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Thursday, February 2, 2012

From Marathon to Bike Commuting

The New Year's Eve Marathon that I ran on 12/31/11 left somewhat of a bitter taste in my mouth...and all over my body really. It was the kind of bitterness that left me feeling somewhat disappointed in the result (I was undertrained), but also left me wanting to sign up for another marathon and really focus on training properly, toeing the line and knocking out my 3:30 goal. Ultimately, I was stuck in this gray zone of not committing enough time/effort to training for a marathon but still committing enough time to it that I was somewhat neglecting my husband and father responsibilities. That left me with a pretty crummy feeling all around. After taking the 1st week of 2012 off from running, I laced my shoes back up and went out for an easy jog. Truth be told I was feeling some severe stiffness and slight pain in my right knee and wanted to see if a jog would work it out (felt like I had just slept awkwardly on my knee or something). Well, that run was abruptly stopped 1/4 mile after it started and I walked back home in a lot of pain. I self diagnosed my injury as knee tendonitis (given that I was severely undertrained for my 26.2 mile effort the week before). I decided this was a clear sign that I needed to take some time off from I haven't run since Jan 6. I don't know when I'll venture back out for a run, but for now I'm enjoying the time off.

It's not in me to sit around and be lazy...I would literally go crazy if I didn't have some kind of fitness outlet, so I've rekindled my passion for cycling. Partly out of choice and partly out of necessity. The Ballard family has been a 1-vehicle family since mid-December as Rachel's Explorer died and we opted to sell it rather than invest over $4,000 in a rebuilt or used engine. Given that Rachel needs a vehicle during the day while I'm working, I've been commuting by bike a lot in the month of January. I've really found a joy in commuting that I didn't really know was there. I've been spending a good bit of time on some of the Plano MUPs (multi-use path) and just enjoying the beauty of cool mornings biking along creeksides and passing beneath the major roadways. It's nice being off the roads and away from traffic for the most part. I've mapped out a really nice route that is just over 6 miles in length one-way and is over 50% MUP.

Route from home to work (red portions are MUP)

In addition to mapping out a good route, I've had to do a little work on my road bike to get it in commuter shape. I installed a low-lumen white blinking light on the handlebars, a 15W halogen light on my stem, and a ridiculously bright red blinkie on my seatpost. There are evenings where I just get caught at work and can't get away before dark, so it's crucial that I'm visible to drivers in case I have to ride home in the dark. Also, since I'm riding a good bit on MUPs, I need to be able to illuminate the trail so I can see where I'm going. I have to say I'm pretty happy with the lights. Rachel checked it out for me and agreed that I'm VERY visible.

I was able to ride 3x/week for 3 out of the 4 weeks since I started bike commuting. The one week I missed I had a sinus infection and didn't get on the bike at all. Here's a plot of my commuting trips for the last 4 weeks:

I haven't decided any commuting goals for 2012 or anything like that. For now I'm just enjoying the riding and trying to do it about 3x a week.


  1. The conflict is healthy. Stay safe!

    Proud to be your dad...

    1. Nice. I bike commute, but I don't like to ride at night, especially when the weather's bad. I actually ride a folding bike so that when I get caught at work, I can take my bike home on the bus. That way, I can still ride in the morning.