Sunday, March 25, 2012

Questions from Yesterday's Ride

1. While I am never a fan of white cycling shorts, who decides to wear white cycling shorts when the forecast calls for rain? Wet roads = a really weird looking pattern on your behind.

2. What mountain is Kent, Ohio on that I climbed for 10 miles to get there?

3. Why it is so hard to grab someone's back wheel as they they pull ahead of me? I mean, seriously, why can't I do it?

4. How did we ride over 100 miles yesterday and not get rained on while Mentor rode for 2 hours and got soaked?

5. Why does nothing ever look appealing to eat after a long ride even though I am absolutely starving?

6. Would I be a better cyclist on a carbon road bike? (Say yes as I am really trying to rationalize this one).

7. Why is the pavement heading south on the Valley Parkway so much worse than riding north?

8. Who knew that a grilled cheese sandwich at the Franklin Square Deli would be the best thing I have eaten ever on a bike ride?

9. Did any of the employees at previously mentioned deli notice one of the riders wringing out his sweat rag on their carpeted floor?

10. Will my cycling glasses ever stop fogging?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sunday's Long Ride

The ride started in pristine fashion with me yelling at Eric to wait up for me because "my bootie's stuck!" The weather on Sunday proved to make dressing appropriately for the ride, well, just impossible. Despite the promise of 60 degree weather in the afternoon, at 9am, it was a chilly 37 degrees, just too cold not to wear booties over my shoes. As the group started the ride, I went to clip into my pedals and couldn't get my right foot to click. I quickly realized something was blocking it, so I pulled over and realized my shoe cover was stuck on part of the cleat (part of the shoe that locks onto the pedal). With the help of a friend, we were able to get the bootie off the cleat, but not before we were left in the dust by the rest of the group.

After a few minutes of harder than desired effort, we got back to the group... and then a minute later, I hit a bump and down my seatpost went. Now, I snapped the bolt connecting me seatpost to my saddle a few weeks ago and was worried about it, but I thought the problem was going to be a bad seat position, not it falling down. Part of me thought about just fixing it and turning around to call it a day, but I was literally 12 minutes into the ride. I didn't drive to Berea for a 24 minute ride. So, I rushed to get the seatpost up, and I actually found the line marking the proper height for my seatpost. The guy who fit me on my bike put a groove into the seatpost so I could fix it if the seatpost was ever moved by a twitchy handed mechanic or something else. I then got out my cue sheet and made a few turns and found Eric who hadn't waited with me, but had soft-pedaled to make sure I didn't get lost. Sometimes, he's okay even if he did keep asking me if I needed a tissue to wipe my tears since SO wasn't there.

I knew there was no way we were going to catch back up to the big group, but I had some solace in knowing we had a stop relatively early on the route. We quickly caught up with a few people, and I assumed that they had waited for Eric so I kept working in vain to try to catch the big group, when I looked back, and they were significantly behind me. That's when I realized that
Eric was staying back with the people who couldn't keep a faster pace, and since I tend to get lost on these rides when I am riding by myself, I decided to try to help pull and stay in a group...not really a choice, I mean, ride harder and get lost or take it easy and stay on course.

When we made it to the first stop, I quickly went to the bathroom and then asked TC to help me adjust my saddle position, the height was right, but the angle was wrong. Well, it didn't take us long, but long enough that he and I along with a woman named Kim were kind of left behind. We were about 30 seconds behind the group, but that was enough with the bit of a headwind we had to keep us from re-joining the group. Truth be told, at that point, I hadn't really ridden with the main group at all so it would have been joining the group for me. Oh well, it was only about 10 miles to Medina, so it was just more time to enjoy not hammering on the bike. After a bit, Eric and TC held up and waited for the stragglers at the turns, and I kind of went and played sweeper. There was a bit of a headwind, and so when people fell of the pace line, they fell way behind, kind of noodling in the wind. As I rode, I caught up with about three different guys struggling in the wind. As a result of my playing conductor on the dropped train, one of the guys was so grateful that he bought me a cookie at the Java Bean cafe.

After a few "bonus miles" getting lost in Medina, we headed to Creston, and for once, I actually found myself riding with the group. I don't think anyone was hammering. I think it was a pretty conversational pace, at least for this group, but it was nice to keep up and still feel like I was putting in a solid effort. In Creston, we split into two groups: the century riders and the not feeling like killing myself group. I went with the latter, and while I think I could have handled a century, I was worried about my back and opted to play it safe.

The ride back was just awesome! The one woman who was definitely slower than the rest kind of gave us an excuse to take it easy and just enjoy each other's company and the wonderful weather on the bike. We didn't ride all that slowly, but we would wait for her at the turns,which gave us little pockets of breaks and enabled her to stay relatively close to the group. There was also a woman in this group, Christa, who I look up to as the kind of cyclist I want to be. According to TC, she makes riding strong look effortless, kind of the goal of any athlete to make the difficult look easy.

After crossing a major highway, we stopped on the side of the road to strip out of the layers of clothes we were wearing. We all looked like our own different version of a hunchback with our cycling pockets filled with tights and booties and jackets. Oh, but to feel air on my legs was just amazing!

The ride back was pretty uneventful until the other woman Christa and I both needed to hit a restroom, or at least some trees. We rode off from the guys, but by the time we found somewhere and realized we were digging through thorn bushes, they passed us on their way back. I have a few cuts and scraps from the thorns, but sometimes, a girl has to do what a girl has to do. We got back on the bikes, and we worked together to get back to the group by trading off pulls to catch up with the rest of the group.

We got back to Berea right around 3 pm with 70 miles under our belts. I think we all felt good and were all happy for Kim to have made it through such a long ride. It's days like Sunday that remind me why I love cycling so much.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Forrest Gump Summer Approaches

Anyone who has ever raced me or seen me race or knows anything about me as a triathlete knows that I am a strong swimmer, a strong cyclist, but a horrible runner. Someone else coined the phrase "control the bleeding" to describe how they try to manage how many slots they drop in the final leg of a triathlon: the run. I don't bleed, I hemorrhage.

My perfect example:

Last year, SO decided he wanted to do the Great Buckeye Challenge as a final tune-up before Wisconsin. Side note: GREAT RACE! I highly recommend it! He wanted to do the half ironman, and I was happy with doing the Olympic or "Mini" triathlon (technically not an Olympic because of a shorter than regulation swim). I had begged my coach to let me do one long ride before IM so I was suppose to do a 100 miler on Saturday than a hour run on Sunday. Well, I did about an 85 mile ride on Saturday and replaced the run with a triathlon. As an aside, he was not upset with the decision, once again proud of my swim and bike, but perplexed by how could I be such a bad runner.

I am not bragging about this race, it's just comical to me:

My swim: fastest female split (not including the one elite)
My bike: fastest female split (not including the one elite)

Note: While I think I had good times on these legs, I think the bulk of the competitive athletes were either in the sprint or the half, it was just a small field of people actually doing this distance.

Despite my garmin not working, my helmet lining coming unbuckled, causing the thing to bounce off my sunglasses the entire time on the bike, and picking a hat that just didn't seem to want to stay on my head, I had an absolute blast! There was little wind (for me on the first loop, SO told me it picked up for his second lap), the course was pretty flat, and I was just sailing, joking around with the guys I was passing and who were passing me... until the run.

I believe I had a 2 to 3 minute lead on the field going into the run, not bad considering the effort I had put on the bike the day before. I held that lead for the first couple of miles of the run and then I started getting passed. I ended up getting 4th overall and losing the race to the overall winner by OVER 6 MINUTES. In nearly 4 miles, she bested me by a minute and a half PER MILE. I had a great experience at this race, understood that some of the horrible run was probably a result to not being fresh, but it was a clear sign that my running was what most people could only describe as awful.

I have been talking a great deal this past off season about working on my run. This year is going to be all about the run, but that was all it seemed to be: talk. I mean, when I started running after my surgery, I was running some pretty not impressive 11 minute miles and only 2 at a time. How am I going to get faster when I just made my pace so much worse? People gave me recommendations, and then I had this epiphany, why not ask my high school track coach? He's the most accomplished runner I know, he took himself from a 3:30 to a 2:35 marathon, he seems to know a thing or two about getting faster, what harm comes from asking?

So, I went to talk to him, and he was excited and eager to help me out. I should say, when I ran my first marathon 5 years ago, I remember talking to him about it, and he was so stoked. I remember him saying, "who would have thought you would run a marathon." I love that comment because it captures a sense of pride along with the acknowledgement of how far I had come. Oh, and if you were wondering, I did track in high school, but the field side of things. I was a pretty good discus thrower and an inconsistent shot-putter. My old throwing coach once told someone I was good because I was big and had the benefit of the power of momentum my weight generated. And sometimes I wonder why I hated high school...

But back to the the point, the season starts with a goal of a sub 54 minute at the 10k for the Cleveland marathon. The real goal is the half marathon at Akron in September, but my performance at Cleveland will determine if that goal will be adjusted, or if he still thinks it's reasonable. So starting this weekend, I will be running 3-5 days a week so watch out Forrest, there will be another running fool in town.

Monday, March 5, 2012

State Tournament

It was not our most successful state tournament, which kind of hurt after one of our most successful state tournaments last year. It reminded me of the 2009 State Tournament and the possibilities that never came. However, I am so proud of my students and all they accomplished this year. I think they truly enjoyed spending the weekend together, and I enjoyed spending time with them. In a season tainted by one student's anger, my students moved past it to work on their own goals to regroup and find the joy that they find in speech and debate.

I was quite sad on Saturday evening. I am losing three senior boys whose presence has added some frustrations but more often than not lots of laughter to my life. I felt like I had failed one of these students particularly as he is so talented, and I am just not a good enough coach to help him excel. I think I need to work harder as a coach, and I feel bad that I didn't step up this year.

Aside from my students, I truly enjoyed the company of people in the judges' lounge. From other coaches to parents who I have come to know and consider friends, I had plenty of laughs and good stories to share. I honestly don't have any "debatisms" from the weekend, probably because it was state tournament and the absurdity wasn't quite as prevalent.

There are things about state tournament that I find absolutely ridiculous, and while I am horribly tempted to write about them, I will just say that it is what it is. It is a tournament I still want to have a student win so criticisms out the door, it's still the culmination of the season and unfortunately, it's a culmination that always has tears, at least for me.