekends I've been working on my tours with the Robert and Eric at City Food Tours. Last Saturday I trained for the Flavors of Philadelphia Tour - Tomato Pie, Cheese steaks, Pretzels, Cookies, and other important Philadelphia food groups. The past two Sundays have been Cheese, Chocolate and Gelato. Lots of fun. This weekend's tour was a group of 24 Drexel University Students. One of our best groups yet. Robert and I split the group into two, each of us taking a group to a location on our own. The Drexel students were fun, respectful and interested in each destination and the lessons we discuss. It was such a contrast of behavior from one of our other tour groups, where we had to fight for the group to listen and pay attention to us. Previous large groups have been more interested in texting, cellphone conversations and socializing than they were in learning about the reasons why there are so many kinds of cheese when they all start out as milk, or why small batch chocolates are tastier and more nuanced than drug store chocolate bars. Kudos to Drexel University and the Student Activities coordinator, Nicholas. What a delight it was to hang out with you all!
The upcoming week will find me practicing my swimming, biking at least one long ride - home from Paoli on Friday afternoon, a possible run, and doing two or three more City Food Tours. In between there's more time with Liz' mom, work, a lecture at the Free Library, Phillies game and a shift at Williams-Sonoma. If it seems that I'm not blogging as much, it's because I'm not. The weather is too nice to keep me inside to write!

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