Monday, January 28, 2008

Our Team

We had a team photo taken on Saturday. We had a chapter meeting with a photo opp afterward. Some of the team went to BW3 for some post-meeting bonding over beer and food. It was a good time. I can't believe there were this many people in the photo. I have no idea if this many people are actually on the team. I know that I haven't seen half of them at the team meetings or group rides, either. (I'm not sure who shows up for the trainer nights since I don't go to them, as I am too lazy to take my bike off the trainer and set it up somewhere else only to ride it for a little while, take it down again and set it up again at home.) I'm also pretty sure there are no little kids on our team. I don't know where they came from. It should be noted that I'm the only girl (technically, there's another girl in the back, but I don't know who she is and I haven't seen her come to anything else). This photo is supposed to be printed in Healthy & Fit, a local health/fitness publication, which is unfortunate since it seems like I now have yet another "fat picture." I really like being on a team, though. I'm glad Chris talked me into it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Andy of Maybury

(Okay, I know this is a really corny title for a post, but I couldn't resist. And yes, certain members of my family have called me by this nickname since I was a child. Before you get any ideas, though, if you didn't know me before I was 10, you are not allowed to call me this. I'm also sure that Maybury isn't spelled like this on the t.v. show, but that's the title of my post okay, so get over it.)

Today we had a team ride out at Maybury. It was Chris and I, Jake, Scott and Brad. We met at 10:00. According to a guy on the MMBA board, the trail was supposedly in "rideable" condition. Now, I don't know what kind of bike he has, but it wasn't very rideable with mine. It was more like hike-a-bike than riding, and there was definitely way more hike than bike.

I couldn't get any traction whatsoever, and I couldn't get enough traction to get up any of the hills. It was definitely good practice for cross season, because I was getting on and off my bike all the time. Right at the beginning of the ride, a guy came by on a snowbike sporting Surly Endomorph tires and Large Marge rims. I was really jealous of his tires, but he was walking up all the hills, too, and I bet his bike was way harder to push up a hill than mine.

I was mislead. Everything I read about the trail said it was 4 miles, and even pushing my bike most of the way, I thought I could handle 4 miles. When I got to mile marker 4, I thought it was probably close to the end. When I got to mile marker 4.5, I began thinking that maybe the trail wasn't 4 miles. When I got to mile marker 5, I was sure of it. That was how it happened that after about 7 miles and 3 hours into the "ride," I finally made it back to the parking lot.

(I encountered this crazy person hanging from a tree somewhere along the way.)

One of the biggest problems I had while I was out is that my pedals kept getting iced up. These big dome-shaped ice chunks formed in my pedals so that not only could I not clip in, I was having trouble even resting my foot on the pedal for long enough to turn the crank because my foot kept slipping off. (This picture doesn't really do the issue justice, but it's the best one I've got.)

So, it probably seems like I didn't have a very good time, but that's not the case. I'm really glad I went, for several reasons:
  • Despite the slipping and sliding and getting on and off my bike, it was actually fun for most of it.
  • I think that any time I have a challenge like this, it adds to my experience level. Dealing with different situations on my bike is very useful to my training, and the slipping around and trying not to fall causes me to exercise my bike-handling skills.
  • I got a great workout.
  • I got to hang out with my team, even though they were way ahead of me most of the time.
  • I really needed to get outside.

Tomorrow will be a rest day, because my legs are toast. It will actually work out pretty well, too, because we have a project to take care of.

Weight Progress—Jan. 27

Here's where I was a week ago:
Net weight loss: 25
Pounds left to goal: 39.5

All in all, I did pretty well this week, although I was hoping the numbers would budge a little more than they did, because I know it's going to be a lot less next week. Here's where I'm at now:

Net weight loss: 29
Pounds left to goal: 35.5

And here's this week's unflattering "fat picture":

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cabin Fever

There's definitely something wrong with my attitude right now. My last post talked about how I rode on Tuesday night even though it was late and I didn't want to. However, last night I jumped at the chance to skip riding the trainer so we could go out and buy new exercise flooring to install upstairs before our new Bowflex arrives. We did get up and ride this morning before work, but even when I am riding lately, I am not really feeling like doing it, and I don't think I'm getting out of it what I should. This was not the case a couple weeks ago, and I think I know the difference.

Now, very few people really want to ride the trainer inside. Riding outside is consistently fun. Riding the trainer is seldom fun. But with this recent cold snap we've had, I have been way to much of a wuss to even take the girls out for a walk, much less pile on the gear and ride in the frigid temperatures. I have been doing some riding outside this winter, but single digits were just too much for me. (This was not the case for Anne, who is hard core, and whose last blog posting shamed me for spending so many days inside on the trainer.)

The fact is, I'm just sick of being inside, period. So I'm just going to have to reach into my suitcase of courage and get out there this weekend. (I know, that's terrible, but Fat Cyclist used this Phil Liggett-ism on his blog recently, and I couldn't help but copy him.) Somewhat serendipitously, it's supposed to get a lot warmer, so it should be no problem. Hopefully, the trails won't be too messy to get in any good riding. The team is supposed to meet this Sunday at Maybury, and I haven't been out there before, so I'm excited.

Of course, I'll have to work riding around watching two very important hockey games this weekend. My Spartan hockey team is playing the evil ones and they had better win!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Moral Victory

Last night, I went to a retirement party for a coworker. I have worked with her for about 7 1/2 years. She has worked there for 30. So, I felt it was important that I be there, even though I had forgotten it was that particular night. When I got home, Chris headed for the trainer and I changed my clothes, put on makeup (a rare event), etc. I told Chris I would have to ride when I got home and I would try to make it fairly early.

All the way home, I kept thinking of ways to avoid riding the trainer. After all, it was already 9:30, and that is generally about the time I'm getting into bed. I thought the best way to get over all my excuses was just to start putting on my bike shorts as soon as I got in the door. That's exactly what I did, too.

Not only did I go to a dinner out in which I had no control over the menu and show some restraint in choosing the healthier, less fattening vegetarian option and politely refusing dessert, but I also rode the trainer for an hour after I got home. Could I be changing my ways?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hmm ...

Someone sent me a flyer for this charity winter mountain bike race the other day and I've been seriously considering it. Now that I've proven to myself that I can actually ride my bike on snow and in colder temperatures, it doesn't seem like as crazy of an idea as it would have even a couple of months ago. In fact, I'm starting to think it's a really good idea. Here are the advantages, as I see them:

  • If I finish and don't do horribly, it could be a confidence builder for the upcoming racing season.
  • It will be a way of assessing how much progress I have made in my training without having it count against me. It could be a warm up to my race series with no points to worry about.
  • It looks like it will be, at most, a little over six miles, which is definitely something I can finish.
  • There are awards and I could win something if there are enough beginner women who are too wussy to show up.
  • If all else fails and I don't do very well, at least it will be a training day and will be more fun than spending three hours on the trainer like I did on Saturday.
  • I'm getting really excited about racing, and even though I know I'm not really ready yet, this would give me a little taste.

The drawbacks, as I see them, are few:

  • It will undoubtedly be cold.
  • I could hurt myself before I even get to the racing season.
  • If I do poorly, I could really get down on myself before the racing season even starts. (I think I'm starting to make progress on this aspect of my personality, though.)

I have a little bit of time to decide. The race is on Feb. 16, and you can register on race day, so I will probably wait until the last minute to make up my mind. Right now it's looking like a good idea.

On a completely unrelated note, I found out this week that Floyd Landis is going to be racing Lumberjack. Chris Eatough (who has raced it before and is also on one of our Spinervals DVDs) is also supposed to be there. It looks like we will be going to the race to gawk discreetly (can you gawk discreetly, or is gawking inherently not discreet?) because we will definitely not be racing it this year. Chris is going to ask Rick if we can volunteer to do something so that we will at least have a legit purpose (besides gawking) for being there.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Crunch Time

I've talked a lot on this blog about how slow I am and how much training I am doing. Something I haven't talked about very specifically that has been foremost in my mind is my weight. I won't go into all the psychological issues I'm sure I have with food, or how damaging it was to be the chubby kid. Suffice it to say that I have always had a problem with my weight. Even during the times when I was fairly physically active, I still struggled with it. I have gained weight and lost it and gained it again.

In November 2006, when Chris and I got engaged, I was 2 pounds short of my highest weight ever, and I was completely disgusted. The wedding seemed like a good motivator and I usually do really well at losing weight when I am motivated. At that point, I set a goal of losing 64.5 pounds, based on an arbitrary ending figure that seemed reasonable, given my height, frame, etc. The reality of it is that I'm never going to weigh 120 pounds, nor am I ever going to be a size 4, and I'm okay with that. There's no reason I can't be a lot thinner and healthier than I am, though.

So, I set about losing this weight and I just had too much time. I started out doing really well, but got tired of it, backslid and petered out. Luckily, I've been fairly active for most of that time and very active for some of it, so I haven't gained as much back as I would have if I had been doing nothing but sitting on the couch.

In the interim, I also decided I wanted to race mountain bikes and I think the weight loss could be really beneficial for that as well. Chris and his friends are always trying to convince me to buy parts that will shave weight off my mountain bike, but none of it would benefit me as much as shaving 20 pounds off my butt.

This week reality set in. And the reality is this—my first race is April 20 and my wedding is May 13. That leaves about 3 months until my race and a little less than four months until the wedding. That's simply not enough time to get to my goal, especially considering the fact that you're supposed to leave about 8 weeks for alterations on your wedding dress. That leaves me really only until March 18, unless I can find someone who will do alterations in a lot less time.

So, what we're looking at is basically another 2 months. Here's where I'm at:

Weight lost since Nov. 2006: 36.5 pounds
Weight gained back: 11.5
Net weight loss: 25
Pounds left to goal: 39.5

Basically, there's no way I'm going to come anywhere near my goal in that timeframe, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't do my best to take off what I can. I am really struggling, though, so I thought I'd add some accountability by talking about it on my blog. (I realize there are only about three people who read my blog but, still, it's out there.)

I thought about posting my actual weight on my blog, but I don't think I can bring myself to do that. Instead, I'm going to report weekly on how much weight I have lost since the last report. I'm also going to post unflattering "fat" photos of myself as motivation. Here's the first one:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Brush With Greatness


Speed by Association

Last night we went to a party hosted by Craig and Laura Webb. The Webbs have a beautiful house in Dimondale and they are "bike people." They are also fast. Laura was the 5th woman to finish Iceman last fall and Craig finished 20th overall in a field of 2268 riders. I have to admit I was having some feelings of inferiority because not only was everyone else there significantly skinnier than me, I think most of them were bike racers and about 500 times faster than me. I only had three cocktails because I had to drive us home later, but even so, I found myself making wild pronouncements about what I wanted to do with my burgeoning mountain bike career. One example is: "I'd like to do Lumberjack before I die." I also started spouting off about how we were going to try a short endurance event this summer. Of course, Laura wanted to know what a "short" endurance event is, since that appears to be an oxymoron. I said we were going to start with a six-hour event, as opposed to jumping right into a 24-hour. I guess the more people I tell about my plans, the more likely it will be that I hold myself to it.

We actually had a really good time except for the fact that I was dragging pretty bad for the last hour or so since it was well past my bedtime. It was fun meeting Laura for the first time. When we left, she even told me to call her if I wanted to ride mountain bikes. I thought it was kind of funny because she would be miles ahead of me, but I thought it was nice of her to offer.

I was hoping I would get faster just by being around all those fast people, but I don't think that's very realistic. I do know one thing, I really enjoyed the social aspect of hanging out with people who are into bike racing and I really enjoy the riding. The only thing left is to see if I enjoy the racing. (I know I enjoy cyclocross racing, but mountain bike racing will be scarier.) I know I'm not ready yet, but I'm very excited for spring and the first race.

The evening culminated with a game called "killer" which involves tons of people and a pool table. Chris took some photos. There's only one of me since I didn't play killer. I'm sitting on the couch with our friend Dirk.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Three and a Half Hours of Fog

In the hopes of competing in one short endurance event in the upcoming season, I did some endurance training today. Our team ride was in Jackson, and we met at Jake's house to ride through town on our way to the Falling Water Trail. The temperature when we started was about 45, but it was foggy and misty and overall pretty damp. Luckily, I was able to borrow a fender and some shoe covers, which each helped tremendously my efforts to stay dry.

We had a fair turnout, but not as a good as I was expecting, given the temperature. Bob, Barry, Tom, Scott, Jake and I all went out. The first two miles or so were on the road through downtown. Then we turned off onto an intercity bike path. The bike path got icy pretty quickly, and by the time we got to the actual Falling Water Trail, I was really nervous about the ride. I didn't think I could ride the whole way on that ice or I was going to be miles behind the group. However, as soon as we started the Falling Water Trail, everything changed. The trail was paved last November and is wide and smooth. It was also, remarkably, clear of ice. It was wonderful. I was still riding slower than most of the group, but I did have a chance to chit chat occasionally, as whoever was leading stopped and waited for the rest of the group every once in a while.

It was kind of a gloomy day, but I stayed pretty warm and we had a fun time. We even passed some lakes where we saw some guys out ice fishing. Riding home in the near dark was a little hairy, particularly since I neglected to take my eyeglasses and I couldn't see very well. We made it back okay, though, and on the way back through the icy parts, I seemed to be riding a little better. I think all of these different experiences that are out of the ordinary (ice, snow, etc.) will all contribute to helping make me a better rider.

We ended up riding for 3 1/2 hours total. I think we went about 30-32 miles, judging from trail markings and bike computers. That's a pretty slow pace, but like I said, we did some waiting for each other, and the icy parts weren't particularly fast. I was toast by the end, but I made it and I felt a nice sense of accomplishment.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Playing Catch Up

Ever since we returned from Missouri, it seems like I've been playing catch up. I had to return to work on Wednesday and start wading through my big piles again. I had to spend some serious quality time with my pups, who sadly had to be left in the kennel during the trip to Missouri. (If only Maddy would quit barking loudly and hysterically in the middle of the night if she hears the slightest noise ... ) I also had a backlog of things to do around the house. Given all that, I haven't posted since New Year's Day, and that post was all about things that happened prior to New Year's Day. So, it appears I'm in need of some catching up on my blog, too. Here's a recap of the past several days, not all of things cycling-related:

Jan. 1—I finally got motivated to get out and do something, even though it wasn't riding. In the morning I decided to take the puppies out in the snow. I put my snowshoes in the car, but when we arrived at the park, I decided against putting them on. The girls were extremely excited and I determined that I would barely be able to hold on to the end of their leashes, much less do it while attached to and walking with snowshoes. We ended up sloggy through the snow in the woods for about 40 minutes. While we were out there, I formed two conflicting thoughts—I don't know why I don't take them out for walks more often and I know why I don't take them out for walks more often. I don't know why I don't take them out for walks more often because they have such a blast. They were bounding around in the snow like crazy and having a blast. However, I also remembered why I put off taking them for walks, because it's so hard. They are not well-trained to walk on a loose leash so they practically pull my arms out of their sockets. Gretchen alone is hard to handle and together it is really exhausting. (That's something I really need to spend some time working on, one of my hopes for the coming year, because they need a lot more exercise, particularly given where we live and the fact that we don't even have a fenced yard. Indoor wrestling and fetch games only go so far.) I wasn't able to get good photos because they wouldn't cooperate, but I've posted a couple here anyway.

My second activity for New Year's Day was cross country skiiing. Yes, you heard it right and no, I don't know how to ski. We went to a local park and rented skis, poles and boots for an hour. I was less than good at it. Given my lack of skill, I thought it was good that I only fell three times. Also, cross country skiing falls hurt a lot less than mountain bike falls, so that was one positive aspect. However, let me just say that I know why Alaska Jill prefers riding her bike to cross country skiing. I feel a lot less out of control on my bike than I do on skis.

Jan. 2—65 minutes riding the trainer (Recovery and Technique DVD, last 20 minutes reading a book)

Jan. 3—Skipped training to go out for an early birthday celebration, will have to make it up on the weekend

Jan. 4—Happy 35th Birthday to me! Because we knew the day was going to packed full, we got up early to ride the trainer before work. We did the 50-minute Sweating Buckets DVD. Other activities included a sad funeral in the afternoon and watching my favorite Spartan hockey team kick the crap out of Lake State, 8-2. (They must have been trying to give me a good show for my birthday.) I think I went to bed about 10:00. I'm such a partier!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Of Riding and Whining

The past few days have been kind of a blur. We finished up our trip in Missouri on Saturday and headed back to Michigan on Sunday morning. We got a chance to ride the Lake Wappapello Trail again on Saturday before we left, and what started out as a really crappy ride turned out okay in the end.

I'll admit my attitude was bad from the beginning of the ride. We had gone into town and had lunch and ran a couple of errands before heading out to the trail in the late afternoon. I was not motivated to ride and changing into my riding clothes in a somewhat chilly parking lot didn't help.

We started riding and everything seemed to go wrong from the beginning. My helmet, which apparently doesn't fit very well, though I never really noticed it when I first bought it, seemed worse than usual. It kept sliding down over my eyes and I felt like I was pushing it up about every three seconds. The headache that had started the night before and had gone away after breakfast came back with a vengeance as soon as I hit the trail. My legs felt like lead for the first ten minutes or so and I ended up pushing my bike up many more hills than should have been necessary. When I crashed early on, instead of getting up right away, I stayed on the ground for a while and just cried, even though it didn't particularly hurt. I came really close to just turning around and going back to the car.

I didn't do that though. I plugged along, we ended up riding a little farther than we had on Thursday and were rewarded right before we turned around to ride back with a pretty view of the sun sinking down toward Lake Wappapello. By the time we got back to the car my spirits had improved considerably.
So to wax philosophical for just a minute, let me say that there's one thing about mountain biking that I like more than anything else—being done. I know that sounds bad, or at least sounds like I'm not having much fun out there, but that's not really what I mean. I do have fun when I'm out on the trail, not always, but mostly. But the best feeling is standing at the car taking the wheel off my bike, feeling sweaty and tired and like I accomplished something. I don't know if it's hormonal or what, but it feels great. When I have that feeling it seems like it doesn't really matter what happens for the rest of day. I can say it was a success.

Note: Whiny blurb to follow. On that positive note, it's time to get a little negative for a minute. I'm feeling very overwhelmed right now. I have to go back to work tomorrow after a long break and I feel like I didn't get much accomplished, nor did I get much rest while I was gone. The trip to Missouri had some bright spots, but was somewhat depressing since we were helping put one of Chris' grandmas in a nursing home and clean out her house. The drive home seemed twice as long as the one down there and when it started snowing when we got back into Michigan, I just about lost it.

Yesterday I wasn't motivated to do anything except go pick the puppies up from the kennel and veg with them all day. Not that that's completely bad because I missed them and some QT was in order. However, I was supposed to ride and that didn't get done. I asked Chris if he wanted to try to ride outside and he mumbled some negative response so I never brought it up again. We got dumped on with snow last night, so it looks like riding the trail is out today. I thought I should take advantage of the fact that we actually have snow to take the girls out and use my snowshoes, but I'm even having trouble getting motivated to do that. I'm going to have to do something soon though, because my recovery week is over.