Thursday, July 22, 2010

And we're back...

So... Greetings from the world's smallest hotel room... Literally, we have 2 single beds, 2 bikes, 2 bags, a bathroom... and our handlebars hang over our beds. So much for the wonderful spacious rooms we had the first 2 nights. This brings new meaning to the phrase "Close quarters"... especially for this couple! ;-)


The story of the past four days has included many ups and downs both "geographically" and emotionally.  We have been happy, we have been sad... we have laughed, we have cried... we have been in beautiful sunshiny mountains and farmland where it was pissing rain.

We have met some amazing new friends, pissed off some old friends (that would be Bo pissing off others... no surprises there), and we've learned that Lourdes sucks, Pau ROCKS, the mountain is THE BOSS... And pro tour riders are almost every one of them good guys... Yes even Cavendish whom Nikki was able to score a couple photos with and get his autograph.

Long story short... following the Tour de France is a full-time job and we have honestly meant to provide more updates but haven't had the chance (ie: we've been exhausted and sleeping).

In spite of a poorly run "guided" (in the loosest send of the world) tour, we are having the time of our lives.

A quick note about today... (we'll catch you up on previous days later)... We caught the start of today's queen stage in Pau due to the awful (pissing rain) on the Tourmalet.  All the buses were accessible to tourists, as were many of the riders.  Courtney and Nikki hung out at the HTC-Columbia bus to meet the likes of Eric Zabel (won more green jerseys than anyone in history), Mick Rogers, Tony Martin, Bernie Eisel, Mark Cavendish, and others.  They even gave us water bottles which we had them sign.

Mick Rogers
(more pictures to come from a BicycleRadio.com guy who ended up taking great pix of Nikki & Courtney w/ his super nice camera and promises to email them to us!!)


 Cav's Bike... crazy huge stem... and the marks on the top tube are for each of his stages wins so far in this year's tour <-- The HTC folks were SOOOO nice... you could walk right up to any bike and check it out... and pretty much do anything but sit on it! While other teams (like Rabobank pictured below) kept everyone away from their bus and bikes.



We also caught George on his way to the start and grabbed a photo (We could only download the pix from the iPhone... the pic w/ George and all the others are on our "real" camera... to which Bo forgot the cord to connect it to the computer for downloads)... Court & Nik were also in their "Io non sono Ted King" shirts so the Cervelo guys got a picture of them to send to Ted King... to prove they aren't him!  Nikki spoke a little Italian with Alessandro Ballan and got a photo with him... and then Bo and Nikki hung out with Allen Lim... aka "The Mad Scientist" for a little while at the Radioshack bus and he gave them hats and a water bottle <-- Crazy nice guy!  We gave him tips for where to eat when Team Radioshack shows up to the US Pro Nats this year!  He mentioned he hopes the entire team (US riders of course) come... and we do too!!!! (Also saw Lance and his entire fam.)
 
While Courtney and Nikki were hanging w/ the HTC boys, Bo was reaching out and giving a pat on the back to all his favorites like Thor Hushovd, Ivan Basso, Fabian Cancellara, Andy Schleck, Chris Horner, Big George, Wiggo, Juan Antonio Flecha, Silvain Chavenel, Christoph Moreau, Cadel Evans, and of course a completely bandage covered Jens Voigt... who responded with (in a perfect Arnold Schwarzenegger voice), "Don't touch anything, it all HURTS!"  To which Bo apologized and Jens said, "Eeeets Okay."

More later but we've got to get ready for dinner and figure out what's in store for tomorrow... either we hit the feed station for a sprinters' stage, or we climb the Tourmalet (too cold, wet, and foggy today... not to mention the million people on the way up it!!)

Au revoir for now!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chateroux to Toulouse


7/18/10 Post 1 – On the Road from Chateroux to Toulouse

So, I’m (Bo) sitting here in the bus on day 2 of this trip trying to get some thoughts down. Jeff Buckley is on the ipod, and the French country side (complete with hay bails straight out of a Monet painting) rolling by. The sun is shining, and we’ll be able to ride our bikes soon.

Life is good.

So, about yesterday. Nikki and I had a perfectly uneventful trip from GSP to CDG. (Big thanks to Matt at the USAirways check in desk for putting our suitcases and bike boxes on priority status). We have a super comfy flight on an Airbus over the Atlantic that took off an hour late but only landed 30 minutes late. After navigating our way though the bowl of spaghetti with meatballs that is Charles de Gaulle airport and finding the correct baggage claim carousel, we had all our stuff. (side note: here is where priority status really helped. Our bike boxes were brought right up to the carousel no problem while about 5 or 6 guys on a separate trip from us looked like they were going to have a bit of a wait before they got their stuff). No probs with immigration, and, as luck would have it, we had come in to Terminal 1, where the buses would be waiting for the group.  Wouldn’t you know it, right when we got to the exit on our itinerary, up pulls the bus, right on schedule. All we had to do was to wait for the big group from Atlanta to arrive an hour later and make their way over from Terminal 2 and we’d be off. All was going according to plan.

 One of our Bike Trailers

Then, everything went wrong.

In spite of the fact that all the documentation that we all had instructed us to one location, (Terminal 1), most of the big group from Atlanta was told to hang tight in Terminal 2 while a couple of people made there way over to Terminal 1 to drag the buses over to Terminal 2.  Only one problem: we had been waiting a while, and Nikki went to the tram to see if she could help out with people making their way, bike boxes and all, between the two locations. So Nikki had headed that way (or so I thought) and, after bit of haggling, the buses headed over to Terminal 2, where the big group was waiting.

At this point, the wheels came flying off: Nikki wasn’t there, nor were four others from the big group, who hadn’t gotten the memo about sitting tight in Terminal 2 and were actually doing what they were supposed to be doing. So, now my wife was lost (I had yet to find out about the quartet making their way to the appropriate location), and the buses weren’t going back to Terminal 1. The two buses left to take people to a Paris hotel where we were set to unpack, build up the bikes and have lunch before re-loading and heading south. One was coming back to pick up the rest of the group who were coming in on a later flight.

So, I was left to grab our rucksacks and head BACK to Terminal 1 to hopefully find my lost wife (no cell phones.) I finally got there and found Nikki with the quartet of lost souls who, again, had actually followed instructions, and we turned them around to get back to Terminal 2, where the second bus would be returning in about 3 hours. I have no idea what these people would have done had Nikki not found them. They had no other way of knowing where the bus would be going.  A little advice to you travelers out there: if it’s a group trip STICK TO THE ITINERARY. Without cell phones, there’s no way to keep things coordinated on the fly. It was only by sheer luck that several people weren’t left out in the cold not knowing what to do.

Needless to say, we were all pretty cheesed off at this point. In spite of being the first to arrive, we’d be the last to actually leave the airport. Airports suck in general, but let me go ahead and say that CDG sucks more than most. So, we just buckled down and played the waiting game.

Then, Providence intervened.

Literally out of the clear blue sky, I looked up and saw somebody I hadn’t seen in 6 years. Tamer Shafik, a close friend form Egypt who went to grad school with us, was sitting there with his wife and three kids. We haven’t seen the guy since we graduated, so, when I yelled his name, he just kind of stared through me, not know who this yahoo yelling at him was. Anyway, after convincing him that I wasn’t a lunatic trying to rob him, he realized who I was, and there was much smiling and hugging to go around. We got to meet his wife and kids, whom we had only heard about before, snapped a pic and traded info and wished each other good travels.



That made the fiasco all worth it…

The bus finally showed up, and, six hours after arriving in CDG, we were release from the spaghetti prison and made our way to the hotel. Upon arrival, we built our bikes up., NASCAR style, tossed them back in the trailer and headed out.

By the way, still no shower. Somebody was starting to get a little funky, and his name was Bo.

Anyway, we had a couple of hours to ride down to Chateroux, where we were bunking for the night at a Best Western, which, oddly enough, was REALLY nice. Mr. Funky (me) took a LOOOOONG hot shower, and all was right again in the world. We had a nice dinner and some wine to ease the pain of the journey, and crashed nice and hard.

We’re now rolling down the road to Toulouse, as stated above. The Jeff Buckley album is done and I’ve moved on to Leonard Cohen. Hopefully we’ll be able to get this uploaded once we get to our next stop. We’re looking forward to a little spin on the bikes this afternoon and some local NOMs tonight. Everybody’s doing well, and hopefully the logistical problems are mostly behind us (knock on wood).

(segue into later today)

The drive today was filled with panoramic views of the rolling hills leading to the Pyrenees... your stereotypical fields of sunflowers, old villages, churches, farms... and we enjoyed it... the first couple of hours.  And eventually we (Nikki narrating now) made it to Toulouse... after having some mechanical troubles... let's just say, nothing like getting woken on by a stopped bus to find that you're not taking your "driver must take a 15-45 min break every few hours" stop at a Service Station, but because the bus is refusing to cooperate and we're stuck in the middle of an interstate.  That would be because the gear box overheated.  So... here we are... on our way to our destination where we're promised a nice ride in the countryside... only to move one 1/2 kilometer at a time before the bus shuts down again.  Thankfully we krept our way to a service station where the other bus was already having their aforementioned driver break/lunch where the driver and tour director proceeded to chat with the owner of the tour company about how in the world to make it to Toulouse today.  Luckily we were only 180 kilometers away.  Eventually 1 1/2 hours after arriving on the station, we continued on for another 1 1/2 hours before it overheated again.  Then... we took another break at a rest area... 15 minutes later we were on the road again... to stop 1 last time not even 1 kilometer from the hotel.  This time we soldiered on... some of us volunteered to push the bus... Patrick was going to help it along like he does often times for Lisa and I up the mountains back home... but it begrudgingly made it the last few meters to the Novotel.

Toulouse is the Capital of the Midi-Pyrenees Region... a rather large city, and very pretty.  Much of the city has canals through it lined with beautiful trees... many Places (think Piazzas/Plazas) and filled with people riding bikes.  They have bike rental stations throughout the town and you see people everywhere riding bikes.  They are similar to the hourly rental cars you can grab around cities like DC.   

Once again our hotel tonight is great! Very modern, internet, nice bathrooms, nice rooms, you name it, it's got it.  And surprisingly enough the rooms are SPACIOUS!  Well, for European standards that is... I'm completely impressed.

Everyone was dying to get a ride in today so we all got our bikes ready, kitted up and headed out around 5 in the afternoon with 40+ American riders.  Let's just say, just because we're in France, doesn't mean Americans are going to stay in the ubiquitous bike lanes.  After blocking cars, taking a few wrong turns, and one group even caused a fender bender in a roundabout, the Greenville Crew, aka The Cool Kids (Patrick, Lisa, Courtney, John, Bo, Philip - Court's kick butt French Canadian buddy from Atlanta, Mark - adopted Cool Kid from Laguna Beach, & I) headed back to the Hotel to get away from the craziness!  And it was great.  We found the hotel with no issues... and Bo and I decided we'd had enough logistical issues for a lifetime much less the past 48 hours and headed to dinner.  The rest of the Cool Kids kept going.

one of our many wrong turns earlier took us by the main Place du Capitole - Capital Building.  It was a beautiful plaza with lots of cafes and people strolling about so that's where we headed.  We found a nice cafe that specialized in Seafood... so of course we had Beef tartar with fries and a salad, along with a heineken, a local red wine, dessert, and espressos.  It was wonderful!  Our waiter was super nice... no uppity French attitudes... and finally, some relaxation.  For the first time we felt like we were in Europe!

So... from about 6:30 - 9... we sat, drank, ate, and enjoyed the people watching.  We were surrounded by locals, people following the tour, and other tourists to the region.  Oh to have this everyday would be wonderful!  As we made our way back to the hotel we found others from our group just heading out to dinner, we gave them our recommendations and carried on back to the hotel... and he were are... bags packed, kits ready for tomorrow... and ready to hit the hay for an early morning and metric century tomorrow along the tour route where we'll climb 3 cols... the last of which is 20 km (12.4 miles)! :-)

Finally some relaxation!
 
Yummy Noms!
 
Dessert - Strawberry Crepe & Dark Mint Chocolate Ice Cream
View of the Capital Building from our dinner table


Until then... Bon Soir a tutti (whatever phrases I can't complete in French... I tend to finish in Italian! :-) At least we're starting to say Oui instead of Si... a hard habit to break!!!)

- Bo & Nikki


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Je suis Americain et je ne parle pas francais!

That's me practicing my French... b/c tomorrow we're headed to Le Tour de France!!  It's been rather dramatic thus far and I'm just hoping there are some riders left racing by the time we get there.  Stay tuned b/c both Bo and I will be posting from this blog... until then... au revoir!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Catch up

Well, it's time to play catch-up.  I haven't posted since the Marquis de Sade ride... and well, it came and went and I got my dragon.  I'm not sure I conquered him... but I'm pretty sure he's tamed now.  We completed the ride in 7 hours, with 6 hours ride time and 12,500 ft of climbing.

Then came the rest of March... more riding... April... more riding... another race in Rock tHrill... a trip to Vegas... and now... we just completed the 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge in Chattanoooooooooga.  It was awesome.  A great group of people joined us... and we hit Tony's Pasta for dinner Friday night... 100 miles along the Tennessee River Valley Saturday... Big River Grill that night... and a quick trip home Sunday morning.

The spring is FLYING by... and now we've got our Anniversary this week along w/ the Hubby's birthday... the fun never stops.

I hope to get back into blogging after some of my current craziness at work ends... until then, here are some shots from the rides, events, et al that have occurred since early March...

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Dragon

It's been a trying couple of weeks and I've been missing from the blogging world.  Many understand and know why... and many have already eloquently written about last week... so I will try to move forward... how?  Well... I'm not sure you knew... but I've got this dragon...



In the fall of 2008 the hubby and I bought road bikes and started down this path that has drastically changed our lives... we became cyclists... about 6 months into this new adventure... we heard of a ride coming up... lots of people were doing it... so why not us?  The ride: Marque de Sade

Now... Marquis de Sade... was an interesting French fella...  He was a bit crazy... literally spent much of his life in insane asylums... and the term "sadism" is derived from his name...

This should have at least given me pause... right?  Maybe caused me to step back and ask why this ride was called the Marque de Sade??  Hmm... Sadism, pleasure through pain... hmm...

However I was a bright eyed bushy tailed new cyclist... ready to take on anything... or so I thought. I mean... look at this smile beforehand!



I had delusions of grandeur for a nice long ride in the upstate... got some new gear for the hubby & I, some great nutrition prepared... Then something happened... 5 miles in we hit the first short climb... and I didn't see the hubby again for the rest of the ride... and I realized I may not make it through the day.  After 16,000 feet of elevation gain... sore feet from walking the bike up a couple of mtns... & 6 hours later... I rolled back into the North Greenville Campus a defeated cyclist.

And this ride became my dragon...


Scroll forward 12 months to present day... This weekend is the Marque de Sade ride presented by the Freewheelers of Spartanburg as a training ride for Assault on Mt. Mitchell... (btw - I didn't know last year that this was a trng ride for AOMM)...

I've 12 additional months of experience on the bike... thousands of miles in the saddle... races completed... mountains conquered... but I haven't done another ride like the Marque de Sade.

You see that dragon up at the top of this blog... sitting there taunting me? That's my dragon... he's sitting on top of White Oak... I'll chase him off to Green River... and then I'll go after him like a spider monkey all hopped up on Mountain Dew!  The ride... the mountains will not defeat me... I will slay this dragon!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Goal!



The final race in the Spring Training Series finally came and went.  My goal for this race?  Well, it was mathematically impossible to move into 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the omnium... but 4th place was definitely in my sites!  I needed to finish 3 spots ahead of 4th & 2 spots ahead of 5th place to do that.

I brought my lucky charm, Jake, to the race with me.  Thankfully Rich & Bella Hincapie offered to watch him while I was racing.  BIG, HUGE thanks to Bella for keeping the pup company all day!

We started out with a group of 35 women.  19 Pro, 1, 2, 3 women... and 16 Cat 4. The officials asked if we wanted to race separate and only a few people raised their hands... so we were back at it with Pro, 1, 2, 3, 4 women all together doing 4 laps around Donaldson.

The race started with a full-on sprint.  I knew immediately this would be unlike any other race in the series.  We must have dropped 6 women in the first kilometer of the race.  And it didn't let up.  On "Golf Course Hill" we were out of the saddle still going strong.  I knew we wouldn't keep this pace the entire time so I wanted to stay with the pack as long as possible.  After the first lap we'd averaged 23.8 mph!  The 2nd, 3rd, & 4th laps all were a bit slower.  We settled in and people took turns at the front trying to break away.  I found myself moving back & forth quite a bit from rear of the pack, to the middle, inside... then outside.

Now that this was the 3rd time racing this course, I had a pretty good feel for where I wanted to be in each section... what potholes to avoid, what bad surfaces mean get on the white line or double yellow.  Every once in a while one or two girls would try to make a break for it... and the whole pack would surge to speeds I never thought I could sustain.  We catch them then sit back in.  This continued the entire race until about 2 miles to go.

At this point everyone started conserving energy for the finish.  This is when I marked my former teammate Elizabeth Brady.  She was ahead of me by 1 point in the omnium.  The person who was in 4th was dropped on the first lap so she and I were both shooting for it.  We traded places quite often and I knew it would all come down to who had better positioning at the end.

The bigger pack of Pro, 1, 2, 3 women (there were only 6 in the previous Sunday's race at Donaldson) kept the pace strong & fast all day.  By the end of it we'd averaged 21 mph for nearly 29 miles.  I have NEVER gone that fast!  With 1 mile to go two groups started to form & the paced picked up.  One on the white line and another in the middle.  I didn't want to take the chance of getting stuck so I sat in the middle pack toward the outside.  We hit the 1k to go sign and picked up the pace again.  People started blowing up all around us and it was "interesting" trying to get around them.  Once we reached the 200m mark it was an all out field sprint and I shifted into a higher gear and told myself not to leave anything in the tank.

From this point on I wasn't going to let anyone pass me.  I was in the drops and passed riders to my left and right.  Women were leaving their lines completely and crossing over others.  I crossed the finish line and immediately threw on my brakes as some women crashed in front of me... My tires left some rubber on the pavement as they skid around to the right of the crash.  I was ecstatic with how well I rode but also worried about what happened.

I know at least two women were involved, I think maybe three.  I remember seeing two people to my left and a bike to my right as I continued on to cool down.  As I came back there was a girl being attended to on the road.  I don't know what happened or how bad she was hurt, but she was taken away in an ambulance.

This sport is dangerous... like going 30 miles per hour and hit the pavement with nothing between you and the ground except your helmet & some material dangerous.  If this series has taught me anything... it is to ALWAYS be aware of what's happening around you!!

After things calmed down & the Masters racers took off in their race I hung out with Bella & Jake near the officials trailer.  People asked how I did and I thought I was top 4.  But when the results were posted... I placed 3rd among the Cat 4s in the race with a solid 4th in the omnium!  My first podium... one of my major goals for the year was to "place" (ie: 1st, 2nd, or 3rd) in a Women's Cat 4 race... and here it was... 3rd place in early March... I couldn't believe it!  The hard work paid off... the training, nutrition, tapering, racing smart... watching other's lines... staying on the right wheels... it all made a difference.

Now... I need a new goal... 

(I was hoping to have some pictures to post here from the race but none have become available yet... so I'll stick with the pix of the results)


Sportsmanship

This weekend marked the end of the Greenville Spring Training Series hosted by the Greenville Spinners Club & Hincapie Sports.  A huge thanks to all the officials & volunteers that made the series happen!

So... what happened this weekend?  I went to bed Friday thinking I was a little off.  My nutrition wasn't as good as I thought it needed to be and I felt somewhat lethargic.  The hubby and I were both racing Saturday... 1 1/2 hours apart... so I took advantage of that extra hour of sleep before heading out to watch him race.

The River Falls course in Marietta, SC represents the first race I had ever finished in my first year of cycling last year.  After signing up for the entire Spring Training Series in 2009 I was side-lined by a serious upper-respiratory infection.  This time I came into the final weekend with 4 2010 finishes under my belt.

The loop is under 6 miles and starts with a fast downhill to a quick right hand turn.  The next bit has a short incline followed by some flat sections and another downhill (notice the downhill trend?).  A sharp turn awaits you at River Falls Road where you've got more flat to rolling sections.  Last is another sharp turn onto Gap Creek Rd... and this is where all the descending bites you in the rear... a one mile climb awaits!

The climb isn't that steep, it isn't that long... but when you've got to do it three times in a race... it spreads out the field!  The 1km sign shows up at the steepest section and one you see the 200m sign it's an all out downhill sprint to the finish.

 
 The hubby finishing up his race

I did a warm-up on the big climb with my teammate Robin, Coach, & another racer, Jenn Young.   That was all I was willing to do given that I wanted to get back to cheer on the hubby!

After his finish we got lined up and expected the officials to keep all the women together.  However on this day there was such a big group of Pro, 1, 2, 3s, that they separated us and dropped the Cat 4 laps from 5 down to 3... Hmm... You mean I only have to climb that hill 3 times instead of 5? OKAY!

 
Jenn, Robin, & I ready to start the race.


We started off at a pretty steady clip.  The girls who sat in 2nd & 3rd in the omnium were controlling the race.  They tried to get off the front a few times but not many people wanted to get out front and pull them.  As we reached the climb on the first lap... I got dropped... At the top of it I was with Jenn Young and she and I worked together to bridge back to the group about a mile or so up the road.

We hung in until the end of the second lap when we got dropped again on the climb.  This time we were dropped pretty quickly and had to work really hard to bridge back to the lead group... We passed a couple of other girls who had been dropped on the climb and pulled them back with us.  As we caught the rear of the field... I reached out my hand to high five Jenn.  Even though we're not teammates... we were in this together & needed each other to stay in the race!

We only had a couple miles this time to catch our breathe and hold on before the last climb.  The pace was excruciatingly slow before we hit the climb.  And that's when people started to pound it out.  I found the wheel of a strong rider and thought of the Paris Mtn Repeats Trainer class I did earlier in the week with coach.  1 - 2 - 3- 4... 1 - 2 - 3 - 4... Over and over again was pounding in my head.  There was some girls ahead of me... but I was passing some as well.  I heard Steve Sperry yelling for my former teammate Elizabeth Brady to sprint... I realized I need to be sprinting too!  I shifted into my big chain ring, hit the drops and got my rear out of the saddle to sprint to the finish.  I crossed the finish line feeling great and gave a little first pump...

Now... I'm incredibly competitive and annoyingly anal retentive.  Meaning I knew exactly who was ahead of me in the omnium and who was very close to catching me.  Before this race I was sitting in 6th place, 3 points behind 5th & 6 points ahead of 7th.  My goal was to get enough points to overtake 5th place or be close.  My sprint at the end put me in 6th place for the race.  The ladies sitting in 4th place and 7th place in the omnium switched spots and I was now only 1 point out of 5th & 2 points out of 4th!

Great work by Jenn Young to grab another top 10 finish... and Robin & Jeni to finish this crazy beautiful course.

 Hit downtown after the race to celebrate with friends...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Textbook

 

A lead out train in cycling is a beautiful thing to see... when executed well.  The best example of this working to perfection was the lead out train of last year's Team Columbia-HTC.  Teammates ride single file as they approach the finish.  One by one each breaks off to let the next rider take over the work of pulling the train.  It didn't hurt that Columbia-HTC had guys like Mark Renshaw and our very own George Hincapie pulling their train and at the end of it was Mark Cavendish ready to sprint for the stage/race win.

Sunday's race at Donaldson saw a bit of a lead-out train in action, albeit we weren't all on the same team!  

Like Saturday's race at Fork Shoals, all the women riders started together (more than 2/3 were Cat 4).  The officials reduced our 5 laps to 4 and we were took off.  In the first lap on golf course hill there was a break with some higher cat women.  Team Kenda had a girl in the break so they proceeded to sit on the front and control the pace.  We never caught the break.

*Note: For those new to racing, teams do this in order to allow the break to get more time on the field.  If they can do this, they can block other chases so the break is never caught.  It all depends on how many people are in the break and how long/short the race is.  In the case of the Greenville Spring Training Series, if you get in a break of 2-3 strong riders and at least one of you left some teammates behind, there's a good chance you'll finish ahead of the pack.

We also had the pleasure of riding with Thea Kent in her first race back after suffering major back injuries in a crash last year.  Thea is a co-manager at Carolina Triathlon, one of my team's major sponsors and rides for Colavita South.  She was out there mixing it up, involved in some sprints and pulling hard for much of the race.  It was incredibly inspiring to ride with her.

Throughout all four laps riders kept jumping out to pick up the pace but we didn't have any other real breaks.  It reminded me of interval training with my coach.  30 seconds hard... 1 minute break... 2 minute climb... 2 minute break, and so on.  One of my new teammates was with me and it was her first time racing.  She's one of the strongest riders on our 2010 roster and my goal was to to make sure she was in good position for the finish.

Because of the break, the Pro, 1, 2, 3 women were racing for top ten, not a win.  The Cat 4 women weren't sure.  We didn't think we had anyone in the break so we were still racing for the win.  As we came across the rail road tracks on the final lap, the group moved to the double yellow and stretched out.  However, there were a few girls sticking to the white line.  One of them looked like she was riding strong and had a good cadence.  I was torn between staying in the pack or moving to the inside. Finally I made my way over to her wheel and stuck like glue.  As I sat on her wheel my legs felt fresh and I felt really good about the move.

With one mile to go there was NO ONE next to us and I took a very quick glance back to see the entire field had moved onto our line.  The train was coming!  My legs felt great and rested and the rider ahead of me didn't let up.  At the 1km sign still no one next to us.  We hit the 200m sign and started picking up the pace.  I still couldn't see the rest of the field, but I could hear them coming!  The finish line was in view and I tried to get out of my saddle but my legs were tiring and I couldn't go for it.  Some girls passed on my left and then I heard, "on your right" from my teammate Courtney.  Unbeknownst to me she had moved in to grab my wheel sometime in that last mile.  I moved over slightly and let up as she came sprinting past me (and others) to capture 2nd place.  What happened didn't really set in until I read Jenn Young's (GWC) FB status update which included, "Mad props to Courtney & Nikki from GHS who had a textbook finish!!"  We actually executed a lead-out train!

A huge congrats to Courtney for capturing 2nd in her first road race.  Despite getting passed by some at the end, I came away with 6th, Jenn Young (mentioned above) 8th, and my kick butt coach 9th in the Cat 4 results.  Thea captured 4th in Pro, 1, 2, 3.

It was a fun race with a spectacular finish... and did I mention we averaged 19.6 mph!!  I can only imagine what we could have done with more teammates out there.  Hopefully we'll get that chance next weekend!!

Many thanks to the officials (Papa, Joey, Mike, Big Joe, the motos, and all others), the volunteers at every corner, Greenville Spinners (sponsor club) and Hincapie Sports for making this series happen!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bridging the Gap... When it Matters!

Saturday's race was all about gaining more experience on the Fork Shoals race course (a variation of the South Carolina Road Race Championship course) and preparing for the last weekend of the Greenville Spring Training Series (March 6th & 7th).  The race consisted of 3 laps on a 15 mile loop starting from Fork Shoals Elementary in Pelzer, SC.



We had a great group of women from my team to the line, and more than 30 women racing.  Unlike last weekend they started the entire field of women together.  Some of us were a bit nervous about racing with the Pro, 1, 2, 3 women, but we didn't really have a choice!  Plus, my boys showed up to support me so I was going to do them proud!  Thanks to April at The Living Pixel for capturing one of them in this shot!!




The course is pretty hilly with 6 memorable hills in a 15 mile loop.  As a Cat 4 woman I just wanted to stay in the pack as long as I could.  It was really great to ride with the stronger women.  They are more focused on team strategy and controlling the race.  Every once in a while a couple riders would try to jump out and create a break and the women on the front would pick up the pace of the entire peloton to reel them back in.  We spent a lot of time speeding up, braking, speeding up, braking, which frustrated some of the women.  Me?  I was thankful to have someone else setting the pace and doing all the work up front.  It enabled me to stay on a wheel and save some energy.

At the end of our second lap the pace picked up I got dropped at the start-finish line.  The hubby and puppy, along with many other friends were there cheering me on to catch the group.  I was trying pretty hard but  couldn't bring myself to the pack.  Finally my legs recovered enough and I got up the first two hills pretty quickly and had the group in sight.  With all the practice I've been doing in group rides to bridge the gap between me and faster riders I knew I could do it.  So I got into a harder gear and kept my cadence up.  As I approached the pack with my small victory in hand... the field was neutralized and we pulled over to let the Pro, 1, 2 men around us.



I was a little mad at myself for using up all that energy to catch back on... when I would have caught up to the group anyway... but I was also very happy to prove that I could bridge in a race situation!!  Plus, the neutralized field gave me more time to recover.

There are two big hills about a mile before the finish and we took them a little slower on our last lap.  I could tell everyone was saving their energy for a field sprint at the end.  As soon as we made our final turn the paced picked up quickly.  I kept pedaling as fast as my legs would go while riders passed me on my left and right... I ended up finishing 13th in a field of 20 Cat4 women and was definitely happy with the effort!

Of note, one of my teammates in her very first race took 7th and my team manager took 9th (just two weeks after sustaining a concussion in a crash)!  So proud of my team on Saturday... We had seven girls start and six finish the 45 mile race

Performance Details for the Fork Shoals Race

Thursday, February 25, 2010

X Marks the Spot

This week marked the first week of X... as in P90... on the plan this week we've got YogaX, AbRipperX, XStretch and next week, PlyometricsX, YogaX, & AbRipperX.

What does the X stand for? eXtreme.  The most extreme so far? YogaX.  Wow! Incredibly difficult... so much so that I wonder, will I ever be able to do some of these moves?  It's an hour and a half of crazy positions.  The first 45 minutes are long and difficult.  The last 45 min is a reprieve but still very difficult.



Next Ab Ripper X.  Now I LOVE working out my abs... however my lower abs leave much to be desired.  These exercises were hard and I enjoyed all but two... the two of course that were most difficult and I was lucky to do a few reps.  Throughout this 16 minute workout... you do 329 ab related reps whether they are crunches, situps, whatever.  LOVE IT!




X Stretch is 1 hour of intense stretching... something I REALLY need.  It feels almost like Yoga X without the balance work.  So far I've done this one twice and am enjoying it more each day!  I've got it again today...  I'm guessing these stretches will become part of my regular post-ride/post-workout routine.  With all the training we've been doing the pup has felt a bit neglected... so last night he decided to help me do some X Stretch!!


Thanks to these exercises, more swimming, some running, lots of cycling, regular visits to Eastside Chiro... and lots more protein in my diet, I'm feeling better and definitely more flexible already.  Bring on the Greenville Spring Training Series this weekend!  Saturday at Fork Shoals and Sunday back at Donaldson.

Cheers!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Still Learning

Saturday night was FTC night... I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...


Started off with some yummy corn & avocado salad stuffed red peppers...


Followed by some Filet sliders w/ aged cheddar, applewood bacon, & roasted potatoes








Not to be outdone of course by some chocolate lava cake with red chocolate sauce & a strawberry on top!

Now that my friends... is a great post-bad race meal... and some super yummy protein and carbs for pre-race day dinner!

Sunday I tried to sleep in... anything I could possibly due to give my muscles more time off to recover!  Alas, 7:15 and there was no more sleep time for me.  I fixed my first breakfast... drank lots of water... fixed my second breakfast... drank lots of water, glass of OJ, glass of airborne... some fruit... a snack... it's time to roll!

As I was heading out the door, coach calls: "I'm not racing today"... me: "What?!?"... There was a pretty big crash in the Men's Cat 5 34 & under race and a friend of ours went to the hospital.  Thankfully he's okay but at the time of the crash we didn't know that.  So... as my coach is training me... I'm going to help her as well and we're going to do a mini bike skills grass clinic in the not too distant future.  Finally, I headed out to the course to get ready!

My legs were tired but I really like riding on the BMW Performance Driving course. Why?
1 - Consistency - there are no hills and no pot holes.  It's a smooth consistent track and we don't have many of those!
2 - Traffic - it's a closed course, so there is no traffic.  The only thing to throw you off is the wind, the other racers, and the corners which are just slightly banked meaning you don't even have to slow down for them.
3 - View - you can see the entire course.  This makes it better as a racer to see where everyone on the course is... and for spectators to not get bored waiting for us to loop around again.
4 - Quick - because of the speeds, the time flies by.  Next thing you know the officials are ringing the bell and you've got 1 lap to go!  We averaged over 20 mph during the race..

Again, thankfully they started the Cat 4 women separate from the rest of the women.  We started to ride and I was feeling pretty good.  Stayed around 3 wheels back for most of the race... Sometimes we'd have 3-4 people up front pulling, but mostly 1-2.  People would try to sprint through turns 1 & 2 and create a breakaway... only to slow down again on the back straightaway.  Turns 3 & 4 the tempo would increase just slightly, and for some reason everyone would sprint back to the start/finish... only to go back through the same motions as before.  It's like an accordion.

As the race progressed the sprints started to pick up going into turn 1... only to be reigned back in on the straightaways.  We definitely had a couple riders who many of us tried to avoid.  There's nothing scarier than going fast around a curve with shakey handlebars next to your own.  Thankfully I found some great girls who really knew how to hold their line and tried to stick with them around the turns.

Props to Jimmy Helms for this awesome action shot! 

With maybe 2 or 3 laps to go, coming into turns 3 & 4 I saw more shakey handelbars in front of me.  There was some bumping and bouncing off of one another but thankfully nothing happened there... However, as we came up to the front straight away the girl directly in front of me started to bounce off the girl on her right... I backed off some and next thing you know she's leaning so far over that I knew she wouldn't make it upright again.  She went down along w/ the two people to her right and her wheels were now in the air directly in front of me.  Some how as they fell back to the ground it left me just enough room to slip by.  I started sprinting as I noticed one of the officials running toward the crash that I was fleeing.  This left us with 8 people in the lead group going forward.

We got back together but only for 1 more lap.  On the last lap there was a four person break and I was not in it.  But I was with 3 other girls, one of whom was a teammate.  We tried to pace line it but I couldn't make my way around to the front.  As we came around to the finish line I sprinted out ahead of them and right as I was approaching the line, another girl came up to grab 5th.

I was extremely happy with how I rode this race... and even happier that both my teammate and I escaped the crash.  As her husband mentioned, if the other girl's wheels had come down 1" to the left... we would have both gone down!

Sunday's experience was a very good one.  It emphasized the need to be completely aware of your surroundings when racing.  If I hadn't been paying attention to what was going on and especially aware of other riders tendencies who knows what the outcome would have been.  Here's to racing another day!!

Learning Experiences



Wow... what a weekend... Race... FTC... Race... Sleep!

I'll just skip over the first race and move directly to race two... Okay, so maybe not, but I'd like to!!  Mornings are not my thing... So when a race, ride, or anything physical requires me to get going early in the morning... I'm not always at my best..

Growing up playing team sports that typically occur in the afternoon set me up for this approach to athletics.  Especially concerning Basketball where the majority of our games were in the evening.  I can go out there for hour upon hour of hard exercise and not back down.  But cycling... ooooh cycling... it requires me to wake up at un-godly hours to compete.

Saturday morning my race stated at 9:06... Up around 6 am, fueled my body and aade it to the race site before 8.  Was ready to ride a practice lap by 8:15... however a teammate needed to cut the lap short so I went back to the start/finish with her.  Changed my rear skewer, jumped on the trainer and tried to warm my legs up.  Off the trainer, changed skewer back, and headed to the starting line with a banana in hand.  Downed it, tossed my extra bottle to the hubby and was ready to go.  Felt pretty good... was tired but thought I could hang.

**Thanks to the Greenville Spring Training Series organizers and Team Metro donating some $$, the Cat 4 Women will race in their own races throughout the GSTS and have their own prize pool for the overall series.  For the most part, all the guys race in their own specific categories or age groups.  However the Women are all thrown together.  So on Saturday we had some Cat-1 women there (ie: really strong and fast) down to Cat-4 (new to racing & even new to riding in some cases).  When the race starts and you're trying to keep up with the women in the pack... you don't know who the other women are and can easily blow yourself up trying to hang with someone in a higher category.  So this separation makes a HUGE difference.

On that note, we were all pretty excited and ready to go.  Many of my teammates were there and we started off strong.  There was some new blood as evidenced by the shakey handlebars and lines of some.  We kept yelling, "hold your line" but you can't make up for someone's lack of experience in a tight pack / race situation.  After all, I had only raced in 4 events leading up to Saturday.

About 1/2 way into the first of 3 laps, I started feeling sluggish... I kept looking down thinking I had a flat or a leak... but everything was fine... and the pack started to drift away from me.  Over the course of the next hour... many positive and negative thoughts ran through my head.  "What is wrong with me?"... "Everyone will laugh at me?"... "Why am I so slow?"... If you recall I did some practice runs on this course averaging over 18 mph not 2 days before... and now I was happy to get up to 15 mph.  Finished my first lap and couldn't look at any of my friends at the start/finish line.  I just had to keep going.  Through each lap I thought I heard a noise and each time I looked down my rear tire was full. I hit some major lows during that ride but just told myself... I have to finish.  After all, when coach asked what my goals were for Saturday's race... the answer was... FINISH.  Last year I was really sick and couldn't finish, so this year, that was my goal.

Despite some squirrelly riding by a couple a girls (including some elbowing and inappropriate comments) there were no mishaps and everyone finished the race.  My teammates all did a great job and finished either in the first or second pack.  I was super proud for each of the girls that came out and raced.  Even more proud of them for kickin' it hard and delivering Heather to a 4th place finish.


One of my teammates who was not racing jumped on her bike and went out to find me and help pull me to the finish line.  What an angel!!  She found me with about 2 miles to go and helped me mentally and physically to the finish.  I pulled up to the line at the end of my 3rd lap dead last.  I was frustrated, angry, embarrassed, and completely exhausted.  The pack ended up averaging over 18 for the race and my average? 14.5.  Everyone was very supportive and my teammates thought I had a mechanical (bike speak for a flat, or other problem w/ the bike).  Coach made sure I got some protein in me along with a recovery drink, and the hubby grabbed my stuff and immediately put everything away.  I hung out some with my teammates then headed home.


As I carried my bike into the house, the rear wheel wasn't moving... I reached down to spin it and due to some kind of resistance it didn't move much.  Looking down I could see one of the brake pads was against the rim.  No matter how much I tried to adjust the brake, I couldn't release the pad.  Finally I reached down... unlocked the skewer... shook the wheel and it went right into place.  The brake pad was no longer touching and the wheel spun freely.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry... It's like I was driving with my emergency brake partially engaged! Could this have been what held me back?

I talked to my coach later in the day and we talked about how tired my legs were during the race.  Not once did I red line my heart rate... didn't have any lactic acid build up in my muscles... I just couldn't go.  We talked about nutrition before, during, and after, as well as during the week... (I forgot to mention the whole brake pad incident).  I'm not recovering from the workouts quick enough so we agreed - more protein in my diet and more meals throughout the day!  Many lessons learned on this day - #1 Never give up, #2 Nutrition Nutrition Nutrition, #3 Pre-race bike inspection!!!

More to come about the FTC and Race #2 later.  But here's a sneak peak:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Prep

This has been a great week of workouts... All leading up to the first weekend of racing at the Greenville Spring Training Series.

We started with a swim workout Monday morning and then Kettlebell Class Monday night.  You've probably seen them use kettlebells on the Biggest Loser... Wow!  If you've never used them before... try it!  I started with a 15 pound weight... wow... thought it would be easy but it wasn't. 

Tuesday morning - the hubby and I could barely walk!  I ping'd coach and she told me (in nicer words) to stop whining and "stick to the plan!"

Wednesday was more of the same... still had problems standing up and sitting down. But the swim helped as did that night's kettlebell class.  Walking still wasn't fun, but it was doable!

Thursday I headed out to Donaldson Center to pre-ride the race course with my teammate Robin, the hubby, and some other friends!  Got in two laps averaging 18.2 and felt pretty comfortable w/ the course.

Today - rest day... Yoga (I actually enjoyed it)... It's been a looong work day and I'm ready to be done.  First... a run with the hubby, some dinner with friends (many of whom will be racing tomorrow)... then off to dream land for a kick butt night's sleep before the race tomorrow morning.

All this training is in preparation for race season.  Now I'm not trying to go out there and win the races in the Spring Training Series... I've got many goals that come along later in the season.  This series - I just want to get back into racing form, finish each race, have some fun, and maybe have a few good finishes.

If you can, stop by Donaldson Center Saturday by 9 to catch the Men's Cat5 & Women's races.  There will be races all day... so if you can't make ours, come on out to support the other people racing later in the day.

Sunday - we race at the BMW Performance Driving Center at 1:45.  Be there!  Should be a blast and you can see the entire course.

Hopefully I'll have something good to report on after this weekend!  Go GHS Every Woman!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bridging

The weekend plans:
Friday - V-day getaway w/ the hubby 
Saturday -  30 mile ride + 10 min run
Sunday -  Heritage Park Loop or similar (55 miles 17+ mph avg).

The weekend actuals:
Friday night - The hubby and I had a great evening... We didn't win the ticket lottery for Wicked but I'm kind of glad.  Instead we were able to have a relaxing evening... with the backdrop of snow falling.  It made for a very romantic setting downtown. We took our time at dinner, snacking on various plates while enjoying a Malbec we've never had before.  After desert we headed back to the hotel for some night caps while listening to the piano player...  Enjoyed the pleasure that is "Hotel Showers" (<-- long and hot!!!) and then passed out while watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics... It was glorious!

Deserts: Tiramisu & Banana Bread Pudding


Saturday - We woke up to clear skies and a white winter wonderland outside!  We took our time leaving by enjoying some breakfast in bed (room service)... then headed home in the snow and ice.  The pup was so excited to see us that we changed immediatley into snow friendly clothes and proceeded to play with him outside for at least an hour.
 Now that's one happy puppy!!

With the multiple inches of snow, we were torn between riding outside or on the trainer... but the sun was shining so bright that by noon the roads were already drying up.  We ventured out to Donaldson to ride some loops then run.  A number of friends joined us in the cold windy sunshine... After about 1 1/3 laps I was dropped and finished up the remaining laps in some pretty crazy wind... But who cares... I was riding my bike outside!!  The run after the ride made this my first ever brick.  My legs felt good but I could definitely notice the lack of nutrition prior to exercise (let's just say we forgot to eat lunch).

Sunday - Saturday night the hubby and I were guilted into riding the Great Escape Spartanburg ride which had been delayed to Sunday due to the snow.  We were pretty tired Sunday morning and as the skies became increasingly grayer... our enthusiasm wained even further.  However we sucked it up and ended up having a great ride.  It started off rather hairy as a couple riders went down... but once we split up a bit... (and the sun actually did peek through a couple times) it was wonderful.  We ended up with many friends in our group... we knew each other's tendencies... and had a safe and fun ride the rest of the way.  Averaged 17.3 in close to 41 miles...
One of our many beautiful views from the ride:  

Note from Sunday's ride: Lately I've been working very hard on bridging.  For those non-cyclists: the art of bridging... or chasing... is jumping out of the main riding group to catch up with a rider/group further ahead... thus bridging the gap.  This ride... I did it multiple times... especially when I'd get stuck behind a rider I didn't know... and some of the faster guys had a gap on us.  Toward the end of the ride the hubby, Legs, and Perry had formed a small gap on the main group... I thought myself absolutely crazy but decided to bridge anyway.  I kept telling myself that I could make it if I could just make it to the back wheel... I got there and they kept pounding it out... I knew eventually they'd back off... and they did!  And I was right there with them... That is... until they kicked it again a few seconds later... but the hubby and I still hung together.  I knew I was making real progress after that bridge!

So... put this one in the record books folks... our first weekend in 2010 where we rode outside twice!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

First Week

Well, the first week of the new training plan is over.  Only missed Monday's run due to injury... but the rest were completed.  My thoughts by day:

Saturday Feb 6th - Awesome pyramid intervals for 2 hours with Jeni @Roadwaves ... then got stupid and actually tried to ride hard during my team's spin class...

Sunday Feb 7th - Awesome 55 miles on Heritage Park Loop.  Never hit the wall and worked hard on my bridging to other riders.  However, had problems walking due to left hamstring afterward

Monday Feb 8th - Still problems walking but was able to do the 400 yd swim & yoga class... Got really pissed off about 2 things - my hamstring preventing me from running & how bad I am at yoga

Tuesday Feb 9th - Off.  Massage was great and helped. Leg (and everything else) is feeling better

Wednesday Feb 10th - 4-5 Mile Tempo Run was okay.  Apparently I did it wrong, which was a bit frustrating... and because I had to rush off to a conference call, I didn't have time to stretch afterward <-- That will NEVER happen again!

Thursday Feb 11th - Trainer class at Ride On - crazy intervals w/ Jeni again... my legs and hip flexors were burning (see Wed's entry) but I can feel my cadence picking up on the sprints... Yay!

Friday Feb 12th - swim 4 x 200s w/ 1 minute breaks in between <-- First - this was the longest distance I've ever swam in a pool... and I actually liked it!  Read up on some tips for triathlon swimming online and they were a tremendous help today in the water... *Note to self: only focus on improving one thing at a time... 5 "new" things at once can be distracting! Yoga was a little better today.  The instructor had to help me with almost every position but I still could barely do anything. Instead of this:


 I look like this:



So what did I learn:
1- Swimming isn't so bad... I may even learn to like it!

2 - I officially DISLIKE yoga... mainly b/c I REALLY suck at it... which also means it is in NO way relaxing.  There must be another way to work on my flexibility and core!?!?!?!? Or perhaps I need to do yoga more often? I'm at a loss here.  But that class definitely ripped out the happy feeling inside of me from my swim and turned me into a frustrated pill to kick off the weekend.

And there my friends we have... the first week.  In honor of it... and because it's Valentine's Day Weekend... the hubby and I are headed to a semi-getaway!  Well, I'm not even sure you can call it "semi".  We are staying the night at the Westin Poinsett (on points), going out to dinner at Stellar Restaurant & Wine Bar, hopefully catch a show at the Peace Center (Wicked), maybe drinks afterward.... We'll sleep in tomorrow morning, enjoy breakfast in bed... and late morning head out to Donaldson for a fun 30 miles followed by a short run.

Hopefully the idea of what's to come at the end of this workday will bring me out of my funk...

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Running

Thank you to everyone for all your kind words.  The hamstring is feeling great and I'm back on my plan from Jeni @ Roadwaves.  Thankfully I only missed one workout - 3 mile run Monday... aka "The Pub Run"... Lucky for me I had to do a 4-5 mile tempo run last night.

Now, I am by NO means a runner.  I don't enjoy it, but I realize it's a great way to cross-train for cycling and I must run in order to compete in a triathlon.  I've always been able to go out and just run 3 miles.  It may not be fast, but I can do it.  My first time running in years was the fall of 2008 when I was in Chattanooga for work.  The project executive was a runner.  He would come into town about once a month and I opted to run with him after work one day.  It was a great time for discussions about life, work, and for me to ask him questions about my career path.  He became a mentor to me and these were great conversations which enabled me to enjoy the company while doing something I did not enjoy.

On that first run he asked me multiple times if I needed to turn back.  I just kept telling him, "No... Not yet."  I also instructed him to not tell me how far we'd run.  Finally he looked over at me and said, "I think it's time we turned around."  To which I... breathless... nodded in agreement.  Just over an hour after we'd set out on the run, we arrived back at the hotel having covered close to 6 miles.  I felt it that night... and the next day, but it was good.  Did I become a runner that day? NO.  But every time he came into town we'd run somewhere between 3 & 6 miles.  I even started running a couple times in between his visits.  Typically 4-5 miles along the Tennessee River.  I wasn't really getting fast but I was getting consistent.  Sometimes I'd even run on a treadmill.  Though I'll admit my loathing for running outdoors is doubled when it comes to a treadmill.  So I'd do maybe 1-2 miles on it at a faster pace.

Alas, as the cycling season kicked in, the work days got longer, my mentor made fewer visits to our project, and I stopped the running routine for months.  Even when I switched projects to California I tried, but a combination of smoke from the fires and bad downtown neighborhoods kept me inside.

Then came my remote project.  With it I had evenings to enjoy at home... and could finally partake in "The Pub Run".  My friend Jess would do this run hosted by Fleet Feet every Monday night and I thought... Why not? It's just 3 miles.  The hubby and I started doing this run every Monday night... and it was always 3 miles.  I know the route and it's now routine.  I know which sections are hard... which easy... and my relative finish time.  Never pushing myself... just 3 miles... and only once a week.

Well, thanks to Jeni that is all changing.  Last night I ran 4 miles.  She said to make it an easy run to see how my hamstring felt... but it felt fine so I went ahead with the original tempo run.  That, and I had a conference call to jump on for work, so I had to do the tempo run or I wouldn't make the call.  Due to the crazy wind, I opted for a flat course - the Treadmill... I had never run more than 2 miles on a treadmill... AND in my rush to get to the Y I forgot my music & headphones... so I jumped on sans any form of entertainment and started kicking out a 10 min pace.  Every 1/2 mile or so I'd pick it up to 9 or 9.5 min pace, then drop it back down.  I could tell I hadn't run the pub run this week b/c a couple of times I had to slow it down to a brisk walk to catch my breath. As it got close to 3.85 miles I picked up the pace to a 7.5 min mile and sprinted to finish 4 miles in 39 minutes flat.  I cleaned off the machine, ran to the locker room while dialing into the conf call one minute late.

So... I am still no runner... but maybe one day...

Last nights NOMs:  More Chicken Cacciatore was requested... kind of like more cowbell... you can never say no!

Monday, February 8, 2010

One Step Forward

You'd usually finish this phrase by saying two steps back... right? But I'm hoping for only 1 step back... I'm okay with staying in Neutral; better than moving backwards!

After yesterday's wonderful ride my left hamstring was really hurting and I chalked it up to the hamstring isolation drills we did during our team spin (In hind sight I should have refrained from this drill). By the time I got home, I was able to admit it wasn't just sore.  Alas, while watching the Super Bowl at a friend's house last night I freely admitted that it's pulled. This wasn't quite the way I wanted to start out my week of training.

I shot my coach an email letting her know of my predicament before hitting the sack around 10:30 last night... Up well before my alarm clock at 5 a.m. this morning, I was hoping and praying it was all a dream and my hami was fine, but that wasn't the case... and at 5:20 we headed to the Y for laps and Yoga.

Aside: When asking everyone I know how long it would take to swim 400 yds, the answer ranged from 5 to 15 min.  Let's just say I was on the high end of that estimate.  In my life I had only swam laps once before today.

The laps were tiring, especially for my upper body which was awakened by exercise for the first time in a long while.  The yoga was "okay".  Background: I have a 6" scar (and I'm being nice here, I've never measured it and it could easily be longer than 6") on my left knee... that knee can't bend as far as the right.  And I definitely can't sit in a kneeling position, which apparently happens a lot in yoga classes.  The scar tissue also makes it interesting anytime the knee is flat on the ground bearing weight.  And the teacher's name... "Pandora"... seriously?  I'm guessing it was her stage name.  Anyway... yoga is not my cup of tea... but if it helps build my core and my flexibility (previously accomplished with martial arts)... I'll stick with it... I simply wish there was not so much kneeling involved.

After that class on the way home the hubby kept inquiring as to what was wrong... I kept telling him nothing, I'm just tired.  And being the wonderful hubby that he is... he knew that "nothing" always means something... So he kept asking.   Finally we both agreed that we're both exhausted from the late night and early morning (first early morning is always the worst)... and on top of that I'm pissed about my hami.  I know... there's nothing to do about it now... but I can still be pissed about it right?  Especially after getting this response from my coach regarding what I can and can't do:

"Schedule a deep tissue massage... NO spin No bike and NO run... Be VERY CAREFUL. U do NOT want to tear it more! Rest and recover."

That first part I like (scheduled for Tuesday at noon), but not at the expense of my workouts... And there we have it folks... this is what I'm very pissed about. No pub run tonight... no 4-5 mile tempo run Wednesday... and possibly no night ride at RideOn Thursday!  Too many No's when everything started out so promising.

But I'm going to be a good girl... b/c the rest of the message contained the following: "Do it right and u can be back on the bike this weekend! Be stupid and be out 2 weeks!"  I trust her... and I'm not going to be stupid... after all, that's what got me here in the first place!

On a good note - we did have super yummy quesadillas, nachos, red pepper dip, and hershey's kiss sugar cookies last night while watching the Super Bowl.  And while I didn't get a picture of them, I'll share a picture from a mahi mahi fish taco fixed at the end of January:


Cheers!