Sunday, December 30, 2007


There are always two ways to look at things, for example sometimes the glass is half empty, sometimes its half full. Rain is no different.

Yesterday, rain meant malaise and disappointment.

McQueen arrived the night before and with predicted warm temperatures, I was ready to take her out on the road for her debut. My schedule called for 2 hours and 20 minutes on the bike and I had made plans with TG40 and TG Diane to join them in their outside ride for the first part, then planned to head to West Creek and test out my new ride to finish my time. I had pulled up the night before and the rain was scheduled to end during the night. Perfect, my ride was set for 10 am. Around 9, it was still raining and TG40 called to tell me the ride had been postponed until 2:30. I decided to do a little post Christmas sale shopping at Talbots and around 1ish when I returned home, it was still drizzling, very damp and dreary. I felt exhausted and did not want to go out into the damp weather for a ride. So instead, I ate some lunch and took a nap. A perfect rainy day activity.

Finally, I woke up and thanks to my guilt of not riding with the girls and some motivation from my husband, we went downstairs to our bike room to ride our trainers. Two and a half hours later, I had finished my ride (the first hour and 45 minutes on the old bike and the last 35 on McQueen) and for the first time in my day, the sun actually came out. Perhaps it was the new bike, perhaps the inspirational movies we watched (the Replacements and part of Drumline) or perhaps the fact that I can feel myself get stronger as I push myself to new limits.

Today, rain meant strength and confidence.

As I headed out for my run today, it started to drizzle. Unlike biking in the rain, running in the rain has always made me feel strong and like a real athlete. Today was no different. My schedule for today called for a 75 minute run with a good warm up in zone 2, two 8 minute tempo repeats separated by 2 minutes easy in between and the rest of the time in zone two. After about 15 minutes into the run, just about the time I started my first repeat, the drizzle of the rain turned into a steady pour. It didn't matter. I was feeling good. Bon Jovi's latest CD was playing from my new iPod nano and my legs were responding to the faster turn over and drive. The second 8 minutes was a little bit tougher, but I pushed on and found my own motivating mantra for the year -- power. Power to push myself harder, power associated with greater confidence in myself and power associated with training with motivated friends. I finished my run in the pouring rain with a big smile on my face and a little spring left in my step. I had just finished a 75 minute run in the pouring rain. I rock!

After I dried off, had some lunch and snuggled with Lulu next to the fire, I had to motivate to go back out into the rain and head to the Y for my swim. I was dreading this workout. After a short warm up, the main set was 20 50s at a hard pace with 10 - 15 second rest intervals. After about 5 50s, I was breathing hard, my arms had started their burn and I wished that I had only 5 left rather than 15. But I didn't. So with each 50 I focused on a different part of my form, a strong pull, timing, good kick and repeated my new mantra many times. While my rest intervals definitely had stretched to 15 seconds, I finished and my cool down felt light and easy.

I'm back home, my workouts are done for the weekend and, its still raining. This weekend, rain has reminded me that there are two ways to look at things. Sometimes when training, I will face less than ideal circumstances. I need to remind myself to take another look. That same situation can be positive and teach me that I am stronger and more motivated than I often let myself believe!

So rain, rain, go away, but please come back another day.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Introducing my new bike "McQueen"

Named after a really fast driver, Steve McQueen, featured in one of my favorite Sheryl Crow songs, at approximately 6 pm tonight I brought my new Project One Equinox TTX back to Richmond. She's beautiful -- full carbon, Dura Ace equiped, race bullhorns and a sweet paint job. I can't wait to get her on the road! Hopefully the rain with stop soon.

I ain't takin' sh** off no one
Baby, that was yesterday
I'm an all American rebel
Makin' my big getaway
Yeah, you know it's time
I gotta fly

Like Steve McQueen
All I need's a fast machine
And I'm gonna make it all right
Like Steve McQueen
Underneath your radar screen
You'll never catch me tonite

-Sheryl Crow

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

After a hectic work week, travel to Atlanta for business and finalizing a summary judgment motion for filing Monday, the Christmas season hadn't quite sunk in. Work ended Friday, and although we had decorated our Christmas tree earlier in the week, there weren't any presents underneath it. So armed with a glass of Cabernet and with the sounds of Josh Groban's newest Christmas CD, I started to wrap...and wrap...and wrap. Finally, around midnight I gave up and headed to bed for a few hours of sleep before Saturday morning cycling. The presents had filled the space beneath the tree and I was beginning to eagerly anticipate the next day's trip to Philadelphia to spend Christmas with my family.

Two hours on the bike Saturday morning went by faster than I expected, although I could feel the effects of a busy work week and a few too many glasses of holiday cheer lingering in my legs. We spent most of the two hours in the big chain ring and in aero position. Two of my favorites! Yea right. Soon I was back home, finishing up the wrapping and loading up for the trip up 95.

95 was its usual mess. Our 4 1/2 hour drive took us two hours extra and by the time we arrived our nerves were frazzled. But it was well worth the wait! We arrived to the cheers of two very excited nieces, my sister and her husband and my parents. Kate can hardly contain herself as she looks with excitement at all of the presents under the tree. I'm sure the extra sugar from the daily dose of cookies and candy adds to it. [I need to find a way to harness that energy and save it for long rides and runs.] We've opened a few token presents, caught up with each others latest and greatest, taken a long walk, curled up in front of the fire, and even made a few gluten-free sugar cookies.

Yes, its beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Team Astana and Trek

Despite the Christmas bustle, all week I have been feeling slightly blue. The report on Tuesday was that it is not likely that my new TTX will be here in time for Christmas. While it was not imperative for race reasons that I have the new bike by then, I still wanted to see it sitting beside the Christmas tree (and, more importantly ride it on Saturday before we left for the holiday). As of Tuesday, Trek had no explanation for the delay... they are just behind on their Project Ones.

I now know, however, the real reason. Announced just yesterday afternoon, Trek's Project One team has been busy making new bikes for some other people..... Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador among them. Yes, yesterday Trek announced that they will be sponsoring the new Team Astana in 2008 and, Team Astana will be riding the Equinox TTX (my new bike) and the 2008 Madone (hopefully someday in my future). The new rides look incredible.

This announcement, of course, made me grin ear to ear. Ever since reading the book, "Its not about the Bike," Trek has been one of my favorite companies. Johan Bruyneel, the former manager of the U.S. Postal team, Discovery Team and now the new manager for team Astana, says it best "I didn't go to anyone else for bikes in 2008." Yes, I am a Lance Armstrong follower, but I also had come to root for the newest Discovery Team members, especially after their tremendous performance in last year's tour. To me, Trek bikes are synonymous with innovation and technology.
To know that my very own bike is being made by the same people who have made in the past and just made new bikes for the first and third place winner of the Tour de France makes me look forward even more to my own 2008 race season with my new Trek. Now that I have the same bike, guess I'll just have to work even harder to try and cycle just as fast :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday Musings

Although I knew I couldn't go pick it up today, I must admit to more than a twinge of disappointment when I called BikeBeat today to check on my new Trek Equinox TTX. It did not arrive. Steve wasn't in so I guess I have to wait for tomorrow for the update.

Fave asked today in weight training "Is their a specific focus to each rotation?" My response, mid-workout "Mine seem to be, CORE, CORE and more CORE." After my second visit to TriGirl weight training, it is patently obvious to me, I am severly lacking in the strong core department. Another thing I need to work on, push-ups.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Timed Mile

One of my biggest goals of this season is to become a more efficient, faster runner. Out of the three legs of the triathlon, running is my hardest. It always seems to take the most out of me and, I am slow.

Through my training with Coach Michael, I met running coach Brenda. I was never taught how to run, I just went out and did it. Consequently, I quickly learned in my first sessions, that for me, running properly did not come naturally. My stride and form was far from ideal and certainly did not resemble that of the Kenyans who are often leading running races. My body weight was not properly distributed, my alignment all off and most of all I had no idea that like cycling, running also had a cadence.

For nearly two months now, I have been practicing and working on my form, completing often silly looking drills and gradually starting to become more comfortable. Believe it or not, my past few runs have actually been enjoyable.

So this morning I was excited for the extra fun Coach Mark and Grandison added to our Saturday morning cycling, a timed mile. I had done 1/2 mile repeats last season (my fastest ever only 4 min. 27 seconds and most averaging around 4 min. 35-40 seconds) but I have never done a "timed mile." I certainly have never seen any number lower than a nine and a half plus minute pace even in a short 5K race. It was time to put my new form to the test.

So at 7 am this morning, I jogged my way up to Monument Avenue, anxious to see if my hard work and new form would pay off. I clicked my stop watch to start and took off with images of the road runner in my head. "Lift and lean," I could hear Coach Brenda repeating in my head. As the mile continued it was harder and harder to keep form. I know my heart rate was definitely sky rocketing and, the slight uphill grade on the last 1/4 mile didn't help. At last, I reached the street sign marking the end of the mile and pressed the stop on my watch. I looked down and smiled - 8 min. 44 seconds. Its working!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Time Management

One of the biggest things I struggle with is time management. This week is no different...especially since I am a single parent this week. Single parent, you say? Yes, I am the single parent of our fur child Lulu this week while my husband is shivering in Maine on business.

Lulu, our 1 1/2 year old yellow lab, normally leads the life of luxury. She wakes in the morning and goes for her first two mile walk of the day with one or both of her parents. After the walk, while we sip our coffee and check in with the work world, she indulges in her morning breakfast. Soon, she settles at the feet of my husband who works many days out of the week from our home office. In the middle of the day, she has a few trips outside, a ball session or two with her dad during the lunch hour. At the end of the day, she greets her mom with a wagging tail, eats a little dinner and usually heads back out for the second walk of the day.

This week, like my schedule, she's had to adapt. Most days, Coach MH has me on a double workout session. So...its early to rise for me and I need to get in at least one workout before heading to the office. Because I haven't yet found the willpower to get up at 4:30 in the morning, Lulu's morning walks this week have not happened, neither have the evening ones. Instead, I've had to improvise. Thank goodness for Dog Services. Lulu gets to play with all her closest friends for the day while I work.

Yet, at the end of the day around five, or my more normal "mid-afternoon", I've left the office feeling guilty for only working until 5 and head to pick her up. She of course is eager to greet her mom but tired, worn out and ready to curl up for the evening when she gets home. No such luck for me although with the chilly temperatures outside there is nothing I want to do more than curl up and relax. After dropping her off tonight, I had to motivate to head to TG strength training, my first time. I have to admit, I was a little nervous. I've been lifting nautilus for the past 2 months, at least twice a week, but I had heard from past participants that TG strength training was particularly challenging and yummy. And it was. I am positive that my entire core and arms will remind me of every V up, push up on the balance bar and crunch of the many varieties Coach Mark and Grandison dreamed up over the short break. Yet I stuck with it and will be headed back on Thursday.

Exhausted from a busy day, with a pile of work yet to get to, I finally curled up on the couch with Lulu beside me to watch my favorite show on TV these days - The Biggest Loser. Week after week that show inspires me to achieve more and push myself to be better. This week was no different. Nicole, who unfortunately went home tonight, gave me the inspiration this week I needed. After the contestants were sent into the work world for the day and had to return to campus for their evening workout, Nicole essentially had this to say before she headed to the gym to bust out a long workout: "I know there will be days like this when I'm exhausted, when I've had a long day or when I'm just burnt out. But I know I still need to give my best and put in the workout. That's what separates the old me from the new me that I've become."

So go get it Nicole! I'll look forward to seeing your transformation in a few weeks. In the meantime, I'll be sticking with my workouts and working hard for the new me that I've become.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Saturday with the Gals

Since Naylor's, and the end of my 2007 season, Saturdays have primarily been spent at football games, catching up with things on my weekend "to-do" list and training with my husband. Lately, the two of us have either treked outside for our Saturday morning cycle at West Creek (testing our new cold weather gear) or spent time on the trainers in our basement workout room. While on the trainers, I try to pass time more quickly by watching one of my favorite TV shows or a DVD from our cycling collection (Breaking Away is my favorite). Even still, time spent inside on the trainer seems to tick away slowly.

Consequently, I was looking forward to this Saturday's workout -- the first session of indoor cycling at Maramarc. The only part I wasn't eager for? The 7 am start.

As I had hoped, this Saturday's session on the trainer flew by. Surrounded by twenty some other training partners, the hour of cadence drills and one legged spinning seemed to last only minutes. It was great to meet some new people I'll be sweating it out with over the next few months, catch up on everyone's race calendars for 2008 and even catch a glimpse of some brand new pink tatoos. Soon enough, the bike was over and we were headed to my favorite part of Saturday training with the gals.... post-workout coffee at Starbucks! A few good laughs, lots of smiling faces and plenty of time to catch up over a good cup a coffee..... it is definitely good to be back!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Inaugural Post

After months of avidly reading my fellow TRIgirls' posts and a little bit of research on how one actually goes about blogging, I decided it was time to jump in and give the blogging thing a try. For me, my fellow TRIgirl bloggers have been a source of inspiration, lots of laughs and good training tips, an update on news in my friends' lives and a new way for me to connect with other triathletes who share my passion for this challenging but so rewarding sport. I hope I can now reciprocate...give others a laugh or a new tip I've learned, maybe inspire another or share my efforts to balance my growing desire to get better at this sport with spending time (outside of workouts) with my wonderful husband Bart and playful lab Lulu and with the eternally busy work monster.

So a little about me and how I got here....

A running buddy of mine and I joke that we are "adult-onset atheletes." Sure growing up I swam on the swim team, danced and watched my father coach wrestling and football, but I never really had a real passion for competing in sports. Instead, my passion was music and I spent my time training and singing in local and regional groups and performing on the stage.

So six years ago, when my college friend who also lived in Richmond suggested that a marathon sounded like a fun thing to do, I laughed and said, your crazy. But, I went along and soon became an "adult-onset athelete." I ran my first 10 miles that year, my first half and full marathons the next, and grew to realize that despite never participating in many athletic competitions as a youth, there were tons of fun and challenging events I could enter as an adult. I also learned that running and competing made me feel sharper and stronger both physically and mentally.

Two years ago I met my now husband through tennis (another sport I decided to try). Bart, a once avid triathlete and CAT 3 cyclist, shared his love of this sport and cycling with me by way of old racing stories and his 4 plus bicycles even before I was brave enough to get on a bike. His enthusiasm helped spark my interest when TG SanDee told me all about this amazing group of women in town she met and started training with to do her first ever triathlon. They seemed to train hard, but also knew when to have fun and just share a cup a coffe or better yet, a glass of wine. It sounded interesting and as an added extra I thought it perhaps might make those wedded bliss extra pounds drop away, and so I signed up. For my first anniversary, I even got a shiny new lavender TREK to aid me in my adventure.

Despite the fun of training with TRIgirls, I really wasn't hooked until June 3, 2007 when I crossed the finish line of my first sprint tri with a huge smile on my face despite the torrential rain conditions. The race exceeded any of my expectations. Since then its been another sprint, an Olympic, and no looking back.

And now . . . I'm looking forward to pushing myself harder, learning new things about myself and my limits, sharing this process with my loving and supportive husband who has also gotten back into a sport he loves, and experiencing all the things good and bad of triahlon training with my fellow TGs, coaches and tri-friends.