Trek Women
February 6, 2009

Rx: Cycling

Rx pad I've been in a bit of a writing slump lately.  It's not that there aren't plenty of things going on that I want to share with all of you - there are.  It's just that, well, I'm sad.  To be completely honest, I'm not just sad, I'm SAD.  I am one of millions of people, more women than men, who is affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Basically, what that means is that right around Daylight Saving Time in the fall, when there are more hours of darkness than not, when the air turns cooler and the skies turn grayer, I become depressed.  I feel tired, I want to hibernate in my bed, I crave and seek comfort in sweets and carbs (Sat:  doughnuts - way too many doughnuts, Sun: coffee cake - what do you mean this is supposed to serve 12?, Mon: banana bread. . . for example), and I just feel generally depressed.  But, these symptoms are limited to the winter season and when the weather turns come spring, my depression lifts.  (This shouldn't surprise any of you regular readers who can note how many times I cite my hatred of Daylight Saving Time and gray skies.)

It is not known what causes SAD but experts are fairly convinced it is connected to levels of sunlight and the effect that sunlight has on the chemicals in our brains.  In fact, the more north of the equator that you live, the higher the percentage of people with SAD.  There are various ways that SAD can be treated, depending on the severity of the symptoms (which, in my case, can depend on whether or not we are having a sunny, mild winter or not).   This year, I was able to push off the onset of my symptoms until December by having the trips to California and then the Bahamas in November.

One part of treatment  that I have found works for me is to use light therapy.  I use a light box which simulates sunlight - I sit in front of it for a half an hour each morning and just read a book.  But, I am also really lucky in that I have a doctor who also prescribes training as part of my treatment.  There are definite links to aerobic exercise and mood and my doctor actually tells me that I need to be exercising each day to help boost my "feel-good brain chemicals" and stave off my winter mood.  So, this year, to help adhere to my prescription, my bike is hooked up to the bike trainer right in my bedroom.  It makes it harder for me to climb back under the covers and stay there when every time I roll over my bike is staring back at me.  These days, I am fighting that internal battle each day to climb on the trainer and get the wheels spinning.  I've found that the over-under is around 20 minutes - I spend 20 minutes hating it and wanting to jump back into bed and then around minute 21 my head clears, I enjoy the sweat and I feel lighter and better for the effort when I'm done.

The best part of that portion of the prescription?  No referral, no copay, no trip to the drugstore.   It's only 42 days until spring. . . .not that I'm counting. . . .

-Jen

January 7, 2009

Trailer

In order to effectively read this entry, you must imagine the voice you hear in dramatic movie trailers - you know the one - the deep dramatic voice that could make even eating oatmeal sound like a drama not to be missed.

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They were ordinary women.  Women of all walks of life who shared one common love.  They loved to ride their bikes.  Their reasons were different, their passion the same.  They wrote of their love and millions of women responded.  Now, they look to expand their circle.  Brought to you by Trek Bikes, the search begins anew.    They will search high and low and read millions of essays looking to identify five new women who can only be known as. . . .Women Who Ride.  (Insert dramatic music here.)

Coming NOW to the Trek website near you.  The search ends on January 24th.  Rated W - Women Only.

Get writing girls!  I can't wait to see what you have to say. . . .

-Jen

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 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

October 3, 2008

Here Comes Big Foot

Blackandwhiteclownshoes My feet have been hurting lately.  So, I sat down with my training log and added up the miles on my running shoes.  Yikes!  Too many miles on those soles - no wonder my feet have been hurting.  So, I headed out to buy some new running shoes. . .

Buying running or cycling shoes is a painful exercise for me.  The first time I bought running shoes I ended up back at the store 4 times exchanging them because whatever model it was that I bought was uncomfortable or painful or both.  The first time you do this, after the employees reassure you that this of course is your right and their policy, you feel fine - confident that now you've solved your problem.  By the fourth time, you slink into the store where employees give you the, "oh, it's you again" look and you start to wonder if the problem is with the shoes or perhaps with your feet (or maybe your head).  I felt this way when I bought my first cycling shoes.  It happened to be the same time I was buying my road bike and I kept hearing the cha-ching sound of a cash register in my head as the costs added up.  I was so worried about the comfort and feel of the shoes - panicked because I only wanted to spend once.  I sometimes still debate whether my road shoes are the best ones for me.

So, anyway, buying shoes for me is a process.  I actually was proud of myself this time around because I only tried on 4 pairs (2 or 3 times each, mind you) before I came to a decision.  What was more startling than my unusual speed in purchase was that my foot seemed to have grown - again.  I swear, every time I am in the market for new running shoes I seem to go up a half size.  Now I know, much like trying to find the perfect pair of jeans, that not all manufacturers size things the same.  But, I'm not sure I like the direction this is going.  I already often feel self-conscious when I run - the clomping around feeling -  but now add the real or not growing feet phenomenon and I am starting to think that I look like I'm wearing big floppy clown shoes out there on the road.

Perhaps the pounding of running and pressure on the down-stroke with cycling is flattening my feet much like you would roll out dough.  But, do I now need to build an additional dollar factor into my cycling budget for yearly replacement shoes?  I considered my cycling shoes a long term purchase but maybe that isn't the case.  Do you own multiple pairs of cycling shoes?  How often do you replace them (other than the cleats)?

The only upside I can find is that perhaps my feet will grow large and flat enough to resemble flippers, thereby giving me Michael Phelps-like speed on the swim in races.  I'm headed out for a run with the new clown shoes - perhaps I will stop by a kids birthday party as the entertainment along the way. . .

-Jen

 

September 23, 2008

What Women Want

What women want - what a totally loaded blog title.  I know, your minds are already reeling so let me give you some focus.  Today, Scott, the owner of Bucks County Bicycle will head to Las Vegas for Interbike.  Interbike is North America's largest bike trade show.  If it's part of the biking world it will be at Interbike.   Scott will be looking at all the latest and greatest in the cycling world, from bikes to clothes and all the parts in between.  He will be making decisions that will affect what is stocked in the store for the coming year. 

Okay, so what does that have to do with what women want?  Well, I've already told Scott he needs to think and shop like a woman if he wants to become a store that is woman friendly and can cater to the woman's cycling world.  Women look for different things, shop differently and expect stores to be friendly to them.  How many times have you gone to a store and immediately made a snap judgment based on the look or layout of the store.  So, my job here (or at least I've decided it will be) - to be outspoken about how to create a woman-friendly bike store.   Anyway, here's your chance to have a say. . .   What types of products, tri or otherwise, clothing or gear do you wish the "perfect woman-friendly bike shop" would have?  We all know that there aren't local tri-specific retailers on every corner - make that hardly any corners - so we are all used to the Internet shopping game for our gadgets, gear and a lot of times clothes (how horrendous is that when you have to order a bunch of stuff based on a size chart and then do the frustrating "try on, send back" game).

So, ladies, have your say.  Close your eyes and imagine your perfect bike/tri store. . . .  What do you want?  From little to big, to colors or designs, tell me what you want. . .

-Jen

PS.  I'll be passing the comments on to Scott - especially as he will be figuring out what clothes to stock for the coming year.

September 11, 2008

Fifteen Years

Img_3326 Fifteen years ago I was eighteen years old and headed to college convinced that I had "the plan" for my life all worked out.  I was determined in my pre-med major for college and felt I knew exactly how it would all work out. 

Here I am fifteen years later and I know that my former, younger self would laugh if asked to consider the possibilities of where I am now.   (Perhaps it all started when organic chemistry and I just couldn't get along.)

Fifteen years later I am a woman who has been happily married for ten years to my best friend, I have two wonderful boys who keep me constantly on my toes with their questions and curiosities - on my best day I learn at least five new things from them and for them, I have listened to a doctor tell me that I have cancer - twice, I have become a triathlete and challenged my body in ways I never knew possible and I have become a Woman Who Rides for Trek.    The list of changes, challenges and even sometimes defeats that I never envisioned goes on and on.  (And while I didn't become a doctor, let's just say that I'm an active part of the medical community!)

Change continues to occur for me and for our household.  Back to school last week brought change for all of us as we started a new year with some new routines and different challenges.  I too am part of that change.  For the first time in 9 years I am working where someone gives me a paycheck (For the past 9 years it has always been a struggle to find the right answer when I get the question, Do you work?  My answer has varied but most often I settled on, Yes, but no one writes me a paycheck.)  So, what, you ask, am I doing?  Drumroll please. . .I am working for Trek Dealer Bucks County Bicycle.  When owner Scott and I got to know each other last year before the Trek WSD Breast Cancer Awareness Ride, I never  thought that almost exactly a year later I would be working for a bike shop on event planning and learning the volume of things that I don't yet know about the world of cycling.

I am quite rusty at the concept of going to work and it makes me laugh when Jeff or the kids ask me, "How was work today?"  Funny how that was never asked before.

I won't sit and lecture you  - or me for that matter - with the platitude that "change is good."  Not all changes are.  Sometimes they just stink.  Cancer more than stinks but in the evolution of what has happened since then I have found changes that I couldn't have imagined but so many of which I am now grateful. 

None of us really like or welcome change.  We might say we do but we are programmed to be wary of that which we don't know.  It's just how we're built.  Change is challenging and well, most often, we like the easy, not scary way.  The amount of times I have said, "Um, I don't know in the first two days of work at the bike shop has got to be some kind of record.  I don't have the right words or perfect phrase that can encapsulate an attitude or life philosophy that can incorporate leaving room, in both mind and daily life, for openness to the unknown and the sometimes scary.  Maybe it's about the willingness to leap into the unknown.  What I do know is that I wouldn't have been able to know or say that fifteen years ago. . . .

Off to work. . . .

-Jen

August 5, 2008

Baked, Sauteed, Fried

SunI did something yesterday that I shouldn't have.  I took a 5 mile run.  I took a 5 mile run on a clear, sunny August day without sunscreen.  I am tired of sunscreen.  I am tired of the time it takes to apply it.  I am tired of the endless amounts I have tried.  I am tired of standing in the drugstore contemplating 15, 20, 50, 80, dry, sport, lightweight, waterproof, water-resistant, UVA, UVB.  I am tired of feeling greasy and slimy.  I am really tired of the "sweatproof" claims.  I have yet to meet any sunscreen that once applied to my face didn't meet the sweat of a humid run or ride and inevitably meet up with my eye-ball in a stinging mess.

I try to live up to the standards of the dermatology world but I just can't.  I have been wearing a hat when I run, but frankly that has been mostly an effort to control hair in my face - shade from the sun is just a by product of the effort.  I do own a few running shirts that actually have a 50 UPF within the fabric.  This year I also bought a rashguard shirt with 50 UPF to wear when I swim and am at the beach.  Even at races, after I get numbered, I apply some sunscreen, but ration the amount and application to my face because of the sweaty sting.  But, here's the thing - I see very few others doing the same.  I have heard of more and more racers using non-stick cooking spray as a lubricant before they don their wetsuit in order to ease its removal after the swim.  All I can think of when I hear that is, "mmmm. . . baked, sauteed and fried racer, butter flavor."

Unless you train entirely indoors, or entirely after dark (which I highly doubt anyone does), endurance athletes are out in the sun a lot.  Each time I go out to train these days I find myself, at least once muttering some kind of expletive about the huge hot ball of sun in the sky and our stupid holes in the atmosphere.  I have a friend (you know who you are), who last week admit to never using sunscreen.  There was a collective gasp of judgment among those in earshot but I have a feeling they were just happy to not be grilled on their own habits. So, here it is, I'm putting it out there - the third-rail of training, do you wear sunscreen when you train?  C'mon, you can be honest with me - it's only me and the rest of the blog world?  (You can even create a fake name in the comments if you want to admit you don't even know what sunscreen is or where to buy it).

Swim. Apply Sunscreen. Bike. More Sunscreen. Run. I'm So Sick of the Sunscreen. . .Repeat.

-Jen

PS. Sigh - I hate to say it, BUT, if you also have a recommendation on a non-stinging when sweat upon sunscreen, I guess I would be willing to try it.