Tag Archives: Bike

Mismatched.

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!)

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Metric.

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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Thank you, Alexandra: Elkart Lake Olympic Triathlon Race Report

The range of emotions throughout the course of one endurance event is unlike any other for an equivalent amount of time.  Over the course of five hours, seven minutes, forty seven seconds yesterday, I decided the following things: I am such a badass. I wish I could skip straight from swim to run.  I am not doing Steelhead.  I am never doing a triathlon again.  I am selling all my triathlon gear on ebay.  I am abandoning my bike on the side of the road and walking back to town.  Okay, okay, I’m riding my bike back, but only because it’s faster and then I’m selling it.  I’m not even going to bother running.  I love to run; I’ll run the end of the course.  OMG I love the people you meet at endurance sports.  Finish lines are the best.  I’m totally doing this again.

Yeah, I bet you can guess from that short recap which part of the race did not go so well.  But let’s start at the very beginning.  (A very good place to start.)

Goose and I arrived in Elkhart Lake on Friday afternoon to pick up my packet and do a little practice swim.  They already had the course marked with buoys, so my dad suggested that I swim the sprint course.  That way I could practice the entrance and exit.  So I did.

It was a little chilly, and I really didn’t want to get into the water.  The good part about an unseasonably warm week followed by an unseasonably cool race weekend?  The water and the air were pretty close to the same temperature, making the water feel quite nice, actually.  I enjoyed my swim and we headed off to dinner, race prep stuff, and lots of sleep.

Goose and I got to the race site really early the next morning.  So early that I had my entire transition area set up with nearly two hours to go until race time.  Thank goodness for Google Reader or I might have lost my mind.  We wandered inside the Osthoff, where it was nice and warm, and I caught up on reading my favorite blogs.  I’m pretty sure Coach Amy posted this one just for me, as it had me laughing hysterically and completely calmed any pre-race jitters.

When it was finally time to get started, I headed down to the race area and looked out on about a thousand other triathletes, all in different-colored swim caps.  Instead of the usual OMG-everyone-is-faster-than-me-they-are-all-going-to-swim-over-me feeling, I felt pretty calm.  On the advice of my cousin Kurt, I wore two swim caps to help with the cold water.  I pulled on my race-issued, 25 – 29 F light pink cap first, followed by the race-issued, “Hello, I’m a novice swimmer, please pay extra attention to me in this bright green swim cap.”  (What a brilliant idea!)

With a hug and a smooch from the greatest support system a girl could ever ask for, I was on my way to the start.

The Swim.

This race had a time trial swim start.  All the elites went first, then they let the age groupers go, two by two, with a new group starting every five seconds.  I get why this doesn’t work in every race situation, but it was amazing.  No freaking out about the giant packs of strong swimmers behind me.  Even if people came to pass me, it was just two at a time.  It was the greatest open water swim I’ve ever had.  My mind just went blank, as it sometimes does during my long swims at the pool.  I kept in mind something I decided at an open water swim the week before (and possibly my new swimming mantra).  It doesn’t matter how far away the buoy looks.  Just keep swimming.  It will get closer.

And they did get closer.  I hit the turnaround before I knew it, and then out of nowhere, I saw the finish line.  When I popped up to sight, I could hear my dad yelling, “GO LAUREN, GO!  COME ON, LAUREN!” and I swear I could make out Goose’s vuvuzela.  I was so happy I nearly cried.  I was out of the water of my own doing!  I swam nearly a mile in open water.  YES!

The Bike.

And then it was off to the bike.  The bike and the swim are constantly competing for my least favorite sport in triathlon.  Aside from the incident in Galena, the bike has been winning lately.  While I enjoy biking, I enjoy biking like a ten year old out for a joy ride.  I do not enjoy kicking it into high gear and really racing.  I am going to need to learn to love it.

I took off on the bike just thrilled to be out of the water.  Transition, complete with a potty break, a struggle out of the wetsuit, and a struggle to get my damp self into shoes and a long-sleeved top, had taken about eight years.  I was on the bike and ready to take on 30 miles.  I took a Gu, downed some Gatorade, and oh my stomach felt like nails.  I decided to keep trying to sip the Gatorade, knowing I needed something in my system.

I came to the first hill and shifted gears… and accidentally shifted into my big ring.  Well, awesome.  I’d forgotten how to work my bike.  For some unknown reason, it took me a good thirty minutes to finally get the hang of my bike again.  During this time, the negative thoughts started.

I hate this bike I hate this bike I hate this bike.

When I thought I was about halfway (I’d forgotten to reset my bike computer), I well-meaning volunteer yelled, “Great job! 10 miles down!”

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I yelled back.

“Um, yes… 10 miles…” she muttered.

Well, crap.  That’s it.  I am not doing Steelhead.  I think I’ve been on this bike for like a year, and I’ve covered 10 miles.  Okay, lots of people have donated to Girls on the Run in support of me doing Steelhead.  I mean, it’s still a good cause.  How can I tell them I’m not doing it?  Let’s see… Dear friends and family, blah blah blah, something about spending your free time doing things you enjoy, I don’t enjoy my stupid bike anymore, I hope you understand… yeah that will do. 

And I kept riding and composing letters in my head.  Along the way I played leapfrog with another girl on the course.  Besides her, I couldn’t see anyone for miles.  This continued to damage my psyche.

Steelhead, forget Steelhead.  I’m never doing triathlon again.  Triathlons are stupid. Why do I sign up for this crap?  Okay, when I get home, I am selling everything on ebay.  The bike, the shoes, the helmet, my wetsuit, yeah, all of it.  Screw this.

I was pretty convinced that my leapfrog buddy and I were the last two out on the bike course.  The happiest moment of the bike was passing through an intersection, with her following closely behind.  And then I heard it on the walkie-talkies.  “Okay, there’s two more behind these girls, but they’re a ways back.”  HOORAY!  PEOPLE BEHIND US!

I pedaled and pedaled some more.  I contemplated throwing my bike on the curb, packing everything up, and leaving without doing the run.

The Run.

But when I finally made it into transition, I just… transitioned to the run.  As I was lacing up my running shoes, a volunteer told me that they were closing the transition area in one minute.  I have never tied my shoes faster.  I bolted out of transition, took a cup of Gatorade, and ran… for about 50 yards until I realized I had no energy left for such things and walked.

I started playing leapfrog with the same girl again.  I’d run and pass her, then she’d run and pass me.  Eventually one of us slowed down and we began to walk together.

Her name was Alexandra, and she saved my attitude, my race, and my triathlon career.  We chatted about races.  (This was her second race ever.  A 5k two weeks ago, followed by this Olympic Distance Triathlon.  Can you say rockstar?)  We chatted about family.  We chatted about how negative we both were on the bike.  And finally, finally… I was in a good mood again.  The run course was on a loop, and we counted the people behind us.  There were three.  (Or was it four?)  We cheered for every single mile sign.

Around mile 3, we saw someone walking on the course.  Could it be?  Another person behind us?  As he got closer, we noticed the person was wearing jeans.  Well, darn it.  Nobody behind us, just some guy out for a walk.  “Come on, Lauren!” the guy yelled.

It took me that long to put two and two together and realize my dad had come out on the course.  He started encouraging us to run, and little by little, Alexandra and I were doing more running than walking.  We continued chatting and smiling, and finally had some spring in our step.  Just past mile 5, her family came to cheer us along, too.  Her little brother (who finished fourth in his age group) even brought her flowers!

When we could see the finish line, we took off running, smiles plastered on our faces.

Thank you, Alexandra, for befriending me on that course.  I have no idea how I would have pulled through on my own.  It is amazing how much one person can turn your day around.

And that’s it.  I didn’t set some crazy time record.  In fact, transition was a half-torn-down ghost town by the time I finished.  I was second to last in my age group and the 145th female to finish out of 149 females in the Olympic distance triathlon.  But I finished, and I learned a few things along the way.

And even though I told Alexandra that I’d been thinking about maybe doing this Half Ironman race, but now I was definitely thinking I wouldn’t… with a little more than 24 hours of perspective, it’s on.

Coach Elizabeth says we’ve got four big training weeks left on the schedule before Steelhead.  I am going to make every single workout count.

70.3 miles.  Whew.  Here I come.

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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.

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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.

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Filed under Bike, Swim, Training, Triathlon