Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Saved By The Bell

When I bought my super sweet mountain bike from Z last year, I thought the biker bell he had installed on the handle bars was really cute.  It made a little "ding" when I hit it with my thumb and I felt like I was 10 years old again.

Live and learn.

This summer I rode the Wasatch Crest Trail with my gaggle of MTB buddies.  The trail is NOT easy.  Once you make your way over Puke Hill, the single track winds its way down the enormous mountains that form the ski resorts of Snowbird, Alta, Solitude and Brighton.  The summit peak is lined with jagged granite outcroppings that knife their way out of the soft dirt and leave a spike of danger in the path of any who attempt to cross it.  It's real fun.

But back to the bell.

As I made my way down the trail dodging tree roots and overhead branches, I had a tipsy turvy tumble down the mountain's edge and over into some scrub brush, small trees and wildflowers.   Since I was last in the group, no one saw me fall.  And where I lay, grasping my bike with one hand and a tree branch in another, I was invisible to anyone who rode past me on the trail.

Left for dead.  Or so it felt.  Though I was perfectly comfortable and unscathed.  But another roll of the bike would have dropped me down a very steep and treacherous cliff into the canyon stream below.

I yelled to my friends.  "Hello... are you there?"


Then, I starting thumping my thumb against that bell.  Ding, ding, ding!  "Um, HEL-LO?"


Finally I looked up at the trail above me I saw a rider pass.  I kept dinging the bell as Shawna came to my rescue.  She could not see me from her vantage point, but she COULD hear the bell.  And when she peaked over the edge and saw where I was hanging, we both just started to laugh!

Darkness was looming as she reached down to pull the bike back onto the trail, then grabbed my wrist to help me climb back up the tree roots to hoist my body off the cliff and onto the dirt path.

Thanks to Shawna, I made it home in one piece.  The ride was a great adventure.  And that's that.  End of story.

But don't forget the moral!  Bike bells are a GREAT little feature to have on your bike.  They signal your arrival around blind turns. They give a polite warning for hikers to yield.  And best of all, bike bells can be heard when a holler cannot.  I'm so glad Z had the fore site to put one on the Stump Jumper.  

Readers, I suggest you do the same.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How To Build Muscle Mass

Five Key Principles to Building Muscle Mass

1.  Nutrition:   When the goal is to increase muscle mass, what the diet consists of is even more important than the training regimen a person follows.  The body must have certain nutrients to produce muscle mass.  A person needs 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  This should be factored into a calorie ratio of 50-30-20, where 50% f calories come from carbohydrates, 30% come from protein, and 20% come form unsaturated fats.  One should eat 5-6 small meals per day as opposed to 3 larger ones.  This provides the muscles with a constant stream of muscle-building nutrition.

2.  Progressive Resistance:  The body soon adapts to the stress placed upon it in weight training.  When that happens, it stops growing.  To keep the body in muscle-building mode one must constantly increase the stress placed upon the muscles.  This does not mean that one should increase the weight lifted each and every workout.  Over the period of a month, however, be sure to life more weight.

3.  Variation:  Avoid doing the same thing every workout.  The body is so good at adapting to the stresses placed upon it that if one does not change up the routine, progress will not be made.  Constantly alter the volume, frequency, intensity, and duration in a workout.  Doing the same thing year in and year out will not bring the desired results.

4.  Recuperation:  Muscle growth does not occur during the workout, but rather it occurs during the rest period between workouts.  Over training impedes more weight training progress than any other factor.  Two and three hour workouts will not work for most people.  Sessions should be shorter - 45-60 minutes in length -- and each muscle group should have at least 72 hours of recovery time before being worked again.

5.  Training Intensity:  To get real results, one needs to put real effort into a workout.  Rather than lifting heavy weights, focus on the muscle group being worked.  Isolate that muscle group and work it to the max.  Cycle intensity over a period of about three weeks, so that in the first week you do 8-10 repetitions with a moderate weight.  By the third week, only do 4-6 reps with maximum weight.  Make proper use of techniques such as partial reps, forced reps and temporary muscle failure.  (Go until you cannot go anymore with a particular rep.  A spotter can help force the muscles to do more than they can do on their own.)

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Is It Worth It?

Crashes happen.  And when they do, they're gut wrenching.  You can hear the shocking screams peal through the peloton, and the smack of helmets and bikes as they twist and fall, grinding onto the pavement.

If you are lucky enough to avoid the mash up, you'll circle back to the carnage of blood and road rash at the least.  But the damage could be more severe:  broken bones, concussions, and beyond.

So the question of the day -- is it worth it? Should you stay off the bike and never enjoy another group ride?  Should you hang up your trusty steed and call it quits for good?

While the nerves are shaking the adrenaline is pumping the easy answer is NO, it's not worth it.  There are too many risks and too many dangers in this sport.  Almost everyone who rides knows someone who's gone down.  And when cycling is a large part of your life, chances are it might someday be you who needs that 911 call.  

But when you've had time to breathe, and time to think, it's pretty hard to say goodbye to cycling.  You've got to get back on the bike with a clear head and realize your priorities, which could just be making it home safely everyday.  Forget about the speedsters, the uber talented climbers.  Forget about comparing yourself to someone else.  When you figure out the beauty of this sport is the ability to feel the breeze on your face as you smoothly whir through gorgeous canyons and trails, your perspective will change.  When you can ride on vacant city streets in the wee hours of the morning and feel the sunrise over your back shoulder - you'll say YES, get me on my bike.  

While a crash is a terrible thing to witness, it's also a reminder to make sure your skills are solid, to proceed with caution, and be aware that cycling is not about finishing first. There will  always be someone faster than you out there -- even if you're Lance Armstrong.  

So for today, and everyday, be safe, be confident, and practice your skills. Keep the rubber side down.  And for heaven's sake, keep on riding.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How The Internet Shrinks The World

A few years back when my friend Liz was in the finish line corrals at El Tour de Tucson, she turned to the cyclist behind her and congratulated him on crossing the line.  They chatted for a few minutes about their race day adventures and she asked whether this was his first century ride, and the guy just smiled.

It wasn't until later that week when she scanned the internet for her race stats that she realized she had been talking to Greg LeMond.  Are you kidding me?  Tour de France winner Greg LeMond!  Behind Liz?!  Turns out LeMond was riding in Tucson that day as the honored guest of El Tour.  His name was listed right below hers as a finisher in the 109 mile event.

Leave it to the internet to discover such crazy coincidences.  Which bring me to a find of my own.  

Last night I received an email from a guy named Danny McFee from Hong Kong.  Danny had found my blog and race recap on Ironman France via the big ole' internet.  As he read my insights, he noticed that we finished the race one minute apart from each other.

Lorie:  swim 1:14, bike 7:45, run 4:30 +- transitions = 13:45
Danny: swim 1:27, bike 7:20, run 4:45 +- transitions = 13:46

Literally ONE minute apart!  We must have criss crossed each other's paths a dozen times that day.

And in the circuitous route called "google search" Danny and I found each other, shared our experiences and the world got a little smaller and a little more friendly.

Now I know all is not good when it comes to cyber space.  But today, it IS good.  I love hearing about races from athletes around the world, swappin stories, sharing dreams. And I love that triathlons can bring people together to attempt something difficult, push their limits, and enjoy the process along the way.  

And that, my friends, is why I TRI.

You can read Danny's IM France race report HERE.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Athletic Fashion And The Superficial Runner

The Dash Tank made me want to dash!
Sometimes new workout clothes are all the motivation you need to swing your two legs out of bed and head to the track before sunrise.   I'm loving Lululemon's new Dash Tank.  The front is plain and simple.  The back has a cute ruffle down the length of the tank.

Truth be told, it's what got me out of bed this morning...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Workout Stench Eliminated

In our crazy world of endurance training, body odor is kind of a big deal.  We love to sweat.  But hate the smell.  Am I right, ladies?

So when a great little find like deodorant comes along that eliminates that post-workout stench, it's time to walk, not run, to get yourself a tube of this splendid product.

Introducing, Donna Karan Cashmere Mist deodorant/anti-perspirant.  What a luxurious stick of goodness this is!  This little product packs a dual punch: a soft powdery scent while keeping my pits perfectly dry!  I absolutely love it.

Truth is, I have been using it for years, but had sort of gotten out of the habit of buying it since it's not a pick-it-up-at-Walgreens kind of items.  You have to buy it at the Nordstrom counter, or as I discovered recently, online.

When the Nordstrom Half-Yearly sale came around, I remembered to snag a few tubes for myself and my girls.  And I'm so glad I did.  I'm hooked once again.  I'm going to come right out and say this is the best deodorant I have ever purchased.  And as a runner/biker/swimmer, I have tried all kinds of deodorants.  And I have to use the best - or else no one could stand standing next to me.  Smelling good is important.  Enough said.

Thank you, Donna Karan.  I owe you a solid.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ask The Expert: Bobby McGee

Running Coach Bobby McGee
If you don't know Running Coach, Bobby McGee, you should.  He's trained some of the top athletes in the United States, from amateurs to world and Olympic champions.  I've listened to him speak and have attended his seminars on running and triathlon.  Here are some of his precious words of wisdom.

--All too often, runners and triathletes train at the same pace, day in and day out.  Their easy runs are too hard and their hard days are too easy.  This kind of constant moderate training makes it difficult to improve throughout the season.

--Lower priority races help you gain fitness and measure progress and are a great opportunity for you to experiment and perfect your race-day tactics.  However, as a general rule, I recommend that you stay away from lower-priority races that are longer than 15 miles, since these longer distances require extra recovery time.

--Training plans.  You want your coach to formulate a plan that has you running mileage and/or time volume similar to what you are already doing.  For example, if you are training for a half marathon and currently run only two to three times per week, you wouldn't want to jump into a plan that has you running seven times per week.  When you look at the first week of the plan, it should look easy.

--Walking.  My approach to training is unique because it incorporates a lot of walking.  I recommend that you walk on your non running days.  Even the most advanced athletes can benefit from some walking, as it helps you recover faster and increases your muscle endurance without breaking down your muscles.

--If the run is your limiter in a triathlon, you should spend more time in the pre-season phase focusing primarily on your run while just maintaining your swim and bike fitness.  However, excessive amounts of hard run training seldom lead to success and greatly increase the risk of injury or illness.  When in doubt, always err in favor of an easy run.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Wind "Caves" Hike

One can only read so much in Runner's World about trail running before you finally get the bug to get out and give it a try.  All those articles about strengthening ankles and improving balance were the catalyst for our recent group hike out to the Wind Caves in northeast Mesa.  

Tucked inside the Usery Pass Recreation Area, off Ellsworth Road and north of McDowell, the Wind Caves trail is easy to find.  You drive straight past the Usery Rec Area guard shack entrance and stay straight for about a mile-ish, maybe less, then turn left on Wind Caves road.   The trail begins here in the parking lot and you can pretty much see your destination right in front of you, the towering mountain blocking the sun.
photo credit
Okay, so it might not be towering, but in Arizona terms, it's definitely a mountain.

The trail alternates between smooth red dirt and craggy rocks, and steadily climbs to the "caves" providing a scenic view of Mesa, and in the distance, the skyscrapers of downtown Phoenix.  It's only 1.5 miles to the wind carved hollows that give hikers a place to stop and rest and enjoy the view.  I'd call this more of a rest area, not a destination.  

The real challenge of the hike is the next half a mile, which winds up to a steeper incline of rocky peaks for a 360-degree spectacular view of the entire valley.  This little stretch of the trail is a must-do.  But it helps to take a friend who knows the way up to the top as the trail is confusing and sometimes difficult to follow.

The first time I climbed to the peak, Apache helicopters from Boeing flew below us out on a combat drill exercise.   The second time, I tried to lead the hike and lost the trail that leads to the summit.  However, the views were still amazing and all of us got in a great workout.

This trail is easy, until you attempt to climb above the wind caves.  The lower portion of the hike is  doable for kids of all ages and is a nice cross training 90-minute workout.  I spotted plenty of regulars, who must do this trail several times a week.  And I began to run as the trail flattened in the final stretch home.

Overall, it's a nice way to spend a morning, either with family or after your drop the kids off to school for a little workout on your own.  Don't forget water, your Tonto Pass and/or $6 for parking.  Call some friends, the pace uphill can be pushed or relaxed -- it's up to you.

And since it's up to me, I'll be heading back real soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Trying New Things

Now that the pressures of Ironman training are over, it's time to try new things -- like sleeping in, or yoga, or balancing on hazardous teeter-totter toys on a mountain bike.  Yes, I've done all three in the past few weeks, but that teeter totter action is a heart pounding, adreneline pumping good time.

Introducing Park City's newest delight for tricky trickster mountain bikers:  The Trailside Terrain Park.  Trailside Park is located about a mile south of I-80 and a mile west of US-40 near Silver Creek Junction. There's a one-mile, well-groomed singletrack loop. But the main reason to come here is the Skills Park, located on top of the ridge at the southern end of the loop.

You can start your adventure here, where you get to tackle stuff like this:

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When I drove up to the location, all I could see were tiny mountain bike helmets bobbing and weaving down the windy dirt path.  I quickly realized those were kids on the intermediate loop, rolling their bikes up and down the trail.  

As I looked farther into the distance, I saw my friends (the hard core mountain bikers) tackling the steeper track and jumping from bump to bump.  

I wish I had a disclaimer that read: This ride is more difficult than it appears on camera.  But the truth is, I learned plenty about the course from four-year-old Bridger, who led the way.  
Ah, the bravery of youth.  (Or is it naivety?)  Either way, the Terrain Park is a great way to improve your mountain biking skills.  There is a skate park next door, big open grassy areas for a picnic, and specular summer evenings that make for a perfect family night.  

I was sad to say goodbye to this place.  Can't wait to get back.  

Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True