4.15.2011

Tired...

And with good reason! Yesterday I was on my feet for 10.5 hours without a single sit break (unless sitting on the toilet counts, heh). Long day. I was at the arena in Grand Rapids working in concessions during a full day of motivational speakers. All of the stands are staffed by local charity groups. Our JDRF chapter is able to earn 10% of stand sales for our fundraising accounts. I believe it averages out to ~$10/hour during these gigs. I'm up to about 18 hours since I signed-on to raise money for this great charity.

I'm also selling Spring flowers. 50% of sales at Flower Power Fundraising come back to my ride account for another 14 days. The company is HQd in Vermont, but their greenhouse is here in MI, which is pretty nifty. I just ordered some items for our own yard. Some nice shade-loving, deer resistant (we'll believe that when we see it. We have found precious few things that deer won't eat. Our deer are certainly NOT picky eaters) windflowers, begonias, and astilbes. For every 4 items ordered one also receives a mixture of 10 free gladiolus. I hope we can find a spot with enough sun for these.

Last week was the rugrat's Spring Break and we had enough nice weather days that we were able to get out on our bikes a lot. So much that Dane had his first week of 100+ miles. Yes, you read that right...our 10 year old pedaled >100 miles in a week--6 days, actually. Our tandem is such a great thing!

At the beach during Dane's longest ride, yet
-- almost 33 miles!
One of those days we even had a freaky day of Summer weather in the mid-80s. It was also quite windy. And my hubby experienced a major bonk on the front of the tandem (he has a goal to lose 40#s by 40. Unfortunately it's a tricky balance to hit a calorie deficit that doesn't leave one with just enough calories in the system to still maintain energy to work out). Dane really pushed his skinny little legs hard to keep the bike moving forward in the heat and into the wind while his dad struggled on the front.

I had planned to do a sort of dress-rehearsal duathlon tomorrow (not a true duathlon, as this one lacked a 2nd run leg), but the weather forecast looks like crap and the race is 2 hours away...we already have a crazy weekend coming up. So I'm skipping it. I hadn't registered, yet, figuring bad weather could be an option. I already did 1 duathlon in rain and 40º temps. I feel no great urge to reproduce that.

My "real" duathlon is in 9 days. I think I'm ready. I should be able to PR, especially if the weather is less monsoon-like than last year. I have thousands more miles of bike experience under my belt (that race was my first time ever riding in the rain, which made me especially cautious and slow on my bike) and my running speed workouts have been going well, too. Last year I was 5/9 in my AG. I would be thrilled to move up to 4th. I'm not going to hold my breath, though. Odds are that a lot of competitors bailed during last year's crummy weather. If more fast people show up I'll be lucky to finish in the top half, heh.

4.06.2011

Better late, than never...

So I guess 10 days after the fact is sorta late for a race report, but I'm a procrastinator, so this is simply an example of my modus operandi.

My first ever time trial race took place at Fisk Knob--highest point in Michigan's Kent County.  Race day conditions were sunny and gorgeous...except for the temperature. I don't believe it got above freezing. Standing still in the sun it felt pretty warm...but in the shade or while moving it was brisk, to say the least.

We've had an abnormally cold Spring, thus far (even cold by Michigan standards). It's as if Spring hasn't really taken the hand-off from Winter. Most years we will have had a lot of days in the 50s and 60s. This year we have had a solitary day in the 50s. Most days we are dipping back below freezing at night and not managing to get above the mid-40s during the day.

This has made it difficult to get out on my bike as much as I would like. It's only in the past month that we've had reasonably clear roads. Even on race day there was a stretch of the course with ice on the road. Fortunately the tire lanes were clear, but that was still a little hairy.

Even with clear roads, 30s and 40s are not particularly comfortable on the bike, especially if there is any wind. The faster my bike travels, the greater the wind-chill. I have done all but one ride in the past month outdoors, but most of these rides have been no longer than 90 minutes. I'm just not enjoying longer distances while wearing so many bulky, binding layers and chapped face post-ride.

Warming-Up
So I was less well-prepared for race day than I had hoped to be. At one time I had thought I could finish in just under an hour, but my total time ended up being just over 1:05 for the 17.4 miles (2nd half gradually uphill with one WICKED, steep, and neverending last hill into the wind). Ultimately my goal was to not finish last in my age group. In reality I was 2nd to last...so I count this as a win. And since it was my first attempt at this event/distance, it's automatically a PR performance--woot!

Not sure whether or not I will be doing this race next year, or not. I will probably wait and register on race day, weather permitting. If the temps are going to be below freezing, again, then I will probably take a pass. If it's nice, then hubby and the kiddo may register and race on the tandem. This year there were only 2 tandems (both teams from our favorite bike shop), so next year the boys could even end up on the podium, which would be excellent!

Every new race is a learning experience. Fisk Knob was my first time REALLY riding a lot in the drops. While my new bike and longer stem make this relatively more comfortable than on my previous bike, I'm not sure that my beloved Specialized Jett 143 saddle is going to work as well for me when I am riding more "aero." That wonderful cut-out that relieves pressure on my girl parts while riding relatively upright may actually have been the source of some pain experienced on race day. I suspect that rather than relieving pressure that it serves as a vise-like funnel while in the drops...parts that don't really like being pinched and pulled were getting pinched and pulled where the front of the cut-out narrows and comes to a sort of ^ towards the front nose of the saddle.

But perhaps the issue was not saddle, at all, but the wind-blocker tights I am forced to wear over my cycling shorts during these cold weather rides. They are relatively un-stretchy, bulky, and may be serving to compete for space "down there" while I ride. Until I can do some longer rides in the drops without the heavy tights over my shorts it may be difficult to diagnose the actual cause of my pinchy-parts problem.

I'm researching my saddle options in the event that it is the saddle responsible for my discomfort. Fi'zi:k has apparently come out with the Arione Donna, a women's version of one of their popular saddles. The shape and size of this saddle is almost identical to my Jett saddle, but instead of a cut-out it has a relief channel that runs the entire length of the saddle -- no sharp crevice for sensitive bits to get jammed into or crammed against. It's intriguing.

Hopefully I will have the opportunity to determine which factor is responsible for my "injury" this coming week. We're finally supposed to have some days in the 50s and 60s. Then I can swap the annoying tights for less-annoying knee-warmers. If the crotch villain turns out to be the tights, then I will get my hands on a pair with the chamois built-in before Fall to avoid all of the irritating layers competing for limited space.