Friday, August 29, 2008
Coming back from a three day weekend is usually hard, except guess what next week is.....its IRONMAN week. I can hardly wait. Its one of my favorite Madison holidays! All that Ironman energy....its more addicting than crack. And every year I can't wait to soak up some more.
But first, I have many campfire beers to drink and hours of lakeside lounging to complete.
Happy weekend! Stay safe!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
If only the biking could be so effortless after weeks of delinquency.
Last night I enjoyed an easy two hours of riding that was more about just being on the bike than how fast the bike was moving. Which is good, because I wasn't moving very fast. And as we rolled along toward the country roads on the edge of town I was cursing myself for being such a slacker and letting all the fitness of early summer just evaporate.
But the beauty of routine, is that you can always return to it...adjust it...and make it what you need. Last night's ride was a great reminder to not let those things that you love fall prey to the other nonsense that creeps into your life.
One simple ride, that's all it took, to remind me that I need the time on the bike as much as I need the workout....to remind me of the me that I knew a few months ago...and even a few years ago. And why I need to give that part of me what it needs to stay happy, to make everything else in life a little easier.
Rides are so much more than workouts. They are therapy. Our training partners the therapists. Philosophy on two wheels. A road of stories, interrupted by hills for pondering perspective and challenge. Life simplified, if only temporarily.....but what a wonderful break from reality.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I will NOT be talking about things like jLo as a triathlete. That's great that you want to lose some baby weight and raise a little money for charity. Hey, guess what.....thousands of other people have done that too. Except they did it without the help of a personal trainer or a personal chef....or a personal assistant...or whatever other assistance jLo has the resources to employ. So ya, we're just not talking about that.
I WILL talk about other people who have celebrity status that was earned for athletic achievement as they continue to amaze me. So as if winning a few Tours and rockin' the Boston Marathon weren't enough...apparently Lance felt the need to hop on a mountain bike and give the Leadville 100 a go of it. Here's little video that sums up the race. Ran with the leader most of the way and took second. The guy's amazing. I realize its biking, something he's familiar with, but there's a whole other technical aspect to mountain biking that you don't have to deal with on pavement (probably why I steer clear of that sport altogether -- looks like a trip to the ER if I've ever seen one).
And another thing I WILL talk about on this blog....changing the world with bicycles. Seriously. How cool is this organization -- Project Rwanda. Its amazing how much something as simple as a bike can change the quality of life for someone. I'll talk all day long about cool stuff like that. :)
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Long version: It was a beautiful (if somewhat chilly) morning. Arguably a perfect day for a ride.
Over 100 teams of two showed up for the second annual ride. A crowd that was looking a lot more serious about this "fun and crazy" ride than I expected. I figured I could rule out the Ironmen-in-training for this event, seeing how IM WI is only two weeks away....but I did not expect the caliber of racers that showed. I was half wishing I hadn't been too lazy to switch out the pedals on my road bike instead of just grabbing the hybrid.
Then we cut through the parking lot at West Town Mall (something I doubt they see very often at the mall) and headed back to Olin via Odana (yes, through the major intersection at Gammon and Odana acting like cars) - Monroe - and a time saving jaunt down Drake and around the south side of Monona Bay.
28+ miles later (course ran a little long I guess! haha!) we were finally FINISHED. Bring on the beer and burritos please! After only eating a banana for breakfast I was starving.
We weren't last, but it sure felt like it.
Would I do the race again.....well, I'm never one to say 'never' but this event probably won't be on the top of my list of ways to spend my hard earned race entry fees.
Did I learn something from this....yes.
- Communication is KEY to teamwork. (maybe this was more of a reminder than something learned)
- Madison really is a pretty bike friendly town. A lot of the day we found ourselves either on bike trails or following little green "bike route" signs that I didn't even know existed.
- Madison is surprisingly hilly. Roads I drive on every day and thought were flat became hills on my bike.
- My hybrid bike is HEAVY. I have a new found respect for carbon.
- A banana is not enough fuel for 28 miles on your bike.
- Biking in traffic really isn't as bad as I make it out to be.
I was really hoping this event wouldn't draw the usual uber-competitive crowd, but it seemed to. I think in order to really draw out the casual cyclist and promote urban cycling to the crowd that hasn't already discovered it, they need to make the race a little shorter. And a few more mystery checkpoints would really make it a little more interesting. But that's just my opinion.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
1. I don't really like traffic. I don't like it in my car. I like it even less on my bike. You see traffic and I have had encounters in the past that didn't go so well (but did get me one very entertaining visit to the ER). And if anyone has been paying attention you'll notice that lately traffic is totally beating the pants off cycling in the game of life. I'd prefer not to be a pawn in that ongoing game. But this race takes place entirely in the metro Madison area and no one blocks off a route for you because...well, there is no route. Granted its not Chicago or Seattle, but I think traffic is a guarantee.
2. The homework SUCKED. First, what kind of race has homework? I just want to ride my bike. Add to that the fact that the pre-race quiz was perhaps the most pointless, tedious thing I have completed (though completion is arguable) ever. It was something of a wild goose chase on the Internet where five other unrelated geese needed to be found prior to getting the goose you were originally looking for. And the geese are clever, and at times invisible, and able to outmaneuver you and your wimpy little weapon (aka "Google" which I have far less faith in these days). And in the end, no one really cares about the geese anyway. There is nothing interesting about the geese that you will be better off in life by knowing. You are simply capturing really annoying and crafty geese. If the race is anything like the quiz I am likely to fry a circuit in my brain and cannot be responsible for my actions.
**It should be known that your start time is determined by your score on the pre-race quiz which is the only reason i spent the limited amount of time on it that I did....when i turned it in my score was a 57%. yes 57. I'm pretty sure that's failing on most curves. Well we roll up to packet pickup and I'm even more bitter about the quiz because I'm thinking I have wasted my time and we still won't get any benefit from it. I overhear the guy say 'if you have a 57 or better on the quiz you're in the first wave". WHAT. Oh ya. Can you say min-i-mum com-pe-ten-cy. I've never been so happy to have a 57 in my entire life.....why? Because it means I spent exactly the minimum amount of effort needed to get the maximum result. Perfectly played. The guy in front of us in line said he spent 9 hours on the quiz. NINE HOURS. Are you kidding me? I would have shot myself long before 9 hours had I continued to let myself plug away at that quiz. Moral of the story here kids: Aim low, get lucky.**
3. Navigation will play a large part in the race and my teammate and I have been known to have minor vocal disagreements about navigation methods. In fact just today we had one of these little disagreements about whether or not it was faster to take the beltline or Odana to get from 151 to westgate mall. (for the record, its the beltline, read: I was right) We did drive roughly 1300 miles across British Colombia in search of fresh pow earlier this year and manage not to kill each other though....so I guess we've got that goin' for us. Then again, there's pretty much one road across most of Canada. There are a few more options in Madison.
4. Did I mention I don't like biking in traffic?
5. I'm too smart. And I don't mean that in a "I'm a brilliant rocket scientist" kind of way. I mean, my brain works too hard. I can't shut it off and I over think pretty much everything. Probably why I thought my head might explode while taking the pre-race quiz, but also potentially the cause of us not being able to come up with the answers to simple clues about where the mystery checkpoints are. Thus leading to a wild-goose chase around Madison, this time by bike rather than electronically around the Internet. Much more tiring.
I'm starting to think I figured out why they offer copious amounts of free beer post-ride....
Oh well, I paid my hundred bucks, suckered someone into playing teammate for the day....I'm doin' it.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Uh...ok...lemme think.....uhhhh......email a few friends and ask for ideas....they've got nothin'........ok lemme think some more......maybe I should do this later.... [insert about 7 hours] ...ok, gotta register.....nuts, still need a "team name".....still got nothin'......text message race partner......he's no help at all....ugh.
I was totally stumped. Everything that seemed remotely clever or cute ended up coming across as totally cheesy or self-righteous. In the end I went with something relatively innocuous just to get it done. Lame, but done.
Then today I get an email with the standard "we're looking forward to a great race" but also including a link to the pre-race quiz.
HOMEWORK? This race has homework?
Apparently its optional, but your quiz results determine your start time so if you want a fighting chance you better do your homework. Not like I think we're going to win....but remember I'm slow, so coming in dead last is always a fear.
The funny part about this is that I feel much more pressure to be smart than fast. If it was just a bike race and I came in dead last, well that would suck a little but I'd just be all "oh well, I'm slow." But sucking on the quiz -- not an option. Slow is somehow acceptable but there's just no excuse for not being smart. Though I'm not sure why I think the quiz is going to be such a big deal...I doubt they're gonna bust out some differential equation problems (right?) or make us calculate mass properties....center of gravity of an unsymmetrical object anyone?.....how about dipole moments in magnetic fields....ohhh, now I'm really having some bad flashbacks to college. Ummm....maybe I should go study.....
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
However, there is another likely culprit in the "Who's sucking all the motivation out of my workout life lately" mystery -- allergies. They are HORRIBLE right now and it seems every last bit of energy I have is going toward defending my body from the evils of ragweed.
I also tried to give up caffeine yesterday. That was a very bad and short-lived idea. Because caffeine is a necessary weapon in my ongoing battle with ragweed. As is my new best friend Fexofenadine.
And as a parting thought in this completely random assortment of thoughts from yesterday....if ever there was a time to eat cantaloupe, the time is now. Tis the season to be stopping at the little farmer stands in parking lots here in the Midwest and O-M-G is it worth it. You never knew cantaloupe could be so good. Try it.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
So lets weigh the pros and cons:
PRO - The race is relatively cheap ($45 entry fee) -- about half the average cost of a sprint tri.
CON - The race is about a 45-50 minute drive from my house which adds a decent amount of cost in time and gas and means getting up at 4am on race day.
PRO - I have been a lazy slob and racing would make me feel like a triathlete again.
CON - Racing without training will only confirm my laziness and will likely be very painful.
PRO - I'll get in a good workout.
CON - If I had any sort of dedication and commitment I could also get in a very good workout from home, for FREE. (Which actually gives me an idea.....)
Ok, so what if I have my own little mini sprint tri next Saturday? Sponsored by -- ME.
I'll go for a swim at the local pool, head out for a quick 15 mile bike (I already have a 12 mile loop that leaves from my house so the added miles from the pool will work out perfectly), and finish up with a little 3 mile run (again, I already have a loop right from my front door that's about 3 miles). Yes, this is a fabulous idea. I love it. And as a bonus....I am SURE to finish first! The only time in my life that will probably ever happen.
This way I can save my $50 entry fee for Sunday's Urban Assault Ride (entry fee totally justified by free beer and burritos at the end). And save a few pounds of carbon emissions by not driving an hour away to race.
I still have one more race on the calendar in September, so skipping this race is not a season ending decision. And I'm guessing I'll have a few friends racing in September too, which will make it more fun.
Hmmm....I think the first annual Slowest Triathlete Sprint Tri is ON! We'll just call it The Slowest Sprint Tri. Contact me if you want to "register" -- its FREE -- but I'll need you to sign a waiver saying that you won't be faster than me. ;)
Thursday, August 14, 2008
This little beauty popped up on the walk portion of my commute a few days ago. Meet the Trek Soho S. The photo from the Trek site does not do this bike justice. It is quite possibly the sexiest commuter bike I've seen. I try not to drool on it as I walk by every morning.
Yes, something was different....in the best kind of way.
My conclusion: The annual Trek meeting is underway. (Their headquarters are here in the great state of Wisconsin, in case you were wondering why in the world they would have a meeting here....well, besides this town being consistently ranked one of the top towns for cycling...)
Anyway, why is this important, you might ask? Well a certain cyclist who happens to be sponsored by Trek has been known to make appearances at the annual meeting. (ahem....starts with L, rhymes with dance)
How freakin' cool would it be to bump into a 7-time Tour de France winner on your way to get coffee? (way, way cool....in case you were looking for an answer there....WAY freakin' cool)
It makes me want to go for a ride just because of the increased chance of bumping into a world-class cyclist out on the road. 'Cuz that would be freakin' cool.
Ok, I'm going to stop talking like a 12-year-old skater now. I've got to start mentally planning my wardrobe for tonight's workout....'cuz you just never know who you're going to be riding/running along next to (ie getting passed by) out on the road....and since I've never been known to impress anyone with my speed I've gotta bring my A-game in the fashion department.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Anyway, I ordered these super awesome ski poles and was eagerly anticipating their arrival (so I could test them out on carpet in my air conditioned house, of course...how exciting). The oddly shaped box finally shows up on my doorstep and then.....what appeared were not the K2 6-karat super-sweet carbon composite ski poles that I was hoping for, but LIFE-LINK Carbon Pro avalanche probes.
Even the snow gods are subtly trying to tell me I need to step up my game. Do they know I've been a workout slacker? The only people who need avalanche probes are the crazies who head out under the ropes and consider hitchhiking more efficient than the lift lines and I'm quite sure those people are hucking themselves off waterfalls in kayaks or screaming through boulder fields on mountain bikes right now. The pole mix-up was a little message from winter that "people who ski the best secret powder stashes are not enjoying leisurely summers of ice cream eating and comfort bike riding so GET OFF YOUR LAZY BUM."
Right. Point taken. Thank you ski season.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Before 9am a 21-year old cyclist was run over by the rear wheels of a water delivery truck within spitting distance of my office.
Around 4:30pm three people were killed and one seriously injured when a car crossed the median and entered oncoming traffic.
And at 6:30pm I witnessed what I assume was a bike vs car accident that has etched an unforgettable image into my soul. I didn't see it happen, but if I had been one car further ahead I would have. I heard screams through my open sunroof. I saw car doors open and people run. But it wasn't until the man in the car in front of me turned in my direction that I knew something horrible had just happened. His eyes were saucers of shock and panic. His actions were frantic as he tried to decide what he should do. He got out of the car, took a few steps, turned back toward the car maybe thinking it was better to stay out of the way, and then finally turned and ran toward the gathering crowd. Cars started to move around the congestion, eager to get past, not knowing what had just happened. I moved with traffic. And as I came around the cars abandoned by drivers who had gone to help, I saw her laying in the road. Completely motionless. And I will spare you the details. I will simply say all was not as it should be.
I thought I was going to have to pull over to throw up. And then I started to get a little clammy like I do before I pass out.
I didn't see what happened. (And oddly, I couldn't find it in the news, though the other two incidents were covered). I don't know who was at fault, if anyone. But I do know that the whole thing felt like a sock to the gut. An unequivocal reminder of how your life can be changed in an instant.
The more I hear the stories of cyclists being hit by cars (a woman in Milwaukee killed just last month, a woman on the Scenic Shore ride who ended up with a broken pelvis...), the more it seems its "not if, but when" for those who bike regularly. And I'm not blaming anyone, cyclists can cause accidents too. Its just that the cyclist usually doesn't fare too well in the fight. And whether the injured or the one who caused injury, you are not likely to walk away from something like that unaffected.
So today, I just can't find it in me to want to ride my bike. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe this weekend. But today I just don't have it in me.
Be safe out there. Drive kindly. Ride smart. Wear your seat belt. Wear a helmet. And remember that life is too short to put off chasing a few crazy dreams.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Perhaps its my overly romantic view of the open road? I always have been a somewhat overzealous fan of road trips. Half the wheels must = double the fun. I mean how fun would it be to show up at some bar in the middle of nowhere Nebraska and be all...ya, I biked here... Mind if I sleep in your hay barn?
Ya. Fun with a capital F is what that would be. Beats a Monday in cubicle-land anyway.
Friday, August 1, 2008
-- enter addiction to technical wear --
I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for anything in a wicking fabric. I probably need a twelve step program. But workout clothes are just so cute...and comfy. And because they're used for something other than lounging around looking cute and drinking martinis, they seem like a less frivoulous purchase to me. If you spent a minute in my closet you would think I was sponsored by The North Face. My little zip-up running jackets are hung in the closet in an equal-opportunity fashion right next to my tailored suits...and to be honest I wear the running jackets far more than the suit jackets.
Because sometimes I suffer from a problem far worse than an affinity for dri-fit fabric....I get a case of the lazy. And if buying a new piece of gear can get me out on that dreaded weeknight post-work run, well I consider that money well spent. My checkcard will just have to get over it.
This is my latest purchase: the best little running skirt ever. Totally got me out the door in the melting heat last night. And managed to keep me cute (while dripping with sweat) for post-run wine and appatizers at the bar near the trailhead.
And while on the same little shopping spree I also picked up the best little running shorts ever. Though I have yet to actually run in them....but seeing how these shorts did not suck immediately upon touching my body as most running shorts do (seriously, can it really be that hard to find shorts that fit?) I have high hopes. And I'll GET to wear them this weekend if I actually make it out the door for a run.
I'm hoping that these new purchases can help me out of the mid-summer slump I've been having. I realize that someone who biked 150-miles in last two weeks should find it hard to think they're in a slump....but its true. My motivation for workouts is completely gone. And that needs to change -- like, IMMEDIATELY. At this point I'm worried about completing the sprint tri on my calendar in a few weeks....a SPRINT for cryin' out loud.
From "I'm doing a half Ironman" to "I don't know if I can do a sprint tri" in two months. What happened?
I wonder if those shorts came with a magic-no-workout-get-in-shape feature.....wouldn't that be nice? But just in case, I guess I'll be upping the running and trying to remember where the pool is for the next three weeks. Hmmm....I bet a new training suit would help me find the pool....and maybe new goggles.....