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Fall is my favorite time of year, but it creates a challenge for exercising, at least during the week. The days get shorter, the temperatures cooler and the kids after-school activities more frequent, which leaves less time for biking or running.

Yesterday I left work a little early. The temperature was right, the winds negligible and the sunlight still beaming. I hopped on my bike and took off down the road. My muscles complained a bit with the unfamiliar movement since I’d been doing more running and less biking lately.

The right combination of layers and windproof gloves kept me warm, except for my ears, which were uncovered. Gradually I found my rhythm and even though it wasn’t my usual speed, it still felt good. I checked my watch and the sky. The sun was starting
to lower itself on the horizon. My bright pink vests increases visibility, but I still didn’t want to get caught in the dark.

I made the turn for home and increased my pace. So did the sun. It was a race, who would reach their destination first?  I made it
home as the shadows grew longer and the air cooler but still a bit of light in the sky.

Today, I beat the daylight but soon it will be no match. Even though I plan to run outside during the winter, the shorter days and challenging winter weather means much of my exercise time will be spent inside.

This Sunday I will compete in the Iron Girl Duathlon which will be held at Normandale Lake Park in Bloomington MN. The race starts with a 2 mile run, followed by a 22 mile bike ride then finishes with another 2 mile run.

I signed up for this race on June 20, after watching the boys run the Gary Bjorkland ½ Marathon in Duluth. Their determination and desire to take on a challenge inspired me to do the same. I’ve spent the summer running and biking, putting on more miles
than I ever have in the past. I realize I’m not doing as many as some other may be, but it’s still an increase for me. Mentally it has been a great experience to take on challenges, set goals and accomplish them.

I have to admit I’m starting to get nervous, or perhaps excited would be a better word. After focusing on this race all summer, it’s only a few short days away. From all I hear, it’s a great event. Since I haven’t done this before, I don’t have any specific times in mind. My only goal is to compete as well as I can and to have fun. My kids call me Iron Mom and I can’t wait to be one after the race on Sunday.

Running and taking a nap are at opposite ends of the activity spectrum. Yet often when I have a cold, as I did this past week, I find myself trying to choose which activity to do. This was the case on Tuesday, which if you recall, was the best weather day we had this past week. Battling a cold and coming home from a busy day at work, I debated whether to go for a quick run or just make supper and relax afterwards.  In the back of my mind I knew that some type of exercise makes me feel better, it’s finding the motivation to take the first steps.

I found my motivation in the form of Beth, my daughter. When I got home I asked her if she’d ride bike with me as I ran. In a cheerful voice she replied “yes Mom.” While it was only a 2 mile run, the activity combined with the sun on my face and the pleasant conversation of my daughter was just the tonic I needed. To top it off, Dale had prepared supper and everything was ready when I got back home.

I’m glad I forced myself to do a little bit of exercise. In the spirit of full disclosure I should mention that Wednesday night, I did spend most of the evening relaxing on the couch. Thursday I felt much better. I’m sure it’s a combination of rest and exercise that helps me get over my cold, but I can honestly say that when I’m not feeling good, I try to exercise. Whether it’s the blood pumping or the endorphins flowing, something about it helps me feel better.

An unexpected snow storm blew up Friday and as you can see by the picture, the wind was blowing hard. You may be curious why this blog is called winter biking. No, I’m not crazy enough to try biking in the snow and ice. For my birthday/Christmas gift, Dale gave me a Cyclotron, which is a frame that holds the rear wheel axel on my bike so that I can bike outdoors.

Biking indoors helps break up the monotony of the treadmill. Even though I vary my workouts, it’s nice to do something different. So far, I’ve enjoyed biking. The only downside is that the speedometer/ odometer is on the front wheel of my bike, which doesn’t move. So I have no way of tracking how fast or how far I go. (Yes, I feel the need for speed). This forces me to go by time and I really don’t like watching the clock. But I can watch TV or a movie and it helps pass the time away.

It’s nice to have alternatives on days like these.

  With the fall season officially here, it’s time to say goodbye to much of the garden produce. Beets, carrots and potatoes have all been dug and are ready for winter storage. The tomato plants have produced well, but are starting to fade and the recent heavy rains have been hard on them. Only the squash, pumpkins and sweet potatoes remain in the garden, as we wait until they reach full maturity.

 Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the warm sunny days and the cool crisp nights. The colorful leaves paint a wonderful picture across the trees. The fall air has a certain scent that is easy to identify, but hard to explain. Going for bike rides and running seems extra special because I know that in a few weeks, the weather will change and not be as pleasant.

 A few apples hang on the trees and we continue to harvest them as best we can before they fall to the ground. Apple pies, crisps, pancakes and applesauce dominate the menu as we try to eat them at their peak.

 Soon I’ll put away the tomato cages, haul off the excess vines and have Dale till the garden. Before too long a blanket of snow will cover the ground as it goes dormant over the winter in preparation for spring and the next garden season.

  My exercise routine this week was anything but routine due to my attending the World Pork Expo. For those of you not familiar with this event, it’s a combination of a trade show, educational seminars and grilling competition. Throw in the Junior National Show with about 600 exhibitors showing 1500 pigs and Des Moines Iowa June 9-11 was the place to be for anything to do with pigs.

 My week started off by leaving for Des Moines on Monday to set up the Hubbard Feeds booth. Tuesday we had a swine training meeting for our salespeople. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was the tradeshow, which I worked most of the time. Working the tradeshow involves a lot of time standing, which is tiring. Our booth was really busy so visiting with people all day can also be tiring, although it’s rewarding.

 For me, it’s challenging to fit in some time to work out. We start early in the morning. Typically a group of us go out for dinner in the evening. Later in the evening it’s a great opportunity to visit with people from around the country to see how business is going for them. Not much opportunity to fit in a run.

 I was lucky to fit in a short run on the treadmill Thursday evening as the kids swam in the hotel pool. It felt good to stretch my muscles and get my heart rate going. What I’m really looking forward to is getting home and getting out on my bike. The weather forecast for the weekend is for rain off and on, so I really hope I get the chance to get out.

 The World Pork Expo is a great deal of work for me, but I also find it exciting. I enjoy meeting with people from all over the US and the world and from all types of farms, from small to large. I also enjoy seeing what’s new in the industry. Typically we’re highlighting something new in our booth, so I’m eager to see the crowd’s reaction. The workout I do get involves much standing and walking around the fairgrounds, and while I miss running and biking, I enjoy seeing and visiting with my friends in the pork industry.

“Let’s do laundry”. These are the code words that Teresa Stevermer, my good friend who’s running the half marathon at Grandma’s, and I use when we want to go biking. We started this last year. It seems like every time we wanted to go biking, it would be rainy and windy. But if we said “let’s do laundry”, the weather would be nice. Apparently even the weather doesn’t like laundry.

Even though we live only ½ a mile from each other and our kids are in activities together, biking allows us to catch up with what’s happening in each other’s lives. It’s also a chance to vent our frustrations and channel that energy towards something positive, exercise.

Yesterday we biked around Mankato. We started in Rapidan on the Red Jacket trail and ended up north of Mankato on the Sakatah trail. These are really nice trails and we discovered a new park only a few blocks from where I work. The river and buildings have different perspective when you’re biking right next to them and not on the street in your car.

On the way back, after we’d done about 24-25 miles, we decided to take a trail that led to Minneopa Park. I don’t think that either of us realized we’d have to bike up a big, long hill. Even though our legs were tired and we were low on energy we kept going. About half way up the hill, in a moment of weakness, I shouted out “I’m going to walk”. Teresa looked back at me and said “really?” With that I knew I couldn’t walk and slowly, but surely we made it up the hill. After a mile or so of recovery, we decided going to Minneopa may be farther than what we wanted to do, so we headed back to Rapidan. For the day, we biked 32 miles.

The second best part of “doing laundry” is lunch. We ate at the Cottage Café in Amboy. I don’t think there was a bit of food left on our plates. Teresa and I talked about how much we enjoy being involved in our kids’ activities, but we also need time for ourselves. Biking provides us some great get away time and just as important, good exercise.  

So the next time you hear Teresa and I talking about “doing laundry” it may mean more than you think. We’re already planning the next laundry day.

Finally some sunshine, I have talked to more people who were feeling bummed about all the cloudy weather. In true Minnesota fashion, once we get warm weather, we get out and enjoy it, and in some cases overdue it.

Last Friday was Track & Field day at Adam and Beth’s school. It’s a combination of running, jumping and silly events for the kids to compete in. Adam ran his best 1600 m, with a 5:48 time. He was happy to get the school record. I on the other hand, seemed to have pulled a hamstring muscle. Who knew that squatting down 100 times to measure the long jump could cause muscle strain. Next time I stretch before I measure.

Saturday was filled with outdoor chores, mowing the lawn, trimming around the buildings and washing the car. I was able to get in a 15 mile bike ride, which felt really good.

Sunday was more lawn mowing and washing the van. Dale was able to finish planting the garden, which meant putting in green beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, beets, muskmelon and squash. Our potatoes, onions, spinach and lettuce that were planted earlier are growing nicely. That evening Dale and the boys went to see Clash of the Titans, while Beth and I stayed home. She rode bike with me as I ran 2 miles. My muscles seemed a little sore, but it was still good to run.

I treasure weekends like we just enjoyed. It’s that combination of hard work outdoors, plus relaxing and enjoying the beautiful weather that leaves you with a good kind of tired at the end of the day.

 

This last week of cool windy weather has forced me back inside on the treadmill. I don’t have the fancy, wind stopping, moisture absorbing, create your own heat type of clothes that Dale has. I also just don’t seem to have that same desire to take on the elements like he does. So cold, wet, windy weather feels just, well, ….. cold, wet and windy.

It’s amazing how boring the treadmill becomes once you’ve experienced the outdoors. I’d come to enjoy the 2- 2.5 mile runs with Dale. In addition, I’d bought a new bike this spring. This bike is lighter and more efficient which means with the same amount of energy I’m traveling farther. I’ve also noticed this new bike seems to travel better through the ever present prairie winds, which makes the ride more pleasant.

So my last three workouts have been back on the treadmill and while I can tell I’m stronger and even able to run my intervals at faster speeds, I can’t help but look down at the odometer and say “is that all the farther I’ve gone?” Two minutes outside seem much shorter than two minutes inside. Why is that?

Still, I’m grateful for the treadmill because in the past, the alternative would have been to say “it’s too windy, I guess I’ll just skip my workout today.” Then I’d feel miserable for not having done anything. Besides, if I get tired of the treadmill, I always have Wii Fit. Don’t laugh, 6 minutes of Super Hula Hoop is tougher than you think.

This past weekend I was able to ride my bike for the first time this season. I did 10.6 miles in 42.26 minutes and averaged about 14.5 miles per hour. That’s pretty good for my first ride of the year. Doing more intense workouts at a greater frequency on the treadmill this past winter must have helped.  It felt nice to exercise a different set of muscles and especially to take some stress off my knees and hip. I really enjoy biking, probably because it seems easier than running and also because I can go longer distances. I’ve always enjoyed sports that have a high degree of activity and feel like you’re really doing something.

The day after my bike ride, I went for a 2.25 mile run. I wasn’t sure how my legs would respond but they felt good and I had a pretty strong pace. My daughter Beth rode her bike along with me, which was a big help. Once again it was a windy day and having someone with me out on the road helps motivate me. Plus Beth is such a pleasant young lady, it’s just fun having her around. She’s hoping to run one of the fun kid’s races up in Duluth during the marathon weekend.

As the weather warms up, I plan to get out on my bike more often. At the same time, I want to start stretching my running distances so that I get closer to the 3.1 miles I’ll be running in Duluth. I wasn’t sure how this running would go, but I’m enjoying it and am pleased that when I’m done, I feel good both mentally and physically.