12.12.2010

He's Here!!!

And by "he," I mean Oby 2 Kenobi (DH thinks I should call him 'Ken', but my bike doesn't have a dream house or a convertible or a freaky-proportioned, pink-clad girlfriend, so he will remain 'Oby 2').

Oby 2 (2011 Cannondale SuperSix 4 Rival) has officially been in our possession for the past 8 days.  He was ordered 4 days before I left for Vegas.  Since Cannondale had my size in stock (helps that I am on the smallest available men's/unisex size...probably not a hot-seller compared to larger frames) it was simply a matter of them shipping the bike to our shop.  My first bike took about 6 weeks (that bike was a women's-specific frame, so was a bit more popular in my size), so I anticipated a wait of at least a few weeks.

When I arrived home at 10pm Tuesday night DH was particularly giddy...I knew that couldn't JUST be joy at my safe return from Sin City.  He had me close my eyes so that he could lead me to the bedroom for a surprise.

I knew that he and our son had rearranged the bedroom (and cleaned a universe-worth of dust bunnies from under the bed) while I was away, so that was no surprise to me.  I had my suspicions that maybe there was a shiny, new 2-wheeled toy awaiting me.  This did not make me squeal any less when I saw that my suspicions had been correct!

One other factor that led to me believing that something was afoot was that our shop guy never let me know the bike's ETA earlier in the week, as he had promised.  Even if he had told DH, neither of them relayed this info. to me.  Very suspect, indeed.  Had the bike been expected after my return, then one of them would have shared that info. with me.

The only real surprise was that the color of the bar tape was different than what I had originally chosen--apparently the "Sid blue" cables and bar tape didn't really match, as they were produced by different companies (the bar tape was turquoise and the cable housing more royal blue).  But Fizik has a metallic blue that is a very good match to the Jagwire Sid blue cable housing, so Mike (our shop guy) put that on, instead.

At first I was sort of bummed, since Oby 1 is a turquoise bike with orange trim...I liked the idea of my 2 Oby bikes sort of matching, but then I realized that the metallic blue bar tape is a near perfect match to my existing Sidi Dominator shoes and my cable housing matches the cable housing on my hubby's bike, so we're kinda twinsies with our bikes. *giggle*

The orange Hudz hoods were all Mike's idea.  Mike is just as dorky about crazy colors as I am, and then some).  He called Derek in advance to ask what he thought about replacing the boring black hoods with orange and Derek agreed that it would be the icing on that bicycle cake.  I could not agree more.

the only bummer about getting my bike now is that we are in the middle of a Winter storm warning with nasty snow, wind, and cold walloping us.  This will continue for the next few days.  Even if we were to get some freaky 40º+ days in the near future I'd be less than eager to take my brand new bike out on roads that are now coated with sand and salt.  But at the same time I'm none too eager to throw the new bike on the trainer for its inaugural ride.  So for now I have my "Winter beater" bike (2010 Cdale Synapse 5 Féminine) and my "sports car" bike that gets to live in the garage until a nice day for riding outdoors presents itself.  In the meantime I plan to go out every few days to clear the spider webs, stroke it, and mutter "ooh, shiny" under my breath.

Is it Spring, yet?

12.10.2010

What happens in Vegas...

...is that my sleep schedule is pretty much non-existent.  Might I recommend before reading my epistle that you grab a drink and maybe a snack.  This will certainly qualify as a blog post of ultra-marathon proportions.

Nearly 72 hours after landing I am finally feeling like I'm catching-up a bit on the sleep I lost during my long weekend in Sin City to run the Las Vegas Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon with friends from the running support site where I log my runs.  The dark circles under my eyes are finally starting to fade.

This is not to say that I'm not still feeling some residual side-effects of the trip.  I have been battling some vertigo issues ever since landing.  I'm prone to inner ear issues, anyhow, but several days of abnormal modes of travel (plane, elevators, escalators, inclinators) and the ear pressure from descents have really taken their toll.

My journey started on Friday.  I met my best friend, Eryn, at the airport just after 9AM.  After a smooth trip through security (no pat-down or nudie scans for either of us) we boarded our flight.  We booked separately, so never managed to sit by one-another for either leg of our journey, unfortunately.  But we did get a brief layover in Memphis (best-smelling airport)...enough time for beers to celebrate the impending awesomeness of our journey.

Once we arrived in Vegas we were met in the baggage carousel area by Erica and Robert, 2 of our RunningAHEAD.com friends (out of 30 or so of us, including some spouses and SOs).  We took a minivan taxi to the Luxor with them.

After settling-into our room we headed down to the Luxor food court for a bite to eat before wandering the strip with a few other RA friends who had arrived earlier that day or the day before.

To the right is my bestie with an inflated Crown Royal bottle.  We saw several of these in different casinos.  Her goal for the entire trip was to deflate one and get it home to her hubby (CR is his liquor of choice), but we never managed it.  Someone else must have, though, as this very bottle in the Excalibur Casino was gone the next day.

Around 10pm was our first official RA meet-up in the Aurora bar in the lobby of the Luxor. This was also our first encounter with "Bitch Tits," a rather surly cocktail waitress with scary fake boobies.  Honestly, she was the ONLY unfriendly and gracious server I have ever encountered in Vegas.

By midnight (3AM to my EST body and brain) we were all pretty wiped-out after a long day of travel, but especially those of us from the East Coast and Midwest.

9AM Saturday morning had a group of us meeting at Mandalay Bay for a 3ish mile warm-up run.  Of course, we could have planned this for earlier.  One miserable reality of visiting Las Vegas is that my internal clock was still unwilling to sleep-in.  Eryn and I were awake by 6AM or so, local time...because our bodies and brains thought it was 9AM EST.  So much for actually sleeping-in.  We did manage McDonald's breakfasts before our run, though, so at least we weren't starving by the end of our workouts.

Once we were all cleaned-up we met in the Luxor lobby to do lunch at a Baja Fresh in the Excalibur Casino.  Everyone was ready for something a bit healthier than all the fried fare at Luxor, by this point.  We had fun watching a drunken cowboy (national rodeo finals are in Vegas at the same time as the marathon) take 10 minutes figuring out what to order while he swayed to and fro staring at the menu board with a glazed expression.  I regret not getting a photo of this.

At left with the big mouthful of salad (there is another photo of her shoveling-in a mouthful of pasta--funny girl) is Kristen...she is a relatively new runner (started within just the past year, I believe) and SUPER fast (and as sweet as she is speedy).  She is already headed to Boston in April.

After lunch those who had not yet made it to the race expo to pick up race packets did so.  Most took taxis, but I joined Mel and Doug in Alex's car.  We had fun zipping around the strip area and getting a little lost.  And hearing Alex utter "seriously, assholes?!" to a group of pedestrians that walked in front of her car at an inopportune moment.  What made this query particularly amusing is that Alex has a voice that is similar in timbre to that of a kindergartener.  The lack of sleep also had us more than a little punch drunk.

The expo was, by far, the largest I had ever encountered.  I've never run a race that was larger than maybe 10k participants and this was 3x that size.  I brought home shirts for myself, my hubby, and our kid that have the same graphic: a big wheel with "ride it like you stole it" text from GypsyRunner.com.

At right is a photo of the featured speakers: Scott Jurek, Meb, and Frank Shorter...wow.  I'm not worthy!!!

After the expo we met at Il Fornaio Italian restaurant in the NYNY hotel.  They have a smaller, more private dining room that worked perfectly for 2 seatings of our RA group--half of us at 5 and the other half at 5:30.

The next morning (Sunday) Eryn and I were up at 4:30 to have time to get dressed and over to Mandalay Bay to meet up with several of the RA runners (some didn't make it to the meet-up in time for the group photos or were in the bathroom and missed the photos).  The first corral was scheduled to start at 7.  We planned to meet at 5:45.  That hour from the time we met until we headed to our corrals went so fast and really was a blur.

I made my way to corral 16 with Jen and Erica and we stood around chatting with each other and with other runners (including a couple of funny older ladies who Jen and I would see at several points during the actual race) for the next half hour or so.  Our corral started at about 7:20.

I have never run a race with an actual corralled start.  I had originally been slated in corral 8, but that was when I planned to run a 2 hour time (my soft HM PR is 2:02 on a hillyish course a month out from a marathon).  That sprained ankle back in June really messed-up my training, but my goal to run 2:05-2:10 became an unreasonable one once casino smoke and lack of sleep (see the massive luggage under my eyes?) were factored in.

My lungs were one hot mess from the second I walked into the Luxor until yesterday.  They felt bruised, almost...I don't know how people can smoke.  I'd hate to feel that miserable all of the time.  I was hitting my albuterol inhaler and popping Mucinex like my life depended upon it.  As it was I was a hoarse, raspy mess the entire time I was there.  Talking was actually sorta painful, but I wasn't about to sit quietly in the corner while spending time with so many friends who I was finally getting to meet after a year+ of planning this trip.

Jen and I stuck to one-another's sides from start to finish--we even had the exact same finish time (I forgot we were in the same age group.  Her name appeared above mine.  Dang...I could have kicked it a bit at the finish and placed above her if I had realized this, ha!).  Even funnier was that we had been calling ourselves the Wonder Twins even before we arrived in Vegas...then we showed up with identical blue Asics arm warmers--completely by coincidence.

By the first mile in we both knew this would not be a PR effort.  In fact, Jen spent the rest of the trip joking that she paced me to a personal worst (by 10+ minutes).  But even though it was my slowest ever HM, it was also my most fun.  We both felt like garbage, so we plodded along like we were just jogging a training run.  It was fun chatting, snapping photos, and playing tourist.  It's not every day that one gets to travel up and down the Las Vegas Strip without having to deal with stairs.

Here we are just seconds after crossing the finish line (2:25:08).  We were tickled to see the official photogs capture that moment.  My camera was in hand for pretty much the entire race.  I've never before run a race just for fun and no concern of finish time.  It was such a refreshing experience.  I would have missed out on something wonderful if I'd "raced."

Just minutes after finishing, ourselves, we found Erica.  We also had caught up with her on the course around the halfway point (we stopped maybe 2 miles in when I had to pee really bad, so she got ahead of us at this point).

There were at least 5 of us from RA who had finishing times within about 5 minutes of one-another.  Had we known this would be the case I think we'd have tried to all start in the same corral and finish as a group.

Eryn managed her <2 hour goal and a new HM PR.  By the time I stopped at McDonald's in the Luxor food court (for my second bacon/egg/cheese biscuit, hash browns, and coffee of the trip--not by choice, I wanted a burger, but they weren't yet serving lunch) and got back up to the room Eryn had already showered and was heading down to meet Kristen at House of Blues for lunch.  I bailed...my lungs had had enough of the smoke and I wanted some time to rest them.  In hind sight, I'm not sure that sitting in our "non-smoking" room made much difference.  Since the inside of the Luxor is entirely open to the smoking areas there is only a hotel door separating our room from the smoke.

At 3PM I met a few RA gals and a couple of hubbies in the lobby to take a taxi to the vow renewal ceremony of 2 of our running friends.  We arrived early, so wandered down a few doors to a wonderful Cuban bar (Florida Cafe -- attached to a HoJo.  Next time in Vegas I want to eat there...it smelled amazing and was likely a LOT more authentic than most of the $$ places further down the strip) for a drink before the wedding.  The bar had the best Mojito I have EVER tasted...and their prices were about half that of drinks on the southern end of the Strip.

They even took our photo and printed 5x7s that they sold for $15 (and included postcards with a tiny photo of us for free) -- nice little memento and the kid who took the photo is aspiring to be a photographer, himself, so we didn't mind helping.  Michelle (in the front) took a photo of the photo.  DH took our flatbed scanner to work...eventually I will scan this in.

After finishing our drinks we wandered back to the wedding chapel to watch Elvis remarry our friends.  It was cheesy...but sweet.  Crystal and Eddie are still so in love after 8.5 years.  It was a beautiful thing to share with them.  There were tears shed.  I've been to a lot of weddings, but this one was the most memorable and honest.

Since we still had a couple of hours to kill before our dinner reservation at Firefly* we headed back to the Cuban bar.  While we had our drinks they served us complimentary fried plantains with a tasty garlic sauce.  Yum!

About an hour before our dinner reservation time we loaded-up in 2 taxis to head to the Fremont Street area.  We found a wedding gift for the bride and groom (a Las Vegas frame, photo album, and a postcard "wedding card" that we passed around in the restaurant prior to gifting the happy couple), watched people fly overhead on the new zipline, and headed over to the restaurant for an amazing meal with about 30 of us.  Firefly* may be my favorite restaurant in the whole world and their prices are reasonable for Vegas and the quality of the food.  Everyone really seemed to love the place and their tapas meals.  The service was perfect for such a large group.

Firefly* overlooks the T intersection of Fremont and Main streets in "old Vegas."  Rumor has it that the Plaza Hotel will soon be shutting down.  I hope that does not spell the end for this Firefly* location.  The view of the Fremont Street Experience is one of the most fabulous parts of Las Vegas, IMO.

After dinner we headed back to the strip for our farewell drinks back at the Aurora Bar in the Luxor.  Many were flying back home on Monday morning, so this was our last chance for the entire group to be together.  It was a bittersweet farewell.

Interestingly, I don't remember much about this gathering.  I had all of 1.5 beers (Blue Moon was 2 for 1) served by none-other than "Bitch Tits," again, but exhaustion had started to make everything sort of meld together in my brain by this point.  I think I was also sort of in denial that we had begun the downward slide towards the end of the fun.

Monday morning the remaining stragglers met up at the Bellagio for brunch buffet.  Wowsers...totally worth every cent of the $17 price, especially since they started rolling-out lunch by the time we left (I think we were seated around 10:30).  I had quite a few of my favorite things...bacon, calamari (in a marinara sauce), pickled herring, teriyaki skirt steak, key lime pie tarts, crepes...everything was amazing.  Somehow I managed to not overstuff myself (I'm not sure how this was possible, but I never ate to the point of nausea even once.  I think my lung issues were preventing me from overstuffing my belly and reducing my lung function further).

After brunch a group of us wandered around on the Strip.  In part on a pilgrimage to find Coca-Cola.  The 3 hotels furthest south only seemed to carry Pepsi products.  That Coke Zero might have been the best-tasting drink of the entire trip...seriously!

We also discovered what happens when a bunch of runners with severe sleep deficiency wander around in an already nutty city--we get deliriously silly...slap-happy...punch-drunk!  At one point we stopped to rest our legs (at least one member of our walking party had earned his marathon PR the previous day and was feeling it) and decided that the little door at right was an optical illusion OR a Willy Wonka Oompa-Loompa doorway.  Then Jen walked towards it and did this goofy knees-bent, shrinking walk as she got closer to the door...and we all LOST OUR SHIT, complete with hyperventilation and tears streaming down our faces.  I wonder what the peeps on the other end of that security camera thought of us.  People on the sidewalk definitely gave us some well-deserved suspicious sideways glances.

After a few hours of down-time back in the hotel room the last 7 of us (minus 2 who were crashing early) met at the La Salsa Cantina location across from NYNY for our final dinner in Vegas.  DH and I ate at a different location when we arrived in Vegas a year ago.  I think that one may have had a somewhat larger menu, but the food was equally good at this one.

This meal would be the start of a "traditional" night out in Vegas, complete with the infamous yard o'rita (with at least 6 shots of Patron).

2 of our crew showed up extra early to sit at the bar and watch the Patriots' game.  How is this for service...not only did they switch a TV over to the game, they switched ALL of the TVs over and turned off the music.  3 at our table were Patriots fans, so they were thrilled.  After the game finished Eric and Amy said their goodbyes to the remaining 5 of us.

By the time we left the restaurant the giant margaritas were gone...but the silly drunken antics had yet to start.  A couple of doors down from the restaurant is the m&m store, where a costumed yellow m&m pathetically tried to out-dance Jen.  She showed him (her...it?) up and eventually the m&m left his post.  He couldn't compete.  Here I am sure that we are laughing about this fact.

From the restaurant we debated whether to head North to Harrah's for more bar-hopping, or South towards our hotels.  Eventually South was chosen, but only once we reassured Cherrie's hubby, Jim, that we would follow his adamant "mission" to snag a Crown Royal bottle with Eryn (here is where the trip sort of comes full-circle).

Our next stop was the bar/stand outside Coyote Ugly in NYNY for their "special": $12 shot + 32oz Coor's Light.  3 of us partook of this "deal."  The cuervo shot was good, but the beer...not so much.  Of course, by this point it really didn't matter.

Rather than trying to carry the empty yard glass in one hand and the quart of beer in the other, I dumped the beer into the glass and drank it through a straw.  Yes, I am that classy.  From this point we wandered through Excalibur and Luxor to Jen's room in Mandalay Bay (with a stop between Luxor and MB for Jim to enjoy a quicky massage), where she had 2 free drink tickets for a bar in the middle of the casino floor, which is where where we finished the night.

At the bar in MB I had my last drink of the night, a cosmo, which I proceeded to dump half of on my shoe and the floor.  Martini glasses are a bitch to not spill under the best of circumstances, but especially after 7-8 shots of tequila and a pint of shitty light beer.  I dumped the last half of my beer into someone else's glass so that I could pour what was left of my martini into my yard glass.

Drinking the cosmo now had a new and different challenge, as I could not get at the liquid hiding in the bottom recesses of my glass with the straws.  the only remaining option was to tip it back and hope the lime slices didn't end up on my face.  In the end I was victorious, as I finished my drink with only a few random drops on my shirt and limes still within the drinking vessel, as you can see here.  I have skillz.

We all stumbled back to our rooms after saying our goodbyes to Cherrie and Jim.  Eryn and Jen and I were all to be at the airport together the next morning.

Eryn and I woke, finished our packing, and headed down for McDonald's breakfast on the way to the airport (this would be my THIRD breakfast there during this trip...yuck).

When Eryn had originally booked her trip she was to be on all the same flights as I, but Delta kept screwing around with my itinerary.  At one point we were on NO flights together, then on the same flights to Vegas.  In the end I was on return flights with only a 20 minute layover, but Delta allowed me to change to flights with an hour layover a few days before leaving...phew!  AND this put me on the same return first leg as Jen and only 3 rows apart.  A very nice man gladly switched seats with Jen, so she and I were even able to sit next to one-another for the long flight from Vegas to Detroit.  We had a nice plane (nice, as far as planes go.  A 757, I think) and the woman to my right had just run her first HM, so we chatted a bit and really just enjoyed our last hours of the vacation.

Jen and I had hoped to have at least an hour layover in Detroit to grab one last farewell drink before heading to our gates, but her gate was in a completely different terminal and our flight in was a little late, so we said quick, teary goodbyes.  The reality that my surreal time with my internet friends was over really was tough to swallow.  The trip had been fun beyond everyone's wildest dreams and we are already planning on meeting up again at the 2012 Flying Pig Marathon. That trip should be a bit cheaper for everyone and will be a lot easier for many of us, logistically.  I'm only about 2 hours from Cincinnati by drive to the airport + plane.

Phew.  So that's it.  I could have written twice as much...it's overwhelming all the things we saw and heard and experienced--so much fun should be illegal (and probably IS anyplace other than Vegas).  Thanks for reading the entire write-up.  You deserve a medal as blingy as the ones we received at the finish line.

11.27.2010

It's nearly a done deal!

Yup...there it is (with some bad Photoshopping of the "Sid blue" bar tape and cable housings for effect): Oby 2 Kenobi (Cannondale SuperSix 4 Rival).  The name was actually chosen by our shop guy and inspired by the name of my current bike, Oberon, aka "Oby."  We ordered "him" (I think this bike is definitely going to be all boy.  Oby is sorta gender neutral) yesterday afternoon.

Hubby and I had thought maybe I'd end up needing the next larger size, but Mike, our shop guy, was certain that 48cm is where I should be, but I could use a longer stem (I think my current is an 8cm, so 9-10 might have me comfier).  He knows his stuff.  I wouldn't have had much--if any--standover height on the next size up, anyhow.  A friend of ours has a 48cm CAAD9 with the same geometry that lives at the shop, so I straddled hers and it seemed like a good fit just from that simple measurement.

I will likely order custom diecut vinyl lettering in a Star Wars font...but have to find out why the font from the signage company (SpeedySigns.com) doesn't render Os at the beginning of a word properly.  The same o mid-word is fine.  At the beginning of a word it renders as an N or R...strange.  There are other companies with similar fonts, but not nearly the degree of customization, colors, or borders.  I have a couple of these stickers on my current bike and they are pretty nifty (as long as they are kept from areas with lots of repetitive abrasion, like near my flubby inner-thighs, as I discovered with one set of lettering on Oby).

We're not sure yet how long it will take to receive the new bike.  Cannondale was closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, yesterday, so Mike will possibly have an ETA when he talks to them on Monday.  It would be nice to have it before Christmas.  Even better would be for a mild Winter without much snow so that I can get out on the roads some, and not log all of my early miles on-trainer...but I live in the snow belt of West MI--not getting my hopes up on that one.

Tomorrow is the last cyclocross race of the season.  This will be my hubby's 3rd race, ever, and the first race for a friend of ours.  I'll be there with bells (big-ass cowbell) on!  Afterwards is a soup and bread buffet end-of-season party at one of our favorite brewpubs (across the street from our favorite bike shop...it's like a little piece of Nirvana in MI).

11.25.2010

Lame

I'm so not good about keeping up my blog like I should.  Instead I tend to wait until a bunch of stuff piles up, then I write stupid-long and rambling posts.  Here goes.

So early last week a cycling friend of mine officially invited me to join a new Luna Chix local team that is forming in our area.  Luna does sponser a pro team, too, but we would not be doing any true competitive work.  Our responsibilities would primarily include promoting Luna (Clif's line of women-specific nutritional bars and energy products), hosting ride clinics, being present at races (as competitors or support for our team members competing--this will be me at mountain bike events.  Me no likey dodging trees on a bike), and raising money for The Breast Cancer Fund.

I feel so amazingly honored to have been asked to join this group of women cyclists.  We will have a really diverse group of women on the team...I'm the newbie and definitely not as strong a rider as the rest of the gals, but they are such a supportive and fun bunch.  I look forward to training rides (2/month) with them.  It will be added incentive to work hard and keep up.

In other news...on Friday I will be breaking my streak of never having shopped on Black Friday (ever...seriously!).  We won't be hitting the mall, however.  We will be hitting our favorite local bike shop for me to be fitted for my new road ride...*squee*  I am positively giddy about this.  I just hope there are a few days in the next couple of months when I can get out and ride without snow and crap on the roads.  I can't wait to feel the difference between relatively harsh aluminum and buttery carbon.  Perhaps I will even stop avoiding some of our rougher chip-sealed roads!

Training for the Vegas Half Marathon has been going well.  Only 8 days until I fly out. I am really excited.  I'm happy to be tapering now, too.  Though this week I am still hitting pretty solid miles.  I think I may manage 30 before the week is out, + 50 on the bike (I plan to do 15 miles on the bike when we get back from Turkey Day dinner, tomorrow.  I will need that).

I had a brief "oh shit" moment during yesterday's run.  I rolled my bad ankle.  I instantly went numb with terror...then realized that nothing hurt, nothing had snapped...my ankle was OK.  Phew.  I honestly believed that a simple roll would prove tragic at this point.  I was relieved-beyond-belief to find that this was not the case.  It makes me feel a lot better about running this Winter.  I tend to roll my ankles every few weeks, primarily on all of the little hunks of ice kicked-up by plows.  Often these are concealed by an inch or two of snow and unavoidable.

Happy Thanksgiving--hope it's a great day.  I have much to be thankful for.  I hope you do, too.

11.16.2010

What's Wrong With Me

I think I have it figured out (at least as far as my ankle is concerned).  And it goes by the name of Anterolateral Ankle Impingement.  It has been over 5 months since my sprain and I have had no real improvement in my ankle in probably 2 months time.  Running on paved surfaces is mostly good, though my ankle tends to start muttering at me by 7-8 miles into most longer runs.

This is not what bothers me.  What bothers me is how weak and twinge-y my ankle feels any time I run on non-paved surfaces (like the gravel shoulder or grass).  It feels weak and it hurts sort of from the top of where my ankle and foot meet to around and under my outer ankle bone.  I also cannot do much dorsiflexion beyond normal walking or running without awful stiffness and pain.  I really can't stretch my achilles on my left side, so it's a good thing that I'm not prone to achilles issues.

From the look of things I pretty much have textbook symptoms of the afore-linked condition.  And right now I'm just really thankful that our roads are still clear.  At the moment I'm fairly certain that running on snow is going to be very bad.  I'm also guessing that any trail running in 2011 is going to be no-go.

I have a routine asthma check-up with my PCP in 2 weeks, so I'm going to ask him about this issue then.  My guess is they may schedule me for an MRI and once the condition is confirmed we'll try some corticosteroid injections at the site of the scarring.  If that doesn't help, then I'd likely be looking at surgery.  I guess the timing could be worse.  If I have to lose a few months of running and biking to surgical recovery, Winter is not the worst time to do so.

Since I'm already assuming that trail running will be out for next year, I'm thinking that 2011 might be my year to really embrace the duathlon and shorter distance road races.  Ever since my first (and, thus far, only) duathlon back in April I have REALLY wanted to see what I could do in the 5k.  The first leg of that duathlon gave my my 5k PR...just imagine what I could have done without having to pace myself for the subsequent bike and 2nd 2k legs!

I think I am going to forgo the May 25k, too.  Last Spring it was really difficult to train properly for both that and the duathlon--they are just such different events with training that is often at odds.  I would like to dedicate more bike-specific training to my workouts, instead of so many longer runs, especially now that I'm more comfortable on the bike and will have a new, more performance-oriented ride with which to become more familiar.

More bike time in the Spring will also make it easier to potentially do a few century rides in the Summer, as well as a Summer duathlon or two.  And the bike doesn't bother my ankle...at all.  So my running mileage may be a bit light depending upon the long-term ankle prognosis, anyhow.

11.08.2010

Sunday Funday

Yesterday was so nice--50s and sunny, with wind that only became bothersome toward the end of the ride.  The hubby and I attended a "FUNraising" event hosted by our favorite bike shop.  The Pineapple Bob ride (35 and 42 mile routes) takes place on a mix of paved and gravel/dirt roads with beers and taco buffet at the end of the ride.  We chose to hang with the 35 mile group on our tandem (which can roll with skinny/slick road tires or larger, knobbier cyclocross tires, which allows it to be comfortably and safely ridden on pavement or unpaved roads).  This was our first venture "off-road" and my very first ride on gravel in a VERY long time.

It wasn't as scary as I had anticipated, though I definitely feel a slight bit of fishtailing sensation on the back end of the bike while riding the gravel stretches.  Derek felt none of this instability, which is interesting.  We're on the same bike, but our experience of the bike's handling definitely differs.

This was our longest tandem ride and while it was fun, I am finding that I'm having some physical issues that would likely not be present for a taller rider behind my beast of a spouse.  The difference in our height is nearly a foot and since my saddle is already much lower than his so that I can reach the pedals it puts my nose is inches away from his waist.  What this means is that I can't see anything from about 10 o'clock to 2 and my head ends up tilted backwards a bit more than is comfortable for more than maybe 90 minutes.  While on my road bike I tend to prefer a more aggressive "aero" position with torso and head leaned more forward, but the tandem forces me to take a more upright and awkward position.

As a result, my neck and back were pretty sore last night and today aren't feeling the greatest.  With time I'm sure my muscles would adapt--after all, when I first started riding my road bike I had sore neck and shoulder issues for the opposite reasons--but that lack of sight ahead of the bike really puts a damper on the ride experience, too.  Especially on a group ride.  We brought up the rear of of the 35 mile group yesterday (in large part because we're still adapting to the relatively cumbersome handling of the tandem, so it's trickier to ride in a group or paceline) and it was sorta lonely on the back of the tandem, since I could only talk to Derek, but couldn't make eye-contact, of course.

I think my favorite part of the ride was going fast on a straight stretch with a bit of a tailwind.  We can really push that bike to some fun speeds, especially as our comfort level improves.  Perhaps next Summer we will get in on a local time trial or two.  Our beasty quads are good for something!

Today I am taking it sort of easy.  I had planned to do my weight workout and then get in maybe 20 miles on the bike, but the past 2 days of cardio in cool, damp air have done a number on my asthmatic lungs.  So I'm pushing back the bike workout to the middle of the week, which should see the best weather and warmest temps.  60s are so nice in Nov.

We've entered that time of year when I am content to log 50 miles/week on the bike.  A fraction of what I was doing just a few months ago, but the weather is less bike-friendly and now my running miles are back up into a respectable range as I peak for a half-marathon in just under 4 weeks.  I'm OK with just maintaining some bike fitness for a while.  More than 50 miles/week on the trainer is just sorta torturous, anyhow.

I logged my first trainer ride of the season a couple of nights ago and it was a workout without much pleasure.  It was also hard as hell, since our fluid trainer offers a LOT more resistance than the road.  Easily 2.5-3mph (and 2-3 gears) were lost vs. what I can do on the road with equal effort.  I'll pretty happily put my bike on the clunky old magnetic trainer for the rest of the cold season.  Eventually a newer, better magnetic trainer will be on my shopping list, but a newer, better road machine trumps a new torture trainer.

10.30.2010

Duh, how did I forget this?!

In my previous post detailing many things awesome, I completely failed to discuss my recent acquisition of a FatCyclist.com "Fatty" jersey (which is actually short-sleeved...the blue sleeves are a baselayer top, since it's too cold nowadays for riding sans-longsleeves).  Twin Six offers these jerseys yearly during a limited time pre-order and then in small quantities on their site until they are gone.  Each year the design is slightly different.  Last year the hubby ordered the men's jersey, which was white with orange and black.  Proceeds from the sale of the Fatty/Twin Six gear go towards breast cancer research.  Elden, aka "Fatty," lost his first wife and mother of his children after a 5 year battle with breast cancer.  It's only fitting that these jerseys should be available in October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The jersey, itself, is already my favorite piece of cycling apparel.  It fits me better than any other top in my relatively small cycling wardrobe.  This will definitely not be my last Twin Six jersey.  I think I will have to get my hands on a sleeveless one before next Summer.

Take note of the photo at right.  Further evidence of my need for curvy jeans, heh.

In other positive news, our friend "Broken Bob" who was blown off of a roof during the recent wind storms is already making great progress in his recovery and physical therapy.  He has been sitting up and walking.  Amazing for a guy who broke nearly one of every bone from his pelvis, up.

In even more happy news, my cold is quite a bit better and I had an utterly fabulous 5 mile run, yesterday.  The crisp air cleared my head and I felt pretty much completely well (until I returned indoors and had my head re-congest within about 5 minutes).  I think my legs and left ankle even appreciated a couple of days of rest from aerobic activities.  I am also currently a mere 11 miles from hitting 100 running miles for the month for the first time since I messed up said ankle.  So that is the plan on this lovely Fall day.

Tomorrow we will celebrate Halloween by attending a cyclocross race an hour away.  We're pretty geeked about watching the "Tandem Throw-Down."  I doubt we would ever race our own tandem in a 'cross event (riding a tandem on the road takes special skills for each rider...cyclocross takes special skill...the combo = extra brutal and scary), but I've learned to never say never.

10.28.2010

Awesomesauce!

Some random cool things from this week...because Thursdays are not inherently awesome, but maybe should be.

Earlier this week one of our JDRF buddies posted some video from the recent ride in Death Valley.  Note the guy in the white Moeben sleeves.  He is especially awesome:


More awesome...my new Levi's "Bold Curve" jeans arrived.  They look better on the model than they do on me (duh, that's why I'm not a model), but they fit really well and are flattering.  Levi's have been about the only brand I've found that fit my butt and thighs well without leaving a large enough gap in the rear to hold a small child.  Previously I have worn their 529 "Curvy" jeans, but I fall between sizes in those, so I have to size up and wear a belt.  Plus they are maybe an inch too high-rise for comfort.  They look borderline "mom jeans."  Their new Curve ID line has a better progression of sizes, plus 3 lengths in each size.  They are more expensive, but since I'm not having to have too-long jeans altered it's still worth the extra dough.

Now I just need to watch for another sale (I scored my new pair for 30% off) and hope that the same jeans in a dressier black might be available in my size.  It appears that this entire product line is really selling like hotcakes.  Of course, the fact that I really like them is reason enough that they will almost certainly be discontinued.  It's Murphy's Law, or something...

Finally the godawful wind storms have ended.  That constant drone outside had really started to wear on my nerves.  Wind storms have freaked me out ever since the bad derecho storms from May '98.  We have too many large, brittle trees too close to our house and every gust would set me on edge as I waited for disaster to strike our house.

This photo was taken about 45 minutes North of here.  Between that spot and us a weather station measured at least one 71mph gust.  The entire Midwest is riddled with damage from 48+ hours of strong winds.  Lake MI waves were in the 10-20 foot range at various buoys.  I believe Lake Superior measured even larger waves.  We're very close to the anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald sinking under similar conditions.  Scary stuff.

In less awesome news, a good friend of ours was blown off of his greenhouse roof as he was attempting storm-related repairs.  He is currently in the hospital undergoing surgical repairs.  His growing list of injuries include (from his "BrokenBob" CarePage):
• Laceration on the back of his head
• Small brain bleed which is just being observed at this time. It is probably due to the fracture behind his ear.
• Small fracture behind the right ear on skull
• C1 & C2 vertebrae are fractured but stable with a brace. These will not affect his spinal cord!
• Shoulder blade (Scapula)on left side
• Collarbone (Clavicle) on right side fractured
• Upper right side arm (Humerus) broken along with a shattered elbow which are being fixed in surgery at this time.
• many broken ribs
• lungs are bruised (pulmonary contusion). He can take deep breaths and is breathing well thankfully despite the broken ribs and bruised lungs.
• Kidneys bruised
• Pelvis has a small separation at a joint (that is normally fused during early growth). This is being pinned in surgery to help it fuse again.

Please keep our friend in your thoughts and prayers.  He's strong and has a good support network, but he is also type 1 diabetic, so his body is likely extra stressed.

Paling next to Bob's struggles, I have a cold.  I blame this entirely on DH.  He came down with a cold just days after returning from Death Valley/Vegas.  Now I am sick.  This is a relatively mild cold, but I still have lost my mojo and am doing absolutely nothing more strenuous than perusing the Internet, today.  Hopefully tomorrow will find me up for a 5 miler, then an 11 on Sat.  I am thisclose to logging my first 100 mile month since prior to my ankle sprain...so May was the last time I hit this milestone.  I'm still trying to catch up with the 1000 miles for the year "Pace Bunny."

10.23.2010

It's a woman's prerogative, you know...

I'd been lusting after a cyclocross bike as my next 2-wheeled ride...and I really do think that eventually it would be a very practical and well-used bike to add to our stable.  But the earliest I would NEED a 'cross bike would be in a year from now.  And even then there is no guarantee that I will take part in any cyclocross races.  If we're in Death Valley for the 2011 JDRF ride next Oct., then it's doubtful that I would risk banging myself up in any 'cross events.  And, to be honest, lately I have wondered if my left ankle will ever be right, again.  I'm really coming to the realization that I may have done some serious, permanent damage to that joint.  I did everything wrong in the first crucial 48 hours after the initial injury.  At this point I question whether I will be able to run trails.  The same sorts of risks to my ankle running off-road would exist during the off-bike sections of a cyclocross race.

But I do have several Duathlons and thousands of road miles in the plans for 2011.  All that would would be a bit more pleasant on a road machine that dampens vibrations a bit more than my existing aluminum frame.  A frame with more aggressive geometry would be an improvement, as well.

And most of my bike time would still be on roads, anyhow...lots of chip-sealed roads (at least 3/4 of our roads are chip-sealed in these parts). Not so nice with my aluminum frame. I've been getting in some miles with DH on our steel tandem and the difference in the level of vibration transmitted from these frames is like night-and-day. My hands, feet, and ass are a lot happier on the back of the tandem, even on roads that make me really miserable on my Synapse.

I do like Cannondale and they and our LBS offer a 20% discount to JDRF fundraising riders, so I'm really eyeballing this bike at right (SuperSix 4 Rival). The SRAM shifters will adjust to my smaller hands and the carbon frame should dampen road vibration a good deal better than my aluminum frame.

My current ride (Cannondale Synapse 5 Féminine) is an entry-level "comfort" geometry bike.  It didn't take long before I found that I wasn't comfortable with the sort of upright posture of this sort of bike.  We've flipped my stem and swapped 2 spacers up (lowering the handlebars) to get my torso into a more "aero" stance, but I still feel like I need to stretch a bit more, especially in the drops. I don't really have the ideal body proportions for a women's specific frame--I have the relatively shorter legs and longer torso like a guy, so fit-wise I would have likely done better on a unisex frame, but the Synapse Féminine has short-reach shifters, which I need for my smallish hands.  It was a great starter bike for me to become more comfortable and confident on the road. Perhaps a more aggressive frame would have put me off early on, since the handling is much less forgiving.  Not having ever ridden a road bike I had no goals other than to use the bike for cross-training and happy cruises around with my hubby.  But once I got comfortable riding on the road I discovered that I really kind of like going fast and am relatively more "gifted" as a cyclist than I am as a runner.

And now I have race goals...I would eventually like an age group award in a duathlon.  Last year I placed 5/9 in my AG in my first duathlon.  My first ever ride in the rain...POURING rain.  And high wind.  This year I at least want that #4 spot.

Everything about that bike above looks perfect for my needs...the 48cm would fit me similarly to my current 48cm bike...in many ways it would almost certainly fit me better, since it's a men's/unisex frame with a slightly longer top tube and more aggressive ride position.  I shouldn't feel so cramped in the drops and should be able to make the best use of my beasty, powerful legs on a stiffer, lighter-weight frame, too.  Cornering should be a good deal more precise, as well.  Right now I feet less control than I would like.  It sort of reminds me a bit of a car with tight steering and suspension, vs. a car with looser steering and more body-roll...like the handling difference between my previous car compared to my current, sportier one.

The components are also a step above my current bike, with full SRAM Rival and a compact double, instead of my current mix of Shimano 105 triple and some lower-end bits.  After 3300+ miles in less than a year it's pretty clear that this is an activity I'm in for the long haul, so I've progressed beyond "entry-level" equipment pretty quickly.  Hubby admitted that I'm logging more miles than he did when he started seriously riding a road bike--and that is on top of an expected 1k miles on-foot for 2010, as well.

The color is bonus (the SuperSix 4 Rival comes in a very subtle matte black and that white and orange.  I am so not subtle and can't ever see myself on such an elegant-looking ride *snerk*).  I already have plans to essentially flip-flop the color scheme from my current "Oby/Oberon" bike.  Hubby was down at our local bike shop a couple of nights ago picking up the roof rack for our tandem and happened to mention to our shop guy, Mike, that I'm already lusting after the SuperSix.  Mike was apparently not the least bit surprised and exclaimed that we must name it "Oby Two Kenobi!"  I completely agree!

So it's quite clear that I must outfit the bike with "Sid Blue" trimmings.  I discovered both bar tape and cable housings in that color, which nearly identically matches that turquoise blue of Oby.  They will be like siblings!  Oby is the relaxed, practical older sibling and Oby 2 would be the wild, delinquent younger child.  And I still have a remaining Oberon beer sticker from my friend, Heather.  That will look perfect on the bottom of the down tube.

It's too bad I can't actually keep both bikes, but there would be no reason to have TWO road bikes (I'm not my hubby, fer pity's sake, heh!).  We're already running out of room in the garage with 2 road bikes, a tandem, DH's good mtn. bike, our POS mtn. bikes, DH's cross bike, his backup road bike, his cracked old road frame, and DS's bike.  I think there may be more, too...seems like every time I go out there I find another bike that I'd forgotten we have.  Does this mean we have a problem?

10.12.2010

Last week's TGIF - Tandem Goodness It's Friday!

Late last week we got the call that our tandem bike had arrived at the shop and only required assembly and handlebar tape application. Friday the shop called to tell us that they had it ready. So I drove down to DH's work to trade cars, as his midsize sedan is not nearly as useful for hauling large objects as my smaller hatchback (we have a roof rack with a tandem rail on order for my car for future transportation of our new ride).

With Derek's car I picked-up our son and the little boy in our carpool from school, telling Dane only that daddy needed my car to go get something that wouldn't fit in his car.

When Derek returned home he parked over by our detached garage and snuck the bike into the garage for final assembly and presentation.

Once the bike was ready we brought Dane out with covered eyes for the official "unveiling" of the bike that was purchased primarily for his benefit.

Apparently our whole ruse was very successful.  As you can see his eyes bugged-out and there was an audible gasp.

On Saturday AM Dane attended an annual pumpkin roll with friends.  While he was away Derek and I enjoyed an inaugural ride on "Rule #2: Double-Tap" (silly reference from Zombieland).  Wow, that was both exhilarating and scary as hell.  I'm sure it's a lot less scary for the "captain," but riding as "stoker" behind a wall of person is pretty terrifying.  Not seeing anything in front of oneself while bombing down a hill at 35mph will raise anyone's heart-rate.  I also found that not being able to see bumps in the road was kinda rough on me, as I was unable to properly prepare and adjust my stance accordingly.  One bump knocked me off my saddle.  There is definitely a communication learning curve on a tandem.  One cannot simply coast as-needed to move around on the saddle or take a drink.  Everything has to be "discussed" with the other rider.

Ride #2 on Saturday afternoon found Dane in the stoker seat.  I swear, the kid took to it like it was the most natural thing ever.  He covered a total of 27 miles behind his dad while I rode along on my own bike.

And he was not slacking back there.  He and Derek dropped my ass with ease on a section of road with just the slightest decline.  Jerks!!!  On uphills they had no trouble keeping up with me--so not fair!  Once Dane has more experience they will really leave me in the dust. *sniff*  Guess I'm going to REALLY have to work my butt off if I want to not get dropped on every ride.  Those skinny legs on that boy are deceptive--there must be some serious muscle in there (kid comes by it from both sides of the gene pool).

His only complaint was that his butt hurt a little.  We have already ordered him a better pair of kids' cycling shorts with a real foam chamois paid, instead of the ones he has that have no more than a thin layer of fleece over the crotch seams.

On Sunday we did another ride with Dane on the back of the tandem.  This time we did almost 22 miles (and I still struggled a bit to not get dropped a few times).  I'm already looking forward to next Summer.  I foresee a LOT of long family rides (and maybe some family cyclocross races next Fall!).  We're pretty certain that Dane's first metric century ride will happen at the tender age of 10 if he continues to progress and adapt to riding.  It's so awesome to have a sport that we can share as a family, even if our abilities are all somewhat different.

10.10.2010

Can't not share this!

This was created by students at my super awesome college alma mater - Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI.  If anything makes me want to re-enroll and go for a master's degree, it's this:

It was briefly down, but it's back, now--woot!

10.01.2010

"Slacker" Guilt

This week my workouts have hit a sort of wall.  In recent weeks I've been feeling increasingly burned-out.  At first I thought maybe it was a response to change of seasons and cooler, drearier weather...and seasonal allergies.  And, yes, I think these things are partly to blame for my general malaise.  But I think my body is also telling me, in the only way it can, to give it a break.

2 weeks ago marked the end of my last week of logging >100 miles on the bike.  I managed a 12 week streak, including a 184 mile week.  But once my running returned to 15+ miles/week my body started to rebel.  Between the running, biking, and weight workouts I have been logging a lot of hours each week of activity.  Several weeks on-end of 11-12 hours of exercise seem to be my breaking-point.  I think a scale-back week here and there would have made a difference.  It's just hard to take REST days when I'm trying to do 3 different activities.  Fall has also meant a lot more windy conditions, which has made the biking miles even more challenging--especially since all of my rides in the past month have been solo, so no chance to draft off of anyone and share the workload over the miles.

Add to that my realization that my outdoor biking time will soon be limited by snowy roads, so the impetus to cram as many miles as possible into my weeks is there, too.  In some ways Winter may serve as a necessary break for me.  I am loathe to log much more than 50 miles/week on the trainer.

This week has been a scheduled scale-back week for me...but I've ended up cutting a lot more from my planned workouts than what I initially had on the training calendar.  Instead of 19 miles of running I'm doing 15.  60 miles on the bike, rather than 75, and 1 weight workout, instead of 2.  No doubles, when most weeks I've been doing 2-3 days with 2 workouts.  I just can't motivate myself to do it.  As it is I'm really working to psyche myself up for just 1 workout.  Tomorrow is a blessed rest day.  I think it will consist of laying around, drinking coffee, eating bacon, watching movies in my PJs with the rugrat (DH has a JDRF team ride that will take most of the day), and not leaving the house.  It's gonna be AWESOME!!!

Next week: back to it.  23 miles of running, 75 miles on the bike (or less, depending upon how I feel), 2 weight workouts.  A week from tomorrow there is a bike tour that we may get in on, especially if our tandem has arrived and weather is good.  We'd not plan to do more than 30 miles, since DS won't likely be up to more than that--yet.  Last we knew (a day or two ago) the bike (aka 'Rule #2: Double-Tap'...Zombieland fans will get this) was in paint, so we could have it pretty soon.  Finally I can draft behind someone, again!  We're really looking forward to some Fall family rides before the weather turns.

Time to drag my butt out for a whopping 5-miler, then I can officially start my rest day.  Woot!

9.24.2010

I has an ow.

Oops...I fell off my bike.  Or, rather...I fell over with my bike still attached to my right foot.  At a 4-way stop.  With an audience.  Why does it always have to be with an audience?  If I were to have actually seriously hurt myself, THEN an audience would be appreciated.  Not when I tip over from a complete stop because my foot slipped trying to clip back into my pedals.  No one needs to witness my noob-like move.

My left elbow has a bit of scraping and a silver dollar-sized black-and-blue mark, but is otherwise not injured. I was just thankful to not have torn any holes in my clothes (I was wearing my favorite Dansko logo eBay find jersey and cycling shorts are just ridiculously $$ to replace) or hurt my bike, though I did have to limp up to the sidewalk to put my chain back on properly, as the fall somehow knocked it off the front rings.

I guess I was due for a fall.  I've logged 3000+ miles on my bike since I got her last November.  Technically I have had 2 other falls, though I'm not really counting the one when DH insisted my bike would be fine through loose gravel and sand of a road construction zone.  Had I been riding solo I would have turned around and found an alternate route of paved road.  Of course, I had an audience of construction workers on that occasion, too.  Of course.

Since I last posted a blog entry I had the pleasure of an amazing dinner at Judson's Steakhouse (in The B.O.B. complex) in Grand Rapids with my friend Sandy/Cheffy from NC (she's a running buddy of mine from RunningAHEAD.com).  She is a professional chef and does some traveling for work.  This is the 3rd time in about 2 years that I've been fortunate enough to be able to meet up with her for dinner while she is in the area.

The following morning DS and I drove down to Spring Lake to watch other RA friends run the Old Boys' Brewhouse Oktoberfest Marathon & Half.  The races were delayed an hour for NASTY weather...lightning, wind, monsoon-like rains.  It ended up being a really tough race for most of the people I knew running.  My one friend running the full marathon ended up DNFing.  That hour delay can totally mess with any nutrition strategy, which a pretty crucial aspect of running 26.2 miles.

This past week I have had a real mental struggle getting out for my workouts.  I blame it on the overcast skies.  If this keeps up it's gonna be one LONG Winter.  I ended up skipping my Sunday 25 mile bike workout...which breaks my 12 week 100+ miles logged on my bike.  Eventually that streak would have had to end, anyhow.  Once the snow flies my time will be spent on the trainer, which will have me content to manage 50 miles/week.  Plus my running mileage is starting to inch back up as I am training for the Vegas HM, so that really needs to be my emphasis for the next few months.

The continued windy conditions have really made my bike workouts extra challenging, too.  Today's winds are in the 30mph range...so I'm really thankful that today's planned workout is not of the 2-wheeled variety.

9.14.2010

Bike Porn II

Gah, it's everywhere!  Avert your eyes, sequester the children, and cut up your credit cards!

So I made the mistake a couple of days ago of posting on FB that I was lusting over the new 2011 Cannodale CAADX cyclocross bike (the 'cross version of that lust-worthy road bike in my previous post), but wondered if one could order it with SRAM components, instead of Shimano (cheaper for equivalent quality).  Mere minutes later our favorite LBS (local bike shop) owner chimes in to tell me that I shouldn't jones too hard for the Cdale bike, since he already has a Redline bike (Conquest Pro) with those specs and IN MY SIZE in the shop (I'm guessing it's a 2010, so it could already be discounted as "last year's" model...but that's still not a cheap proposition).  Uh oh.  Probably just as well that we dropped a whole lotta money on that sweet road tandem that should be in our hands ANY day now!

But...the tandem can take cross tires and my road bike can't.  So DH and DS can still venture on unpaved 2-track, while I am limited to tarmac/asphalt/concrete. *sniff*  The Redline is pretty sweet looking too--love the double set of brake levers...

Man...I thought running was an expensive hobby!

Today I stumbled across another coolio bikey thing.  It's like an indoor bike trainer for people who hate indoor trainers (I thought that was everyone, but I actually know a couple of crazy peeps who prefer riding indoors to riding outdoors...see, crazy, right?).  The thing I always HATED about riding the indoor magnetic or fluid trainer was the inability to coast, at all.  So it's MUCH tougher to maintain a decent pace and I get nervous having that wheel whirring around with 4 cats underfoot.  Plus it should take up less space without having that rear wheel attached to the bike--important in our tiny living room, which contains a pretty sizable home gym set-up during the Winter months (2 road bikes on trainers, free weights, stability ball, full-size gym step, mini step, step risers).  We can't ever have company over, since socialization takes a back seat to working-out in an environment that is above freezing and not buried in snow.

I'm sorta suspecting that this won't be a cheap device, though, unfortunately.  If it is somehow reasonably-priced it will be at the top of my Christmas list.

This week is the start of my training for the Las Vegas Half Marathon.  So far I have run 4 miles...woot!  I will finish the week with 20 miles and build to 30 over the next 12 weeks.  Not high mileage, by any stretch, but I am viewing this event as less of a race than a fun run with friends.  I'm guessing I might be a bit hungover on race day, so I should really be working more on my drinkin' fitness, than my running fitness, perhaps, heh.  I am hoping to keep pedaling for a minimum of 100 miles/week for as long as weather allows, too.  Once I am forced indoors my mileage is likely to drop to about half--because of that trainer riding business.  The upper body and core workouts will continue, too.  I like my little developing arm muscles and the 6 pack that is undoubtedly concealed underneath the post-pregnancy belly flubber.

9.09.2010

Bike Porn

Isn't that bike to the left hot (well, what we can see of it, anyhow)?  Ooh, that would look so fun with lime green bar tape...or maybe red or blue or...orange.  Orange has worked well for me, thus far.

I already have a perfectly nice bike...is it wrong to ogle other bikes? I don't think so. I love my bike.  But, in hind sight, I wish I'd gone with more aggressive geometry from the get-go.  My bike is nearly a year old and my first road bike.  I played it safe by going with a "comfort" frame.  The only real reason I lust after a new bike is to have the geometry that suits me best.  I hemmed and hawed over the Cannondale Synapse vs. CAAD9.  Should have gone with the CAAD9 (and a men's frame, since I have a long torso and short legs--the opposite proportions suited to my women's specific frame, though the shorter-reach components on the women's frame are a better fit for my hands when shifting and braking)...but my Synapse is still awesome and will still serve me well for a few years. Flipping the stem and moving some spacers has helped a fair amount.  Hindsight is 20/20.

Of course, my next bike will likely be a cyclocross frame. Next Fall I hope to get into some races. Plus that would be nice for hitting some sand/gravel backroads and not being limited to pavement. I'd also get some studded tires for Winter riding. Sure would be nice to not have to put in so many miles indoors on the trainer.

Cannondale has been slow to come out with official photos of their '11 models, but I've found a few online from various bike shows around the globe (the photo above is from a European show, I believe, so it's possible that that particular color way isn't even going to be produced...which would be a shame).  Cannondale will be producing both road and cyclocross versions of their CAAD10 frame, so I'd be eager to try the 'cross version.  If I ended up loving that it would be easy to purchase the road version without any qualms.

I've gotten out on my bike the last 2 days and have plans of a 45-50 miler tomorrow.  I think today finally ended our week-long string of endless wind.  I'm tired of riding in such blustery garbage.  The only benefit is it's a helluva workout going into it and the return trip with the wind at my back is fabulous!

Next week I officially start training for the Vegas Half Marathon in early Dec.  So I gotta get my biking fix as much as possible while the weather is still relatively nice and my running miles are low.  In another month I'll be logging more miles on-foot and the nice outdoor riding days will start to be fewer and further between.

8.31.2010

August Recap - no wonder I'm developing rock-hard quads!

(under the squish, of course).  I rode my bike a lot...including these 4 rides:

I had to walk my bike up the last bit of those 2 ginormous hills.  I have never had to dismount and do that, but I simply could not make my pedals turn any more without tipping over.

This ride was awesome...I felt like a million bucks.  I ate those hills for breakfast!

This ride was craptacular.  We had been on the other side of the state the night before and not returned home until the wee hours of the morning.  I did this on 5 hours of sleep.  I finally found my mojo maybe 50 miles in.  The first 2/3 of that ride were rough.

This ride was just 2 days ago.  I was having another fabulous ride for the first 40 miles, or so.  Then I broke a spoke.  Unbeknownst to me for 3 miles I had a rear wheel that was out of true and rubbing on my rear brakes.  I busted my ass (sweatin' like a whore in church in 95º heat) trying to keep up with the front pack of riders on our JDRF group ride.  I finally realized what happened when I came to a stop with a rider who was checking her blood sugar.  My hubby and another group were not too far behind, so I stuck with them for the rest of the day.  We had to release my rear brakes, so I didn't dare try to pedal with the faster paceline group with only half of my brakes functioning (especially with all those hills).

I had a bunch of shorter, less impressive rides in there, too.  And some runs.  I pedaled nearly 616 miles in August and also ran a paltry 61 miles...but it's better than the 18 I ran in July.  And the 39.9 miles run in June, prior to spraining my ankle.

In 12 days I start training for the Vegas "Rock & Roll" Half-Marathon.  I'm planning to start training on 20 miles/week and max-out around 30.  Not high mileage, by any stretch.  But I will continue pedaling ~100 miles/week as long as the weather allows, in addition to upper-body weight and core workouts 2-3x/week.  I'm not looking to PR this race, just to continue to improve my overall fitness with cross-training...and mostly to have a fabulous long weekend with a bunch of girlfriends.  

I'm also continuing to take it easy with my ankle.  While it is improving with every week, it is still far from healed and I have relatively limited range-of-motion vs. my right ankle.  I won't be doing any off-road running for a long time and am really nervous about the effect running on snow and ice will have.   I am terrified to roll it and rolling my ankles is a pretty commonplace occurrence on our often poorly-plowed roads (fluffy snow tends to conceal ice boogers kicked-up by the plows).  I'm hoping to avoid having to pay gym membership to run on the treadmill for the bulk of Winter, but if I have to, I will.  I've already heard a few meteorologists' predictions of a super-snowy Winter like the one we had 2 seasons ago.  I am hoping they are dead wrong.

8.25.2010

Only sorta indirectly about running or biking...


Running and biking are viable methods of transportation during zombie apocalypse...at least according to Rule #1 in Zombieland...  Halloween cannot come soon enough.  I already have plans to collapse on the sofa with a few beers and heavily buttered popcorn for 90 minutes as this airs.

8.23.2010

Back to life...back to reality...



That was one of my favorite tunes back in the late 80s.  I guess that makes me old when a 20 year old song still seems "modern."

That song title really sums-up how I feel today.  What a crazy, long, exhausting, fun weekend.

EARLY Saturday AM found DH sending-off the One Day Ride Across MI (ODRAM) (From the shore of Lake MI in Montague across to the shore of Lake Huron in Bay City) folks.  After the riders had all left he came home, showered, loaded our bikes into the car, and we headed-off to follow the course (dropped DS off at grandma's on the way out), see if any riders needed assistance, and finish painting the last bit of the course before riders came through.

It was a beautiful day for a road trip.  Really cool to see most of the riders out on those backroads in the middle of MI, too.  The lead guy actually finished before we were able to complete painting.  His average pace was 19mph, which is FAST for 147 miles.  I don't bike that fast for 10 miles!  He has done the ride before, from the sound of it, and claimed that he was having an off day and has been faster in the past.  Wow.

I helped unload the food and drinks for the post-ride BBQ from our friend Rob's SUV and then Derek and I headed backwards on the course to see if we could meet up with friends and ride with them back towards the finish.  I wanted to ride 25-30 miles, so the plan was to go 12-15 miles, then turn back if we didn't find anyone.

12.4 miles in we met up with our friends Cindy and Herb.  We turned-around and rolled back with them.  They were both wiped-out and sore, but seemed to really appreciate the company and the pull into the finish.  Not long afterwards other friends of ours rolled-in.  This group rode BACK to this side of the state, yesterday (they called it MARDO: Mad Ass Ride Do-Over...with good reason.  294 miles in 2 days will certainly make one's butt and nether-regions REALLY angry).

The BBQ was really nice and gave the riders a chance to relax with each other, since many never met at the start or along the course.  At 8pm a chartered bus took many riders back to their vehicles at the start (others had friends or family provide SAG support along the course and a ride back home afterwards).

I think I will do this ride, next year.  At least one friend who rides at about the same pace I do (and is hilarious and super fun to spend hours with) is planning on riding next year, so I would have company.

Derek and I left just before 8:30 to make the trip home.  We decided to stick mostly to interstates to get home, figuring that would be faster, but we likely would have saved time by retracing the course.  MI has lots of great North-South interstates, but almost nothing that goes directly East-West, unfortunately.  The route we took angled up to the NW, then we had to drop a long ways South to get home.  Our actual drive time was probably in the 3 hour neighborhood.  It was a long, dark, exhausting drive home. Our in-car time for the day was ~8 hours.

By the time we arrived home, unpacked the car a bit, showered (since we didn't shower after our ride on the end of the course, simply changed out of our cycling gear), and got to sleep it was approaching 2am.  No biggie, except for the fact that yesterday we had plans to take part in a challenging, hilly 75 mile bike ride (the MOST: Muskegon-Oceana Scenic Tour).

So when I was awakened by a text message at 7am I was in rough shape.  I still had to get to the store to pick up a few things, get dressed, and eat breakfast before we could ride.  Hubby and I wanted to leave the house by 9 to bike over to the tour start a mile away to meet with friends.

We arrived at the start and got off a bit late (one friend was running behind, which was fine...everyone got in extra potty stops before we rolled).  Those early miles were rough (hilly and with a brutal headwind). Never have I felt so completely lacking in energy and strength on a ride.  I hit a bit of a 2nd wind just after the first SAG stop, which was good.  Green grapes seem to be magical.

I felt better as the ride went on, but it was still not my most enjoyable ride, ever.  In some ways it was harder than my first century ride.  I was so run-down and the hills and wind really took a lot out of me.  Thankfully the last third or so of the ride is less hilly and the wind was no longer in our faces.

Because it was a tour with 3 distances the lunch stop was fairly late in the day for the 75 milers.  We only had about 13 miles to go after lunch.  Getting some solid calories and protein in me really made a difference, though.  I felt a lot stronger for those last 13 miles than I did for the first 13.  It didn't hurt that we had a good tailwind, some gradual downhill grade, and were on familiar riding routes for me.

Instead of going back to the start I headed home (still got in the full 75 miles) so that I could shower and get our babysitter home.  Derek met back with our friends at the starting point, then returned home to find out that our MARDO friends were not too far away.  So he rode back out to meet them and ride them in.  He managed 113 miles for the day, I believe.

So today is a little surreally quiet after the excitement of the previous 2 days.  I had plans to do my upper body weight workout and a short run, but I think I will manage only the run.  The left side of my neck is sore...I think from a combo of too much time in the car, yesterday's ride, and sleeping too much on my left side while in my coma-like sleep, last night.  Even with a solid night of sleep I still can't seem to ingest enough caffeine to make me feel fully awake.

8.16.2010

I fink I has a cold

Maybe not...could just be weirdness and allergies from the drastic change in weather. Within a couple of hours we went from muggy, dog-days-of-Summer sort of weather pattern to something that feels very much like the first days of Fall. The humidity dropped at least 30# and the air temps by about 10 degrees.

Last night I had horrible sinus pain and pressure and some sneezing, which I figured was due to the change in barometric pressure and maybe seasonal allergens blowing around ('tis the season). But today I have felt run-down and that feeling is increasing as the day wears. I've started coughing a little, too...which is never a good sign.

Yesterday I had a fabulous bike ride with the hubby and some of the JDRF gang. The ride was actually 2 segments...a 31 mile, relatively hill segment with a brief break before we headed out for 41 flatter, breezy miles. I felt strong and had a great time motoring up the hills and blasting on a few flat sections and down hills during the first 31, then pacelining with 4 guys for most of the last 41 (I'm finding that I am WAY more badass on a bike than I am in a pair of running shoes...huh).

So why should I have gone from feeling like a mighty lion yesterday to a meek lamb today? This reminds me of one of my strongest runs in marathon training last Fall. I can clearly remember having one of the best 18 mile runs of my life. I felt like I had wings and ran fast (for me) and easy through a rainstorm. It was one of the most memorable and strong runs of my life.

24 hours later I was feeling like I'd been run-over by a double-decker bus and ended up sick for the better part of the following week. These are not the only 2 instances of this in my running/biking "career." Several times that I have had really strong workouts or races I have hit a complete stall of my immune system just a day or two later.

My theory has been that a virus is already in my system and my body presents such a strong immune attack that I am given a brief window of extra strength before my immune system forces me to shut-down so that it can properly take out the viral offenders. It could also be related to not sleeping well during the recent hot-spell. Our window unit in our bedroom kept the room fairly cool, but still very stuffy and stale. During the day I sat around in the rest of the hot house and did my workouts in the heat and sauna-like humidity. As soon as the weather eased-up my body seems to take the opportunity to force me into solid rest.

Better now than later in the week. In 6 days I am doing a HILLY 75 mile bike tour. So resting up now is a good thing. Though this may mean my 2nd consecutive week of missing the Tues. night women's ride. Last week was hot and I felt anti-social...this week I may just be too under-the-weather to manage the paceline workout.

Today I did manage a 40 minute strength/core-training workout and an easy 4 mile run. I was feeling pretty run-down after that, though. And it took a lot of motivation to get moving (though I felt good while actually working out). The run was pretty nice on a breezy, 75º afternoon with low humidity. A quarter of a mile from finishing a guy in a big SUV expressed his, um, approval with a whoohoo and a thumbs-up out the window. Some days that sort of leering would offend my feminist sensibilities, but today it seemed like a legitimate compliment from a stranger.

It also helped that earlier I had seen a photo taken of me yesterday that had me feeling pretty crappy about the state of my mom-flubber squishing out the snug top of my bike shorts and my soft-looking arms (concealing the developing "guns" within). Perhaps I look better than I think I do...