Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

My family is awesome so almost everything we have at Thanksgiving is gluten free. The only things I can't eat are the stuffing (which I don't like anyway, or I'm sure we'd make that gluten free too) and the rolls (but there's half a loaf of fresh gf bread that my mom baked for me as if I need the extra carbs!). Of course, I had to field a lot of questions and I had to google a lot of products to figure out if they were gluten free or not. I mostly just eat whole foods so I'm not familiar with a lot of products. What a headache to find out what the natural and artificial flavors in something really are, or whether the vinegar is distilled, and malt is out of the question. And don't grease that pan with Pam that has added flour in it please! It's enough to drive anyone crazy. I wish everyone out there a happy Thanksgiving, and hopefully a gluten free one if that's what you need!  These pictures are from last year because we haven't eaten dinner yet, but last year we had six pies and if I remember correctly four of them were gluten free. Blueberry, pecan, apple-cranberry, and a crustless sweet potato pie. This year's menu has just apple-cranberry and pecan but that should be plenty to choose from! My mom is a bake-aholic. I've been snacking all week on brownies, snickerdoodles, mini-pumpkin pies, bread, etc. It's really too bad I couldn't do a Turkey Trot this morning! I haven't quite figured out how to justify this week's food fest, but at least I took the dog for a long walk this morning!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ironman Ironman Ironman!

YAY, my friend Rose crossed the finish line 2 weeks ago at Ironman Florida shortly before midnight. She is an Ironman! I love tracking people at and IMFL was a perfect day for me as a spectator - all the people I was tracking finished! I was so excited to be watching the finish line webcam and see Rose cross that line. I took a screen shot of her after she got her medal. I even took a video of her finish with my camera. So yes, I filmed Rose's finish through my computer monitor. Thank goodness for technology. Too bad the speakers at the finish line didn't transmit my screaming cheers for her!!

Right after Ironman Florida, I received super nice emails from both Rose and Glen thanking me for the inspiration and support. I think Ironman is kind of a pass-it-on sport. It's something I think every triathlete thinks about, even if it's just for a split second before dismissing the idea. But there are a lot of us who think "someday" and then they just meet the right person who has crossed that finish line who says what everyone else has said: "you can do it!" There's no time like the presence. Carpe diem people! You never know what life is going to hand out, so you might as well just do it while you can.

Ironman Arizona is this Sunday. I am super excited about it!!!  Any readers doing it, or know someone doing it? A woman I know named Jamie will be doing it as her first Ironman. I am super excited for her. It is a very spectator friendly course and she is bringing some serious spectators with her. That's the way to do it!

In other news, I am finding more and more yummy gluten free packaged snacks! Thinking about working on a gluten free food review blog, but not sure it is a great idea since I am so slow about updating this one!

Oh and my hip still hurts. I got new shoes and went running twice last week. I was reeeally careful with it. I mean 5 minute walk to warm up, 1 min jog, 1 min walk (repeat 10 or 12 times), 5 minute walk to cool down. And then 3 days later I did 1 min jog and 2 min walk, with the same warmup/cooldown. And my hip hurts!!!!!! I'm so mad about it. I decided not to run again until the follow-up with my orthopedist where we get to discuss how well the shot worked at fixing the problem (i.e. not well enough!). In case anyone is keeping track, I asked about the injection and it was a steroid/anti-inflammatory. So even with steroids my hip hurts. I should just get a big L on my forehead.

One of these days I'm going to post about all my winter riding gear again. I am trying to stick with the commute through the cold, rain, and fog this year. I have so much reflective gear that I think if someone took a photo of me on my bike, the picture would just look like a bright light due to the flash reflecting. I am definitely making sure that I am seen!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ironman Florida!

I know three people racing Ironman Florida today. I just saw one of them cross the finish line, watching the live feed of the finish line on Wonder how many other people are out there on their computers at home tracking their friends online, adding up hours and minutes and seconds and trying to predict when their triathlete buddies are going to cross the finish. I've done it many times and only managed to see friends finish twice. So glad Glen, #1300, crossed the finish line before my oven beeped to let me know my Amy's gluten free roasted veggie pizza was ready! Hmmm drinking Redbridge beer and eating pizza today, while a year ago I was racing an Ironman. My how times change! I'm planning to get new running shoes in the next few days and then start running again and see how my hip holds up! Still waiting for Bob, #1994, to cross the finish. And still cheering as loudly as possible for my friend Rose who is about to finish the first half of the run. I'm hoping she can hear me cheer all the way across the country. GO ROSE!

Friday, October 29, 2010

MRI results and BJs Brewery

MRI results are in! Short story: no tears in any muscles or ligaments, etc. (yay - no surgery!) I've actually got bursitis/tendinitis on both sides, it's just worse on the right side so that's what I notice. The fluid hits my IT band too. I received an anti-inflammatory injection directly into the bursa of my right hip and my doctor said I can start running again, 2-3x per week, but not on consecutive days, and obviously to ease back into it. I'm going back in a few weeks to see if the shot helped and if it did, he'll give me a shot in the other side. I asked him what the chances are that I could do an Ironman next fall (since Ironman Arizona and Florida registrations are just in a few weeks) and he said "a good chance." (I verified he knew the distances for Ironman; this doc knows his triathletes!) I am also going to see his nutritionist to get me on a good regime of glucosamine, vitamin D, etc, which he thinks should help solve this thing. I was so tempted to go for a run the moment I got the news, but I really need to buy new running shoes first. But hopefully in another week I can post about my first run!

In other news, I almost had a gluten free dining disaster tonight at BJ's Brewhouse. I hadn't been there in eons but my mom's in town and I'd heard they had a gluten free menu. We had to wait awhile so I asked for a copy of the gluten free menu while we waited. The gf menu is printed on the restaurant's allergy information sheet. Picture a long list of every item on the regular menu next to checkboxes for which of the most common allergens are in those items. (Or how about if you really want to, just go look at the menu by clicking here.) So I happened to notice that the flame-broiled New York strip steak is on the gluten free menu, but the allergen list indicates it has wheat in it! In typical gluten free inquiry fashion, the first person I asked to explain this discrepancy had to go find a manager (but he did so super promptly!). She immediately caught on to the problem I was pointing out and asked the kitchen manager. Low and behold, despite the steak being on the gluten free menu, it is not gluten free. This type of thing is exactly why I don't eat at restaurants very much. However, the staff at BJ's reassured me on many levels. The first manager I spoke to (who asked the kitchen manager to clarify the gluten freeness of the steak) went straight to her boss who immediately emailed the regional manager to figure out what the deal is with the menus. All in all, I would recommend BJ's for their attention to detail with gluten free items. The managers answered all of my questions about the different items and how they ensured that orders really were gluten free. It sounds like they follow very good practices on keeping things separate. The people who prepare gf orders are certified gluten free cooks! Things like that. So, assuming I don't wake up with any symptoms, I'd totally go back to BJ's, and I'd love to see other restaurants educate themselves as much about gluten as the managerial staff I spoke to tonight at my local BJ's. In case anyone cares, I had a baked potato with chicken and broccoli, and a Redbridge gluten free beer!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Survived the MRI!

Saturday afternoon I popped a sedative and bravely faced the tight quarters of an MRI machine so that my doctor could get a good look at what is going on inside my hip. I am really claustrophobic so have had open MRIs in the past, but this time I was told the open MRI wouldn't give a good enough image. (It doesn't matter now, but about 10 years ago I had an open MRI on my shoulder after multiple dislocations, and it didn't show any tears, but I had surgery to shrink the capsule to stop the dislocations and once they cut me open they found cartilage tears. So maybe the open MRI thing doesn't really do what it should.) I pretty much freaked out when I found out I had to have the traditional MRI. And googling "claustrophobia MRI" is not a good idea. I wasn't convinced the valium would do the trick, but I also really, really, really want to figure out what is wrong so I can start running again! So I thought I would at least give it the old college try. Obviously you have to get someone to drive you to these things if you're taking a sedative. I am really thankful to all my friends who offered to be my chauffeur, and especially to JenHen who took great care of me before and after while I was a little loopy.

In case anyone finds this while searching for information on how to survive a hip MRI despite being claustrophobic, I thought I'd share these details about my experience. First, my MRI place apparently has valium available if your doctor okays it, but only certain days of the week. Since I was going on Saturday I had to get a prescription and bring it myself. Normally they have you take it 30 minutes before the procedure starts. I asked the pharmacist how long the drug would last and he said maybe 4-6 hours, so suggested I take it an hour ahead of time to be sure it kicked in. So that was my plan. Unfortunately I arrived early, and they took me in early! I didn't feel like it had kicked in. You have to remove all the metal from your person. I had even taken off my nail polish since I decided to worry about the sparkles in it being metallic and causing a problem in the MRI machine and I hoped that the surgeon who performed my appendectomy a few years ago remembered to remove all the metal tools.

I'd tried to find out if my head would be out of the machine, but nobody could tell me definitively. I googled that too of course and found out that "it depends." Some machines are longer than others. Some people are taller than others. etc etc. I laid down on the machine bit that rolls in and out of the big MRI tube. That's about when the tears started. I wondered if I would be tough enough to last through the whole procedure. Lucky me, I got to be on the Discovery MR750 which has a 3T magnet, which is pretty awesome, so instead of it being 45-60 minutes, like my doctor told me, and everyone else who I asked, it was less than 30 minutes. I asked "how long" just before getting pushed in, and when I heard less than 30, I felt such relief and said "okay, I can do that!" I kept my eyes tightly shut the whole time so that I wouldn't know how far into the machine I really was. The machine had an awesome ventilation system which I think they turned up to the max for me, so I felt air blowing on my face the whole time and I could pretend I was outside riding my bike. The guy operating the machine was super nice and had a calming influence. I could hear him and he could hear me. At one point early on he asked me how I was doing but I was focusing so much on staying calm I couldn't say anything or I thought I would lose it! The machine itself is pretty loud but they gave me ear plugs, and the noise didn't bother me. I found the noise reassuring actually; it was letting me know the test was actually happening and yay that meant progressing towards a diagnosis for me. I wondered about the technology and kind of wished I had researched more about how the MRI machine works, but since I didn't know, I just entertained myself by making up ideas of what the machine was doing to correspond with each bizarre mechanical sound I heard.

Mostly during the MRI I chanted the yoga mantra which had gotten me through the marathon at Ironman Florida.  I thought about how hard some of those miles were but I survived that, and I thought about how much I really want to do another Ironman but clearly my hip problem needs to be resolved first! And I thought about how brave my dog Sierra had been going to the vet to get her vaccinations and that I should be able to tough this out too. Before long the guy was telling me I only had two more tests. At one point I was trying to keep track of the minutes by adding up however long each test was going to take - he would tell me things like okay "this next test is 1 minute" or "this one is 3.5 minutes." But after awhile I was relaxed enough that I just kept thinking happy thoughts and how awesome it was that I was going to survive this dreadful MRI. Can't wait to get the results!

My reward for surviving the MRI - a gluten free cinnamon roll from Azna's Gluten Free Bakery. YUM.  We drove right past Gluten Free Specialty on the way to the MRI so I just popped in and grabbed the Azna roll for later.  I meant to take a photo of the inner layers of yumminess since I saved half for today, but I was a little too excited about the cinnamon roll and just ate it. So here is a picture from the Azna website instead.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I am so jealous of all the awesome athletes racing in Kona today! I am tracking a few people online at for the Ironman World Championships today. Craig Alexander and Chris McCormack are always on my A list because I met them in St Croix after my first half ironman and they were both so nice! Also number 244, Lenore, is a 67 year old woman who qualified for Kona by winning her age group at Ironman Florida 2009. We chatted a little bit during the first few miles of the run. The crowd was going crazy for her. I hope she is having a fabulous time today! Also racing (I think) is a guy I saw finish at Ironman Arizona last year just before midnight. He was first in his age group and qualified for Kona by suffering his way to that finish line before midnight. It's always heartbreaking when people don't get to the finish in time. Here's to hoping that everyone out there today in Kona squeaks past all the cutoff times!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hip update!

After months and months of my right hip bothering me, I finally saw an orthopedist today. My xray had come back normal, so next on the list is an MRI. In the meantime, I'm still not allowed to run but the doctor said I could try the elliptical machine and to bike in a low gear when I ride to hopefully reduce/eliminate any cycling pain. I am looking forward to getting some real exercise. Sorry swimming, you know I love you, but mostly only when the ocean is involved. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Physical Therapy Visit

I started physical therapy for my hip last week. Are the exercises supposed to be making it more sore? I feel like I should be allowed to run if I have to deal with hip soreness anyway. The physical therapist wasn't very helpful in giving me a specific diagnosis. (Hip tendonitis bores me. I want a more specific diagnosis. Which part of the hip exactly? I've found two types of hip tendonitis on google.) She checked my range of motion, checked my resistence ability (pushing against my leg in different directions, not my ability to resist donuts or anything like that), and essentially said "you're weird." Twice she told me I was saying it hurt in a place that shouldn't have hurt. She also seemed surprised my doctor hadn't asked for an xray or MRI or anything. So I'll give PT another week or two before I start harassing my doctor again. I need to go buy a bottle of ibuprofen, which seems imperative to my recovery. That plus my PT exercises 2-3 times a day, followed by stretching, and ice. The PT exercise essentially entails wrapping a looped theraband around my knees and doing the opposite of the thigh-master movement. The stretch (pictured here) is one of the same IT band stretches I did all last year; the PT even gave me a printout from the same website I originally used to learn the stretch. I'm not really convinced PT is going to help because it doesn't seem like anything new, other than the hip abductor exercise which makes my hip more sore. Well that plus the ultrasound which seemed to make it feel a little better too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's hard not to run

As Sun Safe Barbie mentioned in her comment on my last post, it is hard to rest!  I'm busy at work so it's not like I have oodles of time to exercise right now anyways, but even when I am just walking the dog, it's really hard not to break into a run with her every so often. I took Sierra on an hour long walk last weekend, and my hip started hurting near the end, and now it's been hurting more all week. Just from walking! I don't want to end up like my coach Jamima and need hip surgery though so I am trying to follow doctor's orders as best I can. I start physical therapy next week. Hopefully once this month is over I'll be able to start swimming before work a few times a week. I'm feeling really out of shape these days!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Updates and superheroes

My doc says I've got tendonitis in my hip and that I need to give it a break! She advised rest, ice, ibuprofen, etc. The usual stuff. I explained I'd been doing that for a few months, but apparently our definitions of "rest" are different. So now I am really resting and am avoiding running for a few months. (Starting, you know, the day after she told me this. I just had to go for a short run that afternoon to get my last run in. A lot like "the diet starts tomorrow" I guess.) I haven't even been on my bike in weeks. I haven't even gone swimming - although that's because I've got a kink in my neck. About that the doc says "reduce stress." That's why I had to go for that run. 

I just read RBR's Yosemite half dome hike report, and it confirmed what I'd already suspected. There is no way I am ever doing that hike. First, it is really difficult and there is no medal when you finish. Second, I am terrified of heights. (If you're not already reading RBR's blog, well, you're seriously missing out.)

Even though I am not in training, I've decided what I really want is a tri top and tri shorts that somewhat resembles Wonder Woman's outfit. I think that would rock. Maybe Supergirl's would be better suited though. Can you imagine wearing a cape on the bike and the run? If I could find an outfit like either of these, I'd post a picture, but as far as I can tell DC Comics, PI and Sugoi haven't figured out that there is a market for this. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pain in the Hip

I ran Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning. And one or both of those was a bad decision. Yesterday my hip hurt when I sneezed (!) and every other moment of the day too. Looking forward to seeing my doctor next week. In an attempt to get some exercise without hurting myself anymore, I woke up early to swim this morning but my apartment complex pool didn't open early enough. It's summer, it's sunny, it's warm. Why wait til 7am? 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Unhappy triathletes!

As I sit hear drinking my coffee and catching up on a lot of the blogs I follow, I keep finding a recurring theme. My fellow triathlete bloggers are all unhappy because they're not running these days! Injuries and what not. According to Kelly, aquajogging isn't good enough to satisfy the craving to run, which is a bummer because that is what I was going to try. Poor Al isn't getting any swimming or biking or running in. Michael is slowly getting back into it. What about Kendra? She hasn't been doing much of anything. Gonna try to get some good swimming in over the next few days. The weather is perfect for it. Maybe even head to a lake for an open water swim to avoid the tedium of those lane lines! 

This all kind of reminds me of when I had to quit playing soccer. (This is a whole other story but my doctor banned me from contact sports due to a neck injury in high school - open water swimming doesn't count!) People ask me if I watch the World Cup. No, not really. I like to play and I can't. So I don't like to watch people do something I can't do. (There's a whole gluten free analogy that Kati is dealing with right now. The torture of a celiac watching people enjoy non-gf treats!) What do you do when you can't participate in your favorite sport or eat your favorite food? Any coping tips? 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tri tomorrow

My friend Cameron is doing her first triathlon tomorrow at the Tri for Fun #2! Good luck Cameron! Tomorrow's race was going to be Dave's first too, and my second of the year, but Dave and I have been a little under the weather after a long drive earlier this week from Montana, via Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. So instead we'll be signing up for an August sprint tri. I'd planned to actually train after the last sprint and see how much time I could knock off, but I haven't been training much. A little running here and there. A little biking. I swam a few times. I'm probably in worse shape now than I was 5 weeks ago when I did the Tri for Fun #1! I've self diagnosed bursitis in my right hip so that's my excuse. Trying to not feel like my grandma with a sore hip all the time. Using the foam roller, stretching, icing, etc. Woe is me. I may have convinced another friend to do a tri though, and I always love helping out a newbie. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tri for Fun #1 - race report

Saturday was the first sprint tri in a local summer series. (1/2 mile swim, 16 mile bike, 3 mile run.) Friday afternoon I started thinking about doing the race and by Friday night I was packing my gear bags, although I wasn't totally sure of the idea I wanted to have them ready just in case. I emailed Lauren I was considering it and she said "that is a nice short little tri..." which inspired me some more. It took me awhile to find my goggles since my last swim was Ironman Florida - almost exactly six months earlier - so at some point I decided I was going to give up on the tri if I couldn't find my goggles by 10pm. At 9:55 they magically appeared, so I finished packing the gear bags and went to bed. I was still on the fence, setting my alarm for 5am but thinking if I was too tired when the alarm went off I would just go back to bed and do a ride later in the morning on my own. I kept thinking about how fun it would be, even though I fully expected to be hating myself a minute into the swim. No swim training, and very few miles on the running shoes (i.e. less than three miles over the last five weeks), but at least I had bike month in my pocket. I knew I could do the swim and the bike, and I figured I could always walk the run. I was kind of proud of myself just for being able to pack up my gear bags so quickly and without my checklist. I've got this routine down!
Fast forward a few hours and somehow I'd managed to show up at the race site. After I got everything out of the car and started walking to the registration tent, I was filled with apprehension. What was I doing? Every step I took made me less certain about the race. I toyed with going back to the car and just driving home, but my ego was too big for that. I wasn't sure how I could explain myself to anyone I might see. Then I saw a guy from my tri club. My tri club rocks. People are so friendly and supportive. I told him I was still on the fence about registering for the race but he convinced me to just keep moving towards the registration tent.
This race series is really great for first time triathletes. It's short and the swim is in a lake that is fairly warm (umm it is right near the former nuclear power plant, so we don't try to think about why it is so warm) so wetsuits are optional. The bike course is open to traffic but it's an out and back on a fairly country road with gentle rolling hills (or if you're my friend Nikka, it's totally flat. It's okay Nikka I've forgiven you for last weekend's hilly ride. It helped me get in shape for this tri!). The run course is my least favorite because it is a dirt road with some gravel that you have to watch for, and again with the rolling hills. I did a tri on roughly the same course two years ago with a slightly longer bike and run, and the race started an hour later, the run was totally brutal because there is no shade!
When I was standing in line for the portapotty, there were a lot of people who seemed really nervous. Eventually a woman behind me says "I just have to ask - you look like you've done this type of thing before - how does the swim to bike transition work?" It was really funny to see someone so nervous about the race. While I'm sure she decided I'd done this before based on my tri club jersey, I decided I must look fairly confident too which was good because I was still not totally convinced of the idea of the race. The questions just kept coming from other people in line too. It was nice to be able to help some newbies figure out what to expect in their first tri.
The tri club gets a reserved rack for our bikes, which also means all the STC members are grouped together, so pre-race and transitions it can be pretty social. The other club members are part of why I showed up at the race - I figured I could use the social outing. I saw a guy who'd done Ironman Florida and he also hadn't swam since then, so I was in good company. I ended up wearing my wetsuit, although I was a little unsure if it would fit, being about 12 pounds up from my ironman weight. But since I wiggled into it, I decided to wear it. The water was warm enough that I really didn't need it though and wished I hadn't bothered with it.
The swim was great as always. The water is a little green but I could see my fingers so it was clear enough for me. I love being confident enough with my swimming that I can just go out and do it! I held my own on the swim and managed to pass people who started two waves (10 minutes) ahead of me so that was pretty sweet. I got elbowed in the face and I tried to elbow the person back to get her off me but I didn't quite have the strength. It didn't really matter that my goggles started leaking then because by then I could stand up and run up the ramp. My swim time was around 16:30-17:00 (race results don't have splits and I know I hit my watch's lap button when I was already in T1) which was fine with me.
T1 took over four minutes, squeezing out of the wetsuit. Also I almost went to someone else's bike (a rack before the tri club rack) because I saw a pink helmet and pink bike details, but someone in the tri club got me in the right direction. It's so awesome having cool teammates!
Once I got on the bike I had a hard time pacing myself. Last time I'd done part of this course I blew up on the run, so I didn't want to do that this time. Also I kept trying to tell myself this was a workout, not a race, because I was in no shape to race. But I couldn't help pushing it on the bike a bit. It's just too fun to pass people. At one point I started passing guys who started at least 15 minutes ahead of me. Sweet. One woman ahead of me did a visible but silent cheer as she started to pass a guy on a hill. Yeah we were kicking some butts. Who cares if he was on a mountain bike.  I realized I wasn't hating myself for signing up for the race. I was most definitely enjoying myself. I saw a few people with mechanical problems and decided I'm not going to stop for people in a sprint tri. I've never stopped for to help anyone with bike problems during a race, but when I did Vineman last year I saw some people stop for others and I can see the merit in helping someone in an iron-distance race. But really for a sprint tri there is no time to help someone unless they are injured. Also I figure maybe since nobody stops they will learn that they need to be self-sufficient on the bike, which is always a good lesson to learn. Am I too harsh? My first 8 miles were 28:14 and the second 8 were 30:34 but that was close enough to being even for me. I even remembered to stretch my legs a bit coming back on the bike.
T2 was fine. I don't know how people are so fast in T2. I am pretty much always 2 minutes (unless we are talking 70.3 or 140.6 then add about an hour).
The run.. I was a little nervous about the run. When was the last time I ran 3 miles? I had run exactly 6.5 miles in the last two months. Yikes. So I aimed to job at a nice even pace. I walked pretty early on just to get my heart rate down a bit and then I got into the groove. I'd forgotten the run course had hills. Pretty short hills. Probably if you've been running at all they are no big deal. They weren't that big of a deal except that I was afraid that running up them would make me blow up faster, so I walked up the steepest parts and then just got back into my run pace. My first mile was 10:30 which seemed pretty good to me! I only slowed down a little on the last two miles, finishing the run in 32:14. It was great seeing tri club members as I got near the finish. Having someone cheer you in by name is always a great feeling.
My goal time was to beat 2:00 and I came in under 1:55 so I felt good about that. I also had a miniscule amount of hope that I could place since they do awards five deep since I'd signed up for the Athena division. (My 30-34 age group just has no mercy.) But I came in sixth by almost three minutes. The hardest part about the Athena division is that you have no idea who you are racing against. Our ages are on the back of our legs but it's impossible to judge who weighs over 150 and who would sign up for Athena instead of age group!  When the race results were posted online I was happy to see that there were more than six people in my division (when I left the race they didn't have complete race results posted yet). Actually I came in 6/30! My plan is to actually train for next month's race and see how much time I can peel off. It'll be the first time I've ever done the exact same race course twice!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bike month is over!

Personal Challenges

Name Pledge % Met Miles
500 Mile Club Rose 1000 64.5% 645

Kendra 302 100.9934% 305
          David      301     56.8106%   171

Obviously Rose won! But I am so excited to have met my goal for the month. My last 35 miles were tough and I really earned them. I am still too tired to even think about that ride but one day soon I will post about it. Maybe by then I will have forgiven my friend Nikka who told me the ride had just two hills. Right, and Ironman St George is pancake flat.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bike month tally #8 - Last chance weekend!

Personal Challenges

Name Pledge % Met Miles
500 Mile Club Rose 1000 54.5% 545

Kendra 302 78.4768% 237

David 301 56.8106% 171

Time is seriously running out for bike month. It's 6:30 on Saturday morning as I write this, and I know Rose is already out there riding! She's not planning on a 400 mile ride this weekend though (that's next week). I've got a ride planned for tomorrow, but I will still have some miles to make up. Actually my friend Nikka is arranging our ride so I have no clue how far it'll be, but I specified under 50. So I'm pondering heading out now to get some more miles done. It looks like a beautiful day out there!

I just realized I never wrote about last weekend's ride with Lauren! The weather was cooperative enough that we didn't have to set an alarm to avoid getting too hot, but we did want to avoid the impending wind. Dave came along too, so we rode from home instead of the park (definitely didn't want to take 2 cars) adding 8 miles to an already ambitious 45 mile ride. Ambitious because Lauren hadn't even ridden more than a 30 mile ride this year and I'd only done one. The wind was behind us for awhile and we just flew to the park, where Dave ditched us until we caught up with him taking a snack break around mile 10.

The ride to the hatchery (our turn around spot) was pretty uneventful, other than the one snake on the trail that we maneuvered around. While we were there, snacking on our carb boom gels and refilling our water, this little kid powered up the hill we were on. It was so funny and impressive to see the little mini-Lance pedaling super hard on a mini-bike. It was kind of like the one pictured here but he definitely didn't have training wheels. I think he rode up that hill about the same pace that I usually do, and my wheels are gigantic compared to his.

On our ride home we saw a guy with his bike blocking the middle of the bike path. He was protecting the gopher snake that was chillin in the middle of the path.  Less than a mile later another guy is on the wrong side of the path and almost cut me off as he's getting back to the right. He explains himself as he later passes us, he was getting a rattle snake off the path! Snakes were everywhere. The best one though was when we get back home, pulling into the parking lot and an 8 year old boy is walking up the stairs with a gigantic snake wrapped around his shoulders. His dad yells at him from the parking lot where he's chatting with a friend "don't let it wrap too tight around your neck!"  Good fatherly advice.We also had a brief stop on the way home when we helped someone with a flat tire. It reminded me how awful it can be to stop and rest. Sometimes it's better to just keep going. Our legs felt a little heavier as we rode those last 12 miles as our bodies wondered why we weren't done yet and by then the wind was in our faces. It was a fun ride though and we rewarded ourselves with a trip to Chipotle!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bike month tally #7 - Rose's fundraising

Personal Challenges

Name Pledge % Met Miles
500 Mile Club Rose 1000 51.4% 514

Kendra 302 70.5298% 213

David 301 39.5349% 119

Uhh I think the chances of me catching her just went out the door. Rose rode 200 miles this weekend. She is in training for the AIDS/LifeCycle ride. It's a 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to make a world of difference in the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS. She is going to kick butt and the training alone for this ride probably already has her ready for Ironman Florida! You can read all about it, and make a donation on this website.

Dave rode 50+ yesterday too but hasn't updated his log yet... maybe he will forget about the miles. :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bike month tally #6 plus a contest!

 I am over half way to my goal! Nine more days of riding left in the month. Lauren, Dave, and I are about to head out on a long ride though so I think I can do it. I think Rose is doing a double century this weekend though. oof. 
Personal Challenges

Name Pledge % Met Miles

Rose 1000 41.4% 414

Kendra 302 52.9801% 160

David 301 39.5349% 119 

If you're a regular follower of my blog, or have at least been around since just before my Ironman, you might want to check out the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness's website. The NFCA is having a contest where if you can answer 5 questions about their athletes for awareness (including one question about me!) then you will be entered to win an artisanal gluten-free cookbook!  You can learn more about it by clicking here. If you need a hint for question #5, just leave a comment!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Almost halfway there!

Tomorrow is bike to work day:  Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 75. Calm wind becoming northwest between 12 and 15 mph. Winds could gust as high as 24 mph.  Yikes.

Since it's bike to work day, that means freebies for cyclists all over the city. Freebies for bike day seem to always involve delicious gluten-filled foods, like bagels, granola bars, muffins, donuts. I know it's dumb to be jealous of free food, but being gluten free kinda sucks in that I can't enjoy those freebies. You know those mornings where things aren't going so great and someone brings donuts or bagels to work and everything seems a little brighter? I don't! Well, maybe tomorrow I'll win some bike month socks at one of the "energizer stations" around town. I'll ride past two of the stations on my way to work.

Name Pledge % Met Miles

Rose 1000 31.4% 314

Kendra 302 48.3444% 146

David 301 39.5349% 119 

I'm almost halfway to my goal. Don't remind me that we're two-thirds done with the month! Thank goodness the last weekend in May is a three day weekend. I will be cycling a lot that weekend. Also Lauren is coming for a visit so we're going to ride long on Sunday. If the weather cooperates for the rest of the month, I think I can still hit 302.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bike month blues and Amazon.

This morning I had a dilemma. I had to get to work early. I pondered just driving to work so that I only had to get up a few minutes early instead of a fully hour. But it is bike month after all, so I rolled out of bed at 6am and rolled onto the street on my pretty bike just after 6:45. My ride was pretty nice given that there was less traffic than usual. I hit mostly green lights and almost had a record time to work. The rest of my day was not so great, so I treated myself to happy hour and caught a ride home. I almost feel bad about it, since it is bike month and all. But I did get some miles in and some are better than none. Bike month is great because it promotes cycling which is obviously awesome, but it's also frustrating because I can't believe how many people DON'T try riding a bike even one little mile! I'm responsible for encouraging and rewarding cyclists at work and this year's turnout is low, so it's a bit of a downer. I don't know what more I can do.

I wish I was riding as many miles this year as I did last year, but every year is different! Rose is kicking my butt again. We already made plans for her victory dinner. But we're going to ride to the restaurant, so that'll be cool (or hot, since it'll be in June). I'm still hoping I can reach my goal of 300 miles!

I added an amazon associates box on my blog. So now if you want to buy one of the wonderful bicycle accessories that I mention, or anything else from amazon for that matter, if you link to amazon from my site before placing your order, amazon will give me a little kickback. This is good for everyone because I can use those kickbacks for race entry fees and then I will have more fun things to blog about! So next time you want to buy something from amazon, consider clicking through my blog first please!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bike month tally #4 plus the Tour

The Tour of California was here today. The peloton raced past me a few times near the finish. Always fun! I'm so glad people actually come out and watch the event even though we are not really a cycling culture. Before the tour we went for a 30+ mile ride on the bike path. The weather today was pretty nice for cycling. Rose did a century+ yesterday though. It's unlikely I will catch up to her! And it's supposed to rain tomorrow so I'm not sure how excited I'll be to ride to work.

Personal Challenges

Name Pledge % Met Miles

1000 31.4% 314

302 42.7152% 129
301 27.907% 84

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bike to Work Day

Today was bike to work day in most northern cal cities, so even though our bike to work day is next Thursday, Mikes Bikes was offering free tubes to people who rode to work today. After work I swung by and picked up my freebie. Nearly perfect timing because I needed to buy a new one anyways after my flat a few weeks ago.

I'm sure Rose hasn't logged her commute yet, but .... I'm gaining on them!

Personal Challenges

Click here to challenge a friend!

  Name Pledge % Met Miles

Rose 1000 20.3% 203

302 25.1656% 76


301 16.6113%

Bike Month challenge update 3

My husband accepted my challenge for bike month too. Notice his pledge amount. Although I don't think it's really fair since I have a full time job and he doesn't. The formatting looks weird but here it is.

Personal Challenges

  Name Pledge % Met Miles

1000 20.3% 203

300 20% 60
       301 16.6113% 50

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bike month tally #2

Totals as of May 11 (AM)

  Name Pledge % Met Miles
Rose 1000 20.3% 203
Kendra 250 18% 45
But when it comes to percentage-of-pledge-met, we're pretty close!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

26 miles today

In a feeble attempt to not get my butt totally kicked by Rose this year, Dave and I went out for a ride this morning. Yesterday was such a beautiful day, high of 75, not too breezy, clear skies. It looked sunny this morning so we just assumed it would be the same - perfect cycling weather. I almost checked the weather to see if it would be hot enough that I should wear a sleeveless jersey, but I figured I'd be fine with short sleeves. Off we went, short sleeves and shorts, lathered up with sunscreen. About 30 seconds after we started our ride, we realized we were stupid. The clouds were moving in, the sun was in hiding, it was cold when the wind hit. I figured I'd warm up as we rode, and I didn't want to get Sierra's hopes up by going back inside to grab my arm warmers or a long sleeve top. So off we went. A minute later I was complaining about how cold it was. Five minutes later Dave asked if I was going to be warm enough or if we should go back for more layers. People think I'm kidding when I say I'm lazy, I guess they figure a lazy person won't do an Ironman? But did I want to turn around and ride 10 extra minutes to get back to where I already was just so that I could be warm enough? No. So I froze.

By the time we got to the park to start riding on the bike path, our toes were numb and my ears hurt from the cold. It's not like it was really that cold out, but it was sub-60 and windy. Obviously the wind was in our faces both directions. The riding was a lot easier than our 25 mile ride two weeks ago. That ride kicked my butt. I don't know how I was so tired, maybe the flat tire is what did it. Or maybe riding on the roads actually causes enough mental strain, worrying about cars, etc, that it's just that much easier to ride on a bike path where the biggest concern is a suicidal squirrel. Whatever the reason, I felt way better after today's 26 mile ride than after our 25 mile airport loop. I was hoping to ride tomorrow too but the dark clouds are really ominous and apparently are spending the night here.

Today's lesson: always check the forecast! We got lucky and evaded the scattered thunderstorms and showers, and eventually we were mostly warmed up. My toes have almost thawed.

Name Pledge % Met Miles

1000 16.7% 167

250 14.8% 37

But Rose is probably still out riding and hasn't updated her miles for the day yet.

Bike Month challenge update 1

Rose: 167
Kendra: 11


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ironman St George

Ironman St George (Utah) is today. First time there's been an Ironman event there. One of the bloggers who I met in Florida is racing today. Bob is #2287. It's so weird to wake up and have the swim results posted before I'm done with breakfast. Then I'll go out and have my Saturday, come home and most people will still be racing. Sometime around dinner, Bob will probably be finishing. Before I go to bed I can watch some people finish live online. I'll be asleep before the last finisher finishes! I'm a little jealous I'm not out there, but right now I am in no shape to be even thinking about it.

I haven't posted much lately because I have nothing to report. A few bike miles here and there. A few run miles here and there, usually followed by a few days of hip pain. Yesterday I woke up with a very literal pain in the neck. So I won't be riding my bike this weekend even though May is bike month has begun. Rose is going to kick my butt this year in our competition to see who can ride the most miles. Last year I pledged 500 miles and rode over 600, trying to beat her but I fell really short. I only pledged 300 this year given how I felt after riding 25 miles last Saturday. Rose probably pledged 600 and will actually ride a million, helping the whole city reach its goal of 1,000,000 miles in May. She's an animal. I can't wait to track her at Ironman Florida this November!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


So February 28 came and went. For those of you non-triathletes, it means nothing to you. But for the rest of it, February 28 was the deadline to enter the Kona Lottery. I had planned on paying my $35 or $85 (there are two ways to enter, costs more for better chances obviously) to have a small chance at getting a lottery slot so that I could participate in Ironman Hawaii this October. But, reality set in and I decided I should really save my money and buy a REAL lottery ticket. You know, to win the big bucks. Then I could buy one of those $10,000ish slots to Hawaii AND my dream house in the Caribbean, etc, etc, etc. Unfortunately that didn't pan out in our favor so we are now out one dollar, we are not millionaires, and my name will not be on the Kona Lottery winner list that comes out in a few weeks. I think I'll go comfort myself with Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Brownies.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Foam roller, how do I love thee?

With all my aches and pains, you'd think I was training for an Ironman or something. Maybe I just managed to ignore them all last year. I mean I did after all manage to twist my ankle at the start of a long run and then run 14 more miles. But this year I am not as motivated. My IT Band hurts. Sometimes in my quad, sometimes in my hip. I guess it only hurts in the knee after long runs, and I'm sure not doing those anymore. I've probably taken more Aleve in the last month than I took all of last year.I'm feeling pretty ridiculous and out of shape these days.

My main source of relief for the IT band pain is using my foam roller. I love it so much that I have three of them. Well, one of them I leave at my parents house because although my mom is brilliant and suggested I use a rolling pin as a substitute during one visit last year, I learned that the foam roller is more comfortable.

How do you use it? Umm, hard to explain. Do a google image search, or just click here, or ask someone at Fleet Feet.

My quest to a 5k PR is on hold while I wait until these aches and pains figure themselves out. I don't care enough about a PR to cause further injury to myself! And while I had toyed with the idea of doing Vineman this year - they have a buy 2 get 1 free entry to the full iron distance tri! - I think that is pretty unrealistic at this point. Maybe next year. :)

Every day I have the urge to go running or on a long ride, but then I remember the pain in my hip and quad and then I just sit on the couch. This morning I did some yoga before breakfast because stretching is always good. I'd like to do this more regularly as my flexibility has definitely diminished.

How do you keep fit and feeling good when you're injured? I'd love some good ideas. I do have a bit of the urge to go swimming, but I don't have access to a pool and I'm a little wimpy about swimming in a lake in March. My husband is a swimmer but he's a hard core swimmer so would probably never dream of buying a wetsuit and I'm not sure who else is crazy enough to go swim in the lake with me. But even if I could swim in the lake, that's just good for weekends (it's too far to drive on a weekday). What can I do to keep from becoming a couch potato?? Help!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nothing exciting going on

I haven't been blogging because I haven't been training. My IT band has been bothering me. Last year it hurt in my knee; this year it's in my hip. I should probably go see a doctor but I've been too busy at work to call to make an appointment. It's on my to-do list for this long weekend.

I've been riding my bike to work, but only halfway. For some reason I feel incredibly lame about this. My commute is 7.5 miles and I'm driving 4.5 and riding 3. It's not quite cutting my driving in half, but it's close. And I'm getting some exercise, although I'm riding in my work clothes so I'm not really working up a sweat or getting my heart rate going much. Last Thursday it was so windy that I practically flew to work, easily cruising at 19-20mph without breaking a sweat. The ride home into the wind was significantly UNfun. At first I was glad that I still had my aerobars on my commuter (my old Trek road bike). Then I tried getting into the aero position. The winds were so gusty that I was way too unstable in aero. At one point the wind was coming from the north so strongly that when I was riding east I almost couldn't turn left into the wind! Crazy wind.

I put some nifty double sided pedals on my commuter bike. They've got SPD on one side and flat pedals on the other side. So if I'm in the mood for a longer ride and detour in the morning, I can wear my SPD bike shoes. Otherwise I can just wear my work shoes. Commuting by bike is really fun, but I'm starting to especially enjoy riding in my work clothes and work shoes. All I do when I get to work is take off my helmet; lock my bike in my bike locker and walk into my office. No changing of shoes or showering. So easy! And you can't beat fresh brisk air in the morning. If you haven't tried bike commuting, do it!

Swimming has sounded appealing lately (in my head). But I'm too cheap to pay for a gym membership right now and I'm too wimpy to go swim in a lake! I miss the Caribbean! 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Birthday weekend

I celebrated my birthday this weekend by taking a last minute trip to see my parents. My mom, being the amazing mom that she is, baked me two gluten free birthday cakes. Almost every birthday that I can remember, I've always wanted angel food cake with marshmallow frosting. Last March my mom made one as her first gluten free cake in honor of my birthday. It was awesome. This year the angel food cake didn't turn out quite right - it collapsed. But she saved it by turning it into a trifle, complete with my gooey sweet marshmallow frosting. She also made a gluten free carrot cake for me though. She didn't ever admit it, but I think the reason she made two was because it's just impossible to decorate on marshmallow frosting and she's really known for her decorations (as well as her delicious carrot cake)!

So here is the inspiration for the cake - the abstract art on an old triathlon tshirt belonging to my dad (he's done countless tris and 50 marathons!) and my Ironman finish line photo!

Ironman Florida pretty much sums up my 30th year. Last year I started my 30th year with a celebratory half marathon. My husband ran that same half marathon this morning as his first half. I PRed last year by almost an hour and it set the tone for the entire year of training hard and having a great time too. Finishing Ironman Florida was really the icing on the cake for the year. And on my birthday it became the literal icing on the cake....Yup, that's a likeness of my finish photo on the top of that carrot cake!

Up close details. Notice how my mom made the bicyclists pink to match my bike?

The cake even had M-Dots!

All three gluten free birthday cakes - angel food cake, carrot cake, and a pop-up birthday card cake!

This year I started my 31st year with a 31 minute run while my dad rode his bike with me. I hadn't planned to run 31 minutes, it's just how long my 2 loop run took! Next year I'll either run 32 minutes, or do the half marathon again. I had a great time with that last year. My friend Jennifer got us matching green shirts and mine said "Birthday Girl" on the back - some of the other runners actually sang happy birthday to me around mile 2! Today was the perfect day for my husband's first half marathon. It's so nice to see the sun. It's starting to really feel like spring.

Happy Pi(e) Day everyone!

Blue Diamond Nut Thins review (gluten free!)

Recently Blue Diamond sent me some Nut Thins. Blue Diamond is a partner with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, and Blue Diamond is a sponsor of the NFCA's Athletes for Awareness blogs. Blue Diamond is also a local business for me - I rode my bike past their headquarters countless times last year. It's right between doggie day care and the bike path!

I had seen Nut Thins for sale when we were in Florida for my Ironman back in November. But before the Ironman, I was really paranoid about trying new foods - I wasn't trying anything new during race week. I also then saw them on the shelf at my parents house when I visited for Thanksgiving. My parents have a gluten free shelf in the pantry just for my occasional visits! The shelf is always packed full, and if I tried everything on each visit, well, I would probably gain 2 pounds per day instead of just 1 per day! My mom also loves to bake, so I had a variety of pie crusts and donuts to sample as well, so I sampled those instead of the Nut Thins that visit.

Fast forward to December and I found myself browsing the gluten free selections at my grocery store wanting to try something new. I bought a box of the Almond Nut Thins. These are basically plain crackers made with almonds and rice flour! You get to eat 16 regular sized crackers per 130 calorie serving (and 3 grams of protein)! The Almond Nut Thins were great and on our next shopping trip we bought a box of the Pecan Nut Thins in addition to a second box of the Almond Nut Thins. We love the pecan ones just as much as the almond ones!

Blue Diamond sent me Country Ranch Nut Thins. Normally I'm not much of a fan of flavored crackers or chips. I like basic flavors because I don't eat them very often so I want them to work for a variety of things - eating plain, with soup, with cheese, etc. But I had a box of Country Ranch crackers sitting there just asking me to give them a chance, so I did. Oh so yummy! The Country Ranch flavor is even more addicting than the plain Almond or Pecan crackers! And surprise surprise, they go well with everything. I've crumbled them onto a potato, eaten them with beans and salsa, crunched on them with soup, snacked on them plain, with salmon, etc, etc. These are so good. I'm so happy I got the chance to try these! They are delicious.

Nut Thins are made in a shared facility, BUT as they clearly say on the box "Each production run is sampled and tested to confirm gluten levels do not exceed 20 PPM." That's basically as good as you can get! I would not hesitate to recommend Nut Thins to a celiac. They are absolutely delicious and I've not had any reactions. And my non-celiac husband enjoys them all too. His two cents - the pecan are a little sweet and the ranch are very flavorful. When I came home from work he was eating the ranch ones with cream cheese! The crackers come in an airtight aluminum bag inside the box. (The aluminum bag is covered with food-grade plastic film.) The bag is easy to tear open without any scissors. We haven't worried about putting the bag into an airtight container after opening and we haven't had any problems with them going stale. I think I'll buy the Hint of Sea Salt flavor next or maybe Hazelnut... One thing is for sure, Nut Thins are a new staple in our house!

FTC disclaimer: These products were provided to me free of charge. I was not paid to do this review.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Safety bike gear reviews

To continue from last week's "cold" weather reviews, I wanted to add a few more items that I incorporate into my bicycle commute in the non-summer months. I got a Sugoi helmet cover last year so I could ride in the rain and keep my head as dry as possible. I chose the ugly neon yellow color because it's super reflective. It practically glows in the dark. I feel radioactive when I've got this over my helmet. I bought mine at REI, and it doesn't look like they have the neon yellow one online anymore. I kept this on my helmet until mid-summer when I preferred the ventilation of my helmet over visibility. I haven't actually ridden in real rain with this, so I can't vouch for the waterproofness. But it helps keep my head warmer and it provides 360 degree visibility. You can find this for less than $30 and the neon yellow one is inevitably always cheaper than the cool black cover.

Another purchase I made in fall '08 with the idea that I'd be bike commuting all winter was a pair of bike booties. These are the Sugoi Resistor Bike Booties. List price at REI is $50 though I think I got them for half off somehow. They fit on over your bike shoes. The bottom of the boot is mostly open so that your cleat is exposed and able to clipin to your pedals. There is a small velcro strap that goes across the bottom of the shoe to hold on the booties. Then you zip up the back. In theory they are water resistent but I decided I was too wimpy to test them in the rain. They do keep your feet warmer though because they keep the wind from rushing through your well-ventilated bike shoes. They are fleece lined, but the fleece just matters for warmth since the booties don't really touch your skin at all. The outside is rubbery. I haven't bothered wearing these this year, but last year I used them a lot. (Let's face it, I could be acclimating to the cold, or more realistically it's just that I'm not riding as much as last winter.) As an added bonus, the bright yellow is fairly reflective. Since your road bike probably doesn't have reflectors on the pedals, this is a decent substitute in the winter months when it's more likely to be dark on your bike commute. My main problem with these is that you have to adjust your shoes exactly how you want them before putting on the booties. There's no way around this, it's just how booties are. But forget playing with the Velcro straps to loosen your shoes after 2 or 3 hours on the bike. You have to get off the bike and remove the booties first.

My most dorky bit of safety gear is my reflective vest. Mine isn't exactly like the ones pictured here. Although mine is designed basically like the orange one, mine is actually more reflective. The piping around the edges is neon yellow instead of black, and the yellow stripes have an additional silver reflective stripe down the middle. I can't remember where I bought mine and there is no label. I don't think I got mine at a bike store, but maybe I did... It was the cheapest one I've ever seen, something like $10. The best thing about it is that it is one size fits all, and it's mesh. See those black things on the side that look like tabs? Well, that's what connects the front to the back. It's a long elastic thing (mine is neon yellow, of course). The front is connected with some velcro. Because it's one size fits all, I can wear this OVER my backpack! It actually stretches enough to have the back part of the vest around my gigantic backpack. My backpack usually has about 4 big tupperware containers for snacks and my lunch, plus that day's work clothes, and in the afternoon it'll have my leg warmers and a long sleeve top usually too. It's the kind of backpack that you hit people with when you turn around in the elevator. This type of vest is a lot more useful for me than a reflective jersey would be. Since it's mesh I can wear it in the summer and it doesn't make me overheated (although in the summer it's almost always bright outside when I'm riding). I can wear it over any amount of layers. And it's way less expensive than a reflective jersey.

I also have lights, of course! I've got a great red light for the back which is on a clip, so I can easily place it on whichever bike I feel like riding. It hooks onto my saddle bag. For the front, I have a permanently attached light on my hybrid, but I don't have any front flights on my road bikes. I'm too lazy to take them on and off for races, etc. Also I've had a hard time with those lights because they can be difficult to adjust to aim exactly where you want. Lately I've been using my headlamp though. It works pretty well and I can adjust it to either fit over my helmet - sitting basically where the visor on a helmet usually is - or I have the light be on my forehead. The best part about having a light attached to the helmet instead of the bike is that the light shines on what you're looking at. I feel better about having a light on my head because I can look at a car and I like to think that if a driver is more likely to notice a light that is suddenly aimed directly at the driver.

For the first week of March, I think I did pretty well on my bike commuting. I rode my bike to work each day that it wasn't raining - Monday, Thursday, and Friday. (I also ran Wednesday morning on the treadmill!) Monday's ride home was pretty grey and getting dark - I'd forgotten my headlamp and was getting a little worried about not having one but I survived; Thursday's ride home was great as there were no clouds to cover the sun. Friday I wasn't really excited about riding home. Actually I almost never am. I like to ride in the morning but by the afternoon I'm dreading it. There are definitely a few unpleasant parts to my commute and at times I get nervous about it. Since it wasn't super bright out and I was really not feeling it my husband picked me up from work. Perhaps it was an indication that I needed the rest, because yesterday I wasn't feeling very well at all. We skipped our planned ride and just rested all day. But I got 7 workouts in for the week, so I'm feeling good about that.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Some "cold" weather reviews

As promised, here are a few of my go-to items for cold weather bike commuting. Cold is relative, so make of it what you will.

SmartWool PhD Cycling Mini-Crew socks I used to be very anti-wool - dude, it itches! But then I discovered some incredibly soft and cushy wool socks at REI one winter - cute with flowers on them. They kept my feet warm! (My toes are always cold. They're cold right now actually, though cozy in UGGS boots, indoors...) So I picked up a pair of wool cycling socks once and loved them. They keep my toes mostly warm, but they're still thin like my other athletic socks, so they fit in my bike shoes and running shoes just fit. Now I have about 5 pairs and they are my go-to socks all winter. I brought them to Ironman Florida in case it was cold at all, but I didn't need them. In theory wool is good at regulating temperature, so my feet shouldn't get too hot in these. But I have on rare occasion felt like my feet were overheated when wearing these socks. Those occasions have been either while running more than 40 minutes or so (this morning I wore them and didn't have hot toes after 40 minutes, so that's why I picked that number. Very unscientific of me..) OR while riding home from work when it's over 90 degrees or so or on a reeeally long ride when it's just relatively warm out. These have been a great purchase for me and I love using them when it's cold. I've worn thick socks (wool and not) to cycle in, but cycling shoes just don't work with a wide variety of sock thicknesses. I used these today - it was in the mid to high 40s - my toes were cold, but not achingly numb. But I also only had a 30 minute ride.

Next up are my Pearl Izumi Therma Fleece Leg Warmers. I bought these at REI two years ago in the spring when I first started bike commuting. The sizes seem to vary only by length (as opposed to diameter). I went with large and they stretch from the very top of my leg to my ankle. (Usually I have a slight gap between the leg warmers and the mini-crew wool socks.) I pull them up as far as they go and I put the legs of my bike shorts over the leg warmers. (This is not a flattering look, but it works for me.) The top of the leg warmers have a rubber-like band to help prevent them from slipping down. I've never had a problem with slippage while riding. However, after walking around in them, or crouching down, I have to readjust them. (i.e. these do not let you turn running shorts into running pants) These leg warmers are super soft - they are fleece lined after all. They keep my legs warm in the early morning. There is a 6" (or so) zipper near the ankle. On warmer mornings I find myself unzipping it about a mile away from work, just to help cool off so I'm not quite so sweaty when I arrive. I did try PI's full fleece-lined bike tights but they made my butt too hot! On the other hand, on extremely cold mornings when I'm wearing regular shorts with fleece lined leg warmers, I have on occasion briefly wondered if I forgot to put my shorts on because my butt is freezing and it feels like it's fully exposed to the cold air. These leg warmers have been a great investment because I'm a layering person. I hate committing to pants when it might get hot, just like I can't stand layering long sleeve tops unless the bottom layer is sleeveless or short sleeved. It must come from growing up in Phoenix. I just know it's going to get hot eventually. I can honestly say if I hadn't purchased these, I would've skipped a lot more morning rides. I've been known to shove these into my saddle bag on daylong rides that end in the hot afternoon. They're a bit bulky for a jersey pocket, but they fit there too. In a pinch they might even fit on aerobars? For bike commuting, these are a dream because most afternoons bike shorts are just fine for the ride home and these leg warmers just go in my backpack. Price is about $45 - often on sale in the spring.

The Halo Anti-Freeze headband! My ears are pretty much always cold because they stick out like I'm Charlie Brown. The yellow stripe supposedly prevents sweat from dripping down your forehead into your face. I've never worn the headband when it was warm enough to make me sweat, so I can't vouch for that. The headband is pretty thin, but it keeps my ears pretty warm. Last year I realized it's also great at blocking the wind noise (when the wind is really loud I think it creates a bit of a psychological barrier to speed....) Because the headband is pretty thin, it's light weight which means it's easy to shove into your jersey pocket if the day heats up. It also means you can mostly get by without having to adjust your helmet. Very helpful for commuting since I don't usually need the headband in the afternoon. This headband is great for running too, and it's small enough that if you get hot and take it off, you can carry it and it's not annoying. For wearing this under a running cap, I do usually adjust the running cap to be more snug when I take the ear warmer off, but it's not necessary. I just have a fear of my hat blowing off and then having to backtrack! This is a one size fits all thing. It's got some elastic stretch. I've had this headband for four years - it was a spur of the moment purchase at a race expo. $15. Worth every penny and has held up well.

Bike Commuting and Coach Jamima

Last Friday I canceled my downtown parking pass. I like to indulge in driving to work when it is dark and cold and wet outside. In previous years that's meant roughly December-March. March has usually been an add-on just out of habit. It's easy to just keep driving to work when it might rain and it's kind of still cold... Inertia is really the issue. This year I got my parking pass in January and I abandoned it in February. It looks like tomorrow shouldn't be too awful to commute by bike. No rain at least! I may be driving the rest of the week though!

This is probably a good place to admit that I take advantage of a discount the city offers to people who normally use alternative transportation and I get to buy 12 one-day discounted parking passes each quarter. It's pretty awesome because it's more than half off the normal parking rate, and for the most part, I can bike to work (or run!) and avoid the hefty monthly downtown parking fees (close to $200!). It's a great deal and I encourage you to see if there's a similar program where you live!

Since tomorrow begins bike commute season for me, I thought I'd post a little bit about a few of my cold weather commute necessities this week. But first, I want to write about my all time favorite Ironman training necessity - my coach!

Jamima Wolk (formerly Iley) coached me to my amazing Ironman Florida finish last year. Lucky me - she married a friend of mine from law school! When Dave and I moved to town almost 2.5 years ago, Dan organized a happy hour so we could get together, and that's when we met Jamima for the first time. Dan had told me before that she was a former professional Ironman triathlete, so I was already in awe of her. She is the sweetest person in the world too though. We met just a few months after my first half ironman - St Croix, in which it took me 9.5 hours to get to the finish line. Jamima is such a nice person that she managed to make me feel like I was awesome anyways! Really she is the most supportive friendly person you could imagine. Fast forward a year and I'm sitting at their dinner table telling them how I'm going to sign up for Ironman Arizona. They let me drink out of the pint glass prize Jamima won at some triathlon in Arizona. Closer to greatness. :) We talked a little bit about how a coach might be helpful in my journey. She offered to give me any advice and help along the way. Shortly after that I ended up signing up for Ironman Florida instead. I'd looked into hiring a coach but decided it would be too expensive, after all I'd gotten through all of my other events without coaches, and Jamima had a new baby so I didn't really want to bother her. I figured once I had my training schedule worked out, I'd visit her and see what she thought of it. I got some more books on triathlon training to add to my library and I thought I had a big master plan for training in my head. I just needed to write it down. My weekend to-do lists constantly included "write training plan; bike; run; laundry; etc." I had some vaguely specific plans for the training, but it was hard to follow because it wasn't written down, which also meant if something came up, I'd just tell myself that I could accommodate it and change the next workouts since I hadn't really written anything down yet. Whenever I had time to write down a plan, I was basically paralyzed by indecision. I had too many ideas. There are lots and lots of different approaches to take, and I just couldn't decide what would work best, so I never did come up with my annual training plan, despite many attempts.

After quite a few months of irregular training, Jamima asked me if I had a coach yet. By then I thought maybe she could save me and I hired her before she could change her mind. I never had time to figure out my training plan because I was too busy training. I had just gotten myself through a half ironman (Vineman) and PRed it by over 2.5 hours, but what I really needed was for someone to just tell me what to do and when to do it. Jamima asked me tons of questions to figure out what my preferences were. I like to ride long on Sunday and do long runs on Saturday. I wanted to be able to incorporate my workouts into my commute whenever possible by biking or running to work. There were certain days or weeks that I knew I'd be super busy at work. Or I'd point out a weekend that would be my only chance to see my husband for two weeks. I only wanted to swim twice a week because the swim was the least of my concern, etc.

Jamima came up with this amazing month long calendar for my workouts that fit my life. It was Kendra's Workout Schedule. Not some generic thing that might work for an average person. It fit into my life perfectly and was exactly what I needed. Within a day or two of receiving the first workout calendar, I got dreadfully sick and she had to redo it all!!! I'm still a little amazed she didn't give up on me and send me back my money. I loved getting those emails at the end of a month, letting me know what I'd be doing all of the next month. Jamima basically planned my life for me. She made me into such a stronger athlete and helped me get ready for Ironman Florida like no book could have. I emailed her all the time during those last few months before Florida asking so many questions, and she always had an answer for me. I called her the night before so she could ease my nerves, and as soon as we got back to the condo after the race I called her to let her know how I did. Like a good coach, she'd been tracking me all day, so she already knew, but I wanted to give her details. I'd thought about her a lot during the race, whenever I used a mantra, since that'd been her suggestion. And one of her specific mantra suggestions had really been great. "I'm strong, I've trained for this, I'm ready!" And I was all of those things because of her. I really can't write enough about what a wonderful coach Jamima was for me. She was really invaluable.

I'm not sure if Jamima is taking any new clients right now (if you're interested, let me know and I can find out!), but Jamima has also developed an iPhone app (available for Android too!) for first time triathletes! You can read more about it on her website here. Jamima was the best investment I made for Ironman Florida. I'm a convert now. Having a coach - one who gets you for the athlete that you are - is really the way to go.

UPDATE: Jamima is currently accepting new clients.