Friday, April 22, 2011

Belews Let Down

What can I say other than this weekend was a big let down? I was supposed to race the Belews Sprint Triathlon outside of Greenboro but the race was cancelled at the last minute. I am glad the race directors made the call considering all of the tornado damage received in the triad area – no doubt the best decision for the day. I think they did an excellent job of communicating their intentions to shorten and ultimately cancel the race. The group I was coordinating with was up at in the morning texting back and forth trying to decide if we should make the 4 hour round trip for something that could be reduced to a 5K or cancelled completely. Just 10 minutes after deciding not to go the race directors sent out an email pulling the plug on the race entirely. At least I only felt like a quitter for 10 minutes. Normal people would have gone back to bed. I unpacked and got my stuff together for MAC swim practice.

I wish I could fully express the feelings passing through my mind once I heard bad weather was threatening to reduce my first triathlon of the season to my first duathlon ever. Maybe I felt a little apprehensive and threatened by the idea of competing in a duathlon. A race without my best leg? Puleeeeez. How would you runners feel if the race directors decided to knock off that last 5K? See, doesn’t sound like so much fun does it? Regardless, I made up my mind I was not going to bail even if the triathlon was downgraded to a duathlon  . . . even if the weather predictions were horrible . . . even if everyone I knew bailed . . . even if . . .

I was able to turn my hesitation into excitement toward the prospect of competing in a new race format in the least of favorable conditions. Part of me was convinced the weather would clear, the race would go on as planned, and I would have a great time. I packed up my bike and my bags were stuffed full with contingency plans; 2 wetsuits – sleeves and no sleeves, a swim-bike-run outfit, a bike-run outfit, and a swim-run outfit. My coffee cup was ready to fill and my oatmeal ready to cook. I went to bed excited to see what the morning would bring but when the first text message came in at 3:15 AM the excitement had wondered away and all I could think was e. . .a. . .r . . .l . . .y

Oh well. I guess this weekend was just not a good weekend for racing. The swim at the New Orleans 70.3 was cancelled and the Valdese Sprint Triathlon was postponed. First race of the season – White Lake ½ IM II. Let’s just hope I remember how to do this stuff and nothing I own “rubs” me the wrong way.

With a week of race prep wasted and a weekend’s worth of unplanned workouts ahead of me, I felt a little bit at a loss. I swam Saturday morning but then I could not deicide on what to do. Of course the weather conditions did not help make the decision any easier. I finally got my act back together and by Saturday night I was putting together a plan for Sunday’s workouts. With some hesitation I agreed to ride again with Mancess. We were doing very similar workouts and my favorite englishrunner was going to join us - “was going to” are the key words here. We rode for 3 hours and 12 minutes. We almost had to stop and walk the bikes at 3 hours and 10 minutes because that is how long Mancess was supposed to ride for. I think my exaggerated eye roll bought me the 2 extra minutes it took to get back to our cars. We then ran for 3 miles. During the run I learned Mancess is one of those one-step-ahead-of-you-runners. Annoying. We had a good workout but the stories are the best part – how there are so many stories from just one workout is hard to believe but if you know Mancess you undoubtedly understand.

Mancess anecdote of the week:
During a brief stop so Mancess could pee for the third time in three hours we were passed by a group of three older gentlemen. They had a good steady pace going but it was not long before we caught up with them. Mancess was in the lead when we rode up to their little pace line. Rather than pass them on their left, he decided to slow down and ride in the draft. He turned back to me and asked, “What should we do?” I told him we should go ahead and go around. Whilee I love the opportunity to bask n a draft we had slowed down considerably and needed to get going. He again turns back to me and replies, “But there is a head wind, I don’t think I can do it. “ Mancess is a good rider but I was not surprised to hear him say something like that. I ended up grunting something like “figures” and politely rode around him and the other three guys. I pulled Mancess for about 15 minutes when he passes me and says, “oh . . . . it isn’t that windy.” Not 10 minutes later Mancess is sitting up on his bike whining about the wind and questioning why all our rides have to be so windy. I rode up next to him and asked him if he was so worried about the wind why was he is sitting up when he should be in the aeroposition taking advantage of his very aerodynamic Cervelo P3? He looks at me in all seriousness and says, “but I was blocking the wind for you. I am your dome-a-disc.” Me: “You mean domestique?” Mancess: “Yeah that too.”

Aquageek quote of the week:
“Oh boy, wearing a wet suit isn't even swimming. It is floating. I swam for an hour on Sunday in the thing and felt like I swam for about 10 minutes. No wonder tri-dorks get so excited about them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coming and going . . .

Why don't I just sum it all up by saying this last week was interesting; interesting personally, professionally, and athletically. I am trying to wind it all down for the remainder of this week as I prepare for my first triathlon of the season, Belews Lake Sprint.

Last week I put in some solid workouts and finished the week with another triple play. Thanks to the calculations by the Athleticore website my week can be summarized with the following:

Run: 26.7 mi 
Bike: 126.7 mi
Sw: 9,600.0 yds

It is amazing to me to look at my workouts as numbers. I find these numbers incredibly disappointing for what I was considering a "solid" week. Back in the day we used to swim at least 10,000 yds a day and sometimes in a single practice! I only swim three days a week now so to see I averaged only 3200yds a workout is somewhat heartbreaking. BUT that's ok . . . I am not a real swimmer anymore, I guess . . . .sniffle, sniffle. I have been swimming at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center on Tuesdays and when I am running late I get to swim with(in the lane next to) the MAC Elite Team. Let me just say this team is not only super talented but they are beautiful. Years of dedication to the sport has created a body perfectly adapted to maximize efficiency and speed in the water. You look at them standing on the deck with their long arms, wide shoulders, narrow waists and big feet and you have to ask yourself are great athletes born or made? 

26.7 running miles is a good week for me. I usually only run 3 days a week but this past week I was able to sneak in an extra one. I had a day of drills, a tempo run, a long run, and a small track workout. 2nd time to the track this year! How many track workouts does it take to become legit? I do not think I will ever love running but I will say it is a lot more enjoyable when you do it with friends. I got to run with the Furman Fury on Thursday and Giants 1&2 on Sunday. The other two runs were by my lonesome and not so much fun . . . 

And then there is the bike. I am more than aware as I prepare for my first race that my cycling is lagging behind. I have no good excuse but there is a time for everything and everything takes time. 

While I am excited about racing this weekend I am not doing anything special to prepare for it. Yesterday morning I did spend a little bit of time in the pool working on my spotting technique. Open water spotting is a combination of timing and strength. To do it effectively you have to practice. I was a little rusty but after a few 50s of "spot the speedo" I felt a little more in the groove. Spot the Speedo is a little game I play where I hone in on a moving target on the deck and spot them . . . easy to do with the Elite team lingering around :) I will probably make ritualistic attempt to shaving my legs. Even though my legs aren't particularly hairy, the ritual is a vestige from my swimming days indicating race readiness. I will hopefully find an old pair of shoes still laced with quick laces and bike computer with a working battery. I will analyze my personal motivations and work hard to suppress my race anxieties. Finally, I will turn to music to supplement by inspiration.
Technically this song is a love song but I find the chorus motivating:
The first race of the season is always a bittersweet. You are never where you want to be but you want to have a great race regardless. Physically I am not ready to race so to me this race is more about building mental strength.

I want to wish the best of luck to Haycraft GTWD who is competing in the New Orleans 70.3 this weekend. He has come a long way and I am excited to watch his triathlon season progress. And also to my friends and teammates racing Belews. I can't wait to see you all out there!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wobbles

First of all, out of the 5 people that admitted to reading my blog post from this past Friday only 2 people recognized it was an April Fool’s joke. I am not sure what is worse, the fact that only 5 people admitted to reading my blog or that not even 50% of my readers picked up on the joke. I thought it was freakin’ hilarious! To add injury to insult, I even got a scolding from my mom for being impractical. Geez, but hear this, one day it will be mine . . . oh yes, it will be mine . . .

In the last month I have two experiences with the wobbles. My first experience was learning to Wobble following computrainer class. And no, this version of the Wobble has nothing to do with a bike. The Wobble I learned is actually a line dance. It apparently came out in 2008 as an update to the well know and much loved Electric Slide. When you spend most of your time in lycra and spandex you miss out on things like learning how to Wobble . . . hmm that actually may not be true, have you been to a club lately!?! When the class next door was learning to Wobble as a warm to their workout session, I was a little hesitant to jump in but I knew it was a unique opportunity. After some poking, pointing, giggling, confidence boosting, and a series of positive affirmations I wobbled my way into the line in my super sexy padded bike shorts, sweat soaked tank top, and matted pony tail. I can sum up the experience by saying I probably have more rhythm on the bike than off but I will admit when a large group of people, who have at least a little bit of rhythm, are doing it, it looks pretty cool. And now I can look cool too, oh YEAH! I am sure Neck Dancer knows how to Wobble. He knows all the dances.

My second experience with the wobbles was not as much fun. Last week I was riding with Man-cess, Vespa, and the mini-Beast. Mini-Beast is a beast on the bike but he is relatively compact, hence the mini part. Around the 10 mile mark Mini-beast was leading us fast into a downhill that ended with a wide right turn. I am in the back, in the draft, fully enjoying the descent (and the draft, hehehehe) and preparing to enter the turn when in front of me Man-cess starts to wobble. He and his bike just started vibrating. I had never seen anything like it and as I slowed down to take a wide left arc around and away from him, he started veering to the right. He seemed in control of bike, he wasn't fish-tailing, and he had not locked the brakes but he was continuing to veer to the right . . . and then continued into the mud . . . and then over his handle bars . . . into the mud. Poor Man-cess! Luckily he was ok (I know you are wondering and his bike was ok too). I am so glad the mud was there to soften his fall as I am not sure what would have happened had there been a tree or a mess of concrete in its place. This was my first experience with a phenomenon known as “high speed wobbles.” Apparently it is fairly common and there are several reasons for its occurrence which include misaligned frame or wheels, incorrect weight distribution caused by the bike, and incorrect weight distribution caused by the rider.

Unfortunately it is counterintuitive how to correct high speed wobbles. When the wobbles set in, more than likely the rider will sit up, locking arms, and place all his weight on the saddle. The best way to stabilize wobbles is to relax the arms while taking weight out of the saddle and shifting it towards the handlebars and front wheel.

Check out this video I found on YouTube and posted on CyclingTipsBlog.com demonstrating high speed wobbles:



So far I have not had personal experience with this but hopefully I will remember how to handle the situation before I freak out. Too bad I still haven't learned how avoid freaking out when I drop my chain.

I also want to take a moment to congratulate my MAC Masters posse on some awesome swimming this past weekend at the NC State Championships. Aquageek is on a war path to take out my 1650 time from last year's nationals. He came within 3 seconds at an 18:36. He said if he had watched the clock and had known how close he was he could have dug deeper . . . yeah yeah yeah that's what they all say . . . I will admit that I am shaking in my speedsuit. Nationals is coming fast and Aquageek is coming faster! And then there is my girl, Legs. Her dedication to swimming inspires me everyday. In two years going from someone who did not know how to put a cap on to someone who delivers a beat down to become a state champion is just amazing! Just goes to show you, when you want it bad enough, the opportunity is there for the taking. Great job to everyone who raced!

Friday, April 1, 2011

And now it is mine!!!!

Ok so I mentioned in a previous blog post that I would love to buy a black El Camino. It is not really practical to have and I already have a perfectly good car but after work today I was driving home and saw this car for sale in the Harris Teeter parking lot. I am not sure what it was that made me decide to pull over but I just had to check it out. I really had no intention of buying the car but the owner was still there posting another sign on the window. I asked him how much it was and he gave me an offer I could not refuse. He had inherited the car from his older brother who had passed away suddenly. He really was looking to get rid of it. When I say really, I mean REALLY! I have been saving up for a pair of race wheels but come on, how could I pass up the opportunity to own my dream car!!?!! The exterior is close to a perfect dent-free matte black. The interior needs a little bit of work. It is not perfect but mostly superficial imperfections. I am going to take it to the shop tomorrow and if everything goes well I am going to be the proud owner of a black El Camino!! Now . . . the second part to owning an El Camino is this bike rack in the back. Anyone out there into welding?