Friday, October 24, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

At it again

My track bike class when I first started off in the class I was actually not too thrilled with it. No brakes, can't stop pedaling, sorta freaky....but i now LOVE it to the point that I am looking at buying a track bike. But the point is...i LOVE the track. Tonight i had SO MUCH FUN!! We were doing this race where you have 6 laps...and the group was broken into two groups. The slower group got a head start (me...and 3 other people) and the goals were A)Don't get cought by the faster group and B) try to win the race. Whoever got across the line first in 6 laps wins!

By lap 3 it was me and two other people in the slower group that got the head start. By lap two it was just me and one other guy and by the last lap it was me and the other guy just going all out trying to beat each other and not get caught by the faster group behind us. I was half way around the track on the last lap and I realized....I WAS LEADING THE RACE!!!!!!! All i could think was: i'm not being lapped, and no one is ahead of me...and I AM LEADING...what is going on?

IT.WAS.SO.CLOSE. The guy I had been working with up until the last lap from the slower group beat me by inches. I was gutted. But it was awesome because we never got caught! YEA!!! Who cares if I was in the group that got the head start? :-) I had a fun night.

I went from being wary of the track and really wondering if I would enjoy all 6 sessions to wanting to buy a track bike and hang out at the velodrome all the time.I don't know what has gotten into me lately!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Last tri of the season

4:38 A.M. how did i manage to wake up 2 minutes before my alarm?
4:40 A.M. The alarm might be going off, and I may have just woken up before it...but I am still hitting the snooze.
4:50 A.M. Why again do I do this sport? (not a morning person if you can't tell)

get up and drag myself up and out of bed only to hear puking from my: 'party like a rockstar' neighbor's place. Most of the time I can't hear my neighbor, I really wish I couldn't hear my neighbor. Most weekends the contrast between our lives is stark. I'm usually up and getting ready to leave for a morning workout when I can hear him stumbling in from a long night out.

I finally sort myself out and get myself out the door. I easily find some parking and then proceed to pull my bike out of the car and pump up the tires. How I managed to deflate my rear tire and then STRUGGLE to get it inflated for some 15 minutes is beyond me, but I made it to transition about 5 minutes before they were going to close it. Whew.

I had made friends with a girl at the Cove a few weeks ago and she was doing this race too...but it was her first tri...which is super fun to be able to be a part of some one's first race. We had gone to the packet pickup the day before and I tried to answer all questions or give any advice that might help a first timer out. I felt a little bad this morning as I was running late and wouldn't be able to answer many last minute questions. But all was well with her by the time I arrived. Phew.

I set up transition pretty fast and prayed I had remembered everything and put it as orderly as possible. I attempted to body glide my arms to death as I had discovered some MASSIVE chafing on the underside of my arm after my last tri...but alas that seemed to be in vain as I still ended up with a massive chaffed area on the underside of my left arm.

Katie and Chris, Brian, and Dana said that they were going to be there for the race. Woooh, i might have spectators? Fun! As I was getting ready for the swim I heard my name and apparently turned in the right direction but they were herding us off pretty fast and I didn't have too much time to figure out if someone was really yelling my name or not.

The swim start was a deep water start which was a new one to me. Definitely helpful being in a wetsuit. The swim was pretty uneventful aside from trying to keep myself from thinking about the fact I was swimming in Mission Bay water...which is sorta gross.

The bike course was about 12 miles and involved 2 loops around Fiesta Island. We were LUCKY in that there was NO wind at all. There are sections on Fiesta Island that have gotten so windy that I have turned a corner only to discover that i'm faced with such a fierce headwind that i'm going a mere 10mph...literally. But today was all about the big ring. I felt pretty strong on the bike and tried to push as much as I could. There was a bit of difficulty I had on the course with the fact that some people would keep as many as 4 one point I started screaming my head off: ON YOUR LEFT!! GET.TO.THE.RIGHT. It got a little frustrating at some points, but I felt pretty strong on the bike. What was weird though was that every time I looked down my speed seemed to be between 18-20mph...yet for some reason my bike computer decided that I had only done an avg speed of 16mph...I will have to wait til the race results come out to see really what it was.

I transitioned pretty well...but I know I need to practice or hammer it into my head: PUT YOUR SHOES ON FIRST and then put everything else on WHILE running out of transition. I always try to put my hat on and fiddle with things I can do while running. Need to work on that, but I felt that my transition was pretty decent.

I came out of transition and i was flying. I suddenly discovered that I had a spectator section cheering me like I was a rockstar...which just encouraged the faster running. But it was weird as I was coming out of transition because my body felt fine running at the speed I was going but all I could think was: I.can't.breathe.must.get.air...gasp. I looked down at my watch only to see that I was going 7:10mpm pace. It was at that point I thought: hmmm...maybe the reason I can't breathe is because I don't run that speed except when I'm doing a mile time trial. But it got me thinking about the fact that my body can do that speed...but my HR was what was killing me. My first two miles were 8:20s and the last mile dropped to about 8:50...but I was pretty happy with all of that over all.

Over all the race was a good way to end the tri season. I have plans to do a half marathon in mid November, but work make be sending me to Europe during that time so that may not happen...but oh well. I will continue to train for the half mary until I know more about that.

I am starting to figure out what is next and what I want as I am not as tri focused for a bit. As a hint...i was busted when I was looking at track bikes yesterday at a LBS by some of my friends from track class. I had told them I was thinking about purchasing a track bike but was on the fence about it. Which I still am...i'm educating myself about what is out there and if that i something I want to invest in...but we've been talking about spending time at the velodrome this winter...hence it would be definitely worth it. Oye...what is happening to me??

I'll leave you all with the debate:

(The specialized would be kitted out to be a track brakes, no coffee holder, no fenders, track drops...ect. )

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Women's Specific Bikes

I went to a spheel on Trek's Women's Specific Designed is my comment/thought/belief with WSD bikes...i finally figured it out. MAYBE i believe it...MAYBE i don't...know what I want?? I want the physics equations that analyze the differences, and account somehow for differences in centers of gravity. I want an experiment that takes a woman, fits her on a WSD bike and looks at power output and then fits to the same 'male' equivalent model in a bike manufacture and compares the power outputs. I want to know why they are different. I want to know really truly if they are different. A woman selling me the bike...maybe I believe her...maybe I don't believe the male bike fitter who swears its a load of crap...maybe I do...but at the end of the day...i want numbers. I want to know WHY. And by WHY, I want more of an explanation of "The top tube is shorter". I want: because the top tube is shorter, for a woman this puts her in a bla position and if you look at the numbers you can see that there is a difference in power out put. I understand how the bikes are different, I just want the proof...on paper...not a lot of 'explaination'. The explaination sounds nice and warm and makes ya feel good that something really is different but at the end of the day I want the data.

I am sure lots of people have anecdotal evidence of "i tried this bike and it fit better"...that's a good thing. Don't get me wrong. But I ride a 'male' bike. (Whatever that means) Should I? Should I not? Am I missing out on power output? Or would a good bike fit do the same thing? I'm a skeptic...that's why they call me a scientist. I don't believe it until I see the numbers so for the record I don't really believe it. But I don't really not believe it either(ummm...double negative). Its a possibility in my head. And that is ok.

I am rambling and not really looking for other people to answer my questions. This is what us scientists like to do. We pose some questions and think and ponder and chew on the question. Here is my framed question: What is the power output difference between a woman on a WSD trek and the equivalent 'male' bike?

They said tonight that the only difference between two of the lines they had for a model was the geometries....SHOW.ME.THE.NUMBERS. I know comfort can't be factored in and I know some women have been more comfortable on these bikes...i'm not arguing that...but the idea put forward that a WSD bike recruits more power because of the geometry differences...that is easy to test...gimme some numbers. Hmmm...maybe i should write Trek...interesting thought.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I hope its just the weather

I really hope it is just the weather making me feel icky and not that i'm getting sick. The Santa Anna's have taken a number on my ability to breathe or at least that is what it felt like tonight at the track. The first few laps my throat was so DRY and we weren't doing anything that strenuous. That turned into a desire to cough a lot...which then turned into an under lying feeling of ick...which meant I really just wanted to puke a lot. wasn't from any REALLY hard efforts, it was just the hacking made me want to hurl. Nice...huh. And because I felt efforts were pretty limited.

The other 'option' is that i'm getting sick...and I don't like that LET's blame the Santa Anna's. That makes me feel better. I had a pretty hard time breathing tonight. I even checked the air quality since there have been some fires here the past two days and it said that the air is I can't even blame that.

So on to the track...we had our first casualty on the track. No...not me...another rider rather unfortunately just took a turn too hard. My group was waiting off the track and I l look up and see them sliding down the bank. YIKES! This was in the higher grouped class...all in all the rider was fine and got back at it.

We played some games of cat and mouse...can we say...i suck at that. OH WAIT I discovered tonight that I pretty much couldn't hang on anything. Basically in cat and mouse you have two people who are the mouse/mice who get a head start and will then work together to try to stay away from everyone else. All the while the rest of the group goes really slow waiting until they are given the whistle to start. Once the whistle blows the 'cat' (everyone else) has to try to catch the mouse/mice. Basically everyone in the 'cat' has to work together to try to catch the 'mice'. You have to try to catch the mice in 3 laps or less. Basically with the cat it turns into:How fast can YOU make a pace line?

Each time I was in the group as the 'cat' the whistle would blow and it just seemed that by the time it was time for me to grab the wheel of the person in front of me, they suddenly were going 10x faster than they were a second before and I was off and there was no recovery from that. That happened 2x...and then I was asked to be one of the mice. (I soooo didn't want to be a mouse)

Um...yea....keep in mind, i don't know what i'm doing 99% of the time. They made it sound like I should let the other mouse pull since he was a stronger rider, but by the second lap I really should have come round and pulled us for a bit...but me and the other rider were having trouble communicating. I couldn't understand him. When I am going round and round the track the wind is in my ears hence...I couldn't understand anything he was saying. I'm saying: GOOOO and all i hear is 'mumble, mumble'. He was trying to tell me to pull to the front. The other thing was I didn't understand about the situation was if me and him were doing pace line etiquette (where the person in front pulls off and then tucks in behind the other person)...or if I was supposed to go around him. I didn't want to pull around and have him pull up...and i just hung on the back and yelled...oops. UNFORTUNATELY we still got caught...but not til lap not too bad.

Its week three and the camaraderie is starting to build amongst everyone taking the two classes which is fun. People are starting to be more comfortable with each other and you start to hear: Hey good job closing that gap. Or: Awesome job on that final sprint. I love watching the dynamics of a new group of people start to come together and be friendly with one another. It takes everyone some time to warm up in a new group where no one really knows too many other people.

I've so far found that most people are really encouraging. I was given a really nice compliment just with reference to closing a big gap. Compliments really are encouraging, especially when it can be so easy to get down on myself about being slower and having to drop off a lot. It is nice because everyone is pretty new and no one has a really big ego about being on the track. We all know we are learning and I have found people really encouraging and those that are more experienced are also willing to give some tips. Its turning into a good group.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Things I learned this week

  • 20% humidity makes me hate the Santa Anna's and it completely straightens my hair.
  • I am very thirsty all the time due to the afore mentioned % humidity.
  • My contacts have taken to glueing themselves to my eyes because of this. Annoying.
  • I have my last triathlon of the season on Sunday and it couldn't come sooner.
  • I have triathlon bla's for no good's not like I was over training this season or this season was that chalk full of training or racing for that matter. I guess I need a change of scene.
  • I laid the smack down on 10 miles of running this weekend and the next day there were no aches.
  • I might like the track more than I like to admit.
  • I get to go to the track tomorrow!
  • Why my neighbor can't change the battery in his smoke detector and the fact he just lets it chirp all the time is beyond me.
  • I meant to buy him a 9-volt battery and tell him to change it. I'm annoyed and if I can't just chirps at me through the wall....Taunting me.
  • When my battery needed to be changed it would scare the crap out of me every time it chirped so why it doesn't bother beyond me.
  • Work may soon be such that I will have to frequent Houston, TX like it is my second home. Anyone have anything exciting to say about that city?
  • Life is pretty funny...most of the time. One just has to look at it in the right light with the right angle to see the humor. Although at times while it seems to be pretty funny it can have an equal portion of screaming involved. This week has had equal parts screaming and funny...and some of the funny made me want to scream. That's how it rolls sometimes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Back to the track

As I said in my previous post...i have taken up track bike riding class. Thank you all for your concern about my physical well being...what I have to say from my observation so far...once you get the hang of riding a fixie it isn't that much more dangerous than riding on the that I mean riding a track bike on a track...verdict is still out in my mind how I feel about riding a fixed gear on the road...but that is another topic. Sure riding without brakes sounds pretty dangerous. I agree...but being in a situation where NO ONE has brakes...there are no cars and it is pretty 'controlled' as far as there is proper etiquette the whole no brake thing actually isn't that bad. No one can randomly slow down like on the road when someone has a brake. The only thing you have to be concerned about is quick movement to the up side of the track. That is where the danger is because it is pretty easy to have someone who is not paying attention swing up-track and potentially cause a crash. Without breaks it becomes impossible to randomly slow down so basically the person behind you won't bunch up too, too much if you slow down. But that being said, I still do have some moderate level of concern about not having breaks as much as everyone else. But it really isn't as scary as I imagined maybe that is what I mean by less 'dangerous'...maybe just less scary.

Now that being said there was a little interesting situation I came into tonight. We were working on pace lines, riding in the pole lane (or the sprinters lane at the bottom of the track). The people in front of me had sorta randomly slowed down(as much as you can on a track bike) and were starting to bunch a little. The way to deal with the situation is to go a little 'up track' from them by fanning out, grab a bit of wind to slow you down and try to ease off the pressure on the pedals...but not to back pedal if possible and when the speed evens out, get back into the pace line. So they are bunching, I go a little up track and the guy behind me somehow thinks that I am pulling OUT...which if you pull OUT now you have to go UP track and then have to grab the end of the line. So he has closed this gap where I had been...and now I cannot get back 'in' where I was. I have been effectively 'pushed' out of the pace line. We are not going very fast so I feel lame at this point because when you pull OUT it is because you are TIRED...i was far from tired at this point. But whatever. I now have to cruise to the back and hang on back there. Granted it was our first go around at the whole pace line situation, but of course I had to be the first one to be 'pushed' out. We all are still learning, so no big deal.

One thing I am learning is that if I get someone who can hold a really smooth line I am MUCH more comfortable holding a close distance to them than to someone who is squirrel-ly in their pedaling and hence their rear tire goes all over the show. I just hope I am holding my line ok...although i'm sure I'm not exactly the smoothest rider either...but trying to keep the pedal strokes even and smooth.

I am about 200% more comfortable on the bike this week. This week I just had to remind myself: DON'T STOP PEDALING and REMEMBER NO BREAKS. Instead of last week where it was at the front of the my mind the whole class. I let it rip a little bit more as we started doing paceline 'burn outs'...where we would practice a paceline, get some experience of pulling at the front and pulling out to the back...but after awhile the guy in charge would tell us to pick up the pace until basically everyone but the last 4-6 people were left in the pace line. If the pace gets too high and you can't close a have to pull out so that the people behind you can keep with the paceline.

In some ways its kinda fun because if a gap starts to form between the person in front of you and the person they are behind you get to start yelling: CLOSE THE GAP!!...until they close it or they pull out. I kept ended up behind the same guy on many of these drills and he would just wait forever on closing the gap...I know he was trying, but he just wasn't closing it and finally he would pull UP and OUT...but then there was this HUGE gap I now had to close. I did alright closing the gap, but unfortunately that ends up wasting a lot of energy early on so that when the pace got higher I burned out quicker. No matter...still fun.

Eventually the paceline would get to a speed where I couldn't keep up and I'd have to pull out....sometimes I'd do pretty decently and hang for I felt pretty good in the fact I am probably in the middle of the 'pack' as far as strength of holding with the group. A couple of times when I came off the track I was shaking pretty hard so I knew at least I had given it a pretty hard go.

I am enjoying learning the new skill set. I'm having fun and meeting new people which is always good. Who knows...maybe I will become that 'track bike girl'....although i still like my breaks.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Take'n it to the Track

Well...I talked about it awhile ago...and it has happened. I signed up for a track bike riding class! I had my first class today and I'm still sorta not sure what to think. My friend asked me if I might deep down come to love it and...well...i just don't know to be honest. It sorta feels like that beginning stage of a relationship where you meet someone that you aren't sure you could date or not so you think: Hey let's hang out...let's be friends...let's see what happens. Will I love track bike riding? My answer: I donno...let's hang out...let's be friends first...let's see what happens. BUT it would sure beat the heck out of doing spin class in the winter. I would 100% rather be outside, in the 'colder' San Diego weather going round and round than stuck in a hot little room where inevitably I am staring at the clock 5 minutes after the beginning of the class.

I also felt like the bumbling idiot of the beginner class. First time around they had us just ride once around the apron (the part on the inside of where the actual track riding takes place...the apron is where you get on and off the track). They told us to practice getting our shoes in the toe clips (no clipless pedals unless you have your own bike). I used to have toe clips ages ago on my bike, but I quickly realized that I would stop pedaling when I wanted to get my foot can't do that with a track bike. So the first go-round...couldn't even get my feet in the toe clips. Nice one there.

Second go around...they want us ON th e track but you can't GET on the track until you can get your feet in the toe clips...hello...minor problem. Fortunately I do sort that out quicker after being the person who's all: duh...i can't get my feet in to start off with.

Now they want us to start up against the rail which is at the top of the track (the high part of the track) with our feet at 3 and 9...IN THE CLIPS...hanging onto the rail with our hand. THAT was a fiasco...and once ON the rail...i actually had to have the instructor push me as I struggled along for the first time. I felt like a bit of an idiot. From my vantage point it didn't seem like anyone was struggling as much as I was. But I did get the hang of holding onto the rail and starting from there. One guy helped point out how to 'hug' the rail while I hoisted myself onto my seat. Other people seemed to be somewhat sympathetic with my stupid behavior.

Then it was drills. Now logically i understand that it is actually a LOT safer to ride in a paceline on a track bike BECAUSE there are no breaks so no one can stop suddenly...but I don't really like sucking other people's wheels when i HAVE breaks...and NOW you want me to hang on that guy's wheel...and I have no breaks?? You've got to be kidding right. I did get the hang of it with time...sorta.

I think part of my apprehension is just other people around me...without breaks. And ME without breaks. I think I would feel a lot better if I were just on the track by myself and not have to worry about anyone else.

So it's alright. The track and I are becoming friends. We will see where it goes. The class is 5 more weeks so with time and confidence it will come together. My biggest 'problem' was just being confident on the bike...and by the end of the class I was feeling more comfortable riding the bike. (But by NO means actually comfortable ON that bike...not comfy at all) Spend some time together...see if any more comes of it. But highly entertaining.