Trek Women
August 31, 2007

The world is your fan club...

Tdf_rider1 Like a lot of cycling fans out there, I watched this year's Tour de France and rooted for the Discovery Channel Team riding the all new Trek Madones!

As the cyclists sped through the stages, you could see the fans lined up along the road to cheer on their favorites. And, it made me think back to when I began my weight loss journey.

As I've mentioned before, I hadn’t exercised in years. But, I knew physical activity was going to be critical for me to lose weight. I had to start somewhere and so I began walking in my neighborhood and joined a gym. 

Before_2_2I was petrified and spent a lot of time worrying about what other people must be thinking about me. “Ugh, look at the sweaty, slow, fat girl. Disgusting! She should just give up and never wear spandex anything again.” Or, at the gym, I would look around and know that I was the biggest person in there.

The light bulb went off, duh, why was I making it that much harder on myself. Who cares what other people think, what matters is how you feel about yourself.

And then, I took it one step further… I imagined that folks I passed on the street or saw at the gym were now my #1 fan club! In my new and improved internal conversation, they were saying things like, “Look at her go! You can do it!”

Now, whenever I see people of all sizes and shapes out there exercising, I always give them a mental cheer, “Way to go! You’re doing it!”

Try it and make the world your fan club. If all else fails, go with the old stand-by… picture all those would-be naysayers in their underwear.

August 28, 2007

Been there, tri'd that...

The sun was streaming through the bedroom window and I came awake in a heart-stopping panic... my alarm didn't go off and my back-up alarm didn't go off... I overslept and missed the Accenture Chicago Triathlon!

That was the nightmare I had about 30 minutes before I actually woke up, obsessive-compulsively checked my race bag for the 100th time, got dressed and headed downtown to set up my gear up in the transition area. It was 3:50 am and the highways were empty except for the occasional car with a bike strapped to the back. We were all headed toward the same destination, to take on the nation's largest tri. By 5:45 am, more than 6,000 participants were ready to go and at 6 am, the air horn blew for the first wave of swimmers.  I ran to the bathroom. Nerves.

At 8 am, I lined up in the start chute with my wave, #30, of women ages 35-39. That's where my super-cheerleaders found me -- my sister, Jen; my sister, Becky; my brother-in-law, Steve; and my 2-year-old nephew, Paddy. They were screaming like crazy and tears were in their eyes and they were probably as anxious as I was at that moment. They had made cute visors with "Go Laura" across the brim. This is it, I thought to myself.

All morning long, the word had been passing through the ranks, the water was cold, only 67 degrees. You could hear yelps every time a new wave jumped into the water. I didn't have a wetsuit, big newbie mistake. At 8:15 am, I jumped in. Oh my gawd, it was freezing!!! It knocked the breath out of me. At 8:17, the air horn sounded once again and we were off in an amalgam of flailing arms, kicking feet, and splashing murky green lake water.

I wish I could say that I took off swimming like Summer Sanders. In reality, I made it through the .93-mile course propeling forward more like Esther Williams. After all those hours in the pool, it wasn't how I wanted it to be; but, I made it through by thinking of all the people rooting for me and keeping my eye on the Chicago skyline in front of me. Next time, I'll do it better.

I was happy to make it through the first transition and onto my bike. Speed at last. It felt so good with the sun bouncing off the lake water and just enough wind on my face. The 22 miles were over too soon, I wanted more. My cheerleaders were there at the end of the bike leg, "Go Laura!" I heard them yelling. I sent them a thumb's up and transitioned to the run.

I hadn't really thought about the run as I was mentally preparing myself for the race. I was so worried about swimming in open water and catching a flat on the bike (though I had my repair kit), that I didn't have a run strategy beyond "don't trip." Well, I didn't trip and I quite enjoyed the beautiful scenery while I made my way to the finish line. Surprisingly, my pace was under a 10-minute mile - I wasn't expecting that at all. The last half mile, I mustered up all the juice that I had left and sprinted for the end. I did it! After training for seven months, I done did it! It was an exhilarating feeling to accomplish something I never would have dreamed possible.

If you had asked me during the swim if I would do another tri, I would have said hell no. But, once I got my legs during the bike and run, the answer changed to heck yeah. I'll be back next year.

Yesterday, I packed up the car and drove back to DC. The 12-hour trip gave me plenty to time to give my friends who called a breakdown of the race. Today, Russ, Wayne and I checked my stats on the tri web site. I was pleasantly shocked to see that I finished in the top third of all participants and top third in my wave and for my gender. My times weren't the most important thing to me; but, it's a nice bonus. Now, the question is... what next?

P.S. I have one more special kudo to give -- to Rob "the beast", my fomer spin instructor at the Marine Barrack's at 8th and I (who's now stationed at Quantico). Rob created a triathlon training plan for me and encouraged me every step of the way. Thank you!

P.P.S. My supercheerleaders couldn't find me at the finish line, so we recreated it in front of Becky and Steve's house. 

August 25, 2007

Crazy girl alert...

Honestly, I don't remember getting hit in the head. Because that must be the only reason I'm going to get up in a few short hours to go do the Chicago Triathlon. Yesterday, I drove from Washington DC to my sister's home outside of the Windy City. It ended being the only way that I could afford to get my Trek here in time for the race -- many trials and tribulations involved with that whole ordeal.

Anyway, while I was picking up my race packet and getting body-marked this afternoon, the reality of what I'm about to do struck. "Whatever possessed me to think that this was a good idea," I thought to myself. "I must be insane." Well, crazy is as crazy does and I am about to get certifiable.

Right now, I'm searching for my pre-race swagger. I know I can do this, now it's time to go. How's that for bravado. It helps that I'll have my family on the sidelines cheering me on and my friends back home tracking me through the alert system. Also, big thanks to everyone for your emails of support and especially to Jen Polo, my fellow Trek Woman, who sent me some great advice for getting through my first tri.

I'm off to bed, the dawn awaits.

August 22, 2007

I am a “Completitive” Athlete

Laura_maclean___bike3I was talking to my Mom and she asked me if I was ready for this Sunday's Accenture Chicago Triathlon, my first ever triathlon! I told her that I was really nervous but felt like I was pretty much right on schedule with my training. I shared with her that my ultimate goal is simply to finish the Olympic distance and be happy about my race.

She reminded me of when I was a competitive swimmer as a kid on a local youth team and in high school. She said that I was always more interested in training for a race than I was in actually racing. You know, she was right.

That got me to thinking about being a “competer” vs. a “completer.” Some might question, why race when you’re not going to win. I think that I'm like the millions of athletes out there who sign up for bike centuries, triathlons, 10K runs, marathons, masters swim meets, etc. because we want to see if we can rise to the challenge. Then, we sign up for another race to see if we can do it better.

I’ll probably never be a competitive athlete. That’s okay because I’m a “completitive” athlete. My prize is the feel good finish.

August 20, 2007

Happy Birthday Trek Women!

Laura_maclean2 When I woke up this morning, it felt like it was my birthday. You know that feeling you had as a kid of utter anticipation and sheer happiness, knowing it was your special day and that hopefully a big, pretty, wrapped present with a big old bow had your name on it.

I’ve got that feeling because today Trek Women is born and my gift is to be a part of this inspiring community of bikers. And, since it’s an official birthday rule, I get to make a wish and I’ll even tell you what it is… my wish is for each us to enjoy the simple pleasures of a breeze past our cheeks and the comforting “whirrrr” sound of our spinning wheels as we ride life’s path toward fulfilling all of our hopes and dreams. Now, let’s put our birthday girl tiaras on, play a round of musical chairs, blow out the candle, eat just the icing off the cake and celebrate. Happy birthday to you Trek Women and many more!

August 17, 2007

She's all mine...

I've been anxiously awaiting an important arrival since I found out that I was going to be a Trek Woman Who Rides. The great cycling stork paid a visit and a gorgeus Trek WSD 5000 road bike became mine, all mine; albeit with a little help from Sean Walker, General Manager, and staff at Revolution Cycles in Rockville, Maryland.

His team assembled my ride, then Sean did a custom fitting to fine tune the bike perfectly for me. We  added a pair of Speedplay pedals, a tire repair and inflation kit, and a mini pump. Sean also hooked up my new Trek bike computer, which will help me track my rides and performance!

I had to go back to work afterwards and there was no way that I was going to leave my precious new baby on the back of my car -- talk about gone in 60 seconds. I carried her up to my office and made everyone on my floor pick her up to see how light she is. Between taking peeks over my shoulder to stare at the bike and checking the clock to see when I could leave and go for a ride, well, I didn't win the employee of the day award, that's for sure. (Don't worry though, I made up for it over the weekend.)

At long last, the work day ended. I threw on some cycling gear, and drove over to Bethesda, MD to do the Capital Crescent trail. I had enough daylight to get in a 1-hour ride of pure heaven. Man oh man, the 5000 is fast. I was flying!

P.S. If you want to learn more about adjusting your bike and componets to fit your body correctly, here's a great little article from Revolution Cycle's website with some tips that you can do at home.

August 14, 2007

Anniversary of my new life...

Tonight was the 2-year anniversary of the start of my weight loss journey. About 730 days ago, my best friend, Russ, called me at the office and said… on Tuesday night, you’re leaving work on time for once, and you’re meeting me at Weight Watchers, and we are doing this together. I didn’t argue, hem haw, make excuses about looming deadlines, nothing. I simply replied, what time does the meeting start.

And that was the start of that.

That first Tuesday night, I stepped on the scale and told the weigher-in lady that I didn’t want her to tell me what I weighed. I already knew I was severely obese and got out of breath walking up a flight of stairs. I knew that hearing the number would be too devastating and overwhelming. I didn’t want to think about it, I just wanted to do it.

Tuesday night after Tuesday night, Russ and I stepped on the scale. Some weeks we lost, some we didn’t; the only thing that mattered was perseverance. I stopped trying to fill an emptiness I felt inside by overeating and convincing myself that I was a "workaholic" and didn’t have time to deal with my weight issues. Instead, I focused on exercising, leaving work on time, and making conscious food choices.

It took Russ about a year to reach his goal of losing more than 70 pounds. Even though he didn’t have to go to the meetings anymore, except for a monthly weigh-in, he still came with me every week. On March 13, 2007, I hit my goal weight after losing over 130 pounds.

Two years later and I look back at some of the incredible things that have happened… I can wear a size 6/8 (from a size 24); I can fit in airplane seats; I can run a 10k; I can ride 100+ miles on my bike; I can change my life. (Heck, I can even be an bonafide Trek blogger!)

It was easy being overweight; now I’m figuring out how to maintain my new life. My journey is far from complete; but I will persevere.

P.S. My most heartfelt gratitude goes out to Russ; my other best friend Wayne; my sister, Jen; my gym buddies and instructors; family and friends; and our Weight Watchers leader, Kim -– your support meant and continues to mean the world to me. I wouldn’t be having this anniversary without you.

August 11, 2007

This is burley...

So, said Ross Rushin after 20 minutes of climbing during my first ever mountain bike ride. I'd never heard the word before, but if it means what I think it means -- awesome, incredible, challenging, and down-right thrilling -- then burley rocks my world. Literally.

Ross works for Trek traveling around the South hosting "Fit for Women" WSD bike demos. Ross knows her bikes and even better, she's a lot of fun. You see, I drove up to attend one of her events in Asheville, NC. Hosted by the wonderful owners of Liberty Bikes, Claudia and Mike, Ross set up her demo racks of WSD bikes at a busy trailhead in Pisgah National Forest

As I was getting ready to take a WSD Madone out to tackle the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway, Ross asked if I was interested in mountain biking after the demo event. Heck ya, I'm always up for trying something new.

I took the Madone for a spin and it was like I was floating over the road. The OCLV 120 carbon frame and Bontrager Race wheels were super light and super fast. In comparison, my old bike felt like I was pushing a sofabed uphill both ways. I could have stayed out there all day, but I wanted to save some legs for my ride with Ross. Am I glad I did!

We set out with five guys from Florida who were in town for the Off-Road Assault on Mount Mitchell, a 63-mile race featuring 11,000 feet of accumulated climbing. The guys took off after giving us a piece of advice, when the path splits, stay left. Oh, and the first climb is a steep one. Okay, the first climb lasted like 40 minutes! Over rocks and gravel!! I had a couple of dodgy moments when I thought I was all but doomed to fall onto the sticker bushes lining the side of the trail.  Yet, we soldiered on and landed at the top.

Faced with a trail choice, we went left to singletrack. Did I mention I was riding a sweet Trek Fuel EX 7? Ross was in her element, catching air over dirt jumps and navigating tight turns. I was having the time of my life throwing myself down the mountain.  We rode for a couple of hours, then met up with the guys for dinner.

It was so burley.

P.S. And, yes, Ross and I thought the guys were really cute. 

August 8, 2007

Pleased to Meet You!

Laura_maclean___bike1 Let me be the first to welcome you to the brand spanking new Trek Women Who Ride community!

We’re women who grab life by the handlebars. We’re women who saddle up every chance we get in our busy schedules. Speed doesn’t matter, neither does distance or the bike whether it’s a road, mountain, fitness or leisure. The only thing that really counts is that cycling makes us feel good about ourselves.

Hi, my name is Laura. I’m 38, single, never been married, no kids, and I live in Washington, DC. My sister, Jen, and I share a rowhouse on Capitol Hill with our quirky cat, Uncao. I do communications/public relations specializing in social issues for a public health consulting firm. When I’m not out on the trails biking, I’m training for the Accenture Chicago Triathlon (my first one) and planning my next vacation abroad (I go to Europe 2-3 times a year).

Oh, and I lost a person. Yep, I lost more than 130 pounds!!!!

I made the decision to change my life in August 2005. By exercising and eating right, I reached my goal weight this past March, 19 months later. Just like a good bike ride, there were many ups and downs along the way; but, I never veered from the course. I wanted more than anything to transform myself into a strong, healthy, and fit woman and I did it. Now, the challenge is to maintain my weight loss and explore all those other scary life areas (aggh, dating).

I hope you enjoy my blog. I imagine we’ll talk about all kinds of things like taking off the lbs, training, travel, cool Trek stuff, tasty recipes and more. Along the way, please feel free to share your thoughts too.

To me, Trek means journey, and this is going to be quite a trip. Let’s take it together!!