Trek Women
March 27, 2008

Mad at Meteorologists

CloudyrainI love a good plan.  I love a plan put into action even more.  Right now I feel dissatisfied with both those ideas and it's all the fault of the meteorologists.  I'm having enough trouble convincing my mind and body that we really are at the start of tri-training again, I don't need spotty meteorology as well.

I decided to do my last run of the week (okay, there was only one other - still taking it slow on the foot) this morning before my first race (a local 5K on Saturday morning).  I woke up to tons of gray clouds, not a good sign.  Yesterday I decided to do nothing because, well, my body didn't want to and it was supposed to rain.  Actual weather:  60 degrees and mostly sunny.  Meteorologist score:  0-1

This morning, the hour-by-hour told me that it was supposed to rain all day starting at 9 AM.  I hurried and dropped the kids at school figuring I could get my run in before the rain started (because as we've learned, they aren't that accurate).   Various delays had me down at the canal right at the stroke of 9 AM.  Five seconds later, as I  pushed start on my watch, the rain began.  And so I ran in the rain (not pouring, but enough).  I felt oddly satisfied that I ran into four other runners who were also surprised at this meteorology accuracy.

Well, now here it is this afternoon (remember, it's supposed to rain all day, hence the morning plan).  It's still gray.  But, no rain.  The roads are dry.  Had I known this would happen, I would have skipped the run, waited out the morning showers and then gone on a ride.   Don't these meteorologists know that it's complex enough to work out a tri training schedule around, kids, homework, kids sports, and well, the rest of real life?  Aaaggghhhh. . . .

-Jen

PS.  Saturday morning 5K race forecast:  Sunny, 35 degrees (with a feel of 27 degrees).  I don't know whether to dress for heat or snow.

March 26, 2008

A Long Way From The Pull-Up

Index_photo_4One of the things I love about the Trek website is that I never know what I'm going to get each day when I log on.  The homepage is constantly changing and I always am learning (and clicking) something new.  So, a couple of days ago the Trek site was encouraging me to sign up for The President's Challenge, part of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.  Whoa nelly!!! . . . I was clicking away.  Was this part of the same thing that I remembered from my youth?  You know, the days of bad gym shorts and reversible gym shirts?  The days of the run one mile in a certain time?  The days of the pull-up?  I know that it wasn't just my junior high that participated in this challenge that somehow tied overall fitness to whether or not you could do a hanging pull-up (which was next to impossible when you were a seventh grade girl). Hmmm. . .now that I think about it, probably also not that possible as a 33 year old mom.

So, I clicked and discovered that yes, this is one and the same.  But, it's come a long way, baby.  There are now at least 100 activities in which you can participate for the challenge.  Trek is doing it's part by providing info on cycling as an activity no matter what your fitness level. You can sign-up yourself, or with a group of friends, your family, a school, and even your kids.  The cool part is that you can log your activities.  I say this is the cool part for a couple of reasons:  1) because I am a big fan of logs - I love being able to see where I was and how far I have come and progress I have made  and 2) give my kids a challenge with a log and they will go above and beyond.

Considering that more than 12.5 million (yes, million) kids and teens are overweight and 40% of adults participate in zero leisure-time physical activity, according to the office of the Surgeon General, we are clearly on a crash course with our couches, bag of chips and remote in hand.  If those statistics can't get you to drop the McDonald's (see Laura's blog for some scary stats on the big M's latest culinary masterpiece), I don't know what will.

So, let's get off the couch (I know, if you are reading this I'm probably preaching to the choir), and grab our families, or co-workers and friends and get them biking, hiking, skydiving (yes, skydiving counts) or anything else physical.  I'm sure we all know someone who has a bike in their garage that needs the dust blown off it.  Let's just leave those bad gym shorts and pull-ups behind. . . .

-Jen

March 25, 2008

One-Legged Spin Cycle

Img_2070_2 It's still cold here in the Philly area.  So, as I begin some base training for the tri season I am still drifting between spin classes, the trainer and the rare outside ride.  Yesterday I decided to head for an afternoon spin class to try out my new spin shoes.  As those of you who ride with clipless pedals may know, there are a couple kinds of pedals that take different cleats (the things hooked to the bottom of your shoes that make you click and walk funny).  My regular riding shoes and pedals use Look cleats (the bottom of my road shoe is pictured on the right). That is all I have ever used. Time and time again, across many a gym, I have taken my shoes to spin classes and been out of luck.  My gym does have some spin bikes that have Look pedals but for some reason they are not in good shape and my foot comes unclipped after about 10 or so revolutions.  Not what you really want to have happen in the middle of say, a "standing hill" in a spin class.

Most people in spin classes, who ride with clipless, use the SPD type pedal/cleat.  So, because of the rehab and the weather being rather uncooperative, I finally decided to invest in a second pair of shoes which would have the SPD cleat (the bottom of the SPD cleat shoe is in the left of the picture)

As savvy as I thought I was with my clip-in, clip-out ability, I just couldn't get those SPD shoes to work.  Side-note: My clip-in, clip-out ability was non-existent when initially learning to use my pedals/shoes.The first time with my shoes/pedals I fell off - with my leg still connected to my bike - before I even had ridden an inch.  My older neighbor's comment, which still embarrasses me, was "Looks like it's a good thing you're wearing a helmet."   So, if you are just learning clipless pedals, don't worry, it does get easier - we've all been there.

Now, yesterday,I had a couple things going against me.  I arrived late and therefore was in a rush and, because I was late, the room was already dark.  I threw on the shoes and jumped onto the bike.  I clipped in the right foot no problem.  Then, came the left. . . .it must have been a good 5 minutes that I sat there spinning with one leg and trying to figure out what my problem was with the left.  Even though no one could see my embarrassment (due to the low lighting), there was only so long I felt I could pull off the nonchalant check the cleat for non-existent wear or mud.  I thought of moving bikes but then I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get the right OR the left leg clipped on a new bike, furthering my SPD cleat inadequacy.  After enough one-legged spinning, I finally got off the bike and took the shoes off and threw on my cross trainers so I could at least get some workout that involved both legs.

Anyone got any advice - other than arriving early - or should I just focus on my one-legged spin?  Don't worry, I don't mind if you tell me it's just me. . .

-Jen

March 24, 2008

Try To Find This

Img_2061_3I wanted to jump back in this week and get back to a bunch of biking topics that have been sitting on the back burner.  But, it's not often that blog fodder just falls right into your lap.  So, I hope you will indulge me in a story of weekend family hilarity.

Yesterday morning, Easter morning, I indulged the kids with eating some chocolate before breakfast in a trade-off that would let me sleep longer.  Jeff finally got up with the boys and I continued to lounge in the bed, blissfully unaware of the Easter mess going on downstairs.  When I came downstairs a little bit later, I was greeted with a mischievous smile - from my husband - who then told me he was about to cut a hole in the wall.

It seems that in Jeff's quest to come up with ever more creative hiding spots for Easter egg hunting, he had decided that balancing an egg in the return duct of the heating system would be fun - that was until it fell down into the wall beyond reach of any normal length arm.  And so, Easter morning involved a reciprocating saw and a 5 inch square hole in the wall.  I laughed, overtly pleased that this had happened to Jeff and not me and grabbed the camera for blog photos. Img_2058

After cutting the hole in the wall, we discovered that the vibration from the reciprocating saw had knocked the egg out of its spotted place and it had now fallen to who-knows-where in the duct system.  It was at this point that I think Jeff became displeased with my laughing and blog photography. 

After dismantling a duct in the basement he was able to find the egg.  Even funnier was that the egg was labeled "Dad"  (We all have our own named and decorated eggs).  The good thing was we were able to proceed with our egg hunt after that and I didn't have to endure a Monday morning of calls to find someone able to hunt out the egg in our heating system.

Back to biking tomorrow. . .

-Jen

March 21, 2008

Break for Who?

Img_2052_2  I should heed bad signs.  Yesterday morning, after getting in late the night before because of a four hour air traffic control hold coming into Philly, I wanted a cup of coffee.  I desperately wanted a cup of liquid sustenance to get me through the day with the boys.  I went to wash out the pot and it literally shattered in my hands over the sink.  Who does that happen to????  No coffee and about a half an hour picking little glass shards out of my hand.  I should heed the signs.  It was not a good day - even after the trip to Starbucks for a Venti.  The boys were tired from the trip home.  They felt cooped up and didn't feel like unpacking and doing laundry.  (I didn't blame them - I really didn't feel like it either).  The first day of Spring here in Philly didn't pay mind to what the calendar said and it was cold and very, very blustery.  Brendan is convinced he is a dog and his new language is to punctuate everything with the words 'woof' and 'doggy' said in a babyish voice. 

I'm not sure about this whole Spring Break thing.  I'm thinking that when the day is all said and done the break might refer to the pieces I want to break my kids into because they are driving me crazy!!!  I think moms go on Spring Break next week when the kids go back to school.

Here's hoping that by the end of the day this picture does not contain a chalk outline around the bodies of my kids  :)

-Jen

PS.  I really do love them, woof, woof.

March 18, 2008

Bike on the Brain

While here in Colorado, Jeff and I took the boys skiing.  On the first day, we pointed and clicked our way to reservations for them in ski school.  We got up, layered and drove to the mountains where we signed them away and said "Have fun!" at the sign stating "No Parents Beyond This Point" (seriously, it says that - how great is that?).  We skied the day away, felt our sea level lungs gasping for air, and then picked the boys up at the end of the day.

Day 2 of skiing was an entirely different story which had me longing for my bike.  We got the kids layered up, drove to the mountains, parked far enough away to call the distance to the slopes a small hike, had to rent the boys ski's (Where Jeff promptly declared over the head of one child (who shall remain nameless) "We HAVE to switch boys!"), buy lift tickets, get our ski's on and then wrangle them onto the lifts.  This was all while wearing those massively clunky, walking impairing ski boots.  I was so exhausted by this process alone - not to mention sweating buckets - that I think I had done the equivalent of a 2 hour bike ride by this point (which is exactly what I was calculating in my head.)   And while it was fun, or so I keep telling myself, more than once I found myself wishing for the simplicity of wind on my face while alone on the bike.  No bulky clothes, no bitter cold (well, you could have that biking but I choose not to), no tangled feet and crossed skis.

That whole second day I didn't confide my desire to be on bike.   At the end of the day I collapsed exhausted back into the car for the drive back to my parents.  And then, on the ride home, I examined the signs posted for the truckers about the grade of the hills and thought about biking in the mountains.

While at my parents I have seen groups of early spring cyclists and I have checked out their bikes.  I have reviewed correct helmet fit with my mom.  I have skied while dreaming of biking. Suffice it to say, I think I have bike on the brain.  I think it's a permanent condition now and has infiltrated my being.  Is there a cure though that will keep me from alienating all the non-bikers that I know?  All I know is that I can't wait to get home and get training. . .

-Jen

March 13, 2008

Shhh.....Don't Tell

Shhhhh I am not usually a sneaky mom.  We have a pretty open and honest household here but I have been hiding something.  My kids have no idea - NONE - but I am showing up at school today right before lunch to pick them up and only telling them we are going to do something fun.  I am then whisking them off to the airport where we will meet Jeff and jet off to Colorado to visit my parents, with whom my kids are close but don't get to see that often. 

I love surprising my kids.  I love the look on their faces - the excitement and the joy.  It think there are a couple of reasons.  As adults, not that much is surprising anymore.  We have a pretty good handle on the day to day, the responsibilities and the mundane.  So, to vicariously experience the true joy of a good surprise really does something wonderful for me.   I know that I also am really loving this time as a parent and the ability to help create those lasting family memories with my kids.  Years down the line I know I will love hearing my boys say, "Remember when you just came to school and took us to the airport. . .?" 

So much of what we do as parents is for the long term.  "Eat your vegetables", "say please and thank you," finish your homework," "If your friend jumped off the bridge, would you too?"  You do all those things and let your kids say what they want of you behind your back mostly in hopes that twenty years from now they see the point (and move out for good.) But today, today is living for the moment - something we sometimes forget to do as adults.  I'm hoping to elicit puzzlement and then tears - mine and theirs.  Brendan actually has a history of crying when he is overjoyed - although in his words as a three year old - "Mom, I got the wet eyes."  When he cries out of joy it makes me cry out of joy.  It doesn't have to be something big like this.  Declare pajama day, eat ice-cream for breakfast (maybe not on a school day).  If you surprise your kids, you might be surprised at what it does for you.

I've got to go finish packing them up.  Shhhhh.....don't tell . . .

-Jen

March 12, 2008

Endurance Playtime

Gardenhosewater_2So the boys baseball season has started - well, not officially.  Little League opening day is April 5th but the teams are set and practices have begun.  I took the boys to practice the yesterday, which consists of standing around playing catch and then practicing some hitting with the coach pitching.  I know, you're thinking major sweat-fest, right?  Okay, I'm being sarcastic (in case you hadn't picked up on that).  So, here's the thing - I was shocked by how many kids brought Gatorade for practice.  I'm all about hydration but when is it that playtime became an endurance event necessitating six year olds to ensure their proper electrolyte balance?  I'm fond of sports drinks and gels - in their proper place.  They definitely have made life easier for long distance runners, triathletes and tons of other athletes.  Frankly, I didn't even learn about the use of any of those type of things until I ran a half-marathon and that was mostly because I was slow enough to have it be a true endurance event (2:30+.)

Here is where I digress into the kind of talk that perhaps marks me a pariah to other parents and definitely uncool to my own kids. . . Back in my day (see, right there - uncool), you played and played and played some more.  You drank water - from drinking fountains, paper cups and shockingly, sometimes from a garden hose.  Water wasn't filtered, mineralized, spring, bottled, or really anything.  It was just plain old H20 and you drank it when you were thirsty.  I know I sound crotchety and 80 there but it's just that I don't think kids NEED sports drinks - at least not at age 6 and 7.  (Side note to all you moms out there - Believe me, I understand that kids try to make a great case about NEED ("But mom, pleeeeeeeessssse") when you are standing in line at the grocery store - been there, done that).P1010094_2

Let's just get back to letting kids get messy, invent rules to a made up game, bike with you for ice-cream, climb trees, beg to stay outside for "just 5 more minutes" and drink from garden hoses.  It might just be a refreshing change. . .

-Jen

PS.  This was Cameron when he was a baby - as you can see, I also let my kids eat dirt and rocks.  They're turning out surprisingly well. . .

March 11, 2008

Lymphoma? What Lymphoma?

As I sat in the small room at my oncologist's today, following some unusually speedy lab work, I felt like I was going to throw up.  Then my oncologist breezed by the doorway on the way to see another patient, waved, and said "Lymphoma? What Lymphoma?"  I immediately thought I was going to throw up - this time out of relief.  My scans are super clear and I now have reached the pinnacle of my lymphoma career (when you're in it for the long haul you have to call it something) - I have now been in remission longer than I ever have before.  It has been just shy of one year now (20 more days, but who's counting?) since finishing chemo again.  My doctor celebrated by giving me a six month pass.  I have been scanning every 3 months - if not more - for three years now and we are making the jump to six months.  I see a whole summer of racing, training, vacations and adventure without the inevitable reminder that a scan brings.  Hooray.  Hooray.  Hooray.  This is HUGE. . . .

-Jen

PS.  Thanks for the huge amount of support from all of you these past few weeks.  Your good vibes were felt!

March 10, 2008

Stress Ball

StressballThis a squishy little stress ball that I got at a race expo a couple of years ago.  I picked it up because a) I love free race expo stuff and b) maybe if you sit and repetitively squeeze it then it will actually do something for stress.  Well, let me tell you, that thing is getting a workout right now.   I wanted to sit down today and blog about a few ideas that have hit me recently (don't worry, more on saddle-woes and solutions this week) but, I feel I wouldn't be giving you all my full attention.  I am monumentally distracted and stressed out about my oncology visit tomorrow.  Distraction helps, so this weekend - a full weekend of kid stuff - did help.   But today, when I sit here (or attempt to do anything), in the worry creeps.  I was able to get out this morning for my longest post-cast run yet - 25 minutes - and that helped - for about 30 minutes.  I found myself this weekend subconsciously surfing oncology clinical trials on the Internet - nothing for Freud to interpret there - STRESS, STRESS, STRESS.

So, there it is.  I was nervous to put it out there because the more people I tell about my frayed nerves, then the more people I have to report back to if things go well (easy to do) and the more people there are for the difficult job of explaining if it goes poorly.  But, since my mind and my fingers won't cooperate with blogging about anything else right now, I had to tell you.

I can't type any more.  I have to go back to squishing the stress ball.  By tomorrow morning I think it will be re-named Pancake Ball.  Think good thoughts. . .

-Jen