Friday, October 30, 2009

Should Xterra Rethink Their Bike Courses?

This year's world Xterra female top podium spot went to a roadie, Julie Dibens from England. My Xterra hero, Melanie McQuaid, was third and my other Xterra hero, professional mountain biker Shonny Vanlandingham, was 5th. Mel won the worlds 3 times in the past and this is Shonny's 3rd year of racing and is screaming through the circuit giving the top podium girls a run for their money. She nearly always has the fastest bike split, and Xterra is all about the bike. But, In reading Mel's race report, she slips in comments like "this particular course would not be my first choice to represent the ultimate Xterra style challenge to showcase the off-road athletes." It turns out, the Hawaii bike course was fairly smooth and non-technical this year giving the roadies an advantage. The years that I was racing, I commented several times about that... they really need to put more technical bike courses in these races. This is Xterra! It's about being off-road and challenging. One of the races I used to do, King of the Hill in New Jersey, is no more, but that was a super non-technical course. I'd have to be hard-pressed to call Richmond technical too. Although some argue twisty and tight turns are technical. I don't agree. R.B. Winter is technical. I heard Alabama is technical. Now THAT'S the way a mountain bike course should be in every Xterra. Rocks, climbs, and logs; and a lot of them. Should Xterra rethink their courses? I think so. I'll just bet Mel and Shonny think so too.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lake Placid Virtual Training Ride Review

Last night was a double hitter -- my first winter training cycling session AND my first look at Spinervals Virtual Lake Placid Training Ride DVD. Bottom line: am I happy with the DVD? Yes with a qualifier: Lake Placid will be visited only once a month but I'll look forward to seeing it each month. It's a DVD that you could get bored with real quick if you watch it too often; thus, once a month should be perfect. You basically follow Coach Troy riding a 56-mile loop around Lake Placid. It's not very scenic 'cause the camera is on the Bike and road in front of you, not the Lake. So you see what's ahead (mountains in the distance are nice -- sometimes the lake), but not what's on the side most of the time. It's hard to get a feel for climbs via the helmet cam used occasionally (the helmet cams produce semi-bad video so they only use it now and then), or the camera. But Troy does a good job narrating the entire ride by telling you what gear to use with flat spots or climbs coming up. Yes, he narrates the entire video. At first I sensed sort of a mundane narration, but it livened up a little as you got into the ride. To be honest, I was reading magazines at the long, flat sections that you could just sit and spin for 10-15 minutes. What I liked most about the DVD was it is ridden totally aerobically which is exactly what the doctor ordered for winter base training. You are in your small ring/15 (on a road bike on your trainer) nearly 75% of the time. Coach Troy encourages you to spin around 90-100 rpms most of the time which is not something I do 'cause it makes my heart rate go too high. So I typically stay around 75-80 rpm to keep the heart rate at about 75% for the 2 hour and 50 minute duration. I liked it, and am already looking forward to next month's ride.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Biggest Loser At Work - Week 3 Results

Weigh-in day is always fun for our Biggest Loser competition at work. Anything could happen and this week was one of those weeks. We are 24 days into the contest and you can really start to see results on some folks. One girl had very little to lose and she dropped more and now almost looks anorexic -- she agreed she's not going any further. One girl got pregnant and was replaced and our team mate that’s been gaining each week was dumped (siting medication reasons) and we got a replacement for him. Although, I can’t say it’s gonna make much of a difference for us ‘cause there are some teams that are SO into this and are out to win! They are constantly strategizing and they usually win points every week. Our team has too many Execs that 1) don’t exercise enough (although they are now using steps!), and 2) are simply too busy to think about eating/losing weight (one guy gained enough weight this week to weigh more than when he first started!) and 3) joined for the fun of it, and it IS fun. Several folks dropped a little more weight this week, and I only heard one or two putting money in the pot for gaining. One team couldn't participate this week because of a sick team member with the flu (out of the office all week). The guy that dropped 30 pounds in 2 weeks stayed the same this past week – he wasn’t exercising! But I overheard him, and several others talking about going “all out” this coming week for exercise week. It’s actually kind of funny to watch these folks that used to exercise very little if at all, now exercising over 10 hours a week. They are stiff, tired, and hurting (in a good way). One gal was limping like Captain Hook – she totally overdid it, but was happy she did. So the next exercise week will be fun seeing the hours come in. I’m supposed to be on the hot seat for exercise hours this week; but I can’t be sure I’m going to win ‘cause with other folks going “all out,” I’ll have serious competition! (Although I AM starting winter training tonight. Hmmmmm…) And my weight loss so far? I’m totally thrilled – 7.5 pounds overall. I’m officially getting back into the skinny girl clothes of Winter 2006/Spring 2007 and I feel awesome. I went for a run the other night and felt like a lightweight. It was SOO nice to be light on my feet. I’m heading out on the mountain bike on Friday and hopefully will feel the same way climbing up Deep Hollow trail. Very fun stuff.

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's On!

The training logs of years past were dusted off and the Spinervals DVDs are positioned for "play." The winter training is officially underway. Thanks to the Biggest Loser at work, my team mate Donna (can I be on the team for Big Bear next year?), and following the Xterra Worlds, the enthusiasm has returned to get back into the fitness groove. My best fitness years were 2006 and 2007 - the winter I did the 3-hour trainer sessions twice a week with Coach Laub (for those that didn't know, Mike Laub is a certified coach). I believe Laub is still doing those sessions somewhere across the river in Camp Hill, but long hours away from home on Wednesdays and Sundays got to be too old too quick. Preferring to stay closer to home, Troy and the gang put together some awesome DVDs that should help endure those 3-hr sessions on my own. Rick even talked about joining me on occasion. I've been using the 5-DVD Endurance Building set, but recently added the Aero-Builder 5-DVD set and so far really like it. The Hardcore 100 and the Lake Placid Virtual Ride were just ordered and should be equally good. And the goal? Ironcross of course is at the top of the list, and I'd just like to be able to comfortably do long, fun stuff like Big Bear 24 Hour, a couple Adventure races, maybe a 50 miler or two if Kuhn holds them again, and maybe try the Michaux 40-miler again if doesn't decide to dump buckets of water. But the ultimate goal is that good feeling about being fit. That good feeling of no stress and no fat from tons of exercise keeping it at bay. Now THAT'S what its all about.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Biggest Loser at Work - Week 2 Results

There wasn’t as much gleeful cheering for losing weight this week and several folks had to dump dollars into the pot for gaining weight this time around. The guy that lost 15 pounds last week did it yet again this week. Yes I agree – its not healthy. But he claims he’s giving his body a rest now. He was also on the hot seat two weeks in a row and that’s the limit – so he’s pretty much done with the contest (in my opinion). So that means the rest of us have a chance yet! We have four more weeks for the contest. Here are the percentages of weight loss this week:

Fatbusters United – 10.4 lbs & 6.19%
Gut Outtahere -- 2.7 lbs & 1.71%
Slim Gems -- .09 lbs & .19%
Children of the Cornelius – 3.3 lbs & 2.12%
Big Deal - 3 lbs & .94%
High Voltage Lifers – 22.1 lbs & 11.26%
Thinternational – 7.7 lbs & 3.69%
NewPAlite – 1.7 lbs & 1.02%

I’m on team Gut Outtahere. We have a guy on our team that wanted to pay ahead for gaining weight and he’s right… he gained two weeks in a row. Geez! He’s really serious, huh. The excitement is waning a bit, but everyone is still enthused for the most part to try to lose a couple more pounds. I'm still dropping, but not by much (.9 pounds this time). It's focus time for me -- from here on out it will be difficult.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Xterra Worlds October 25

The Xterra Worlds off-road triathlon is this weekend. I still have to pinch myself to believe that 4 years ago this weekend, I was part of the competition in Maui, Hawaii. To say it was an experience of a lifetime is an understatement. And to think I almost cancelled the trip because I was scared TO DEATH to swim in the ocean. Ha! It was in a cove and I saw turtles -- it was delightful. Here are some pics. I really sucked - it took me 5 hours and 18 minutes to finish it! I was totally out of shape for it and screwed up big time in training for it - but I didn't care. Just to be in Hawaii and participating was worth the trip. You can watch it live this weekend. Check this link for a live broadcast on Sunday. Remember though, they are 6 hours behind us, so don't start watching until 3:00 pm. The scenery alone is worth the watch... but the inspiration that comes out of watching these athletes is even MORE incredible. You'll be inspried to get out and ride. Maybe you better go riding before you watch!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Skiing at Whitegrass! Oct 19

Check it out... our favorite ski destination in the world had snow this past weekend! OMG. Lucky dogs.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Biggest Loser at Work - Week 1 Results

The weigh-in was Wednesday and all but 2 folks of the 40 people were giggling with weight-loss glee. It was actually quite amazing when you heard the numbers and no different than in the real-live show when it came to pounds lost. 9 pounds, 8 pounds, several 5 and 3 pound losses too. The winner for the week lost 15 pounds. He also was the winner of the most exercise hours at 29 hours!! My piddly 21 hours came in second. Holy hanna! Paul is quite impressive. He's Ethiopian and probably the most polite, courteous, mannerly and humble individual you'd ever meet. He's also very, very smart. His strategy was to do cardio workouts in the early morning for two hours and let that workout burn more calories throughout the day. Then after work, he'd head back to the gym and pump iron for two more hours. He said he averaged 2 pounds a day. And he's SO humble about it - not proud or boastful - just doing his daily workout. Amazing. I was a happy camper too even though I didn't win the hot seat for the team for most exercise hours. I dropped 3.6 pounds and for the first time in over a year, I'm squeezing my ass back into some pants that just weren't wearable. Being on a team and being a "team player" certainly has its advantages.

More Iron Cross Reading

Fit Chick wrote her own race report on Iron cross. This girl is simply out of us normal-person's league. She trains with the boys (tries to beat them most times), is paid to workout, and just isn't anywhere near a weekend warrior level. So why the hell do I have to compete with girls like this???? Why do race promoters think its ok for someone like me to compete with someone like her? I don't get it. If they would group all the "men" together, maybe I'd be ok with it. One of my friends, Kera, had to compete the same way the day before the Ironcross at Ironcross lite. All the Cat 1, 2, 3, and 4 women were grouped together as one happy family. I heard the pro girl just ran away with it. Is that fair? Not at all Mr. Race Promoters. Geez.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fit Chick

You saw the pic below of the gal with the pythons. Her name is Selene Yeager and she's the fitness director for Bicycling magazine,a.k.a. Fit Chick. She's actually quite impressive and has a series of exercise videos on bicycling magazine's website. Here's the link to her videos showing a variety of exercises. She's also the author of a book on cycling for women, Every Woman's Guide to Cycling, Everything You Need to Know, along with being co-author of nearly 20 other books including Food Remedies. She writes regularly for Bicycling, but also writes for Prevention magazine. In other words, she kinda famous. Reading her blog, I found it extra interesting (and of course inspiring) that I actually share a little background with her -- she too hired a coach and started training for triathlons after many years of cycling and occassional running. Of course hers was a tad more impressive -- Ironman. She spent 10 months training for her first Ironman in Lousiville Kentucky in 2008, and then went on to qualify for Kona in 2008 of which she gives the detailed race report. It brought back the memories (and a tear or two) of when I was lucky enough to go to Hawaii for the Xterra worlds. What a friggin experience of a lifetime. Thanks Fit Chick! You're an inspiration. BTW, she turned 40 this year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Thus, my forever joyous pleasure of competition in the biking world. For you newcomers, I'm the first pic. No, actually I'm the 2nd pic and my friends haven't figured it out yet that I really did finish the race. I love racing against girls like this. I used to be told "it'll make you a better rider." No it didn't you fat liar. This proves we really need to get more women into this sport so we can fight for fairness in women's categories.
And here are my two heros of the day... Donna on the left telling me to get the hell on my bike and ride. She waited for me here at checkpoint 2 and later at checkpoint 3 to ride the last half of the course . I didn't make checkpoint 3 -- but she rode anyway (and crossed the finish line!). Sheena is carrying the bike -- she rode the 1st half with me and kept me sane. As my legs seized up from cramps and I was stuffing a CLIF bar down my throat, I asked Sheena if she wanted some and her very innocent reply was, "No thanks. They make me fart." That answer cured all cramps - I laughed for the next two miles.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Crampy Iron Legs for the Ironcross

Holy hell I hurt. Thank god for friends to push me a little further to make it hurt a little more (just kidding Donna). No, I was very, very grateful to have Sheena hang with me (she poached the course - it was awesome!) and know the way back when I finally said I can't do this anymore. I started cramping at 3 hrs and it felt like both legs were big old charlie horses. I sucked down endurolytes which helped, but it wasn't enough. I hung it up at about mile marker 35? Not sure. It was mid-way between checkpoints 2 and 3 (there were 4 altogether). You had to be at checkpoint 4 within 6 hours and I was at 4.25 hrs when I decided I'm done. I don't think I could have made the last check point in 1.75 hrs -- I had 2 more mountains to climb before that checkpoint and one of them was a big bugger! So at 4.25 hours we thankfully were on top of a mountain and could ride the ridge back to the finish. It still took about an hour to get back -- maybe a total of 50 miles by the time I was done? I don't know... but I DO know I hurt all over -- my shoulders, my knees, my legs, my crotch, my ass, my feet (the one went to sleep at one point), and my nose from blowing snotrockets all the time. That's what I get for not preparing more for this! That's what I get for thinking I could do it. Actually, entering this race was just what I needed to get my mind off the birthday so it WAS a success. But it DID confirm you gotta train to do these things and that means riding a bunch. Wanna do the Ironcross next year? Start riding now!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Record Number of Women Entered in 2009 Ironcross

31 gals pre-registered for the 7th annual running of the Irconcross. Every year this race has grown and this year it is capped at 300 of which I think the organizer will reach that max. The women's open division shows the annual growth nicely. The first year had 10 female finishers -- myself and Donna were two of them. The next couple years saw 16, then 9, then 24, 26, and 27 finishers on the women's side. All the while, we all race together as one big happy women's family. That means young, old, professionals and weekend warriors all grouped together unlike the men's division which usually has a Master and Singlespeed class along with the Open class. This year I see at least 3 over-50 gals, several 40 somethings and of course many 30 and 20 somethings. I recognize at least one pro in the mix too. For many years racing with the young gals annoyed me -- I felt it wasn't fair -- and a small part of me STILL thinks its unfair. But the larger part of me knows at age 50, it's officially the race against myself to challenge myself to finish. And that's my goal. Crossing the finish line makes me a winner no matter the placing. And I WILL cross that line, just like I did 3 other times. Ironcross, here I come.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Losing It At Work - Day 3

Boy are we having fun... folks are climbing stairs, sharing candy, hush-hush chit chatting in corners, and eating up all the salad in the snack bar. The Biggest Loser competition here at work is working! I hear people say they lost xxx pounds - in two days! I must admit, it's heartwarming to see people getting off their duffs and walking at breaks and lunch. This was what they needed to get moving. Many people simply don't have time outside of work to do any kind of activity. They are moms and dads and kids consume a TON of time. So having co-workers to climb stairs with and walk around city island at work is just what the doctor ordered. I'd say this challenge is a success in many ways. Its also nice to see so much camaraderie. We're normally a fairly quiet group and this challenge brought folks out of their shells. Awesome. And how are my 24 hours of training coming along? Well.... I'm one to listen to my body and after two days and 5 hours of exercise it's saying I'M TIRED - KNOCK IT OFF! So I'm going to slow up a bit to be rested for Sunday's big event (the IRONCROSS!) Granted, those 5 hours weren't too intense (walking at lunch, doing the stairs, core work in the am, ez biking/kayaking), the old bod still recognizes it as exercise and lets me know if it likes it or not. I think I'll still get about 21 hours in for the 9-day period and while my goal was 24 hours, staying in the 20-hour range will work too. My biggest challenge is keeping up the hours with activities that don't stress my system for Sunday. Hmmm.... yoga and stretching anyone?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I'm a Loser

Thanks to Donna, I'm now a loser at my work. She shared with me her work's version of Biggest Loser and I shared it with one gal in my office who just took off with it and is running one hell of a show. She rounded up 40 people that were divided up into 8 teams of 5 and tomorrow is the official start of the competition. Some teams are totally into it -- they had embroidered t-shirts with their team name, Fatbusters United (FU). Another team wrote this very creative article about the competition that appeared to have come off the Associated Press. Yet another gal responded to that article with an equally creative blurb relating all the teams and their response to the article. Some teams are seriously strategizing about how they are going to win; and yet others are in it simply because it took off the way it did and wanted to be part of the camaraderie associated with it. There's at least 5 people in the competition that are about as skinny as rails, but they wanted to partake in the fun. Some ask why I'm in it - I don't have any weight to lose. Guess what buckos, I have 10 pounds to drop according to the healthy weight charts. And maybe I'll just do it this time for a change having 40 others to compete with. And what's the prize? $70 bucks baby. We each threw in $10 and the winning team splits it all. the winners will be based on points with each team earning up to 15 points weekly on weight loss, exercise hours (that's MINE), and weekly objective which is usually weight loss or percentage of weight loss (one week is exercise -- that's MINE). I'm not really sure our team can win, but it certainly has me fired up to finally dig in and really try to drop some pounds. I'm in the "hot seat" the first week for getting the most exercise hours for our team to win the first 5 points. Do you think 24 hours of training and riding (IRONCROSS!) will be enough? Boy that hour swim and hour of stretching at the YMCA on Monday after the Ironcross will be nice... :)