Just so we’re clear, the only baby in this story is me.
This weekend was one of those insanely beautiful ones we get every so often in San Francisco. I imagine people who don’t live here think our weather is like this all the time — all blue sky and 60 degrees and clear views along the coast — but we actually get weekends like that about six times a year and they’re never when you’d expect them to be. People talk about how September is our summer, and I can say some nice words for May, but I truly think January is an underappreciated month in San Francisco; just when you’re digging out from the holidays and realizing that there’s another year stretching in front of you, just when things could start to feel really bleak, you get this incredible sunny stretch.
Under those conditions, I had no excuse not to take Penelope* out to play.
But first, I had to run. This was my first weekend of switching long runs to Saturdays, and after several days of doing nothing but filling tissues with snot while fighting the Great New Year’s Cold of 2012, I could not have been happier to get out of the house on Saturday morning. Due to the aforementioned days of doing nothing, I was slow — like, slower than I like to be for any reason these days — but when I’m running at that pace, I feel like I can run forever (which bodes well for marathon training? maybe?). My nemesis hill on the return trip through Golden Gate Park barely registered, and I even forgot the compression socks and still woke up Sunday feeling great.
Which is good, because I had big plans that involved taking Penelope to the ocean and then parking her at home and running a couple of miles. My first brick workout. I’ve done “gym bricks” before — hopping between a stationary bike and a treadmill or running for a bit after swimming laps. But I was guessing that those experiences would be nothing compared to the feeling of switching from skinny rubber tires to my own two feet. Spoiler alert: I was right.
The second I got Penelope out the door, I was afraid I’d forgotten everything I learned in December — that I wouldn’t feel comfortable starting, that everything would be wobbly and weird. And yeah, I did manage to get my feet tangled up in the pedals a few times and sort of kick blindly with my ankles before I could figure out what was going on — but I got myself out of every situation I got myself into. The park, predictably, was full of children on wheels — on bikes and trikes and skateboards and rollerskates and rollerblades and that Skuut thing that this one little girl was just going to town on — and OK, I might have gotten stuck behind a 4-year-old in the Panhandle when I was too afraid to try to pass a pipsqueak who was still using training wheels. Here’s the cool thing: I actually felt better on this ride than I’ve felt on any ride thus far. Maybe it was the weather (I haven’t gotten a lot of clear, dry days); maybe it was the novelty of just not having taken a thousand steps back. But I felt strong and stable, enough even to briefly take each of my hands out of the drops for just a second (kiiiinda long enough to signal, but not really, but closer).
So we got home, and I changed socks — yeah, note to self, maybe wear running socks on the bike next time? If you’re not clipping in, you shouldn’t have to take your shoes off — and then headed back out for the run. I was trying to make it home for the start of the Steelers game (about which the less said the better) so I knew I wasn’t going far, and within a few steps I started to realize why people say they have to work to calm down when they start running off the bike. I ran in a crowded neighborhood full of brunch-goers, which kept my overall pace reasonable and nothing to write home about, but every time I’d hit a clear patch of sidewalk, my legs just wanted to go.
It was an itty-bitty brick — 10 miles of mostly biking (+ walking the bike along the two stretches of road I’m not ready to tackle yet), then 2 miles of running. But if this is any sign of what’s to come, I think it’s going to agree with me.
Next up: learning how to sit back on the bike so I don’t end up with all of my weight on my wrists and shoulders and fingers that start falling asleep at mile 8. Yeah, stay tuned for that.
*I just started reading You Are An Ironman, and one of the competitors profiled also has a bike named Penelope. So clearly, I’m relating to her the most.