Trek Women
February 13, 2009

"Training" with the Pros

Sister Buder_edited Late last week I had the fabulous opportunity to meet and hear 78-year young Ironman (or Ironwoman, as she would say) triathlete Sister Madonna Buder speak.  Our local hospital brought Sister Buder to speak on being active as a way to reduce cardiovascular disease.  It was all part of their participation in the American Heart Association's campaign, "Go Red for Women."  At 78, with over 300 triathlons (34 of them Ironman distance) and 4 Boston marathons to her credit, Sister Buder certainly is an inspiration and testament to leading an active life - and a woman who can tell some crazy training stories (think a training ride, gravel and trying to make it to mass on time.)   She is also humble as humble can be - perfect for a group that is looking for some encouragment to be active.  Sister Buder encouraged taking a walk right up there with completing an Ironman triathlon.  After her talk I was able to meet Sister Buder and talk training - we ended up laughing and agreeing on one fact:  Some people view training as something crazy and wonder "How can you do that?"  We, on the other hand, end up wondering how we could ever possible NOT train - it's just part of who we are now and we feel better and are better people for doing it.

So far, in the past year, I've come to "train" (aka meet and chat with), Olympic swimmer Eric Shanteau, amazing cyclist Selene Yeager (Fitchick at Bicycling Magazine and Ironman herself), and now Sister Buder.  These are  just the few amazing athletes (and this includes many of you out there who I haven't actually "met") - pro or amateur - that I've met over the past two years who have taught me something about training or racing.  Two things come to mind when I realize the amazing talent I've had the opportunity to come in contact with - 1) Wow! I can't think of other professional sports where I would have these types of opportunities to get training tips straight from the pros (because, while I will still hold out hope, I don't think I will be hagin' with Derek Jeter of the NY Yankees anytime soon - although if anyone has a ny connections, by all means let me know)  and 2) If only a little of their talent can rub off on me or if I can perform some kind of osmotic-like training from meeting them then I should be all set for this season. . .

-Jen

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 15, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

There are many times that I wished I lived in Australia, or really anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere for that matter.  Us Northern Hemisphere occupants have ourselves completely backward.  We choose to have January 1st and all its perceived new year hoopla occur when most of the country is at its coldest, grayest and least inspiring of words like "fresh start" and "new goals."    So while I've been struggling mightily with motivation, I'm feeling especially bad for all those "resolution makers" occupying all the spaces at the gym right now - Could it possibly be any harder to motivate yourself to get to the gym?  Side-note: Forecast for Melbourne, Australia today - 70 degrees and mostly sunny (not that I'm bitter - cold, that is).

My new year tends to coincide with the start of school in September and/or to find that feeling come the beginning of April when the weather gets warm and I can relish in the beauty of all outdoor training again (without layering).  In November, I knew that if I waited for April to have that fresh start feeling to my tri season it would essentially be too late.  Race companies are increasingly opening up registration for even local races in November or December forcing athletes to commit to race schedules months in advance (tough for the cancer survivor amateur athlete who relies a lot on the "wait and see" attitude, but I guess we're a small slice of the racing population). 

For the past two years, my race season hasn't kicked off until mid July.  For the past two years I've also had to bail on anything involving off-season training.  This year I didn't have anything blocking my path to earlier training.  So, I made a bold move - I signed up to race the Memphis in May triathlon (isn't it cool that all the information you need is right there in the title of the race?) for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training Program (TNT).  This will be my first "destination" tri but luckily the great TNT tri coordinator gets to be the one who worries about getting my bike from point A to point B (a big plus in my book). 

So, on January 1st, with a committed race less than 20 weeks away I had to start training.  What was I thinking?  It is cold.  It is gray.  Motivation is low.  My rear hurts from sitting on my bike trainer.  I have to dress like the Michelin man just to get to the gym to swim.  I stink at treadmill running. I turned my ankle on January 2nd just trying to go upstairs (I should have taken this as a sign). Seriously. What. Was. I. Thinking?  I don't need a destination tri - I need some destination training.  But, at least having the race out there on the calendar is forcing me to push forward.  My training volume isn't where it should be on my training plan but the running had to be sidelined last week to let my ankle heal. 

So, there you have it - 17 weeks until my first big race of the season.  I have some specific goals for the race but let's see where we are in March before I share those. . . .

Back to the bike trainer. . .

-Jen

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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 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

November 4, 2008

A Matter of Degrees

ERic Shanteau Have you ever played the game that involves figuring out how many people (or degrees) separate you from someone famous?  Well, as of Sunday afternoon I can now say I am now zero degrees from an Olympic athlete.  On Sunday, I met Eric Shanteau, the American Olympic swimmer who was diagnosed with testicular cancer right before the Olympic trials who went on to compete in the Olympics in Beijing.

Eric (we're on a first name basis now) spoke about his cancer diagnosis and his history in swimming and the work in achieving his dream of being an Olympic swimmer.

At the same event, a friend of mine was speaking about women who have never done triathlons before and the barriers to getting women involved in the sport knowing that it is something that many, many women can achieve but are afraid to try. 

What she left us with was the thought that woman are capable of so many things they can't even dream possible.  What struck me most was her final thought when she told us that everyday we should do something that we fear.  First I had to get past the notion that I didn't know I had such a profound friend (no one really sounds profound when you are spinning or running right next to them at top effort) and then I thought about her words.  I have been a little stuck with the notion ever since.  I'm not sure it's because I don't know what would happen if I tried something everyday that made me afraid or if I'm more afraid to actually identify a list that long of things that I'm afraid to try.  But, it has me thinking. . .  I know I'm still afraid of an ocean swim in a tri - I'm petrified of getting eaten (irrational but it's my fear).  Do you think it's even possible to do something, little or big, that you fear every day?  Will facing day to day fears help me become a better athlete, better my mental focus when I race, or at least be less afraid of the pain that sometimes is a part of racing your best?

-Jen

PS.  If only I had been able to convince Eric to become my swim coach - then I could swim faster than whatever is out there in the ocean that could eat me. . .


October 24, 2008

Triathlete Pet Peeve #3

Dictionary Yes, you read that right - we are on to triathlete pet peeve #3.  I thought I was done with the two pet peeves but then it hit again yesterday as I was doing some blog work.  Why is it that no one can spell triathlon or triathlete?  The most common error is to add an extra syllable to the word by sticking in an 'a' or an 'o', as in "triath-a-lon" or "triath-o-lon."

I understand that it's probably not on the elementary school frequently used words list.  I also understand that unless you are involved in the sport, you might not have much need to know or care how to spell it.   But, here's the thing - what has really pushed me over the edge into calling this a pet peeve is this:  I have been blogging about triathlon for over 15 months now and the blogging software spell check  (through a couple of upgrades), and  my computer spell check, don't recognize the word as even existing!  Each time I blog, I inevitably end up with spell check stopping at all the instances of triathlete or triathlon.  If you don't know how to spell it correctly but you at least have the decency to click the spell check button, how does it help anyone to have the program not even recognize the word, spelled correctly or not?  It still frustrates me when people involved in the sport can't spell it correctly, but now I understand - it might not be their fault entirely.  Does anyone know how you can petition to have a word included in spell check?  I'm no computer programmer but I would have thought somehow Merriam-Webster's Dictionary would have just handed over the latest dictionary to the computer programmers and said "start typing. . ."

I'm doing a test right now. . .Let's see which other sport names I can type that the spell check doesn't recognize and we'll know where they rank.  Football, baseball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, basketball, swimming, diving, javelin, hurdles, wrestling, curling, discus, polo, dressage, shuffleboard. . . .

Test complete:  It recognized all of those sports.  The hilarity is that I got the idea for this post yesterday and then overnight the blogging software upgraded to a new look and platform.  First time with the new spell check and it, of course, flagged 'triathlete' and 'triathlon' (and none of those other sports - I would have thought for sure I could have tripped it up with dressage).  When I clicked the first instance of 'triathlete',  it actually suggested, and had written, 'triathlon.'  I thought I was going to have to delete this whole post but. . . .wait for it. . . .when I got to the word 'triathlon' it didn't recognize it at all, instead asking me if I had really meant Lon, Leon, Lion, LPN. . . .

-Jen