Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This post brought to you by PMS

For those of you that have to come within 5ft of me, consider yourself warned. I. AM. CRANKY.

And yesterday, in the midst of my crab-fest, I had just a horrendous day. Seriously bad. The highlights (or perhaps low lights) of the day include the KS 70.3, my Timex Bodylink, and my new running shorts.

So the short and sweet of the Kansas 70.3 is that it is my first real triathlon of the season. I picked this race because I have a few friends racing it as well, and its early season (but not too early) so I'll get a good perspective of my training and what I need to work on. Without going into too many details, it seems as though the triathlon gods are no smiling upon me on this one. It looks like I will not in fact be participating in the Kansas 70.3 as an athlete. And I am NOT pleased about this. But to avoid any further race related drama, that's all I will say on that matter.

That was strike #1 yesterday.

Then there's my Timex Bodylink. I was hooked up with this about a year ago, and since the very beginning its been a love hate relationship. When my Bodylink works, its definitely a love situation, but all the times it has given me grief I have absolutely HATED the thing. While I can't really hold cloud cover and poor GPS strength against Timex, that seems to be one major downfall to this system. I don't live near mountains, a forest, an abundance of building or any major power, satellite or other interfering sources, but for the life of me, it is a complete struggle for this thing to get and maintain a signal. Very annoying.

My last run I noticed that a few miles into my run the watch stopped receiving a signal, again, and therefor I was getting no data. I fiddled with it, and after several minutes of nothing, I assumed the batteries must be going. So before my run last night I replaced the batteries, turned the GPS on and put it outside in hopes of picking up a signal before my run started. After 5 or so minutes the GPS was flashing green (it had found the satellites!) and I was ready to head out. What I noticed then, during my warm up, was that even though the GPS piece had a signal, the wrist piece will no longer communicate with it. WTF! I tried everything I could think of to get this dang thing to work. By the time I made it to the lake adjacent portion of my run I was ready to pitch the entire thing in to the water!!!

I've become very data dependent. What pace am I running at? How far have I run? How long have I been running? Asking me to run without this information is like asking me to navigate without my GPS or communicate without text message. It just cannot be done.

That was strike #2 for the day.

Then there were my new running shorts.

Let me back up a moment and say that I am a girl with some junk in her trunk. I always have been, I always will be. Most days I embrace this as one of my ASSets. After all, without it I'd be top heavy and oddly proportioned. And given the right pair of pants, a little booty looks good. Other days, my posterior is the bane of my existence.

For example, the running short. I am constantly in search of the perfect pair of running shorts that won't bunch, creep, chaff, or do other unflattering and uncomfortable things on my full figured bottom and lower extremities. So last night I took my new Sugoi Lucky shorts out on their maiden run. They fit well, were light weight, very comfy and cute! Until I started running. Wouldn't you know that they too started to creep and bunch and do annoying and frustrating things pretty quickly, which left me pulling and adjusting almost constantly. Not cool.

Seriously now, can nobody design and develop a short that is going to fit the thighs of an average person? I run, but I will likely never have the sinewy thighs of a typical little runner. That's just not me. The only thing that stays in place and is more or less comfy to run in spandex. From running tights (my all time fav, but too warm to run in these days), to capri length or shorts, they stay put, don't rub or bunch and just generally get the job done. The downside? Yeah, they're not so flattering. Going back to the "not a stereotypical little runner," I fill out my spandex. And who needs to see that more often than is really necessary? Not to mention the running buddy has quite outspokenly said that it is unacceptable to be spandex clad when not riding.

Is it so hard to make functional clothing to comfortably fit athletes of all shapes and sizes.

That was strike # 3 for the day.

And just when I thought things couldn't possibly get worse, I went to go to bed to find that my bed was wet. Feather duvet, blankets, sheets, all wet....

Yesterday was my version of the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rainy day rides and everything bike

So last Sunday the plan was to take on a 40-50m ride, and I was stoked. That was until my riding partner for the day played the hungover card and bailed on me. Lame. That's right running buddy, I called you LAME! Really now, you play you pay. Before I digress into my real thoughts on that matter I will continue. So yeah, I putzed around the apartment keeping an eye on the weather (which sort of looked like rain, but I wasn't super convinced it was going to happen) and before you know it it was going on 2pm. Woah! Where'd the day go?!? It was time to bear up and go.

Now let me take a second here to fully admit that I am geographically, topographically, directionally, map following-ly cue sheet reading-ly, CHALLENGED! I've lived in this state all of my life, and in this city for the better part of almost 10yrs now. You would think that I would be able to get myself around by now. You would think. In a car I can usually make heads or tails of the situation, thanks in large part to the GPS functionality of my phone. But on a bike, no way. I have even been known to get myself turned around and lost with a Garmin 705. I am pathetic. But I know that if I head out more than say 15m in any direction from my place unsupervised, I will end up lost. That's just the cold hard facts of it.

So 2pm'ish, geared up and ready to go. Its sort of of gray out, a little misty, cool but totally rideable. So I set up with 3 different distances in mind, keeping the weather as my deciding factor. Before the rain hit/without getting lost:
Plan A) Seminole and Whalen (~25m)
Plan B) Seminole and Lacy (~22m)
Plan C) Seminole and PD (~20)
As I was heading through the Arboretum it went from misty to drizzly. Still rideable. As I made my way down Seminole it went from drizzly to just out and out raining. Ick. Double ick. It was now like 50deg and raining. It's amazing how quickly I went from chilly to just out and out cold. Plan C was all the farther I made it. Defeated, cold, wet and miserable I turned around and headed home.

By the time I got I home I think hypothermia may have set in....but I was really proud of myself for getting out there and riding by myself on such a miserable day. Don't judge; it's the small things that are going to get me through.

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To recap, last week I met with Angie Sturtevant of Specialists in Sports Performance for a myriad of VO2 and power related tests. Let me just say, Angie ROCKS!! Not only were the results of the tests super helpful, but Angie herself is just such a positive and supportive person! She helped calm my "I can't do it" fears and left me feeling soooo much better. I can't say enough good things about my experience with here and HIGHLY recommend her if you're in the area and are looking for some training related guidance. But I'm going to get back to what I did with all the magical info she gave me as not to sound like too much of a groupie...

Tuesday night I decided to out my new VO2 and Power test results to work.

One of the things I committed to do when talking with Angie was 1 indoor trainer interval workout a week through my training season. Yuck. But I said I would, and I believed her that it would help, so I set up a workout based on the zones we had determined and went for it. I kept in mind that I am good for like, oh, 50mins on a trainer and decided to push myself for the duration. After a little warm up I went into a 15min interval at my threshold pace, followed by a few intervals of 3min on/2min off between my max power zone and recovery, another 10mins at my threshold, and a cool down. It felt good. I felt like I was riding with a purpose. 55mins well spent. Again, I am going to embrace this small victory...

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Every Thursday is ride day around the office. The guys, being the manly men that they are, have their "Gun Show Ride." Now this is the ride where the guys head out and flex their muscles. You can just smell the testosterone. While we have some pretty bad ass lady riders around here that could hang with this crowd (I, however, am so not one of them), we usually opt not to.

Our response to this ride is the "Fun Show Ride." Some day, same ride, different time and crowd. Every Thursday evening a group of ladies head out on this loop with a strict no drop pace and just ride to ride. Once again, I bailed on them last minute. They are so going to vote me off the ride!

I did however head to the other side of town to take on a slightly longer ride. We took ont he same route that I was skooled on last fall. Lots of wind, a few little hills, and limited day light made for a pretty solid ride. I would even say that I felt better about my riding efforts this time than the last time we rode it. The running buddy was quick to qualify his efforts as "not really pushing it" as he was "feeling kind of tired." Right well, his leisurely pace kept me working. So whatever.

I can honestly say that it wasn't a balls to the wall all out ride. Could I have pushed harder? Yes. Were my legs still a little hurty from my 9.5m run home the day before? Sure were. Am I content with my ride efforts for the day? Heck yeah!

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Next stop, long ride on Sunday! I will learn to love the bike.

Monday, April 20, 2009

All things DU!

This past weekend kicked off race season for me (that's right, I am completely ignoring that indoor tri....) with the April Duathlon. I managed to convince the running buddy to race with me in his first ever multisport event, the weather was beautiful, what more could I ask for?

Right, and then the race started. So this event was small and super informal. I think it was spread purely word of mouth, and most of the participants were friends of the race organizer. And these participants, for being at this informal unofficial event, were out to prove something! Like woah. The majority of the racers were male age groupers in the late 20's/early 30's who were out for bragging rights. This is not a crowd, ps, I can hang with. Intimidation was high, but I was out to have fun. Or so I was telling myself until the race started.

To give you a brief overview, the event was a 2m trail run, a 12.5m bike, and a 2m trail run. Part of the agreement for getting the running buddy to do the race was that we would do the race together. So while I can usually eek out a little lead on running, and he can TOTALLY smoke me on a bike, we were in it together. This turns out to be pretty clutch later on.

Anyways, the cowbell rings and its go time!

(There we are towards the back...I'm doing some sort of strange deformed arm flail I can't explain)

We headed out on the first of the 2m trail runs. This is where I have to admit right off the bat that I forgot how hard trail running was. I knew it was more challenging than pavement, but really, this was hard and it had just started! To start there was a little hill scramble (which at for the first 2 loops I was all about running) followed by a lot of grass and dirt running and some little ups and downs. Now to clarify, this run was nothing super technical and there were no monster hills, but it was WAY different than I am use to running. Mental note, must do more cross training.

First 2m trail run, done. Into transition. This being a chill sort of race, and the running buddy's first transitioning experience, there was no rush. Out on the bike.

Ok, I realize here in the Midwest that we do not have mountains. I als
o acknowledge that I am a terrible hill climber and that I whine a lot about it, but woah! I had no idea there where hills quite like this on the course. Yuck, double yuck. To be honest, the way out on the course wasn't too bad, but I knew that the way back wasn't going to be pretty. Oh and my new bike, built by a fancy schmancy shop here in town, had a defunct front derailleur. Again. WTF?! Always a little ray of sunshine, the running buddy took the time to point out that it could be worse, at least my bike was stuck in the granny gear. I cannot contest this point, but things not working like they should drives me CRAZY!! Anywho, ride out, check. Ride back, ugh. I won't get into too many self deprecating details here, but I will fully admit to throwing a mini-tantrum on one of the hills. It wasn't even the biggest hill either, it was the one after that. The tantrum including getting off the bike, being tempted to throw the bikes, LOTS of colorful language, walking a handful of feet, and getting back on the bike. I must MUST must improve my hill climbing skills STAT. That's all there is to it.

Bike done, slow transition, thoughts of calling it a day and skipping the second run, back on the trail, and go....ish. I mentioned before that I hit the little hill scramble with all the gusto I could the first two laps, with the 3rd and 4th laps, this was not the case. I was completely content to walk that little guy. The second trail run was about just getting it over with. It was done even slower than the first, and was really more of a trudge than a run, but it was done all the same. It wasn't fast, or pretty, but we did it (and there were actually a few people who finished it after us....).

I have to get mad props to the running buddy. Its safe to put it out here in cyberspace as I know he doesn't actually read my blog. He was an absolute rockstar. For being the unwilling participant, and the multipsort virgin of the duo, he was awesome. He kept a great attitude even when I was at my worst, he never quit and wouldn't let me, and he wore tri shorts (that's right, I just put that fact out there for EVERYONE to read). I heart my running buddy!

(Here we are pre-race. Yes, I am wearing arm warmers, and yes he is totally faking that smile. If the post race pics turn up I'll be sure to post the one where I am fairly certain you can see the spit crusted on the side of my face....thanks for telling me AFTER the picture was taken btw!)

Times need not be posted, nor do any other unflattering spandex clad pictures. But yes, more evidence does exist that the running buddy was there. And I'm not afraid to use it for blackmail purposes....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Apparently I needed a quiz... tell me I'm: One of a Kind

"You are quite the individual! Good for you! You value tradition, but welcome change. You are intelligent, witty, sensitive, and have a diverse set of friends. You are as comfortable discussing politics as you are baking cookies. You have strong morals and principals and are respected by others. You have a purpose and it will be realized."

Really? That doesn't describe me AT ALL....does it? ;-)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NOLA, Take 2 (and 3)

Up and at 'em, Expo Day 2. After a quick stop at the hotel's continental breakfast (which was actually quite tasty), we headed over to the expo. We decided the night before that the few block walk with our wheels, etc was way easier than trying to maneuver and find a place to park the rental car. We're there, we're set up, we're sort of rested, and we're ready for the day.

Expo Day 2 was even busier than Day 1. All those athlete's, which in this case was way more than half, that hadn't been to a course talk and packet pick up the day before were out in droves! It was going to be another long busy day.

Ashley talking product and workin' the booth.

We decided, in light of the long day at hand, to take a min-break during the day and found some delicious sushi across the street in the River Walk. Delicious. But the really highlight of the day??? My MACCA sighting! That's right Michael McCormick, there, in our booth. OMG!! I was like a star struck child!TERRIBLE picture of me, only post worthy because of MACCA. Please note, his hand is on MY shoulder! =D

And his sweet ride

So my celebrity sighting was near the end of the expo day, and before you knew it, Expo Day 2 was over. Our work day, however, was not. From the expo we headed over to bike check in to do a little market research and see how things were going there. We were at the transition area until almost 9, making it another 12hr work day.... By the time we made it back to the hotel we were both so exhausted in going out to find food was out of the question. To bed it was. We had high hopes of making over to Jackson Square for the finish line and spending the late morning/early afternoon there, but in our coma like sleep state we both managed to sleep undisturbed until noon!! Woah. Looks like the trials and travels of Thursdays 17+hr work day were more than we could handle.... :(

Once we were both up and functional we decided to head out for a run. Ashley had ambitious goals of 10m, I was looking more for 8'ish. What neither of realized before setting out is how hot and humid it actually was out! Here are 2 Midwestern gals use to running and training in the cold weather of a WI spring suddenly out and about in southern heat. Ick. I decided to cut my run way short and turned around at just past 2.5m. The lovely people at the Best Western of St Charles were nice enough not to notice me wandering in to their lobby all sweaty and using them for their water, which was my saving grace. All in all, I made it about 5.5m that day, while Ashley made it her full 10m!

Here's me in my post run coma laying on the pool deck outside. What you can't see is that my legs were in the pool. And this is where I stayed for the better part of an hour. :)

After running, relaxing and showering we were famished! We both recalled having run past a pub of sorts that looked mighty tasty and fun so that's where we headed. It was somewhere in the arts district and people were flocking there that Sunday for their craw fish boil. I was curious, but just couldn't convince myself to de-shell the lil guys to eat them. I don't the name of the restaurant, but that had great guacamole, delicious shrimp, and and awesome PINK pina colada-y drink. And that, my friends, pretty much sum on NOLA 09.

And that, my friends, pretty much sum on NOLA 09.

Monday, April 13, 2009

NOLA, Take 1

New Orleans....or bust! Yep, that was pretty much the theme from the get-go. Not my best work trip ever...but let's start at the beginning. Ashley and I get to the airport, with oh 45mins to spare before take-off, and of course we had luggage to check. Opps. As we stood impatiently in line we started to overhear bits and pieces of canceled flight talk. Was that the Chicago connector you say? Sure was. Awesome. So how are we getting to Chicago and well, bigger question, how are we getting to New Orleans in time for the event? Turns out, our only option was to hop on the bus at 2:30am down to Chicago to catch the 7am flight to we did. On the bus at 2:30 (after a few cab mishaps...), off the bus at 5:45, on the plane at 7 something, off the plane at 10 something. Luggage carousel, rental car line, and finally, to the event.

We finally rolled into the event around, of 12:30. It started at 10. Luckily the people we were working with were quite sympathetic. But regardless of sympathy, we were beat already. We'd been up since 1:30AM!! And needless to say, there was no podcast attending for me. So nearly 12hrs later, we started our actual day.

The highlights of Friday included seeing some friends of mine from North Carolina there working the event, the EvoTri team stopping by, and Catriona Morrison looking for a trainer to ride!

Why yes, that is CycleOps PowerTap you see on her bike. Actually that's our training wheel, but her super sweet Planet X Carbon's had a PT too. We just opted to let her use our training wheel and keep her newly tubied race wheel in tip-top shape. What trainer did she rock? It just so happens she took a spin on the JetFluid....but I digress. Talk about a super awesome chick! So friendly AND a great accent! It's always great to meet our sponsored athletes, haev some face time, see what makes them tick, hear their training and racing tales.and of couse I LOVED checking out her sweet PINK PLant X bike!! And PS, I'd like to think that her quality trainer time at the expo and sweet PowerTap helped her ROCK the New Orleans 70.3 and seccure her 2nd place finish.... =D

Expo day 1 ended. We schlepped our tired selves over to our hotel finally. Food had been lost on the suffle up until that point and we were two crabby hungry ladies. Trying to be diligent training athletes we assessed the weekend. Chances were that based on another long day of expo we were not going to want to do the weekend's scheduled long run on Saturday, so we decided if there was a night to check out Bourbon St tonight was the night. So off we went...

We were about a half a mile wonder from the world of Bourbon St. Once we found our way there, I don't think either of us knew what to do. We had both been up and functionally for over 17hrs, need food and were wondering aimlessly. Everywhere we went into had at least an hour wait for dinner.... Finally we found some 2-story restaurant serving Po'Boy's with balcony seating over Bourbon St and we were set. We ate some deliciously rich shrimp concotion as an appetizer, devoured our Po'Boys and enjoyed our food comas before wandering about.

Then there was Bourbon St. First of all, it was stinky (and I can only imagine it gets worse during Mardi Gras)!! Second of all, I don't want to know what was in all of the puddles everywhere... Finally, the people! OMG! The people. Talk about spectacular people watching. It was PyrateCon, which I didn't even know existed and only added to the adventure.
(Yes, I do look slightly terrified because he was a really creepy pirate and was whispering wierd things in my ear)

We wandered the extent of the street, took some pitures, drank a hurricane, and were at our hotel by 11pm!

That sums up NOLA, day 1. The debacles of travleing, expo day 1, and Bourbon St. Yep, that's pretty much all that we could fit into that 24 hour period. Expo day 2 and more to come...