Gear

Intermezzo

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and there’s a few reasons for that.  I’ve been busy (well, who hasn’t been?).  I’ve been without useful ideas to share (maybe untrue, but…) I’ve been censoring myself (yeah, that).

As to self-censure: there isn’t anything I can add to the yowling atmosphere of today that someone hasn’t already said, and so I’m doing the “actions speak louder than words” thing and redoubling my efforts in the places that I think I can help and letting much more eloquent people say much more specific things to much greater effect.

But Happy Pride, everyone :). And Happy Ramadan.  May you find joy in the celebrations of things that encompass your values and in the Italian-Argentinian spirit of “do what makes you happy” — which is the way I was raised — be happy and move forward.

I’ve been trying to do that.

I went to visit my mom this weekend; she lives south a bit from me in a small town that’s bordered by other small towns.  If you want to go to Starbucks it’s 2.5 miles away, and I know this because I run it occasionally.  I ran it today.  It’s a nice, flat run, past a firehouse and many farms and one big intersection.  They are just as busy and popular as any other Starbucks anywhere.

There are no sidewalks on the way.  If you run, you run on the side of the road, and if you’re smart, you run opposing traffic.  The beautiful part is everyone moves waaaaaaaaaaaay over for you.

Everyone.

Big semi trucks, regular trucks, SUV’s, vans, motorcyclists, people driving Hondas and Kias.  Folks in vintage cars taking them out for a sunny day (at 9am it was already 85 degrees) and folks in their beater cards headed wherever a Sunday morning took them. Every single one moved well over the meridian for me.

As a 5’10”, more-than-150-pounds-but-less-than-200-pounds woman, my personal meatsack existence would do nothing to their vehicle at the current speed limit (35-45, depending). Their vehicle, on the other hand, could do quite a lot to my meatsack.  Unpleasant. They weren’t moving over for themselves, they were moving over for me. I like that.  That was nice.

I’m running again.  Real running.  From about November to about two weeks ago, my running was almost exclusively indoors and on a treadmill (with the exception of a two-month break for injury and two outdoor events).  You know what you get when you run on the treadmill? You get the treadmill running you.  I’m fast (for me) on a treadmill. I go at like a 9:30 pace. Go me!

You know how fast I run in the real world, on real pavement? 11:15 ish.  There was a time where 9:30 happened in the real world. I lost it, and I need to find it again.

So I found myself running in the early morning heat, out in small town Washington, waving to each and every car and bike and truck that made way for me (and most of them waved back), because that’s what I need to do. I need to do more, and I will.

That’s what I’ve been doing, mostly. See the goal, focus on the goal, follow the goal. And this was a check in from that goal.

Let’s see where I’m at in a couple of weeks ;).

 

Swim Bike Run… more Bike, less Swim and Run?

Today I went on a lovely figure-8 jaunt of Lake Union with Ms. Krieant that featured brunch at Dish. I could rave about Dish, and I should, given that a garden omelette with eggbeaters was clearly so awesome that I scarfed it in seconds (note: Dish does not take cards. I do not carry cash. The bar next door has a cash machine, and sells Bitburger. Ok that’s enough plug there.)

Biking is now my favorite of the three pieces of a tri. Running is to the state where I am having to tape, and whine, and I suspect new shoes will be purchased and ibuprofen and glucosamine will feature as regular items in my morning routine. Swimming is not hot either, what with the hair messiness of it all (I just got it did, okay?) Also, swimming isn’t nearly as social. If you think it is, I invite you to go swimming laps with a friend and carry on a conversation. And I don’t think you can bring your tunes with you.

I am realizing though how much better a day is with *some* form of exercise. It’s better than coffee… (yes, I really did just say that).

Tunes

We are absolutely and completely not allowed to have mp3 players or any other kind of tune-age on the ride. This is fine, because for my actual get-on-the-bike rides I have not had tunes. I have, however, had tunes in the gym.

Tunes are not optional in the gym.

My gym is loud: the music is drowned out by all of the inane chatter. I was getting ready this morning (I had two beers last night, ergo, gym this morning) and outside the ladies’ locker room it sounded like a cocktail party was in full swing. Tunes are a defensive movement.

Fortunately, I have an iPod shuffle, a friend named Kevin, and a thing for old 80’s tunes. The shuffle was purchased with eleventymillion Thank You points (Thank You, Expedia!), Kevin provided enough music from his personal collection to literally require me to procure an external hard drive, and the iTunes store is chock-a-block full of that 1980’s goodness.

You have to be very careful when picking out your 80’s songs, though.

Here are good examples of workout 80’s songs:

  • The GoGo’s, “Our Lips are Sealed”
  • Aha, “Take on Me”
  • Kajagoogoo, “Too Shy Shy”
  • Julian Lennon, “Too Late for Goodbyes”
  • Violent Femmes, “Blister in the Sun”
  • Nails, “88 Lines about 44 Women”
  • Frankie Goes to Hollywood, “Relax”

Here are some bad songs to have in your shuffle, when you’re trying to maintain 115 rpm:

  • Morrissey, “Every Day is Like Sunday”
  • Berlin, “Take my Breath Away”
  • Bad English, “When I See You Smile”
  • Anything by Air Supply
  • Almost anything by Journey
  • Almost anything by Naked Eyes

More often than not, I find myself reaching over and clicking |> madly in an attempt to get to something a little bit zippier. Fortunately, I have quite a lot of 90’s Grunge. Tell me you can’t do 115 rpm to Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

Taper

Tapering is described here (don’t you love Wikipedia? I love Wikipedia. I am totally going to marry it.) I am starting a long taper for the long Ride. This week while my mileage remains the same (112 or so this week), the long distance ride is going to be short — a mere 26 miles on Friday and on Saturday.  This is sad, because I got a new bike and it is really, really awesome. It’s a 2010 Schwinn Fastback, all electric-blue and white, and the only thing that hurts when I get done with nearly 60 miles is my back-end (not my back). I’m getting the seat replaced to help with that.

In an unfortunate turn of events, though, it has come to my attention that due to my nut allergy (yes, I get it, I’m a nut and yet I’m allergic to them) I need to provide my own food.

For two days.

Over 168 miles.

I still have to call the Ride to find out exactly what they want me to do: do I show up with a bunch of Amy’s Organics and tell them to have them nuked and ready? I have no idea how hungry I’ll be or what they will or won’t have that I can eat, nor can they seem to tell me. It’s frustrating, but I get that from a liability standpoint they don’t want someone dropping dead on the Ride.

Kinda defeats the purpose.

Giddyap

You don’t change horses in midstream…unless the horse dies. Then you can either sit atop a stinky horse or get a new shiny horse to remove you from the stink and hopefully find you a good saloon… I digress…

I was riding the ol’ Cannondale along the Sammamish River trail Friday morning when I stopped about ten miles in. I had been doing awesome, pacing in the rain at 15mph (hey, for me that is good!) and not minding (well, not much) the puddle of water in my clippy shoes (note to self, get shoe covers). I got water, took off, heard a “wsh-chunk!”, and then a “scrape scrape scrape scrape”.

“Scrape scrape scrape scrape” is not what you want to hear on your bike, in the rain, 10 miles from your car, on a relatively deserted path. “Scrape scrape scrape scrape” kinda sucks. An untrained investigation showed that my rear wheel was out of true, it was scraping against the brake. With no prospect of rescue I rode the thing with a scraping brake in 10mph headwinds in the rain (not uphill but you get the idea) back. My pace slowed to 11mph.

At the earliest opportunity I deposited it with much angst at Mr. Crampy’s.

I am awaiting guidance via phone from Kyle “Mr. Crampy” of Mr. Crampy’s Multisport in Redmond. He called and left note that my bike, my lovely fourth-hand Cannondale, has died. It has died of a dead spoke, a need of wheels, messed up shifters, and the only good thing on it is its frame. I am going to need to purchase a new bike, because it is not safe.

When a man who does Ironmans each year for FUN and is ex-special forces is telling you not to do something because it is not safe, you listen.

I’m a bit nervous though: my old bike was a road bike with mountain bike tires (because skinny tires scare fat girls like me) and there’s this whole budget thing. Also, I have only ONE more long ride in training before the Big Day, and that is this Saturday. Ergo, I need to purchase, fit, and ride this bad boy within the next week.

It’s not as though I had a lot of other things on my plate — my brother got married this weekend, bought that new car, shifting jobs, school and PTA is wrapping up, and all of the myriad of normal life-things that waft in and out of my responsibility cloud. I’m actually quite glad I finally took the bike to someone who alerted me to all of this: I went to the local bike shop (we will not print their name, but they are VERY close to my house) and TOLD them I’d be on this thing for 2 days straight and they charged me 20 bucks and said good enough.

I won’t be going back there. I’m going to ride into the very orange sunset with something from Mr. Crampy’s.

Travel Fail

Ok, tomorrow is the beginning of the rest of my life. Or something.

I write to you from the relative comfort that is the Embassy Suites in Jacksonville, where I am having massive guilt and am a little scared at my dearth of progress. Having lost two weekends of bike time I rented a bike here in Jacksonville.

A bike that I was not able to pick up.

To be fair, the weekend was to be packed with wedding-related activities (and it was) but I thought I’d be able to squeeze in a couple of hours on the bike. Having lost my luggage twice though (enroute to Geneva and coming in to Jacksonville) and not slept for 24 hours upon landing in Jacksonville (I was a zombie), I decided that getting up and getting on a bike was going to be unlikely.

Someone had reminded me when I rented the bike that it would be no problem to get around, as Jacksonville is all flat. This is so very true. Jacksonville is all flat. In the section we were in, this means you can get your car up to a hefty 50mph in the 30mph lane and since there is no official bike lanes anywhere that I could see, I could just imagine my tired-jetlagged-rickety self on a borrowed bike getting smucked thirty or forty times by the varying products of Ford or Chevy. 

Therefore, the bike was never picked up. Off to plan B, which was to abuse the recumbent bike in the gym. However, in this particular Embassy Suites we had a Mary Kay convention and a Fish and Wildlife convention and some sorts of sport convention, and the gym was packed both mornings. I had to settle for a run, which does not compare to the mileage I’m supposed to have done. I’ve got ten weeks left to get from the 51mi I was at to the 120mi I need. That means I need to increment by 7miles per week– this is suddenly getting very very real.

Inappropriate Bike Humor

Last Saturday was 46 miles in 4.5 hours (not including breaks) from REI over the Burke Gilman to Montlake and then back the same way. Getting up at 6AM to meet your bike cohorts is difficult, realizing it’s actually 5am because your supposed 7am meeting time is 7am on the day the time changes — that’s kinda brutal. So as the sun poked out above the leafless trees in the RTC parking lot, the three of us took off.

It could have been the cold.

It could have been the fog.

It could have been the sunnyness of the day.

I personally suspect it was because we all have twisted senses of humor.

It started with Duncan talking about his screw. For his cleat. You see, clippie shoes (they are actually called clipless systems, riddle me that?) have screws that attach them to your shoe. There are usually at least 2 and sometimes 3, and they keep the clip in place so when you shift your foot to the side it takes the cleat with it and separate it from your pedal resulting in your ability to keep yourself from going bonk.

At any rate, Duncan was missing a screw. He talked a great deal about his missing screw, and then we started joking about how he should get a screw by some random shop along the road.

Then there was the discussion of which person had the bigger cog. Your cog size, you see, determines how far a rotation can go on your bike. More cogs = more power, right? Duncan and Bryce got into it but apparently Duncan’s cog is bigger. I did not wish to compare my cogs, as I was busy dealing with cycling legwarmers.

These are not the 1980’s flashdance legwarmers: they are not soft, they are not scrunched, they are not hot pink. They are black lycra and quite tight, and look a bit like they should be kept on you with a garter belt. Verily, they look like cycling fetishwear, and consequently I spent an inordinate amount of time adjusting them as we cycled along. Ever try to look professional while pulling up lycra legwarmers already wearing an impossibly curve-hugging costume? No, I didn’t think so. The jokes trended back toward my bike S&M gear (complete with full length black gloves) and the cogs were momentarily forgotten.

Until I pointed out I was trying to match them stroke for stroke. You see, when Bryce and Duncan take off, they *take off*. Like my new nickname is Waldo and I’m getting a red and white striped bike shirt. And so I played with my gears and attempted to match theirs, and then attempted to match pedal rotation frequency (e.g., stroke). And even though I was attempting to do that, I was not succeeding. So I whined about it at the next break.

Whining to two men who were comparing cog sizes, and one of which talking of his needed screw, while adjusting my black lycra, was probably not the most prudent thing to do.

Fortunately, we found a local bike shop where Duncan got his screw. It was literally by the side of the road, rather quick, and very cheap. But it does the trick; he’s still satisfied with it, as far as I know.

The bike shop guys were alternately freaked out or laughing uncontrollably. We’re… not sure which.

Fumble

The only exercise I’ve got since Wednesday Night’s spin class has been to drive — to drive to Seattle and back, and then again and back (don’t… ask…), to drive to my mom’s and back (Mom lives in Rochester, WA), and then again and back (again, don’t ask…). While I’d love to believe what my now-discarded bodybug seemed to think that driving beats an ordinary sedentary day, I can’t help but feel I’m really not going to like my scale tomorrow.

So it’s back to spin class and hopefully a 40-something mile ride this weekend, if I can get babysitting for the boy child. My bike is fixed and I now own the Right Shoes, next post will likely be about how I couldn’t get my foot out of those shoes in time and will have gone “splat”. You watch.

Gearing Up

I now have such accoutrements as bike shorts. They are padded, so it’s a bit like wearing 1980’s spandex shorts with Depends built-in. I must say they do their darndest to compress and streamline, but they also are unforgiving to those of us who, in the immortal words of Mr. Mix-a-Lot, have “got back”.

What I still do not have are clippie shoes, and now I am without a helmet thanks to last weekend’s bike accident. I am ordering and procuring and so forth, and intend to ride this coming weekend (borrowed bike and borrowed helmet, and yes both owners know I have bike wreckage issues).

Tonight will be my first night back at spin class for a week; let’s hope the instructor has pity on me. If he’s really mean I’ll scare him off with my bruise.

Padding. Cushioning. Other Forms of Support.

Riding 25 miles when you haven’t really done more than 12, ever, is an interesting thing. First off, I will say that gear is very important, and I have practically no bike-specific gear, except the bike and a helmet and some padded gloves. I spent Saturday afternoon searching the internet for gel-padding seats. I wasn’t sore on Sunday. I was sore on Monday.

One would think that at my height and build I have plenty of padding, thank you, but apparently not, as after I got off the bike in the Starbucks’ parking lot I literally stumbled. Dozens of “serious bikers” had passed us and I fully intend to get all of the gear the other kids have: shoes, padded seats, better glasses, padded shorts, a holder for my bike pump, padded gloves, a jersey or two, did I mention padding?

Spin class tomorrow has *nothing* on that ride.

Or the thirty miles we’re doing Sunday.

I looked at last year’s route: the largest elevation gain en route is an area over 10 miles and goes up 800 feet. For those doing the math with me, that is 800 feet up over 52 thousand feet out, or 8 feet up over 520 feet out, or 1 foot up over 65 feet out. This is miniscule compared to the hills I’ve had to practice on around here, which have a 9% plus grade. (Grade=rise/run; so the grade on the “big hill” of the ride is 800/52800, or 1.52%). The big issue with this ride then is distance, not stress to the knees: it actually ends up being some 260 miles between the two days, from Vancouver down to Seattle.

I have to be careful, though, to not make the same mistake I made last March: when I was training for the Whidbey Island Half Marathon. A bunch of us signed on to do it, and we had heard a reputable rumor it was “practically flat”. Oh, no it wasn’t. A month before race day a couple of enterprising spirits went out and drove the course, and a week later dropped out. I’d be lying if I said it was anything more than sheer fiscal prudity that kept me in. That sort of thing is not a welcome surprise.

The question remains though: which padding do I purchase *first*?