Trek Women
December 22, 2008

ONE Perfect Gift

Let's suppose for a minute that you might be the type of person that others find difficult to shop for.  (What?  Impossible.)  Okay, then let's suppose that you perhaps have people in your life, who shall remain nameless, who struggle holiday after holiday with buying you things in the right size, or color.  They mean well, but the XXXL itchy wool tacky Christmas sweater (or insert other tacky gift here) just isn't your cup of tea, so to speak.

So, for those challenged shoppers out there I've got the perfect gift for them to give you - the one-of-a kind cyclist that you are.  A new Trek Madone, Project ONE style!  No longer will the gift you receive be the wrong color, the wrong size or just not have every detail be just you.  The Trek Project ONE site let's you pick the Madone of your dreams, size it, paint it, create your own custom personalization and design all its components from drivetrain and wheelset right down to bar tape color and cable housing color.

I had the opportunity to use the Project ONE site to build a Trek 6.5 WSD Madone for the Women Who Ride Santa Barbara trip I took in November.  The site is quite addicting - my kids were weighing in on paint schemes and I ultimately ended up designing 5 or 6 bikes and saving them on, none other than, my virtual bike rack.   The end result?  A one-of-a-kind, totally you, dream bike - all within about a 30 day build time. (Seriously, I know, that's faster than I can get the rebate on my new printer.) And, don't worry, there is no shame in window-shopping - even if you aren't ready to order, Project ONE lets you design and save your dream bikes.  (Click here to see the bike design I did for the trip.)

Frankly, the only thing the Project ONE site is missing - are you listening you web-designers? - is the ability to upload a picture of myself with the ability to try on different jerseys, helmets and gear on my virtual-riding self.  That way I could seek opinions from loved ones, friends and co-workers by saying, "Does this bike look good on me?"

So, how do you wrap such a great gift?  Funny you should ask. I've given some thought to the matter.  I'm thinking - if your loved one were so inclined - they could buy a gallon of paint (color doesn't matter here, remember?).  Then, they could strip the label and stick on a print out of the Project ONE page (do a PrintScreen and paste into a blank document).  I've obviously given way too much thought to the perfect gift for some fabulous woman who rides out there. . .

Wishing you and yours a fabulous holiday season, only filled with perfect cycling and training related gifts, nothing itchy or tacky, peace, health and prosperity for the new year.

-Jen

PS.  Don't forget, another perfect gift that never goes out of style -  a membership in the Trek Women Who Ride Club.

December 19, 2008

Reading: R.I.P

Trainer I am sitting here this morning, grudgingly setting up my bike on my indoor trainer.  Ice continues to fall from the sky - not rain, not snow but definitely ice.  There is about 1" of solid ice coating everything outside right now.

Setting up my trainer is quite the task - not because the setup is complicated or laborious - more because of the amount of work required to clear the space for the trainer.  We decided this year that after the new family room remodel, my trainer would be better suited to the small sitting room off of our bedroom.  Well, this sitting room only sees sitting when I am working because it doubles as my office/computer/filing area.  So, the labor comes in when I have to "re-file" everything.  I say re-file because my organizational system has evolved into a highly refined system of piles of papers all over the floor where I, and only I, know where everything is located. 

I will be the first, among many, many athletes I would guess, to dislike time in the trainer.  It's not even close to the same as riding outside.  It's completely boring.  I struggle to entertain myself long enough to get in a good workout.  Last winter, I discovered the 43 minute workout.  Why 43 minutes?  Because, 43 minutes is the exact length of a 1-hour TV show, minus the commercials, on DVD.  I would rent new TV shows from Blockbuster and would only let myself watch them if I did so on the trainer.  It was distracting enough but still mind (and rear) numbing to sit on that trainer and go nowhere. 

I'm not the only one searching for a way to entertain myself while spinning in place.  Over the past couple of weeks, two separate customers have come in to the bike shop and requested a reading rack to attach to their bikes to read books while on the trainer.  A reasonable request, I thought - I have such a rack - although the book reading hasn't been enough of a distraction for me.  But, after combing through various vendors catalogs and websites we have yet to find a way to obtain one.  And then, the idea was proposed by another employee - maybe reading is dead? 

I'll admit - I love reading but don't do as much of it in the solid, novel you can hold in your hands form anymore.  I read or leaf through magazines and training books.  I also read a lot of articles, blogs and news online now rather than in actual paper format.  Maybe everyone is so busy plugging in, that there is no demand for a rack that can hold a real book?  

So, on this icy Friday I ask for your opinions on two separate topics:  Is reading dead? and, What the heck do you do to keep yourself distracted while on the trainer?

-Jen

December 16, 2008

Surprise Me!

J0440281 So, as the holiday shopping season starts and swings into high gear with only 9 days before Christmas, my kids have presented a challenge.  I know, you  want to focus on the fact that I said our holiday season shopping is just starting. . .   The thing is that 10 years ago I started the holiday shopping in late October, early November.  Jeff's family, on the other hand, has always seemed to embrace the concept of, "Who can pay more for overnight shipping?" as a holiday shopping tactic.  Over the years I've slipped, as I've become busier and online shopping has become my tool of choice.  I do mull over ideas for the holidays well before I actually point, click and ship so I'm not entirely lost and frantic.

In fact, I've been jotting down ideas and casually pestering my family for gift ideas over the past 6 weeks.  Here's the thing - my kids want nothing.  Now, that's an overstatement.  Of course they want Santa to bring them presents under the tree but there is nothing specific on their list of wishes.  In fact, the list is so bare that there in fact is no list.    They've said, and I quote, "Santa should just surprise me - he just goes and raids the stores anyway."

Now, on the one hand, I'm happy as a parent that my kids feel satisfied with what they have and haven't produced a "Gimme, gimme, gimme" list a mile long.  On the other hand, this puts Santa in a tough spot.  I've spent quite awhile (in fact my clicking hand is sore) surfing the 'net for good gifts for boys 7 and 8.  We've found a few things  and now the tougher part now is waiting for the Christmas morning reaction.  When there is nothing wished for, you can't get the "It's just what I wished for!" reaction.  We're just hoping that we don't get the, "Why did Santa get me this - this is boring!" reaction. 

And, while I've clicked my way all over the Internet to shop for my family, I find myself struggling with the same issue.  I can't seem to think of any fun gifts that I'm secretly hoping for this season.  I think part of the problem is that now I'm in the off season - it will be next May that I suddenly realize what my athletic bag of tricks needs.

What cool cycling or triathlon gear are you hoping to receive this year?  Maybe I can get some ideas from all of you.  And, if you have cool suggestions for boys aged 7 and 8, I still have a few days on overnight shipping deadlines. . .

-Jen

December 11, 2008

Coming and Going

Graph3 (2) This post can only possible start with multiple disclaimers.  1) There is really nothing cycling related here.  2) I try to balance my "cancer talk" so that you're not listening (or reading, as is more accurate) but I know that I can't tell you last week that I'm going for a scan and then not report about its results and 3) many of you may not understand or "get" what I'm trying to express in this post (I'm not sure I quite get it myself - please enter now all you armchair psychologists) but I have promised myself that I will always be honest as I blog about my thoughts and feelings, even when confusing.

Okay, disclaimers out of the way, here we go. . .  My scan was last Friday and after a weekend of mentally preparing myself to deal with "a spot, the spot, many spots," my oncologist told me I was entirely spot-free.  Now, this is great news but in no way should spot-free be misconstrued as scot-free.  So, I'm sitting there in the exam room and while spot-free is great news, I wasn't feeling the elated feeling.  Here's what I realized.  I am now 20 months out of chemo for the second time.  It's a scary place to be.  The first remission was so very, very short that being this far out has me always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  In the very same visit my oncologist smiles broadly and tells me that I have no spots we review the latest clinical trials and thoughts on treatment options for the when of when the spots do reappear.

The best way I have figured out to sum up my reactions and my feelings are this:  In my mind, this battle, at its simplest is a task of coming and going.  On the graph of cancer and its treatments I must always be somewhere on the line of coming from chemo and/or treatment and going to the next relapse and its subsequent treatment.  Because that first remission was so short, and now 20 months seems like forever, I somehow feel that on the graph of this whole cancer journey, I must be past the midpoint of that line by now and heading toward that next relapse.

Ultimately, the news is great and 3 more months on that line, wherever I am, is a really good thing.  I'm not dwelling on my feelings about coming or going, but just expressing them for what they are.  I never know what feelings these visits will stir, each time I'm in a new place with my attitude toward cancer, whatever the news.  So, for now, I move on, keep going, as its the only thing I know I can do, train through the cold winter and we'll deal with whatever is next on this journey in March. . .

-Jen

December 6, 2008

Age-Up Day

Candles So, today is my birthday but I've decided on a new practice of renaming the day each year rather than just going along with the rest of the world and calling it a birthday.  Four years ago, when I turned 30, I thought that I was really destined for a great decade.  The thirties were where it was at, I was convinced.  A month later began the spiral that led to my cancer diagnosis. Okay, so I misunderstood.  The 30's are the new 20's so I was just a decade early on the great decade concept, right?

When I was 32, I sat in the chemo unit and had my oncologist bring me a piece of cake swiped from the cake of some unsuspecting hospital worker.  Okay, that day was Happy(?) Chemo Day.  Subsequently, last year's birthday became one of my Happy Chemo-versaries.

This year, I'm approaching the birthday in a whole new way.  This year it is Happy Age-Up Day.  As of today, according to USA Triathlon, I am actually 35.  I know - they aged me a whole year.  USAT has a rule that your racing age for the year is whatever your age is on Dec. 31st of that year.  So, because I turn 34 today, which is obviously before Dec. 31st, I have been racing all year listed as 34.

Let's look at the glass half full here.  So, as of today, I age-up to 35 which means that I advance an age group for racing.  I now join all of you in the racing age bracket of 35-39.  Theoretically, this should work for me, given that I am racing as one of the youngest in the age group. (Younger = speedier, right?)  While 30 may be the new 20 in the life of the average woman on the street, it just doesn't work that way in triathlon. My new age group is one of the toughest and fastest age group of women triathletes.  In fact, in triathlon, there are no age-predicting guarantees regarding race times or distances.  I'm sure that triathlete Sister Madonna Buder, age 78, would give me a run for my money in many a race.

And that right there is the beauty of this sport.  It has no age or gender barrier.  It doesn't limit amateurs from stepping up to the line with the elite and the pro's.  It doesn't specify a uniform.  It doesn't limit itself to one country.  It doesn't specify a body type, height or weight.  Anyone can step to the line.

So, it is a very happy age-up day for me.  (C'mon - throw another candle on that cake!)  I now will get to spend my next racing year lining up with friends already in the age group.   And when we do, we will look at all those waves of younger races and think, "Don't count me out yet!"

-Jen
December 5, 2008

Guessing Game

Question mark
So, just for fun, we're going to see who's been paying attention. . . .

Can anyone guess what today is?  I'll give you some clues if no one guesses by early this afternoon. . . .

-Jen

December 3, 2008

Where Did It Go?

IMG_3591 Do you remember as a child how long a month took?  Do you remember how agonizingly slow the days on the calendar passed - especially when waiting for a birthday, vacation or Christmas?  Not so as an adult.  I caught myself answering a question for the kids last weekend that started with, "Yes, Monday is December 1st. . ." and then stopped in my tracks.  December?  Where did November go?

Last you knew I was layering up for the Philly half-marathon and then heading for a warmer climate. Halfmedal Layering and layering is exactly what I did - to the point where my runny nose was practically all  that was showing (and yet there were many a red and frozen bare leg seen running in shorts that day).  I ran myself to a personal best half-marathon time of 2:15:45 and managed not to slip on the ice that formed at water stops when water sloshed and froze on the ground.  As I crossed the finish, I gathered my cool medal (yes, I did "Kick Asphalt," I thought) and kept right on walking - straight to my car, a warm shower at home and then the airport.

Our cruise was fabulous.  Yes, we ate too much and did a lot of nothing.  The whole family got in the water and pet dolphins, the kids tackled a 40 foot water slide, learned to climb a rock wall and we decided on a no-turkey meal on Thanksgiving. Brendan even lost a tooth, which is what got me thinking about how fast time is passing.  When he lost his tooth, we laughed at the irony because Cameron,  3 years ago - almost exactly - lost a tooth on a cruise.  When I had to think back to when that cruise was and realized it had been 3 years - wow!

So, while continuing the day to day and marveling at how fast the holidays are approaching and how little I have done, I'm spending a lot of time trying to conjure up all the moments in the past year, realizing how quickly they've come and gone.

It was just a year ago that I was holiday shopping in a leg cast.  A lot has happened since then.  Since January I've learned to walk and run again, completed 2 5K's, 2 half-marathons, 3 triathlons (one being my first Olympic distance - where there was no medal - yes, I'm still annoyed about that), 3 cycling charity events, skiied in 2 different states (tackling a black diamond run that I thought would be the death of me), cycled around 5 different cities in 4 different states, met many, many other Women WHo Ride, celebrated 2 kids birthdays, had 2 boys grow roughly 6 inches, seen 4 baby teeth fall out, seen a child through surgery, survived a kitchen re-model and and a family room remodel, spent time in the hospital with shingles, gotten a job at a bike shop and written over 125 blog posts chronicling all these events.  Phew.  Wow. 

I've been looking ahead to 2009 lately thanks to all the e-mails announcing race registrations being open. At the same time it's made me realize that time continues to tick by and perhaps I should balance out my thinking ahead with spending a little more time recounting and reliving the fun I've already had.  Kids are good at that - they can remember something silly or the details of an amazing accomplishment for a long time but as adults I've noticed that I'm often more preoccupied with the "What's Next?" thoughts.  So, while the holiday season can often get everyone wrapped up in a whole series of what next's as we try to do to much, be too much and exceed our own often too high expectations, take a few minutes to say, or even ask others "Where did the year go and what moments will I remember?"

-Jen