Trek Women
March 16, 2009

See One. Do One. Teach One.

012 For anyone who is or has ever been a fan of medical TV shows, you are probably familiar with the phrase, See one. Do one. Teach one. Well, if medical professionals can use it, why can't fitness instructors?

A week or so ago I faced the challenge of teaching my first spinning class.

See One:  I've been to probably at least a good hundred spin class - some good, some fabulous, some tragically awful, and some where I thought the instructor must be from another planet. 

Do One:  Ditto with the See One.  I know what I like in an instructor.  Good balance between encouragement and letting me sweat up the hill without talking my ear off.  Reminders when I'm getting sloppy on my form.  Good music that pumps me up.  And the intangible - the sweaty spent feeling of a great workout that somehow leaves me  MORE energized for the rest of the day, despite that searing burn in my quads not 5 minutes ago.

Teach One:  Much, much trickier.  It's one thing to spend all the time on the other side of the bike, mentally making those notes, "if I were the instructor I would/wouldn't do that. . . "   The problem is that those amazing instructors make everything look so easy and effortless that you take for granted the work that it really is.  A late afternoon class meant spending the day listening to my music, stressed that I wasn't going to get the timing right and that I would do everything short of falling off the bike.  I used my kids as my confessional after school pick-up and on the way to the gym.  Cameron's quick answer, "Mom, a lot of these people are your friends, right?  Well, they're not going to tell you if you're doing a bad job. . . "  Fair point - score a comfort-mom point for the 8-year old.  They spent the rest of the ride composing a highly technical rating system that could be used to judge my performance (as well as rate the music played).  I think it was akin to using a telephone poll, the evening post-class:

"Hello.  We would like to have you complete a short survey regarding your spin class experience this afternoon.  To proceed in English, press 1.  Para Espanol, numero dos.  Using the following numbers on your touch-tone phone, please rate our mom's ability as a spin instructor.  Press 1, if you liked the class, thought she was a decent instructor and will return again.  Press 2 if the class was so bad, you hope to never run into her in the grocery store, post office, or bank.  Press 3 if you are her friend and would like us to just let her down easy.  We thank you for helping us deal with our neurotic mom.  Good-bye.  Click."

Class went well for me.  I was able to work the music, know the routine, and even work the timing for some jumps.  Everyone was sweating at the end but seemed energized.  Just how I like an instructor to make me feel.


March 3, 2009


104I love my niece.  Haley is a smart, funny, silly, and articulate 5 year old girl all wrapped up in an extremely pint-sized package.  I don't see her or my nephew nearly enough.  Last year I went a whole year without seeing them - Christmas to Christmas.  This Christmas after watching my boys cry over leaving their cousins, enough was enough.  We used a boat-load of frequent flyer miles for the boys and I to fly cross-country to California for a visit over President's Day weekend.  I planned on being "off the grid" for some sun, relaxation and playtime over 5 days. 

What happened instead was this:  Day 1: Rain.  Day 2: I re-rolled my healing sprained ankle in a game of keep-away at the park. I hobbled home from the park.  Day 3: Haley spiked a 105 degree fever.  Day 4: More rain; Haley's fever breaks  Day 5: I woke up having become the new host to whatever virus Haley had.  Oh, and it was also time to leave. 

I flew a red-eye flight home popping cough drop after cough drop.  I subsequently descended into a bronchitis so severe that is has essentially kept me in bed for two weeks.  During this whole episode I managed to cough hard enough, for long enough, that I tore (and not in a micro, building new muscle kind of way) two lower abdominal muscles that are still healing. (Note - if this happens to you, don't let your kids challenge you to a plank contest - it is very painful).

And, just when I was feeling at the end of my rope (and bottom of my 5th Kleenex box), the tide turned.  Last Friday was 60 degrees and sunny - I lamented not being able to climb (slowly) a flight of stairs without doubling over.  A bike ride would have to wait until next week.  My coughing eased over the weekend, although I still have my moments.  But by Saturday I knew I would be ready to get back to training on Monday.  Then it snowed - A LOT (at least for here).  Derailed again.

While wallowing in my bed of sickness I saw no light at the end of the tunnel.  My ankle hurt, my nose was runny, I was hopped up on cough syrup and every fiber of my being hurt.  The thought that I could get back to training, let alone meet my goals for May seemed unfathomable.   As my coughing has eased, I've found a better frame of mind.  Everyone is going to get derailed, I'm not the only one (even though sometimes it's hard to feel that way) - that's just life.   It might be sickness that prevents training, a busy time of work, an unforeseen injury or just expectations that need adjustment.  But, that's what derailing does for us - it doesn't take us completely out of the game.  It just puts a hill for us to climb in our path.  It causes us to use the derailleur and shift our gears, make adjustments and find our way either up and over at a new pace or look for an alternate route to get back to our path.  But either way, it is simply something looking for an adjustment - in my case - perhaps a downshifting in my expectations for May.  I used all that time coughing and not training to rest my ankle and work on strengthening exercises.  I'm still here and in this - to race and for what it represents to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  I'm sure that there will be other things to derail me in the time leading up to my race in May.  Good thing I have a lot of gears to choose from. . . 


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. . .


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. . . .


January 29, 2009

Two Too Many?

When I finished my las tri for the season last September, I put away my swimsuit and goggles in exchange for my bike and running shoes.  Who can blame me?  Faced with the beauty of fall weather, who wants to slide themselves into an indoor chlorinated pool for the sake of training.  I spent the fall cycling for enjoyment and running to improve my weakest sport.  It all paid off.  I enjoyed my time on the bike more than I ever have and did actually improve my running right into a new half marathon PR in November.  The swimsuit and goggles remained tucked away until Jan 1st.

When I started swimming again, almost a month ago, I swore my gym had installed a current of some kind along with extra thick and heavy water.  I felt like a fish flopping and gasping, swimming against a current. (And to think, when I started my road to triathlon, the swim was the only thing in which I felt confidence.)   I've spent a month silently cursing my loss of swim fitness, while massaging my tender triceps and sore shoulders.  But, at least I still had cycling and running, right?

After the half-marathon, I took two weeks off from running - I needed the overall break and some recovery time.  Then the holidays hit where my workouts were sporadic, unstructured and mostly about blowing off holiday stress.  It was exactly what I needed during December as a break from a more formal training routine.  On January 2nd, however, I twisted my ankle by simply walking (again, still amazing such a klutz can actually race 3 sports, right?).  I laid off the running, and besides, it had quickly become clear that I needed to reinvest myself in the art of swimming.  Then, two weeks ago I was able to return to running, or, as I'm sure it looked to the rest of the world, something known as "barely moving on a treadmill while gasping from the effort."

Every time I take one step forward, I take two steps back.  If I allow myself to focus on one sport, I rapidly lose the ability to have ability in the other two.  I'm the first one to say that triathlon in and of itself is one of the greatest challenges because of its three sport nature.  Very, very few people can naturally excel in all three areas.  Ask any honest triathlete and they will own up to at least one area being their weakest no matter how much training they put into improvement.  So, while I try to accept the realistic training hour limitations I have in my schedule, I am back on the wagon with all three sports so that I don't have to keep starting over.  But, juggling the schedule of three sports, especially during the winter, is constantly having me ask myself, is this two sports too many?  How do I balance out my abilities and know how to best invest my training time?  Coach Tom forwarded me this article awhile back that I revisited recently as I struggled to figure out my athletic balance and whether or not it is feasible for me to try and achieve my best in all 3 sports (or at least all in the same race).  Let me know your thoughts and if you struggle in the same ways with your training.


PS.  And, to make matters funnier, because I don't mind if you laugh at my expense - all this specific training has left my strength training non-existent.  So, in a moment of endorphins overload I did some strength training last week and paid for it with Day After Muscle Soreness (aka "Help I can't lift my arms above shoulder level!") and Day After That Muscle Soreness followed by Day After That Day After Muscle Soreness. . . .    Laugh Away. . . .

January 19, 2009


Calc Many people ask me how I plan my training.  I am extremely fortunate to have Coach Tom, whom I met when he became the triathlon coach for Team Survivor, and a masterful training program/spreadsheet that he created.  It lists each week of training from January 1st through September, which is when I expect I will wrap my season for 2009.  By entering (or manipulating, as I like to do) the number of total hours I will train for the year, the training spreadsheet will then show me how many hours each week I will be training, accounting for race weeks, tapers, recovery weeks and the like.  It then further breaks each week into swim, bike and run portions, dependent on the percentage of time I want to devote to each sport (more swim this time of year, for example).  In December, when I was getting my program ready, I felt completely comfortable looking at a spreadsheet with weekly volumes of 9-12+ hours of training a week.  Looking at the breakdowns and time for each trainer session, run or swim, for January, I thought, "no problem, I can knock that out easy."

Well, two weeks in I've spotted a miscalculation.  I timed myself the other day and door to door a 61 minute swim session set me back two hours (and that was without factoring in the gym-bag packing exercise).  I had to drive to the gym, get dressed, swim for 61 minutes, stretch, take a shower, get dressed, dry my hair and drive home.  Sure, if I ride my trainer or get out for a run, the time is a little less because I'm not having to drive anywhere but it's still not a 1:1 correlation.  Depending on my level of sweaty, and the timing of the next workout, a shower and changing are usually involved.  The stretching - can't nix that either.  Eating following a workout - nope, not gonna cut that either.  So, I am looking at my training plan with fresh eyes.  If I have to double the amount of time involved to take into account all the parts that accompany the training, I am looking at weeks of 18-24+ hours of training.  I'm not sure that I have that kind of time - in fact, I'm fairly certain I don't, at least without cutting sleep which is completely non-negotiable.  How do you fit it all in? 

So, this week I will tinker.  My ankle is healing nicely and I was able to give it a test run late last week with no problems.  I will fit in as much training as is do-able and then see where I am at, how many actual training hours I am able to accomplish and then plan from there. . .


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. . .



January 7, 2009


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.


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. . . .


January 6, 2009

Holiday Bubble

159 If I must, I will wish all of you out there a Happy New Year.  I am slow entering the New Year not because I had particular attachment to 2008 but because, for the past two weeks, I have been living in the holiday bubble.  I think it started slowly with Thanksgiving - being away and then returning home with all the once-a-year things that come with the holidays.  But, then came Dec 23rd where my brain took a vacation - a much needed vacation. 

We did Christmas here and then boarded a plane the day after for my parents house in Colorado where my whole family gathered.  I got to spend over a week playing with my niece and nephew whom I haven't seen in a year and spend a significant portion of time (read: all day, every day) generally doing nothing (unless you count flag football, bowling or swimming which are a far cry from working, cooking or bill-paying).  I have some well lived in pajamas (and a belly full of cookies.) 

I spent over a week not checking e-mail (any of the 3 accounts), or thinking any of the  "what I should be doing" thoughts.  I truly unplugged.  179 And, because I wasn't in my own house I couldn't even play the "I'm relaxing by not doing anything but mentally making list after list as I look around and see all the things in my house that need attention" game.   When we arrived back home this past weekend, we rolled right into some hockey games for the boys and more pajama time as 160we re-introduced ourselves to the kids toys (some assembly and batteries required).   The only thing we did as an acknowledgment of sorts to the new year was to drag our sad, dying Christmas tree out of the house.  Jeff momentarily dumped it on the driveway and it left behind a a tree shaped pile of dead needles.  It looked like we should have drawn a chalk outline around it to symbolize it's demise.  That should have been a clue of things to come.  

When the alarm went off yesterday morning to get the boys up for school we were all a little dazed and confused.  There was crying that vacations were too short (Brendan) and a general grumpiness about releasing the warm and comfortable blankets and pajamas (me).  It doesn't help that I started the new year with a reminder to my family about how many days left until Daylight Saving Time (41).

Knowing myself and that my brain operates in slow speed during the first part of January, I thought through plans for the new year before the holidays so that I could hit the ground running (an unfortunate turn of phrase - it's really more of a meandering walk).  Luckily, while I pick myself up from the thud of hitting the ground when the holiday bubble burst, I can still wear my pajamas at the computer this week while I share with you more of my plans for 2009. . .


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.


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