Monday, January 30, 2012

Is Cycling Dangerous?

After writing the blog below, I decided to look for some statistics on bike accidents.  I found the article below by Ken Kifer:

Is Cycling Dangerous?

The article has a lot of information and touches on many different studies.  It gives suggestions on how to avoid cycling accidents by obeying laws and safety rules. One thing that stood out for me was his assessment of the amount of time between injuries for a regular cyclist.

"The data does not agree, but based on it, we can estimate the amount of time between injuries severe enough to send the person to the emergency room. Again, we will assume a regular cyclist who travels 3,000 miles and 250 hours per year, 180,000 miles in a lifetime, and 250 trips per year. Based on the figures per hour, she would travel some 217 years between collisions with motor vehicles and 21 years between falls. Based on the figures per mile (from Traffic Safety Facts 1997 and The Environmental Benefits of Cycling and Walking), she would travel 121 years between collisions with motor vehicles and 13.2 years between falls. Based on the Bikecentennial figures, she would travel some 13.8 years between both kinds of injuries. Finally, based on the Johns Hopkins Center figures for trips, she can expect to go 12.5 years between injuries severe enough to send her to the emergency room. Again, these are only average figures; those who are more careful will have fewer injuries and those who are not will have more. The risk of injury or death has to be balanced against the positive health benefits, which will be discussed next."

Since I would likely ride my bike a bit less than that, doing most of my rides on my trainer, I'd estimate my own risk as much less than that. I would guess that I would ride my bike on the road 2-3 times a month, for maybe 8 months out of the year. Maybe I would average 40 miles per ride.  Based on that, I'd go about 40 years between acccidents.

One of the articles he uses data from is  Bikecentennial 1976 report.   The number of emergency room injuries per millions miles is 24.  If I only ride 960 miles a year, I calculate my chance of an injury that sends me to the E.R. this year at about 2.3%.

So is it worth it?  He talks about the health benefits of cycling, although as an active person, I probably wouldn't improve much in that area.  I don't know.  It seems less risky than I thought after reading the facts at least.  Something to think about.

Less Ambitious Race Schedule

I've been sick a lot lately.  A cold, gastroenteritis, pink eye from chlorine, gastroenteritis again.  I've also been under some stress that I can't really blog about. I'm still sick, and not being able to keep food down is just reminding me of my weak stomach even when I am in good health, and how I have to figure out race nutrition. So I think I will stick with the Flip Flop Half Marathon, and maybe do some practice races besides that to try and figure out my nutrition.

I still keep thinking about my bike.  With my stomach hurting, I don't really want to think about it that much.  Bike = stress, to me. Stress = stomach pain.  I've been thinking about paying for a bike fitting to see if that would make me feel more stable and comfy on my bike.  But it is still hard for me to get around how dependent Rory still is on me, and how many people I know who ride who have had the kind of terrible injuries and crashes that would make it impossible for me to take care of him.  Maybe in a few months it will be completely different.  He's still at the stage where I have to offer him choices like "Do you want to climb in your car seat or have me put you in it?" to keep him from running away from me out in the street instead.  Sure, people get injured running, driving, or just taking a shower, but in my personal risk/benefit assessment, staying off my bike still seems like a good idea.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Apologies and News

I'm sorry about the PMS-y posts I've had lately.  I had a rough weekend on top of the monthly hormone surge.  Things are feeling a little better today.  I'm back to being grateful for the blessing I've been given instead of being brought down by things that aren't perfect.

In better news, Rory will start preschool soon.  There are a few I've looked at, and I've narrowed it down to two.  I'm going to sleep on my decision, but either way, I'll have more to myself, for training or otherwise.  I'm too tired to get excited about signing up for races.  An easy run on Monday was too tough after my hour swim on Sunday and stressful weekend.  I've taken the week off since, just doing easy spinning and some yoga.  Will do an easy run tomorrow morning, too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Favorite Quote

I was trying to remember this quote after I wrote my last blog.  I was looking all over the web for it, and couldn't remember the name of the swimmer who said it, but I suddenly remembered this morning:

"Enjoy every moment, every movement in solitude, and every goal you reach even if it is small, as only you know how difficult it was to achieve it." - Esther Nunez, Open Water Swimmer from Spain

Since I'm not swimming any faster or farther than I have in the past, I guess it is hard to explain why I'm proud of my swimming nonetheless.  I know I worked hard and did my best, and I know it.  Raybon expressed sympathy when I told him I swam less than last year even, but I didn't need that.  I swam without anyone pacing me, cheering for me, or timing for me, and swam as hard as I could for an hour.  It's a hard thing to do.  You can't always set a P.R., even when you try your hardest, but it is the effort that really matters.

While I was doing my hour swim, my eye started burning when I had about 20 minutes left to go.  My local pool has too much chlorine, part of the reason I can't swim as much as I used to.  I kept swimming anyway.  I guess even if I am not as fast as I was, I am still a little crazy and persistent.  I went to my doctor the next day about my red burning eye, and I told her how it got that way.  She told me "That's amazing" when I answered her question of how many yards I swam.  Awww...  Just when I was feeling cynical.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hour Postal-ish 2012

Without really planning to far in advance, I swam for an hour today and counted how many laps I did, figuring this would be the closest I would get to doing the annual Hour Postal swim I I do almost every year.

I decided I'd swim 500 yards, stop and hit my watch, then keep swimming until I was done.  I swam an average of 1:40 pace almost like a clock for the first 6 500's, and a little slower for my last one.  I swam about 3575 yards.

For the hour swim, you need someone to time for you and get your splits every 50 for it to be official.  Since I didn't do this, I won't submit my results.  Anyway, this is what I did in past years:

2004 - 3315
2005 - 3845
2006 - 3780
2007 - 3920
2008 - 4100
2009 - 3420 - pregnant
2010 - Just didn't happen
2011 - 3590

I basically decided to do this on the way to the pool.  It is raining today, so I figured there was a good chance I'd get a lane to myself.  I did, so that worked out.  I'm recovering from the stomach flu.  I'm not feeling too badly, but my stomach hurts a tiny bit if I eat even a little bit of mild food.  I weighed 130.8 pounds this morning, the least I've weighed in about 6 years, I think.  I swam at my local pool, which I sort of suspect isn't the fastest in the world.  I did stop every 500 yards, sometimes for longer than it took me to stop my watch, doing some quick math at the wall.  At least I have a tight, fairly new suit.

Even though 3575 yards is a far cry from what I used to do when I was in shape, I'm proud of myself anyways.  I only get to swim one a week, so I can't expect to be in super shape.  Last year I was bummed with my 3590 yards. But I'm happier this year than last.  I really did the best I could given how I felt today and the shape I'm in, and I'm fitting in swimming in the way that works best for me and my family overall right now.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dream Race Schedule

I'm having trouble coming up with a race schedule for the year.  There are too many uncertainties, too many obstacles, and too many reasons not to do races that are sort of interesting.  I've been riding my trainer enough to want to do some sort of event involving my bike, but am not sure how I could fit in time to get on the road.

I signed up for the Flip Flop Half Marathon.  So that I'm committed to, unless something big comes up.  Here are other races I'm vaguely interested in, but I probably won't do most of them.

Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon -February 5th - Kinda far away.  I'd have to get up hecka early, which would be fine, except Rory never sleep long after I get up.
Super Bowl Run 10K - February 5th - This is the more likely of the two that I will do, since it is more local.
The question is would I rather do a race I am more interested in doing, or one that is closer, and less stress for me and my family?

Stanford Treeathlon - February 26th.  About an hour away, and starting at 9 am.  I guess that is sort of doable actually...  Can I get on my bike enough to do the race?  How excited am I to do a sprint?  Not all that much, but at least it is a tri, albeit a short one. I did back in 2008, and had fun with my friend Jac, but the race experience itself wasn't my best one, although that has nothing to do with the race itself.

Solvang Century-  March 10th.  I'd probably do a metric or half century.  This sounds like a fun, scenic course.  I kind of like the idea of doing an event that is not a race, too.   It goes through some places that I have childhood memories of.  My old triathlon team is doing this.  That would be fun if people were happy to see me, but sad if I just felt like an outsider.  I miss the team, and it always feels sad when I see old teammates at races and they aren't as excited to see me as I am them.  I am kinda excited about the idea of getting my bike mileage up that high, because since I'm in half marathon shape, that means I might actually be in Half Ironman shape.  Still, it seems a lot less intimidating than actually doing a Half Ironman.  But could I get on my bike that much?  I don't know.  I'd have to figure out some kind of childcare for Rory to train on my bike.  That's always stressful for me.  Riding it by myself doesn't sound that exciting either.  Maybe if a friend would do it with me.

Flip Flop Half Marathon - April 1st.  Yes, I'm doing this one.  Already signed up.

Metro Triathlon - April 22nd.  It is local. It's an Oly, my favorite distance.  It's early in the season, so I don't have to think so far ahead into the future.  But I don't have a vibe for why it would be a fun race other than the date, the place, and the distance.

Wildflower Olympic Distance - May 6th. I really want to do this, but it is the weekend after Raybon's Big Sur Half Marathon.  He's not excited about the idea of camping with Rory the weekend after the biggest athletic event of his life.  I get that, too.  Two weekends of traveling in a row could potentially be tiring for me, too. Plus, you know, broken record about getting on my bike.

So that's my wish list.  I keep thinking about these races.   Maybe now that I've made a public list I can stop thinking about it, or at least get closer to making an actual schedule.