Saturday, May 29, 2010

Oh, Yeah!

Today was a good day.

I got to be the leader of the "C" group in the Iron Gear ride.  "C" meaning beginner, newbie, slow.

But today's ride was a great reminder of what cycling is all about.  It took me back.

I remember getting on my bike and having trouble getting my water bottle out of it's cage.  And not knowing what side shifter changed what gears.  I remember not wanting to look behind me while riding because my bike would turn with my head.  And the uphill, oh the uphill.

Now it all comes so easy.  I can shift. Drink. Turn. Accelerate.   I have improved.  Uphill - well, it's still a challenge.  But a challenge I love to face.

Today I liked watching those beginners get down into their aerobars.  And watching them feel the sun and the wind on their face.  And seeing them smile.  They rode farther than they ever had before.  And pushed their limits.  

And I see that they are getting it --  a love for cycling.  A love for the ease of pedaling down an empty road.  A love for the whir of the wheels.  And a love for the quiet.  There's something about cycling that takes you away, while keeping you present.  

Hard to explain, I guess.  Unless you have a bike.  And love it like I, we do.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fatigue And Recovery

Do you know about the 30-minute window?

After strenuous exercise, like a hard bike ride or long run, you have a 30 minutes to replenish your body with nutrients and fluids that were depleted during your workout.  Think of your body like a squeezed sponge -- it's now ready to be refilled,  rehydrated and renewed.  Your muscles are most receptive to these recovery nutrients when they are consumed immediately after finishing a workout. After all, results are not made by muscle breakdown, but by proper muscle recovery and rebuilding.

The recovery products on the market that I like are Generation U Can and Fluid.  These products contain whey protein not from concentrate.  They are easier to get down and taste pretty good.  A lot of products contain when protein concentrate which can be hard on the tummy.

Remember: post workout is not the time to starve yourself.  Weight loss is a goal for most people who exercise.  But forget about the calorie issue for a minute.  Drinking a recovery shake will make you feel better, less fatigued, and more ready to push your body again sooner. Take advantage of that window to stave off poor workouts, muscle soreness and decreased energy.  It works.  It really does.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Sanitary Cycle

Summer in AZ means beach towels.  Lots and lots of them.  I am doing loads of towels everyday.  Sometimes they get that stanky smell.  That's quite possibly because I tend to leave my swim towel in the back of my car after Masters for days on end.  Or the kids leave them outside in the sun and they dry stiff on the hook next to the pool.

But - ahhhhh- I have discovered the Sanitary Cycle.  I wasn't using it til a friend told me recently that it is the perfect fix for those stanky towels.  The sanitary cycle takes two hours and the water is extremely hot.  But it takes the icky out of the cotton fibers and along with Downy April Fresh, the towels return to their soft and fluffy original state.

The Sanitary Cycle will NOT work for delicate workout clothes.  When those get stanky, just throw them away.  There's no way to save wicking fabric once it has worked it's magic on all that awful sweat stench.  If you can smell your clothes after you've gotten them out of the wash, they are past the point of no return.

Okay gotta go...time to throw a load in now.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

With A Little Help From My Friends

Running.  Some people got it.  Some people don't.  Those natural runners are the ones that get me.  The ones that come right out and qualify for Boston on their first attempt.  I am in awe.  Everyone's got their gifts.  So why not learn from them?

There are some things these phenomenons do that I am adding to my arsenal in hopes of getting closer to their level someday.

-- Run with a friend.  It could be that conversation keeps your mind off pain.  Or matching some stride for stride keeps your pace up.  But running long or short with a friend seems to make good runners better.

--Back Up Ipod.  A lot of these runners wear Ipods that they only use when they find themselves dropping off the pack.  I've found that it helps to plug mine in when my breathing gets heavy and I am alone -- then I can get my mind into something good and not think about my suffering.

--Good Form.  Wow.  I love running behind a beautiful runner.  I love watching their turnover and foot placement. I try to mimic it.  Althea told me to concentrate on running tall and strong when I feel fatigue setting in.  It works.

--Strength Training.  Even if it's short and sweet, strength training is a must.  You're going to need strong quads when you climb.  Add wall sits, lunges, core work, single leg squats to your routine.  Nothing fancy.  Just the basics.

Someday I might be as awesome as my runner friends.  I've got a lot of self doubt that needs to change.  But I'm going to make it with help from them.
Not my group of friends, but looks like a nice place to run.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Riding A Cruiser Is Hard

Cruiser bike --  Not mine, but someone's in the hood

This evening was the end-of-the-year Learning Celebration at our elementary school.  As usual, I rode my cruiser there instead of driving my car and parking a mile away.  As I was riding, I realized how much work it is to ride a cruiser bike any distance longer than a mile or so, and here's why:

1.  Cruisers are heavy.  They're hard to pedal.  They don't go fast and you have to put a lot of weight on the each turn of the crank.  I think my cruiser weighs about 50 pounds.  I guess cruisers are fun riding casually on the Newport beach boardwalk, but wow, it takes a lot of work to pedal one.  And I'm glad I don't have to load one onto my car bike rack.  I might break my back.

2.  Cruisers rattle and are noisy.  A lot of times, cruisers get bumped and messed up when you push them into the bike racks at school.  Then the fenders might start to turn in or rub against the tire, making it even more difficult to ride smoothly and comfortably on it.

3.  Cruisers have those crazy bike bells.  I can't imagine having a little warning bell on my road bike.  Just think how slow you must be going to have the reflexes to stop or swerve your bike out of the way of an oncoming pedestrian.  You're not breaking any speed records if you're workin' the bike bell.  Two words ...slow mo.

4.  My quads are sore from riding my crusier.  Well, not actually sore, but there is a muscle in my legs that must go unused when I ride a road or a tri bike.  That top quad muscle got a workout tonight.  It could be that since there are no clip-in pedals you have to really push down on your pedal stroke when you ride...especially when you are riding into the wind.  Anyway, I probably could get sore, maybe, if I rode my cruiser long enough.

5.  I gained a deeper appreciation for my fast bikes as I pedaled home on my super-heavy inefficient banana yellow cruiser.  Yes, it is cute, colorful and looks like it would be lots of fun.  But honestly, I'm glad I don't have to ride it everyday.  Leave the cruisin' to the young 'uns.  Keep 'em working hard on that miler ride to school.  Bikes are awesome.  But adult road bikes are a sweet reward for riding those heavy tanks year after year.

Thank heavens for carbon, titanium and near weightless components.  Someday, kids, you'll know what I'm talkin' about.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I Follow Levi Leipheimer on Twitter

Levi courtesy of
Levi Leipheimer is from Santa Rosa, Ca.  And that's where the start of this year's Tour of California begins -- today.  The ToC has been in existence for five years, now.  It's a course that snakes through the best of California's hills and valleys.  And Levi knows it well.  He's won this race the past three years in a row.

I'll be cheering him on during the six stages of this race.  Also cheering him on, his teammate Lance Armstrong.  Lance, Levi and Team Radio Shack will be a big force to be reckoned with this year.  They're skipping the Giro d'Italia to ride in their own country, next to their American fans, in the heart of the beautiful Golden State.

I wish I could be there.  But life takes over.  And sometimes you gotta cheer from a distance.  

Go Levi.  

You can check out more information on this year's race at:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Filthy Farmgirl

There's something about a soak at the end of the day that seems to make everything a little better.  And if I had a list like Oprah, this would be one of my "favorites":  
Filthy Farmgirl Soaps.  Mmmmm.  I love 'em.  They are handmade bars of scented soaps that are made in heaven, aka Hawaii.  I bought my first bar on a girls' trip awhile back and have since restocked my supply so I could try one of every bar.   Here's what their website had to say about it:
Healthy happy (and yes, clean) people are intrinsically good for the earth! We believe our soap puts people in touch with the earth though their senses, and enlivens the otherwise mundane ritual of washing. We have been making soap for ourselves for years, and now we are rockin’ out, putting quality bath products into the hands of like-minded farmgirls and farmboys like you! We grow and harvest many of our herbs and spices ourselves, and go out of our way to support local organic farmers whenever possible.

Our Soap recipies are 100% Natural and Vegan Friendly!

Saponified Vegetable Oils (Coconut, Castor and Safflower)
Kosher Veggie Glycerin
Highest quality essential oils herbs and spices. (Organic when available)
Sorbital (natural thickener)
Purified Water
Sorbitan oleate (natural emulsifier)
Sodium hydroxide (natural saponifier)
Absolutely no detergents, surfactants, sulfates, artificial scents, colorizers, or petroleum products of any kind.
Our Labels are printed on 100% recycled paper.
We work hard to make sure every single bar of our soap is made with love and care, and our company is %100 eco-friendly.
Soap is not just about getting clean, it’s about loving your body and the earth.
Live Nakedly!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To Honor The Mothers

There's something really cool about an all-women's race.  Something empowering and motivating.  Something, as some say, that makes me want to roar!  SheRox Sprint Tri was just what the life coach ordered this weekend.  Bottling the "can do" attitude.  Success on tap.  Feelin' the love for the important women in our lives.

In a triathlon, that which starts out as a solitary goal, a focused drive to achieve your best, becomes a day of small check offs, count downs and achievements -- not alone -- but with others all on the same course, working toward the same destination.

You're smack dab in the middle of it all when suddenly, you get that... power.  Whether it's the passing word of encouragement from a fellow participant, or the shouts and cheers from the fans and spectators,  it's glaringly obvious that there is strength in community, in numbers and in family.

Particularly on Mother's Day, it is evident that it "takes a village" to make us realize our true potential.  We can accomplish anything. But it sure is a lot easier to do what we need to do with good friends and confidants along the way.  It's nice to have a family cheering section.  It's vitally important to have a girlfriend who can listen.  It's wonderful to have a husband to back us up and stand by us.  And it is a comfort to have a higher power to guide us through it all.  

Because when we get to the finish line, it's not about "I" or "Me"'s about "Us".  

We do this, thankfully, together.  That is the plan.  And it is the best plan we never made up on our own.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Hills

Oooh hills.  Man, they get me every time.  Is it the same for you?  I've been attempting them lately.  And after my last workout, I got home and  flipped my Runner's World calendar over to May and look what I read:
Workout:  Run for 1 minute uphill, rest for 30 seconds at the top, run down the hill at a faster than average pace, and rest for 2 minutes at the bottom.  Repeat four times.
Variations:  Try to go farther in one minute, or try to get up the hill faster.  In inclement weather, run up stairs.
Benefits: Increased speed, strength, and running economy.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Victory Is Sweet

Helena and Karl tell it like it is! 
19th El Tour de Phoenix

April 10, 2010
26 Mile Event
Women’s Title - Bridget Verhaaren - 1:14:44 
(Four minutes and thirty-nine seconds faster than the  previous course record.)

I asked Bridget, a Gorilla Multisport Athlete and mother of three, to give a recap of her record breaking Tour de Phoenix victory last month.  Here is what she had to say...

I registered for the 26 mile event at the race expo--the day before the race.  I waffled on whether to register, since my husband, Rob, would be unable to ride this year’s event.  He would be attending a scout campout.  Rob pulled me last year on the 72 Mile Race, and it was so nice to rely on his strong pull to get me to the finish line.

I decided to ride the race on my own.  I hadn’t really “trained” specifically for this event.  However, I rode three times a week, through the Arizona Winter months -- and it is cold at 5a.m.  (Upper 30’s - Mid 40’s) 

The morning of the race, I enjoyed the extra sleep. The 26 Mile Race began at 8:45 a.m.!  I took a bath, to loosen up my legs.  I drove to the starting line, pulled my bike out of the car, and thought, “This is a little weird to be here without my family or any of my training partners.”  I was the first to arrive at the starting line.   
The weather was beautiful!  No arm warmers needed.  As people arrived, I learned of their previous races.  I abhor the race countdown.  I tried not to get too amped.  When the national anthem began, I looked down and realized I still had my toe warmers on.  Yikes!  I didn’t want to get “hot feet”.  I unclipped, took off the toe warmers, while my legs were shaking.  I was getting nervous.  Then, the race organizer, greeted last year’s female winner, Randi Najac.  She was near me, so I said hello, and wished her luck.  
The horn blew and we were off.  My legs were shaking so much that I had difficulty getting my left foot clipped in.  I told myself to just relax, and stay on the wheel of the guy in front of me.  I was able to stay with the first pack heading North on Power Road.  Bless the policemen who waved us through the lights!  I did not get out to the very front to pull until we were nearly cresting Kong.  I stayed right on the wheel of the guy in front of me, and when he moved to the side, for my turn to pull, I was fortunate, because a group of guys barreled from behind and headed down Kong’s descent.  I was able to stay with the pack until the climb up Little Kong.  Blast it, I got dropped.  However, I managed to stay on “Lemonade Shorts” guy’s wheel, up Little Kong.  He pulled me a ways and then we worked together until the four way stop and the beginning of backside.  He pulled me up 2/3 of backside, at speeds, I have NEVER climbed before (12-14 mph).  (At this point in the race, I continually told myself over and over to relax and not blow up.)  

Backside, is the point in which the 72 Mile and the 26 Mile Race converge.  Lemonade Shorts was picking tired riders off one by one.  He dropped me the last 1/3 of the climb.  Somehow, I caught him at the top of backside (home court advantage, I knew what to expect, and he was an out-of-stater).  We worked together to catch the peloton forming ahead.  We caught them, pulled them, and then forged ahead.  We caught a strong female rider wearing a Bicycle Haus kit. The three of us worked together until the sprint for the finish.  I felt strong, I felt great!  The day was perfect --temperate weather, with no discernible breeze. 
I found other Brumby Riders (local cycling group), and hung around listening to their race experiences.  Then, the results were posted, and whoa, I finished 8th overall in the 26 Mile Race, however, I was the 1st Female Finisher.  I quickly called Rob, who had zero cell coverage at Weaver’s Needle.  Bummer.  I stayed for the awards ceremony and received a trophy, a Conquistador-a!  I am 5'9 1/2" tall and 150 lbs.  I am an amazon in comparison to most of the thin, lithe, cyclists on the podium.  All body types allowed.
On Monday, April 12th, Perimeter Cycling issued a press release stating that I had set a new course record.  S-weet!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Inaugural St. George Ironman

When you're actually IN the Ironman, you're in a constant state of movement, excitement and suffering.  You are not really aware of what is going on outside your world that day.  In fact, people all over the internet are tracking you, constantly refreshing their browser button and cheering you on long distance.

Yesterday, I got to do just that.  While I was running up the big AZ mountain we call Hawes, (most non-Arizonans might call a hill) I was passed by Mike, Dave and Sean on their bikes.  "So, they've just started the swim.  I hear it's kind of windy and the start was 43 degrees," Sean yelled out to me.  I knew exactly what he was talking about:  Ironman.

Fourteen Tri-Mesa folks made their way up to St. George for the inaugural event yesterday.  And while they were suffering on the swim, the bike and the run, I was doing this:
Tracking my athletes via internet.  Notice my chicken scratch updates on the orange paper.

I couldn't cheer them on in person, but I sent them good vibes.  I smiled when they got out of the swim and did a woot-woo! as they passed their last timing mat on the bike.  Then I excitedly recorded their times as they crossed the finish line.  

But I wasn't their only fan.  

Constant text message updates came through during the day from spouses and friends.  When I stopped into Iron Gear Sports, every person who came in asked how the Arizona athletes were doing.  It was a LoveFest for triathletes.

All in all, St. George Ironman 1 was a success.  I can't wait to hear stories rehashed over and over til they get better and better.  That's the thing about Ironman - bragging rights forever, no matter what time you got.  Congratulations to all of you.  

And by the way, my fever is back.
Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True