Category Archives: Bike


This is what happens when you pack your workout bag in the dark.

Gosh, look at that face. Tyra would be so proud. I should be a model.

Oh yes that is a light pink Active Band; a red, white, and blue race t-shirt; and black and hot pink bike shorts.  Good thing my cycling shoes are maroon and gray.  I looked super fly in spin class last night.  Good thing I’ve known BFF for 14 years and she’s seen me look worse.  Otherwise she might have pretended not to know me instead of saving me a bike.  But she did save me a bike (kind of, there were like 7 total people in the class) and sit next to me.

I mean, I realize all I was going to do was workout and I didn’t need to look all fancy, but usually I try to at least match my headband to my shirt.

Despite looking like a fool, I managed to get in a 45 minute run and an hour-long spin class.  I abso-freaking-lutely loved the spin instructor.  She was perky and fun without being annoying.  I got a lot sweaty.  I felt happy.  And best of all, no one made fun of my clothes.

What about you?  Do you wear matchy-matchy workout clothes?  Or are you a total mess like me?

(I’ll have the Ulcerative Colitis Q&A post up in the next few days.  Don’t hesitate to ask if you think of questions!)



Filed under Bike, Training

If I Had a Workout Playlist, This Would Be On it

One of the things I loved about cycling indoors during the winter months was the workout tunes.  I run outside in any kind of weather, and I don’t think it’s safe to run with my iPod.  Because of that, I never get to run with music!  (Hmmm.  Maybe I should use this time on steroids to rock out to my iPod and lift some weights.  Hee hee hee.)

But if I did make a workout playlist, here are a dozen songs that would always make the cut.

Tearin’ Up My Heart – ‘N Sync

Baby – Justin Bieber

Summer Girls – LFO

Like a G6 – Far East Movement

Blame it on the Boogie – Jackson 5

Where’s the Love? – Hanson

Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus (please note: this is not Miley’s video. This one is so much better.)

Blow – Ke$ha

Umbrella/Singin’ in the Rain – Glee Cast

I Want it That Way – Backstreet Boys

Who Says? – Selena Gomez

Thinking ‘Bout Something – Hanson

Yeah, that’s an awful lot of 90s (and semi-recent) teenybopper pop.  Yep, Hanson made the list twice. Don’t judge me. You know you want to work out.  (And seriously, click on the Miley Cyrus video.  It’s worth it even if you hate the song.  Double worth it if you love the song.  I want to be friends with that guy.)

Do any of these songs make YOUR workout playlist?  What are your favorite tunes to get you in workout mode?


Filed under Bike, Training

Spectator Support

I consider myself pretty lucky that after all the crazy races I’ve tackled, I still have plenty of family and friends willing to come sit for hours and cheer for me at my most important races.

Goose comes to almost all of my races.  He doesn’t really show up for 5ks or training races like the 15k I did last weekend, but more often than not, he is there.  I cannot tell you how much it matters to have supporters there on race day.

At my last marathon, I had a list down my arm to remind me to look for spectators at certain mile markers.

See the marker?  I loved looking down at my arm during the race and knowing that I only had a few miles until I’d see someone again.  It’s amazing how much a familiar face and a little cheer can mean during a race.

I actually started my endurance career as a spectator, cheering for my dad at his many marathons.  Going to cheer at a race soon?  Here are some tips to help your spectating run smoothly:

  • If you’re heading to a race to cheer for someone in particular, have a plan.  Know what they plan to wear and tell them where you will be.  Be as specific as possible, including mile marker and side of the road.  At especially big races (the Chicago Marathon has 45,000 registered runners!) it can be difficult for you to spot the runner, and easier for them to spot you.
  • If the race has runner tracking, sign up for text message alerts about the runners you are there to support.
  • Make sure your cheers are positive… but never say, “You’re almost there!”  A well-meaning spectator said this to me around mile 16 of a marathon.  Nope. Not almost there yet.  When you’re really tired and questioning your own sanity, even mile 25 of a marathon might not feel like “almost there.”  Stick to things like, “You’re so strong!” or “You are awesome!”
  • Cheer for everyone!  Some racers don’t have spectators, but they still need some love.  Cheer, cheer, cheer.
  • Make sure you eat and drink. At especially long races, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the athlete you’re supporting that you forget to take care of yourself!  You’re out there in the heat for hours, too.  Stay healthy!
  • Bring signs and have fun!


I am arming myself with cheerleaders for Steelhead.  Think it’s too much to try to put someone at every half mile marker on the run course?  That way, I can get excited when I see the mile markers on the course, and then in just half a mile, I’ll see a friendly face.  Too much?

I’m also selling my miles for the race.  Please consider making a donation and sending me a little note of encouragement for your mile.  Goose will put everything together for me to keep me going on race day.  (I borrowed this fantastic idea from another SoleMate!)  If you already donated, but haven’t chosen your mile yet, please shoot me an e-mail so I can add you to the list.

Do you like to cheer at races?  What are your spectator tips?

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Filed under Bike, Run, Swim, Triathlon

Note to Self

My workouts from Coach Elizabeth are sent to me through a wonderful training software called TrainingPeaks.  Because I receive them electronically, it would make sense to just print out the ones with specific directions and take them with me to the gym.  But I don’t.  The simple reason for this is that I’m a kinestheic  learner.  Writing down the workouts helps me commit them to memory so I don’t have to refer to them as often.

Though if I’m honest, the real reason I do it this way has nothing to do with learning styles.  I do it because it makes me happy and provides another way to motivate myself.  Usually, I use a small Girls on the Run notebook that has flowery pages.  I grab a fun-colored sharpie to copy down the workout, too.  Does it really matter that my workout is on pretty paper?  Of course not.  Still, it makes me smile.

Finally, I write notes to myself on the top and bottom of the workout, or sometimes next to particularly challenging parts.  I’ll think of  a short mantra or phrase to keep me going and just add it on the paper.  Often, I notice the words at just the right moment and they keep me going when I want to quit.

I’ve used this trick in other places of my life, too.  When I was teaching, I had a note posted on my desk that said, “Let me teach like the first snow, falling.”  (A line from the poem Undivided Attention  by Taylor Mali.)  That little note was a constant reminder to strive to captivate my students, and to embrace the things that excited them and use them for teaching opportunities.  It is because of that quote that I once spent a day teaching about polymers in science after a student showed up with some water marbles like these.  The whole class was talking about and playing with the marbles –why not show them that it was science?

A print from curly girl design on my office wall reads, “I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world.”  When I’m feeling like I don’t make a difference, I remember to have confidence in myself and the things I’m doing.  In my own little way, I’m saving the world at Girls on the Run… one girl at a time.

Do you write yourself notes?  What other ways do you use to motivate yourself?

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Filed under Bike, Swim, Training


It is well-documented that I have struggled to love my bicycle.  In an effort to fall more in love with cycling by gaining confidence in myself and my abilities, I asked Coach Elizabeth if I could do a metric century before Steelhead.  I expected to do one maybe in mid-July, but not so soon!  Still, when we chatted about the distance options at the Swedish Days ride this weekend (25, 42, 62, 75, 100, or 124 miles)  I found myself actually excited that she suggested the Metric Century distance, 62 miles.  (It’s called a metric century because it’s about 100k.)

It seems I went temporarily insane this week and thought I loved my bike.  I found myself writing things like, “I can’t wait for my METRIC CENTURY this weekend!”  (Yes. Even with the words “Metric Century” in all caps.  That excited.)

A positive attitude is an amazing thing.

I rode 63.66 miles today and I enjoyed every single one.  Okay, that’s a lie.  The last 4 or so miles were uphill and into a nasty headwind.  I did not like those so much after riding 59 miles already.  I heard other riders describe those last miles as Purgatory.  They were right.  But I loved 59.66 miles, and that’s like… 93.7% of the miles.  I will be elated if I like 93.7% of Steelhead.  So I’ll take it.

My Dad and a friend of his decided to join in the fun of Swedish Days, so they picked me up early this morning.  The plan?  Lauren needs to kick some booty and get ready for Steelhead and will rock her pace as best she can.  Dad’s Friend needs to kick some booty and get ready for RAGBRAI so he will rock his pace as best he can.  Dad is just crazy and likes to join on these adventures with little to no training but an insane love of endurance sports.  He will try to hold Lauren’s pace, but Lauren should not try to stay with him.

Daddy's little girl. Still.

The plan worked.  By the end of the ride, we were spaced out a bit.  Dad’s Friend was leading him by about 10 minutes, and I was pretty much smackdab in the middle.

I have no idea how I stayed so positive on this ride.  I just… really enjoyed riding.  I credit most of this to the excitement I had about the ride all week.  I also knew how amazing it would feel to know I’d cycled past Half Iron distance.  (Yes, I know that I have to also swim and run that day.  But I’ve swum more than 1.2 miles.  I’ve run freaking marathons.  Until today, I’d never cycled more than 51 miles, which left me 5 miles short of race distance.)

And now… I can cycle 63.66 miles.  This I know for certain.

After today, I’m feeling a whole lot better about cycling in general.

And now, after this weekend of positivity, it’s time to put up my feet, relax, and go to bed early.  I’m officially spent.

What goals have you accomplished by pushing yourself and remaining positive?

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Filed under Bike, Training

A Long Ride

I have a love/hate relationship with my bicycle.  Buttercup sure is pretty, and has the potential to be as super speedy as my little legs can carry her.  I’ll openly admit that sometimes I am terrified to go fast.  The better I get at handling my bicycle, the more comfortable I get with faster speeds, but it’s taking time.

Today, a long ride was on the schedule.  3 hours and 45 minutes, at least 45 miles.  Coach and I had a bit of a “come to Jesus” talk about my cycling after Elkhart Lake.  I need to spend the next eight weeks becoming a stronger cyclist.  Therefore, this ride was especially important to me.  I needed to prove to myself that I can be a cyclist.

I started off the ride well-rested after a wonderful 36 hours in Chicago with Goose to celebrate our anniversary.  (But more about that later.)

I took my bottles of my custom-blended Infinit (I cannot rave about this stuff enough), put my cell phone, some cash, and my license in a baggie and tucked them in my bike bag, checked my tires, and was on my way. (I always, always, carry cash, phone, and ID in case of emergency.)

The first part of my ride was easy, so I cycled as normal but paid special attention to what I was doing, and noted any areas for improvement.  One of the most obvious things was my nasty habit of constantly coasting, especially on downhills.  I was wasting great opportunities to build momentum that could help me climb hills or just get there faster.  During the easy part, I came up with a new mantra.  (Former students and Mom, if you’re reading this, cover your eyes. I’m about to use a not nice word. Do not repeat after me.)  F&%#ing pedal, Lauren.  It may not be classy, but it did the trick.

Throughout my ride, if I noticed myself coasting, I’d mutter those words to myself and dig a little deeper.  I dare say it worked.  I rode 51 miles in 3 hours and 45 minutes today.  My speed still needs to improve, but I’m getting to where I need to be to make the cutoff for Steelhead.  My goal is to improve the pace to at least 15 – 16mph by race day to allow me wiggle room.  I don’t want to be so close to the cutoff times that I have to panic if anything goes wrong!

After my long ride and tiny run today, I was relieved to have my trusty flip flops waiting for me in the car.  My feet swell a ton when it’s this hot out, so it’s always nice to get out of my running shoes as soon as humanly possible.

(Yes, that’s One Day Without Blues on my toes!)

I feel good about today’s ride.  There is only one person who can make me faster on the bike… me.  Today I proved to myself that I know how to push a little harder than I thought I could.  I know that I can push a little harder on the next ride, and the one after that, until I reach the pace I want.  And who knows… maybe I’ll get there and keep on pushing.

So happy it’s done!


Filed under Bike, Training, Triathlon

I Want to Ride My Bicycle; I Want to Ride My Bike

Cycling indoors is seriously boring, but it has its perks.  Like watching an episode of Glee or a movie you’ve never seen before… or both if the ride is really long.  For short rides, Justin Bieber, ‘N Sync, and Hanson blaring from speakers make a 50 minute ride seem like 5.

Outside, my brain plays one of two songs while I am cycling.  Two.  And given that I live in Illinois, I usually get to hear just one of them.

When the course is flat, I hear: Bicycle! Bicycle! Bicycle! I want to ride my… bicycle! Bicycle! Bicycle!  I want to ride my bicycle; I want to ride my bike. I want to ride my bicycle; I want to ride it where I like…

Hills?  Then I get this little ditty: What goes up must come down.  Spinning wheel… got to go roun’.  Talkin’ ’bout your troubles, it’s a cryin’ sin. Ride a painted pony let the spinning wheel spin…

Thank you, Queen and Blood, Sweat, & Tears.

This weekend was my first outdoor ride of the season and my first outdoor ride on Buttercup!  (You can tell what a hardcore triathlete I am, naming my bike “Buttercup” and all.) 

I took pictures of Buttercup ready for her inagural ride, but well, you saw what my room looks like.  I can’t find the cord to connect my camera to the computer.  So for now, stock photo from Trek. 

Dad and I hit the trails and all was well.  You know, except for that nasty headwind (20-30mph) that Dad decided I should ride into because “it’s good for your training,” and the fact that Queen was singing in my ear for 2.5 hours straight.

But the best part?  I rode 2.5 hours, outside, non-stop.  Which is good.  Because 56 miles is going to take a darn long time.


Filed under Bike, Training, Triathlon

New Year + New Goals = Awesome.

VH1’s Best Week Ever should probably just feature me indefinitely this year.  Or maybe next year they will feature my awesome year in their Best Year Ever episode.  (But maybe they can think like I do, in school years/running seasons, so October 2009 – October 2010 can be my best year ever.  That way it includes my little stint on Pace of Chicago.)

Taking up triathlon has me all energized and excited.  It’s the way I feel right before a new year at school.  It’s how I felt when I got my first pair of running shoes.  I get to feel that way over and over again now.  First athletic swim suit.  First pair of goggles.  First swim drills.  First full lap at the pool.  First triathlon class.  And that’s just in the past two weeks!  I have even more excitement, like bike pedals and shoes and bike shorts to look forward to!  Hooray!

Since the end of Christmas break, Jon and I have been hitting the pool for Total Immersion swim drills.  I’ve made it up to Drill 4 – Fish.  I’ve been sticking with my workout routine and really trying to push myself.  And yesterday, I succeeded!  5 x 400 on the treadmill with 30 second breaks in between.   What’s that?  You want my splits?  Well okay.  2:30; 2:25; 2:20; 2:15; 2:10.  Track workouts scare me because they make me realize that I might not be tapping into my full potential just yet.  I’m excited to see what this year brings!

Most exciting in 2010?  I have found a tri training group that makes the hour drive to and from Glenview worth it. Together We Tri is absolutely fantastic.  I started their off-season tri training group on Tuesday and had a killer workout.  I’ve really never done strength training before, so the circuit training we started off with nearly killed me.  But somehow, a few encouraging words from Libby Hurley, TWT’s founder and owner, and I was doing swim drills and laps totaling 300 yards on my first night!  I’m excited to train with such a fun group of people and great coaches.  I wanted to sign up for the next few sessions as soon as I walked in the front door.  I’m planning on joining their Trek Women’s Tri training group, too.

With all this excitement and enthusiasm, I figure it’s time to put my goals for the 2010 season on paper.  That way, when I’m losing steam, I can come back to this post and remember how energized I was.

1. Garbage in = Garbage out.  Don’t fill up with junk and expect a good workout.
2. Make the most of every workout.  Push when it’s time to push, take it easy when it’s time to rest.
3. Really push the running this year.  This is the year to beat the end of the race in the marathon.  Heck, this could be the year for the elusive 5:59:59.  Anything is possible.

Bring it on, 2010.  I can’t wait.


Filed under Bike, Swim, Training, Triathlon