Friday, April 22, 2011

Winning the race against my car

With nine days to go (including this one) in April, I am happy to report that my month-long goal to bike/run more miles than I drive with car is shaping up (no pun intended) to be a victory for the cardio/conservation side.

I'm currently sitting at 455 miles combine between running and biking against 307 miles of driving. Save for a day trip to Wabasha, I've used my car exactly three times this month for a total of less than 40 miles. I drove once to get my bike fixed, once to donate plasma, and once to sober cab a friend home from the bar.

In-town commuting on a bike really hasn't been as tough as I thought it would be. Due to traffic lights and other factors, I've actually found that I get to places in town about as fast on my bike as I do in my car. This wouldn't be the case if I were trying to commute to New Ulm or the Twin Cities, but for a 1-mile trip to the YMCA or a 4-mile trip to River Hills Mall, it's a wash time-wise. (provided I don't get a flat tire, of course)

Really, the biggest adjustment has been running errands that require hauling something. The best example of this would be my grocery shopping experience -- which I blogged about last week -- but imagine one would have similar issues with something like doing laundry or delivering food. There's a lot more planning, balance and strategy required to haul something on a bike than there would be to simply throw it in your car.

As far as bike rides go, I've mostly been sticking with Mankato-area trails and haven't really ventured into outlying communities. The ride I did yesterday was probably my favorite of the bunch: a 25-mile loop of Mankato that used every bike trail in town.

I started downtown, biked toward Highway 14 on Madison Avenue (normally I would've been on the Minnesota River Trail, but it's still flooded), headed up to Highway 22 on the Sakatah Trail, biked over to River Hills Mall on the bike path along Highway 22, and took Adams/Victory/Balcerzak to MSU. Once at MSU, I took Monks out to Highway 90, hopped on South Route Trail, headed to Minneopa Falls, then took the Minneopa Trail back to Mankato.

I've probably biked that route in sections before, but I've never attempted it all in one ride. Not only does it avoid most of the traffic in town, but it's also a great mix of hills and scenery and goes past a lot of the major landmarks in Mankato. I'd highly recommend the ride to anyone who has the time for 25 miles.

As far as running goes, I've mostly just been sticking to the treadmill this month. A combination of crummy weather and a nagging hip pain have put a damper on my outdoor running habits. However, I've still been able to get miles in, either on the aforementioned treadmill or an elliptical if my hip's really bugging me. Most of the runs have been in the 3-5 mile variety, with the occasional 7-8 miler to really stretch things out.

My basic goal for the running portion of this challenge is two-fold: to keep myself in decent running shape for the 7-mile trail run at Seven Mile Creek next month, and to keep the ratio of biking to running relatively close to what they'd be in a duathlon/triathlon. For the races I've encountered, that generally means a ratio of about 4:1 or 5:1 for biking vs. running. Since my totals currently sit at 375 miles biking and 80 miles running, I'm well within that range.

Why is the ratio part of the goal? Well, since my biking totals have drastically increased, I figure I'll probably be in decent shape for a duathlon or two this summer. There's a race in my home town of Sartell at the end of May that I'm eying up, and I may try another one later in the summer if I can talk some friends into doing it with me.

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