Trek Women
August 30, 2007

HELL-o Hills!

Jencarlamissyride07 My inaugural ride on my new Trek Equinox 7 WSD was a charity ride I signed up for with my friend and fellow Team Survivor teammate Carla.  The local event is in its second year and is called Tri for Missy.  The event is actually a whole triathlon broken over a series of days.  Anyone is welcome to do any or all portions of it.  The "race" benefits a local triathlete, Missy Flynn, who suffered a brain aneurysm two years ago.  The money raised helps pay for her therapy and medical costs.

I have never done a charity ride before and didn't know what to expect.  Other than in a race, I have always ridden by myself or with other gal pals from Team Survivor. I didn't know where we would be riding (other than where we were starting) and my bike was still brand spanking new to me.  My odometer had a total of 3 miles on it when I showed up Saturday morning at Tyler State Park.

So, Carla and I went through our last minute preparations - you know - "Am I going to be cold in this shirt?"  "What if it rains?"  "What did you eat for breakfast"  "Do you have any idea how this works?"  (You know, the usual woman getting ready to head out stuff!)  We made our way over to the check-in table and got our cue sheet for the 25 mile ride (also offered were a 50, 63, 75 or 100 mile ride).

When we got the cue sheet - (okay hello what's this?),- we tried to look nonchalant off to the side while we worked on figuring it out - we found it was really a 30 mile ride.  No biggie - we just had to figure out now how to read the cue sheet.  So, feeling bold I went back to the check-in table and said "I have a dumb question."  It was at this point that Suzanne from my bike shop, Guys Bicycles, (organizers of the bike portion of the event - fabulous job Bob!), said "I was just telling all these people about your Trek thing!"  Great.  Now my dumb question felt even dumber.  Luckily, bike people are cool people and were happy to tutor us on the whole cue sheet business.  Lesson learned.

Once we understood the mileage on each road and the turn by turn directions we were set.  That is until we got back to our bikes, looked at each other and said, "How are we going to hold this and know where to turn?"  So, after some thinking we came up with this solution:  I would keep the sheet in my bike bag that is on my top tube within easy reach.  I would read out the names of the next 3 to 4 roads and Carla would try and remember them.   After we got off to a slow start, involving a lot of "Do we turn here?"  I figured out that there were some very nice spray painted arrows at each turn!  I'm not sure if its a woman thing or just lack of experience with these kind of rides, but I have a feeling a lot more of the men on the ride were just using the "heck, we'll figure it out eventually" attitude.

The ride was great for the first number of miles - we started to relax and I was working on my Zen with my Equinox and then HELLO!!, we turned into a big hill.  We got to the top, excited at the downhill prospects, only to spy what looked like a steeper hill in the distance.  For the sake of brevity (okay, if you're this far you know this story isn't brief), this steep hill business went on for a number of miles - let's call it the rest of the ride.  Toward the end we hit one hill that was the monster of all hills.  It went up and then made an S turn.  At this point I had no idea if I should just power up it - hoping that the turn would be the top OR, try to reserve a little energy in case that turn was really just leading to more hill.  I was tired so I down shifted, and then down shifted and then down shifted and then eventually ran out of gears. . .I think I was riding backwards at one point.  I found the humor in it once I got to the downhill. 

After that we only had about 6 miles left.  During those 6 miles another rider caught up to us saying "Nothing like some women riding up in front to make me work harder!"  I took it as a compliment!  We got to chatting and he asked where we were headed.  I said "Back to the start."  He looked at me blankly.  Turns out he was just out for a long ride and wasn't part of the event.  When we told him why we were riding he told us a story of riding with Missy Flynn one time and what a great triathlete she was.  He asked where he could send a donation.  Not only did he help point out our final turns, we got a great story tied to the reason we were doing the ride in the first place.  As a relative newbie biker, it was great to hear how friendly and interconnected the bike community is in my area.

At the end of the 30 miles we were spent, our quads were burning and we needed a serious nap.  But, (after my quads stopped burning) I realized that I would have never chosen that ride on my own (love to ride flat!) but it definitely taught me that I have more legs and riding capability that I thought.  In fact, we were so happy with the ride at the end we have saved the cue sheet so we can do it again some time!

-Jen

August 27, 2007

Abs of Jello

Jelloperfect I don't have unlimited workout time.  I don't have a personal trainer, personal gym with all the amenities, a personal chef, a stylist, or a chauffeur.  I am a mom who sometimes can't fit in a shower.  So, it should come as no surprise that I most definitely don't have abs of steel.  What I have is abs of Jello.  A little wiggly, a little wobbly and stretch marks to boot.  What I also have is a weak low back.  For years I have been listening to the words "Strengthen your core. . .it's all about the core"  But, I dismissed Pilates as a fad.  And then I started biking.  Lancearmstrong_jpgI thought it was all about my legs.  Not necessarily so as I have learned.  According to the article "Super Abs" from Bicycling magazine, strengthening my core will help me climb hills better, sprint faster and be able to ride longer. But, I must confess, while all those things sound like worthy goals, what I really want a strong core for is so that I can give my victory ride in over a finish line with arms held high! (Imagine my face pasted over the picture to the right . . ) Seriously, right now I can only give a quick wave before grabbing the handlebars again -how ridiculous is that?

So, to that end I have decided that I will brave a Pilates class at my gym.  They have a whole host of classes from beginner (definitely me!) to advanced - even ones with a machine called a reformer.  I'm definitely nervous.  Pilates is outside my comfort zone.  I just got the swim, bike, run thing down.  Then again, the swim, bike, run thing was new once too.  I worry about looking ridiculous but, I know that I can actually gain something by trying something new.    A year ago if I hadn't been willing to take the risk and step up to the start line of my first triathlon I wouldn't be where I am today.

I will let you know how the first class goes.  Until then, think about something new you might want to try or let me know what got you to push yourself to do something out of your comfort zone.

Swim, bike, run, repeat. . .   -Jen

August 26, 2007

Major Alaskan Adventures

Phew!  I have landed back at home from our amazing Alaskan adventures and have had to jump right back in with the kids, all the laundry and everything else that comes with NOT being on vacation.  (Sniff, sniff. . .no more nighttime mint on my pillow.)  It took me a few days to sort through the 300+ pictures so I could give you a small snapshot of things we did and experienced.

We took a round trip cruise out of Seattle on a Royal Caribbean ship.  When we returned we spent a day and a half in Seattle before coming home (more on that adventure in my next post).

While the weather was not very sunny (seriously people, what's with those of you who pack a bikini and expect a tan when going to Alaska??), it was never out and out awful and it didn't stop us from any of our planned activities.

Img_1214 Our first stop was in Juneau where we lived our dream of flying in a helicopter over the glaciers in the Juneau icefield.  We flew with Temsco Air and had an extraordinary pilot named Chip who was able to really educate us about glaciers.  He landed us twice on two different glaciers and let us hike around.  You can't imagine the size and depth of the glaciers until you are actually on one.  I drank some glacier water and Jeff and I joked that perhaps that is all I have needed to cure all that ails me.  I bet I am the only one who can say that a Trek Travel jacket has now visited a glacier. . .

Later in the day we went ziplining with Alaska Canopy Adventures.  We got suited up in safety harnesses and headed up the trail for our "training."  Half and hour later we were experiencing 10 different zip lines covering over a mile about 135 ft above the Alaskan rainforest.  The longest and fastest got us up to 35 miles per hour.  What a rush!

The next day we were on to Skagway where we took in some morning kayaking in nearby Haines Lake.  The lake is glacier fed so it is a greenish gray color from glacier silt.  At the outset the guides told us to be sure and keep one of them between us and the shoreline at all times.  We soon found out why - we rounded a corner of the lake and Jeff spotted a grizzly bear drinking at the shoreline.  It then saw us and charged out into the water.  Check out the fairly decent picture Jeff got (as we were paddling away, of course).  We also saw tons of bald eagles.  In the afternoon we did a fabulous bike trip with Sockeye Cycle.  It was a summit to sea trip that started at the top of White Pass and came down to the sea (about 15 miles).  Trouble was we couldn't start quite at the top because the clouds were so low that visibility was almost zero.  As they unloaded the bikes I was psyched to see that they weImg_1281_4re all Treks!  We donned rain gear, on top of our many layers and then snapped a few pictures (Check out me looking like a yellow Michelin Man).  It was a fabulous ride down and nice to feel even a chilly rainy wind blowing by.  We had to make a pit stop though at the Alaskan/Canadian border patrol before we could pedal on our way.  And many thanks to our guide Drew who took us on an off road detour to the Gold Rush graveyard to see an amazing waterfall. 

Our last port stop was Prince Rupert, British Columbia where we spent the day fishing for halibut.  I am pleased to say that after a slow start and a few fish lost, our boat ended up catching 6 halibut.  They are being processed, frozen and shipped to us as we speak.

We had a few days at sea during all of this and spent some nice downtime relaxing, eating (hey its a cruise ship!) and napping.  One day we spent about 3 hours watching tons of whales.  I even got to see one jump out of the water.

The whole thing was an amazing experience.  We learned so much, tried new things, met new friends and came home recharged and refreshed.  Hope you enjoy the pictures - let me know if you are interested in more!

-Jen

August 24, 2007

Virtual Spectator

Cheerleader__cartoon_1 Fellow Trek Woman, Laura is doing her first triathlon this weekend  - The Accenture Chicago Triathlon.  While I wish I could be there to cheer her on, I have found the next best thing.  I will be a virtual spectator to her race with the help of Accenture's Triathlon Alert System.  I found out about this cool tool while watching a re-run of the 2006 Accenture Chicago Triathlon (like I said before - I love my Tivo!).

By visiting this link, I was able to quickly register how I wanted to get alerts (phone call, text message, e-mail) and pick the athlete(s) that I wanted to track.  Our very own Laura MacLean is bib # 5024.  On race day, I will get a text message to my cell phone telling me when Laura has finished the swim, another call when she has finished the bike and a call when she has finished the race.  You can also monitor the race via their website and see roughly where on the course an athlete is located.  Within 48 hours after the race, fans will be able to see video clips of athletes on the course.

So, while Laura is achieving yet another great accomplishment, I will be her loudly cheering virtual spectator!  "YOU GO GIRL!"

Cheer with me and be sure to check back and read her blog to hear her race story.

Jen

August 23, 2007

Reunited at last

So, I am back from Alaska and trying to re-settle in to what is left of the summer.  I have so many pictures to sort through before I can share and show what an amazing trip we had. 

The more exciting and immediate news is that I came home to a message from my bike shop that my Trek Equinox 7 WSD had arrived and was patiently awaiting me.   While I was visiting Trek this summer I met my new ride and we spent some time together.  First, there was the bike ride with a bunch of great gals from Trek.  There I got to know what it was like to have cool aerobars and different shifting than I was previously accustomed.  Next, my Equinox and I spent the day together at a photo shoot.  How great is that? - in my pictures I certainly thought it was the star of the show.  After the photo shoot we headed over to the Trek store of Madison - East where Carol spent a long time working on the fit of my bike, getting it just perfect for me. (For an explanation of some of the things involved in a bike fit see this article).  Thanks for your patience in adjustments Carol!  And it was there that my Equinox and I parted ways. . . .Now we were to be reunited at last.  Except for the fact that the bike shop was closed.  So close and yet so far away! 

The next day I was able to go and pick it up.  I loaded down the kids with books and activities and the "no nonsense mommy look of death" that adequately conveyed the consequences of their screwing around in the bike shop and ruining my reunification.

Suzanne, at Guys Bicycles, who sold me my road bike last year and has been following my endeavors, was excited to hear all about the Trek Women Who Ride program and was already helping think up great new ways to bring together all you Trek Women in the Bucks County PA area.  While we were chatting, my snappy Trek bike computer was installed and then she was all mine!  I made Cameron take this picture of me with my new cool ride strapped to my much uncooler mom-mobile. Jenwithequinox7wsd

It has been a couple of days and my Equinox is still sitting in a place of honor - in my family room!  Here's the thing -  we have the kind of garage where everything gets tossed - hockey sticks, roller blades, golf clubs, balls, the recycling, everything and in no particularly organized way.  There was no way I was going to strand my Equinox with all of that until she had a special place where no harm would come to her.  On the first night Jeff even controlled his eye-rolling as he listened to me ramble on about the aerobars and the geometry. 

The fates have not aligned well because, as pretty as she is to look at, I really just want to ride.  Evening thunderstorms, a husband who needs to work late and catch up from vacation, plus all 3 of our babysitters being on beach vacations (the nerve!!) have left me with the two boys who just can't keep up to their mom and a new speedy ride.  So, it looks like her inaugural ride may just be a local charity ride that I signed up for this weekend.  I can't wait to tell you more. . . .

Jen

August 14, 2007

Alaska here I come!

Alaska1 I am off to Alaska today!  Jeff and I are taking a week-long cruise from Seattle to Alaska.  The boys are spending the week in Colorado with my parents.  We were in Alaska 3 years ago and it was so beautiful with so many things to do that we said we would go back.

In addition to all that eating that you do on a cruise (can you say "hello midnight buffet"?), we have a full slate of activities to burn off those calories.  We will hopefully be taking a helicopter to tour glaciers (weather dependent - start thinking sunny, sunny, sunny).  In Skagway we will bike from summit to sea.  We will start at White Pass and follow the path of the Klondike gold stampeders.  We also will be hiking, kayaking, doing zip lines through the Alaskan forest.   Hopefully I will be able to post while we are there and share the experiences.  When I return I am sure I will have some amazing pictures to share.  While I am riding in Alaska, keep riding wherever you are!

-Jen

August 13, 2007

NJ State Tri Recap

Finally!  The promised recap of the NJ State Triathlon.  After a few days of soupy humidity laden weather (seriously, it was like trying to run inside a full water bottle), the humidity and temps broke and race morning was crisp and cool (everything feels cool at 4:15 AM).

I was up at 4:15 and had the coffee pot brewing - can't race without the java.  I got my standard pre-race food - almond butter and jelly on whole wheat made, grabbed my water bottles, loaded the car and was off by 5 AM.

I got to the race site at Mercer County Park around 5:20 and was by far not the first one there.  This was my first coed race and two distances were being raced (sprint and Olympic).  I had scoped out the transition area the day before and my bike rack was perfectly between two trees.  I wanted to get there early to get the end spot on the rack.  Got body marked (oh the permanent marker high!) and headed in for set-up.  Brendan's 6th birthday party had been Saturday (hmmmm....cake as prerace nutrition. . . ) so I had taken his "Happy Birthday" balloon to tie to the bike rack for easy spotting when coming into transition.  I also tied my yellow Survivor buff to the side of the rack.  Quick Aside:  The yellow Survivor buff was given to me by a friend's 8-year old son the first time I was going through chemo.  It was perfect and symbolic to me in so many ways.  Yellow to remind me to LiveStrong, Survivor because I am one, and the perfect soft cover for my bald head.  Thanks Liam!

I then had more than an hour and half to kill.  Ate my sandwich, milled about and hung out with Team Survivors triathlon coach, Tom Battaglia.  Tom was racing the Olympic distance as part of his training for the Florida Ironman on November 3rd.  You go Tom!

The Swim:  500 meters, lake swim.  The water temp. was 80 degrees - hurray!  I figured it would be easier to get warmed up and into a rhythm with such warm water.  The first two waves were men and then we were the first women's wave.  You could start waist deep standing or go out a little farther and be treading water.  I opted to go as deep as I could but still be standing so I could get a push off.  The whistle blew and we were off.  Got into a rhythm and then was pleasantly surprised to pass a few of the men from the first two waves.  The course was an easy triangle so only one buoy to worry about and then into shore. 

The bike: 13.5 miles.  Got into transition and quickly changed.  I wasn't nearly as disoriented as I had been in the race two weeks ago.  Got out on the bike and I was off.  The not closed course turned out to actually be a lane coned off and there were great West Windsor police and even Team Survivor volunteers to point the way.  At the first turn though a truck did get irritated and ended up running over one of the cones.  As he was passing me I saw the cone spinning dangerously under his car.  Just as I passed, the cone shot out into my lane behind my bike.  Phew!  I was able to pass a number of guys on the course which was kind of fun.  There was even a time when I was doing 26 MPH - that didn't last long. There was one section when a guy pulled ahead of me and then blew his nose.  Think about the wind on that one folks - I was sure glad I had sunglasses on.  As I came to the end of the bike course the distance between the flag wavers for slowing down and the line where you had to be dismounted was very short.  A line of three of us were doing fine and dismounting when someone came flying in and dismounted with his cleat into the back of my ankle (He did apologize :))

The run:  5K - Got my shoes on quickly and out on the course.  The first tenth of a mile was tricky because it was on some bumpy grass before you got to the pavement.  My calves were tight but not as bad as two weeks ago.  The run was mostly shaded but was rolling ups and downs.  I was able to settle in and even able to pick it up a little in the second part.  I am happy to report that hydrating much more the few days before the race helped immensely.  No bonk!  My friend Carla came to cheer and take pictures.  With her cheering I was able to sprint in the last section.

I felt so good after (hurray for good hydration) that I was able to go watch Tom come in on the bike and complete his run.

Overall time: (500 m swim, 13.5 mi bike, 5K run)  1:27:17

Swim: 10:10, T1: 1:56, Bike: 43:06 (avg 18.4 MPH), T2: 0:56, Run: 31:10 (10:03/mile)

I was 338 out of 759 sprinters (men and women) and 17th in my age group (30-34).

Things to work on:  Bike speed, bike pedal stroke so that my calves don't cramp in the run, biking hills, run speed.

Great race, great day!

Swim, bike, run, repeat. . . .

-Jen

August 12, 2007

Bib# 1410

Img_0991 When I went to pick up my race packet for the NJ Tri the day before the race, I was pleased to find that my race bib# was 1410.  What a great anonymous, middle of the pack number!  When I did the Philadelphia Women's Triathlon, I got my packet and discovered I was number 10. 

In my mind, number 10 means you are good - really good - the kind of racer that the crew follows with cameras and the TV van.  How many times have you ever heard an announcer say, "Wow, look at #1410 - we have no idea who that is but look at them take charge of this race!" 

I think Jeff thought I was crazy for fearing the Bib# 10 going into the last race.  But, the morning of the race at body marking, another racer remarked, "oooh,  number 10 - you must be good!"  Ah ha! 

Right now, I think I prefer to be that middle of the pack numbered racer who can celebrate the small victories and missteps without any expectations or focus drawn to them.  But, it does always make me smile when spectators are kind enough to yell out, "Good job #1410 - you go girl!"

Swim, bike, run, repeat. . . .

-Jen

August 9, 2007

Which Way?

Mcj043156100001 Okay, so the NJ Tri was a few weeks ago and I had plenty of nerves after I got notice of the online athlete information packet.  So, I feel it is time to share my jitters with all of you out there.  My training has been off-schedule, to say the least.  Between vacation, the trip to Trek and just summer in general, I feel like I am always juggling the "what I should be doing" with the "here's what I am going to do instead."  Sometimes that just means switching up a workout due to weather or perhaps a hotel pool not really being conducive to laps.  Other times it heads straight to "hmmmm....run vs. Yardley Ice House water ice?"  The run does not usually come out the winner in that one.

So, while two weeks earlier I went into the Philadelphia Women's Tri feeling good about where my training was at that point, I wasn't sure which end was up going into the NJ Tri.

Which brings me back around to the title of my post.  In reading the athlete packet and the studying the course map  (because while I never have the nightmare of drowning in a tri, I do fear getting lost on the course), I discovered that the bike course would not be closed to traffic.  I didn't quite know what this meant.  Did that mean there wouldn't be people directing me which way to go?  Will I end up doing the Olympic bike course because I miss a turn?  As you will discover on this journey with me, every time a race is near, I have to find a new fear to focus on.  I can say that with each race I do, my fears are not totally erased - part of that is the adrenaline talking - but I do gain confidence with practice.  And, for those out there who might recognize themselves in my descriptions, I will say this.  1) Nothing has ever eaten me in open water!  2) I haven't strayed lost off a course yet!

Swim, bike, run, repeat. . . .

-Jen

August 7, 2007

Philly Tri Results and Recap

Meandtheboyz_2 I mentioned the Philadelphia Women's Triathlon on July 8th (see post: Philly Women's Tri) but didn't get a chance to share how the race went.  It was a sprint tri (duathlon offered as well):  1/2 mile swim, 17.1 mile bike, 5K run.

I got there just before 6 AM and so I was one of the first to get body marked and be in the transition area.  I didn't get marked fast enough and then get the bug spray on because I had a few bites on my legs already starting to itch by 6:15.  I had a great spot for my bike - I was in the first rack so I was right at the end and racked right by a small tree so I could dump extra stuff under it.

The swim:  It was point to point with the current (not much current, darn!) and so we had to walk up river to the start.  The water temp was announced as 74 degrees but it still felt brisk.  The start was from the water so we had to get in and tread water before the start whistle blew.  That used some energy.  When we finally started it was a lot of kicking and I felt like I never got a good rhythm going.  Getting out of the water I was more disoriented than I expected and had to take a little extra time in transition to get my balance.

Thebike_2 The bike:  The bike course was awesome.  We did two loops and it was mostly flat and I was cruising a lot faster than I expected.  The two loops was great because you twice were by a lot of spectators - Jeff and the kids were there yelling and waving signs. 

The run:  Ugh!  It was 95 degrees or so and I started the run dehydrated and with massive calf cramps.  I felt like I was running through molasses.  Luckily, some of my Team Survivor friends were working the water stations and they knew I wanted water to drink and water thrown on me to cool down.  Thanks Carla and Bob! 

End result: 1:45:06

Swim: 13:35, T1: 2:04, Bike: 57:17 (17.8 mph avg), T2:  0:57, Run: 31:14 (10:05/mile)

Since this was my first tri of the season and my blood cells still aren't at a normal level(hello, red blood cells, I could use some oxygen!) I wasn't sure what to expect.  My goal was under 2 hours (my super secret goal that I didn't tell anyone was 1:50). I told my son (who doesn't understand why I am not going to win) that I was hoping to be in the top half of my age group - I just squeaked in there as 46 of 94  Swim - needs some work.  Bike - better than I expected but hoping to bring that speed up.  Run - surprisingly better than expected given the heat, the bonk and the cramps.  My run is the weakest and I am almost at my best 5K pace (9:58/mile) so early in the season

Swim, bike, run, repeat. . .

-Jen