Sunday, July 29, 2012

Slackertarian Avoids Grocery Store on Sunday, Again

First of all, the day after the tri for which I was woefully undertrained, I am shocked that my legs and various body parts feel pretty great.  I don't feel wrecked like I did for Nation's the last two years.  I really wanted to go for a bike ride, and I had to work hard NOT to but to take my planned rest day instead.  I am going to credit one of my pilgrims, who is a super-duper runner.  While in England, she had to keep her mileage up for a special running camp, so she took her leaders out several times for runs.  I did a lot more running than I ever would have other wise... so the fact that I am not dead, I credit to the Super-Runner.  Good on her.

In other news, for someone who loves to cook, I sure do hate going to the grocery store.

About 10 days ago, I did a really huge grocery shop.  Last week, using Diet for a Small Planet, I concentrated on protein.  Frances Moore Lapp's idea is that the body can access vegetarian protein more readily when it's combined to make a whole amino acid.  This means lots of beans and rice, or wheat and dairy.  Not sure where my favorite dessert of yogurt and chocolate chips fits in...

I also made energy bars from Nomeatathlete.com, and lots of his special lemon-lime energy drink which involves lemons, limes, and dates.  Whoa, tasty!  I am loving the homemade energy bars.  And lemons and limes and dates are new staples in my drink menu.

The vegetarian thing seems to be working pretty well.  I've felt really clear and strong.  In my last brick, I pulled an 8:15 first mile and a 9:15 last mile after a strong bike.  (I know, I know, but for me, that is BLAZING.  My first year at this, I was mobilizing at 11:15 miles, and thought breaking into the 10:40 range was hot stuff, and it was, for a non-runner!)  Usually, running hurts me.  But in yesterday's Tri at the Grove, I actually had the steam in the engine to put ON speed during the run.  Granted, I was huffing and puffing exactly like a steam engine as well- my teammate wasn't surprised when I passed her because I'm sure she heard me huffing along a mile away!

But I'm definitely not feeling the pain that I usually feel.  I'm finding right now, my heart rate is lower (150-160s, instead of in the 170s) and I am starting to be able to run to the point where I'm breathing hard before I give in to the legs.  I don't know if I'm just fitter or if it's the all the beans and rice.

So today, I've eaten most of the groceries from my last shop.  Left to my own devices I get really lazy about going to the grocery store and I will eat beans and rice and frozen spinach for days before I give in to the store.  It's like a cooking reality show in here sometimes.   I was down to my last container of mjedrah (look it up if we can ever agree on how to spell it- it's basically lentils and rice and veggies cooked together with some seasonings), a potato, one of those little red wax covered cheese wheels, and a Tasty Bite.

That explains why I had a perfectly baked potato, warm and creamy inside, topped with mjedrah that I had stewed together with a Tasty Bite (eggplant punjab) like a little Frankenstein stew, with half a cheese wheel grated over the top.

It was delicious.  And I avoided having to go to the grocery again!  Win!

Bike ride tomorrow.  I have calibrated my computer to my wheel so I should have accurate speed and mileage information now.  My mechanics weep that I have a wired computer on my gorgeous bike, but they'll have to put up with that for now.  Maybe Bike Santa will bring me a wireless computer!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove

Today was the Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove.  Rolf Prima makes amazing bike wheels, and I have to commend them on a fabulous event.  This was a really well-run tri, with clear starts, secure bike areas, and lots and lots of friendly volunteers who pointed out crucial bike turns and cheered on every single competitor.  (Actually, the volunteers today kinda rocked my world.  So did the spectators, most of whom also cheered every single competitor!) All in all, it was a great, friendly, fun race.

Setting up at transition.  My bike frame is so small now it's hard to find a place for my number!


So how'd mine go?  I'll start with the things that went wrong:

A) I was woefully inconsistent with my training.  Between vacation, the car engine fiasco, and a pilgrimage to England, I didn't do anything like I normally do.  For pete's sake, I'd just bought my new bike Monday! Three bike rides, that's it.  And swimming?  Don't make me laugh.  I hadn't swum since my first swim at Fern Ridge... when M was still in town.  Inconsistency is a bad thing.

B) I signed up for the race on a day when I was feeling woeful and sorry for myself and really chubby. So I ordered a large T-shirt, telling myself that a medium would be too clingy.  That explains why my race t-shirt is big enough to wear as a nightshirt.  Next time, someone should stop me from ordering a race t-shirt when I'm having a low self-esteem day.

C) The Swim.  Considering that I hadn't trained for the swim at all, and that something is really wrong with my stroke, I finished and I was not dead last.  I think I was third from the last.  For a few minutes, I was really worried that I was about to time out of the race for the first time ever.  That worst case scenario did not happen.  I think some swim coaching needs to be in my future.

Preparing to drop off the race buoys.


Now on to the things that went right:


A) I remembered all my stuff!  I have a "tri packing checklist" of all my stuff that I need.  I packed twice, checking off the stuff, and got to the race with everything.

B) My body parts didn't get stuck in the wetsuit.  Many athletes use a body glide sort of substance to prevent chafing and help get a wet suit off.  I've always saved mine for races.  I should probably think about using it more in training, because wow, my wetsuit was not horribly constricting and it came right off at the end of the swim.  And nothing chafed.

C) Nutrition.  I carried two Honey Stinger Waffles, Gatorade, and a packet of Shot Blocks (margarita flavor).  I should keep both bottles of Gatorade on my bike- I was thirsty after the swim, and I found that I was rationing my Gatorade more than I usually do because I decided to carry just one bottle.  Otherwise, the Waffles sat well in my tummy, and the Shot Blocks went down like a dream.  I did have to force them a little at the end, and I'll have to be mindful of that in Leadman.  It's one of those things that even when you don't feel like eating, when you are doing endurance sports you have to force yourself.

D) Bike ride!  I am still getting used to that bike and I still haven't achieved maximum speed, but there was a lot of fun to be had on the bike.  It wasn't my fastest bike split ever, but considering that awful swim, I am content with the bike.  After coming out of the water so slowly, the only job I had was to turn in a decent bike.  I started passing people, and didn't stop for the whole bike leg.  Granted, most people had left me in the dust by many minutes, but I did pass a few tri bikes.  One of the other girls and I started a passing game where I'd pass her and she'd fight back and pass me and I'd fight back and pass her.

E) Run.  I've always said I'm not a runner.  But I've busted my tail on the run the last two years, and my run training was the only part of all this that was consistent.  After the initial adjustment period of a mile or so, I found my legs, and started picking up speed.  I'd pick a rabbit ahead of me- someone I wanted to catch- and chase that person down.  I caught all my rabbits today!  I also finished solidly- I felt I could have kept the run up for a while.  This is good news considering I need to run 10 miles in September.

F) The Food.  At the Nation's Tri, one of my disappointments is the food.  I'm never hungry after an event, for a few minutes.  I'm never in a rush to get to the food line.  It's usually half an hour or more after I finish before I want food.  This means I choose to not get first dibs on food.  At Nation's, I've been subjected to burned burritos and no more food left by the time I was finally hungry.  Today, Laughing Planet had these delicious bean burritos that were very well-wrapped and didn't spill... and they had about a bajillion of them.  Rock on, Laughing Planet.

So all in all, I"m calling it a successful race for me.

Nifty Multisport Medal. 

My goals for August:

1) Get my swim sorted out.  I'm pretty sure I swim backwards when I kick, my fogging goggles cause me issues, and my sighting is dreadful.  I gotta get that worked out.

2) Play with the bike more.  Lots more.

3) Add the mileage to my run.

Goal for this afternoon.  Some foam rolling later.  



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gu, Shot Blox, and Other Stuff I've Eaten

So, several people wrote to ask me what the heck Gu was.  Apparently, they were thinking that Gu was something gooey that we did something with, but they didn't know if we ate it or patched our tires.

Back a long time ago, people talked about carb loading.  Athletes, the night before a big race, they would eat giant plates of pasta and give themselves huge tummy aches for the cause of putting extra energy in their muscles.  These days, most of us don't want to bother with the carb-loading tummy ache, so instead, we practice eating in the middle of events.

Here's a handy glossary:

GU: (N) [Goo] Gu is what's called a gel.  Gels are sticky goos about the consistency of runny cake batter or melted ice cream. Designed to get sugar to screaming blood cells about 5 minutes ago.  Some athletes = issues with Gu because it's so sicky sweet.  Consists of many different fake fruity flavors and some terrible chocolate ones.  Root: Goo.

Clif Shots: (V) [Cliff Shahts] The the only flavor of gel liked by Vagabonds.  Creators of a super-caffeine mocha chocolate flavor that has a decent bitter edge.  Root: Clif Bar, 20th Century.

Powerbars:  (N) [POW-ah BAHs]  History: Invented by desperate Special Forces guys who were sick and tired of eating bugs for their protein.  To chew the original Powerbars, you certainly needed to be exceptionally fit.  Original Powerbars were used for jaw strengthening exercises and for patching tires and fighter jets.  They were that tough.  True story: The newer formulas are easier to chew, but sadly, back when I was a total newbie, I was offered a Powerbar to try.  I ate it before 6AM.  My tummy hates existence and humans and even puppies before 6AM.  Then I jumped into a choppy Long Island Sound for a long swim, and what with the heavier-than-normal waves and the brick-like Powerbar sitting in my rebellious tummy.... well, the bottom feeders in Long Island Sound had a feast that day.  And since then, I can't bear to eat anything Powerbar.  Root: Please see history note.

Clif Bar: (V) [Cliff Bahs] Athletes with smart brains love Clif Bars, especially their minty chcolate flavors.  Bars have a delightful chewy consistency and are marvelously carby.  It feels like eating food. Root: Creator, named Cliff.

Honey Stinger Waffle: (V) [HUN-ee STEEN-grr WAFF-euhl]  A newcomer to the scene, they are basically this super skinny waffle, with honey sandwiched in between.  Lighter than a Clif bar. Root: Stroopwafles, a popular snack on the Continent.  (Note: True fact, for once.)

Picky Bars:  (V) [PEEK-ee BAHs] How can you not love a name like Picky Bar?  Brainchild of Eugene pro triathlete Jesse Thomas and his wife Laura Fleshman, and bearing the subtitle of "It's Freaking Science, Dude", how could you not love them?  Small and easy to transport, yet very tasty and easy on the tummy.  Essentially, they seem to be mashed up fruit and nuts and some other stuff. Root: One triathlete's petulant tummy, which made him a picky eater.

Luna Bar: (N) [LOON-ah bahs] Luna Bars are bars I have tried to love, but I just never found a flavor I like.  Spends their days wishing they COULD be Picky Bars.  But they just aren't. Root: Lunatic. As in, I keep going back thinking something will be different, and it keeps on staying the same.

Shot Blox: (V) [sh-ah-t BLOCKS] Square gummy things, like large gummy bears, but without faces or arms or legs.  Preferred by some, such as BMC Streetracer riders, over gels because can be chewed more easily.  Best flavor right now is super-salty Margarita.  Root: Clif Bar.  After Clif Bar became invented Clif Shots, they then made Shot Blox.  See also:

Gummy Bears: (V) [gumm-ee behs] There are those who swear by gummy bears.  Other people insist that Coke is the way to go, best served slightly warm.  Still others declare their love for the can of soup, the condensed chicken soup with noodles, slurped straight out of the can.  But I hear about that one mostly in the long distance triathlon.



It's different for everyone, and what I like is probably different than everyone else.

Hope that helps!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Triathlete Oversharing

If you have a friend who takes up triathlons, you should be very wary of the phenomenon of Triathlete Oversharing.  This is the technical term for what happens when a triathlete loses all sense of personal boundaries and shares too much with people who just never wanted to know.

My colleagues can stop reading now, and tomorrow at work, I will accept your thanks that I have been fairly well-behaved.

When I first heard of triathlon, my biggest fear was how I would change in the field.  I didn't want to be flashing my girlie bits at anyone.  Imagine my immense relief when I discovered tri suits- shorts and a shirt that you wear to swim, bike, and run in so you never change.

There was a time when I was very modest and private and never would have dreamed of discussing my bits and pieces with a near-stranger.

Then my first coach cheerfully gave us a (verbal) lesson on when to pee in your wetsuit, and this was the beginning of my introduction to Triathlete Oversharing.

Over the next few months, I would find myself discussing everything from farting to snot, and finding it to be a fascinating conversation.  At the end of a training session, we'd high-five each other with our triumphant hands sticky from trying different types of Gu.  (Gu is still nasty, by the way.)

In the years that followed, I would have intense discussions with other athletes about the state of our sit bones and how our intestines felt, and more than one person would proudly announce when they ran or biked so hard they yakked.

In times before Triathlon, I would have called those conversations gross and would have promptly changed the subject.

These days, I actually found myself, a few weeks ago, showing another athlete the picture of the giant hematoma I sustained in my last big bike crash (the one that spread from my hip to my knee and looked like the Crab Nebula).  He thought it was the most awesome thing ever.

Triathlete Oversharing.  It is not for sissies.  Friends, I warn you so that you may change the subject promptly.

I thought of all this as I went to the tri club store today, because my old tri shorts, in addition to being ugly and stretched out, had a lousy chamois with this annoying seam that rubs me in a very, very bad place.  I caught myself before I TOTALLY overshared with the shop's co-owner, but the essential points of the location of the sore spots were shared, and there was a point where I bit my tongue before it turned into a conversation about our heinies.  Instead, we agreed the waist band of the shorts was a great selling point.  Way to side-step the real selling point, all of us.  (My heiny won't hurt!)

And for everything I did NOT mention to my colleagues at work today, they should thank me.

In fact, if you are a non-triathlete and your triathlon-doing friend has not yet had a conversation with you that involved their rear end and/or chafing, call them up right now and thank them.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Swim and a Bike... Almost an Aquabike

Today my plan was to get in the water for a swim.  I hadn't swum in about a month, and oh yeah, I'm racing an Olympic on Saturday.  So I went to the Y, which is near work.

And they have no day rate to just get in to use the pool for the day.  It's a monthly membership or bust.

So I went to Willamalane which was highly recommended by everyone important I know, even though it's farther away.  

Except that I went to the rec center with the climbing wall and not to the pool.  So I went to the pool.

And they said they were having team practices until after 6PM, and they weren't the open lap pool.  That was in yet another location.

So I went there, and in the fourth location (fourth!) I was finally able to pay a day rate, get a locker key, and go jump in the water for a swim.

Interestingly, my swim time is actually faster when I don't kick at all and just use my arms.  I timed myself several times, and it's true... when I use just my arms and no kick, my swim time is 16-20 SECONDS FASTER for 50 meters than it is when I kick.

I might have to get the tri shop coach to help me straighten this out.

After a 45 minute swim where I completely lost track of how far I was going, I headed out for more.  I had my bike on my car, since I had taken it to the mechanic to have the cadence meter adjusted and to talk about gears.

My new favorite mechanic adjusted the cadence, and talked gears, indeed.  Essentially, this bike is so much more bike than I am that I have a ton of room to grow, and I need to get used to it.  I felt I had run out of gears yesterday, because I would click and it felt like nothing was happening.

So I decided to take her on a little ten-mile spin to see how she is settling in... I clicked for my gears.  Again, it felt like nothing happened.  I was alone on the road, so I took the chance to look down at my gears as I clicked... and they moved!

But I felt nothing.

I clicked again.  They moved.

Nothing.

Basically, I had not spun out my gears.  I had only used about half my gears on the Hutch's ride yesterday, because I stopped clicking when I couldn't feel it moving anymore.

But in reality, the shifting is so smooth that you can't feel a damn thing when you shift.  It's like shifting through soft butter.  I can feel a solid shift when I shift my front derailleurs, and a little when I come off the biggest ring in the back.

And that's it.

Considering that wonky and annoying shifting was one of my prime complaints on my old bike, I am just a little bit in heaven right now.  And I just might add the mechanics to my Christmas card list, because sending flowers would be really weird.

My computer says my mph was northwards of 20mph.  I sure hope I have it calibrated right because I'm feeling a little vain today.  And I'm definitely not posting hard numbers for a few weeks, because my mother reads this and will faint if she discovers my real speeds.

But let's just say it is so fast going downhill and so smooth that I haven't yet been comfortable enough to open up and let her fly.  But I bet I can get that lady up to 50mph on a ride sometime.

And no, I don't know what her name is yet.  I'm sure she's a girl bike, but names come slowly.  The Bambino was a boy bike and I had him for 2 years before he earned his name.  So be patient, unless it is bad luck to ride a bike without a name.

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's a BMC Streetracer

This is the bike.  It's a BMC, and several people have already suggested a name based on those letters.  I like that name, but think it also needs a bit of a break in before it really settles on a name.  I.e., M wanted to call his bike "The Blue Fury", but I think the "Sgt. Angel" fits much better.  (Because his Specialized is tenacious.  Get it?  You probably don't, and I am ok with that.  It's why I'm married to M and not to you, and you are grateful.)

Anyway, the bike.

Why, yes, I am wearing a shirt with brown accents over black shorts.  I clash horribly, and this jersey is stunningly comfy.  How can something so wrong feel right?  

This is the only full picture I've taken of the bike so far. 

These are my super hot wheels.  There's really nothing I can say about them that is proper to publish on the world wide web.  They are handmade lightweight little beauties.  The ride on these babies is breathtaking.  As in, a few times I went so fast and light I forgot to breathe, it was so smooth.  
I asked the owner of the bike shop what the prominen clicking, racheting sound was.  He grinned a little smugly and said it was the sound of high-end wheels.  
Rawr.   

My sexy bottle cages.  I was picking out cheapie bottle cages, and the mechanics were about to die a thousand deaths.  One of them stated that the cages I had selected were too ugly to put on a beautiful bike like this.  And you have to admit, those are some neat looking cages.  


The whole bike.  I'm not crazy about my pump location- I find it hits my shoe now, when I clip in and out.  So I might try relocating it or even going (gasp!) to canisters.  

Overall, the ride this evening was superb... mostly.  I floated uphills and didn't go near the bottom of my gears.  I flew downhill (the only times I ever came close to catching anyone!).  The only problem...Well, I was really slow on the flats.  

I'm usually in the slow group, but this summer, I've been riding in the middle of the pack, not in the very back.  Today, I went to the back since I was a little nervous about the new toy and wanted to take it a little easier.  But then one of the guys accidentally forced me off the wheel I was holding, and I lost the train.  Once I lost the train, I lost everyone... entirely. 

I was so far behind, most of the time, I couldn't even see anyone else. 

I still held a good pace- my bike computer tells me that my average speed today was around 23 mph.  But at the same time... EVERYONE in the group beat me?  And here's the problem:  I completely spun out in the flats.  I lost count of how much coasting I had to do because I just didn't have any big gears left to go into.  

I had asked the shop to take the standard crank off and give me the compact set... but now I'm wondering if that was a mistake and if I should have kept the standard crank.  I hear it's not as good for climbing, and Leadman is going to be very climby, but I don't like getting dropped THIS MUCH. 

The other theory is that I could just be tired, still, and not realizing it.  But usually when I am riding tired, I feel it.  When I did paleo that time, I felt crummy on the workouts.  I actually felt great today: not hungry, energetic, comfortable.  I could have put more miles in.  I felt on my game.  So if it was me being tired, I wouldn't have known it.  In fact, I could easily step up the spin and pedal faster.  It just felt like pedaling faster wasn't giving the results I wanted.  At the end of the day, I didn't feel like I had worked quite as hard as I normally do on these rides, and I had spent a fair amount of it in the biggest gears I had.  

So the only issue with the bike is that I need to figure out what gearing will be best for me and she... because 23 mph is a little slow in this town... :-) 



A Weekend of Vegetarian Cooking

After deciding to challenge myself to a return to vegetarianism, I made sure to pronounce that publicly with the Boss' hearing.  He hadn't been vegetarian as long as I was, but he was a much more thorough vegetarian than I was.  He seems to be amused.

We are now back to where we started when we first met, debating which veggie burger is the best.  I think I should see if I can't find some Courage burgers for the next picnic.

Since Thursday (when I was awake enough to shop), I've made Sweet and Sour Tofu with brown rice, mjedrah (muh-JED-rah), and eggplant parmesan, all out of Diet for a Small Planet.  I just think she has some very tasty recipes, and I like all the seeds and that I don't have to shop for strange things like specialty flowers ground from the stamen of the exotic almond flower.  (My quibble with raw foodism, which is also very tasty, is the reliance on those exotic ingredients like baby coconuts, which are super-expensive and impossible to find.)

So far, I am finding that the cooking times are way shorter than she thinks.  Granted, my gas stove might be too hot so I might be cooking things too fast.  I should make friends with the lower end of the heat spectrum, and perhaps parcook the rice before I toss it in the mjedrah next time.

Some patience probably wouldn't kill me, either.

I found I was also REALLY jet-lagged and worn out this weekend, much more so than I would have thought.  Despite a marvelous 2-hour bike ride Saturday morning, I was unable to nap Saturday afternoon like I thought I would.  I was in and out of bed all night.  I couldn't nap all Sunday.  If you've never been tired like that, trust me that you are really tired when you can't sleep because you're so tired.  It really affected my appetite... I had ice cream cake at a party, but wasn't hungry for anything other than a piece of cake, and then not hungry all night.  I haven't gone to bed without supper since I was doing night shifts!

Sure hope the worst is over now.  I locked the cats out of the bedroom (to their great ire) so I could get some sleep without Snowbeast's normal 4AM spastic cuddle fit that wakes me up.  You know what's great about dogs?  I train my dogs to sleep on the floor in their special dog bed!  That's what.

Bike fit today, pictures later!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bike Shopping

So I had been bike shopping for a few months now- ever since M got his new road bike and I had an epiphany and realized that I just didn't trust the Bambino anymore.  Heck, anytime your bike earns a nickname like "The Bambino", you have trust issues with your machine.  Months ago, I had made the decision that I would not attempt anymore long rides (centuries) until I had a bike that fit.  I was tired of wondering if twitchy steering or shoulder pain contributed to that crash or this aborted ride.

This time, I was ready to do whatever I had to do to finally get a road bike that really fit.  My problem: while I'm tall for a woman, all that height is in my legs.  I have such a short torso that I shop for jackets and blouses in the petite department.  It was quite the search.

Ultimately, I learned several things:

  1. I had been riding a bike which was several sizes too big.  Despite the Connecticut bike shop's insistence that I should be on a 54centimeter frame because I'm 5'7", all the shops around here independently sized me for a 51cm frame.  What this does is make the top tube quite a bit shorter.  You can adjust the seat up and down as much as you want, but with that shorter top tube, it means I can actually reach the handle bars. 
  2. Reaching the handle bars is actually pretty awesome.   
  3. Some bike makers don't actually change the geometry of their bikes between men and women.  Felt, for example, has the exact same frame for men and women.  Where the changes come in are in things like the handle bars' width and reach. Oh, yeah, you can change handlebars.  Who knew?      
  4. Stiffness is more than just something mentioned by snooty reviewers. After riding a few stiff frames, I was ruined.  It just took one ride on a lower end (but attractively priced and pretty) bike to realize that I had become one of those people to whom phrases like "power transfer" mean something.  I wanted the integrated bottom bracket and its seductive power.   I've also started laughing at bike videos on the web.  
In the end, I thought it was going to come down to the CAAD10 and the Felt Z85.  After I had a charming ride on the CAAD10, I went for a ride on the Felt.  I knew within a few blocks that the Felt and I were going to have issues.  

Following a sluggish test ride, I came back to the shop and kept talking to the salesguy.  You should always talk the ear off the salesguys, because a good salesguy wants you on the best bike in the world.  If he's not totally obsessed with your fit and happiness, walk away. Although it IS possible to overtalk your salesguys eventually.  If they have time to send someone away for a sandwich, have it brought back, and start eating it in front of you without offering to share, you might have overtalked your salesguy.  Go away, and come back in an hour.  

LifeCycle was obssessed with my happiness, and they share their puffy peanut-butter flavored strange snacks in a bag.  Both of these are good signs.  When the salesguy and I sat down to talk about the bike, other mechanics started weighing in.  We started making a list of parts I would want to change, like the handlebars, the saddle, the cranks, the gears... 

Somewhere in there, the owner overheard us and declared that he refused to sell me the Z85.  He had heard enough to deduce that the fit just wasn't there, if that many tweaks had to be made.  

We went back upstairs.  He pointed at a red and black bike near the ceiling.  I demurred, saying things about price points.  He waved it away, begging that I don't worry about price points.  The bike, instead of being curvy like most bikes, was full of hard angles.  It looks pretty different.  He went down into the basement and came up with his own bike, which was that model, and happened to be in my size.  I did a quick test ride.  

Within 20 seconds, I knew something was different.  It wasn't just the ride I'd been looking for.   It was fast.  Responsive.  Hummed to itself as it surged along the flats.  I'm pretty sure there were unicorns running alongside us.  Of course, I was dressed entirely wrong.  So I came back this morning in bike shorts with my proper shoes.  We tossed on a pair of loaner Looks and I took it out for what I thought would be a 30-minute "we shall see" ride.  

I came back almost two hours later.  It floated up hills.  It surged down flats.  It got passed once by a guy on a Z85 (ironically) and chased him down and held his wheel  until he reached his turnaround point, and it didn't feel like anything.  What's more... not a twinge in my shoulder, not a tingle in my hand.  It. Just. Fit.  

I finally got back to the shop, somewhat starry eyed and possibly giggling, and I informed the Owner that he no longer owned his bike.  All his bike is belong to me, now.  

To be clear, that was the deal he'd offered me.  For the same price including the lifetime warranty, I could buy the new bike, or I could have his bike with his super-fancy wheelset.  

Wheeeeeeeeels.  Yeah, I started drooling at that, too.  I've never had a fancy wheelset and I thought it would be years before I'd have enough spare cash to justify to myself the cost of fancy wheels.  Wheeeeeeeeels!  Airgos.  Alloy.  With Continental tires.  If you must know.  

I return on Monday for my full fitting and to have all my stuff added on and perhaps to consider adding aerobars- YES, I finally have a bike small enough for aerobars!!- and to pay for it. 

Basically, this is a triumph of small business at its best.  Involved owner who really knows his stuff isn't afraid to say "no" to a customer because he can hear what she is really trying to say.  Perceptive owner and stellar mechanics want happy chick on awesome bike that they can maintain and not waste time tweaking stupid things all the time.  Nice shop wins devotee for life.  

The bike is the black and red version of this.  

It'll be the hottest thing on two wheels at the Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

New bikes... are kinda scary.

In the last two days, I have come home from halfway around the world (see the pretty picture?), and gone out to shop for groceries.  

I was here.

The jet lag is hitting me a bit harder than I'd anticipated.  Let's leave that there.  

All my recipes this week come out of Diet For A Small Planet by Frances M. Lapp.  I figured that as long as I'm going veg again, I might as well go way back to the beginning.  Back when I first decided to give up meat (for Lent, remember), my mother handed me her old copy of Small Planet and insisted I read it so I understand the protein thing.  While the science and social stuff is long-winded, what I like is that it's not a diet.  I don't need to track calories or cut carbs or figure out my blood type or eat any particular menu.  It gives me recipes to eat a ton of veggies and make sure I get enough protein.  I'm back to doing what I did in my teens, and when I lived in Arlington and threw down 70 mile Saturdays on my hybrid.  I cook veggies, and when I'm hungry, I eat more veggies or fruit with some nuts.  Since I love veggies, it makes me happy.    

This not-a-diet worked well for me in Virginia.  I can only hope it'll work out again with a bear of a training summer on the books.  

Besides, when we tried stuff like South Beach and later, Paleo, I rapidly achieved a state that I like to think of as "carbohydrate deprivation insanity", involving me dreaming at night about loaves of bread and bananas and muffins.  During one low carb attempt, one friend witnessed me bursting into tears at the sight of a forbidden plate of pasta.  

I understand that low-carb works for many people, and when I don't work out at all, it works well for me, too.  

But when you ride your bike for two or three hours, or run and swim in one day, you deserve your damn pasta.  That is all.  

Now please get your South Beach hands away from my banana.   

Meanwhile, I'm trying to convince myself that it's time to get up off the futon and go bike shopping.  Now that I've sold the Bambino, I really need a new bike.  Like, this week.  So I have to go test riding.  But it seems so unreal, to actually be buying this thing.   We've been talking about this for over a year now.  I hate shopping.  And I know that if I go, I'll like what I ride, and then I'll make a decision, and then I'll buy it, and then it'll be real. 

The Bambino is already gone for good.  
The Bambino set up in what was clearly the only safe position for me.  Along with the Most Comfortable Couch in the World.  Damn, I loved that couch.  Note to self: never give up another great couch again.


And while I didn't really like that bike all that much- it was my 30th birthday present, from M, while we were newlyweds.  Granted, it was never really fit, and figured significantly in two major crashes that sent me to the hospital.  You'd think I'd be glad to send that sucker away.  

But I'm finding it's hard to admit that I'll have a new baby bike in the house to play with.  And that everything- fit, function, bike happiness, the placement of my bento box, the ability to add on aerobars- everything changes with the new wheels.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Returned, Upcoming, and a Challenge to Self

So I have returned from England, where I spent the last two weeks with three other adults shepherding a group of 15 teens around some of my favorite places.

Did I eat clotted cream?  Hell, yes.  I must have had about 7 cream teas.  If I can get me some clotted cream, I do.  At under 4 pounds (usually, 3.25-3.50, and if you pay more, you are getting ripped off), it's the best deal in England.

Now that I'm home...

I have two events coming up: the Rolf Prima in the Grove, for which I'll be riding my NEW BIKE!, and the Leadman 150.

New bike?  Oh, yeah.  I sold my Trek road bike.  After three years and much tweaking, it was clear that the Bambino just doesn't fit my short torso and no team of bike mechanics was going to make it work.  Happily, I sold it to a great lady in my tri club who is blessed with a long torso.  I'll be buying my new bike within the next five days- I have two test rides to do between the two top candidates.  Cannondale CAAD 10, and Felt z85.  So far, the Felt is in the lead, because I could stick with my black, red, and white favorite color scheme, and I am nothing if not committed to cool colors.  :-)

The Rolf Prima will be an Olympic distance, and considering that most of my club is racing, I'm just hoping I won't be DEAD last.  Several of them are the types of people who place in their age group, but they are awesome athletes to train with!

Leadman?  Well, that one that is just over a half-Iron distance (with a slightly shorter run at 10 miles). I really wanted one more good race this year, and I'd been talking about bumping up to the half-Iron distance but couldn't find a race that fit my schedule.  When I saw Leadman on the FatCyclist website, I thought, "AWESOME!"  The Fat Cyclist has a propensity for doing difficult and insane things like an Ironman or the Leadville 100 or riding 100 miles on his rollers simply because he is stubborn and was clearly born without the normal amount of common sense.  You know he and I would be total besties, right?  We're practically twins separated at birth, at least when it comes to the stubborn and lack of common sense thing.

In other news, it's looking like a return to Vagabond Vegetarianism is in order.  I'd been veg for about 17 years before I took a break last summer.  Four years of rotating shifts in the emergency room had screwed up my body, and I was so chronically low in protein, Vit D and B, and iron, that I couldn't get it back to normal without the option of injections.  Um, thanks.  I'll eat some steak.  But now that all that is back to normal and I'm all healthy again, I've been seriously re-evaluating the meat thing.

It's never been an ethical or religious thing for me.  (Well, initially, I gave meat up for Lent, but still.)  I just like veggies and I love tofu.  I like cooking and get a kick out of the different grains and many different ways to prepare the same food- Zucchini?  Sure- blanched, baked, grilled, raw, fried, in soups, in pastas, as a pasta replacement, in cakes.  Mmmmm, caaaaaakes.  I also love things like Clean Food and Diet for a Small Planet and the puzzle pieces of nutrition.  You can tell me it's psuedo science if you like, but the truth is that my body just feels so good when I cook out of Clean Food or the Ani Phyo raw books.  (Ani Phyo and her raw stuff- amaze-balls.  Incredibly easy and tasty!)

And then there's the taste thing.  I found I just don't like the taste of most meats in most forms.  I don't like chicken, I really hate pork, and I loathe fat and gristle.  I was OK with boneless chicken breast... which is about as close to tofu as meat can get.  When M and I would eat a meal, he'd end up eating a third to half of what I had trimmed off my piece.  That man can suck chicken bones drier than anyone I've ever known.  But really... I just don't like the meat enough to make it worthwhile. Not to mention that it was boring cooking.  Cook stuff until it's hot, usually over a stove.  In a year, I've only found one- ONE- meat recipe I liked enough to think about trying again on my own.  (Thanks, Meredith, and your amazing schwarma recipe).  The rest of the time, Slacker Vagabond just let her really cool chef friend do all the hard work.  (She's on to me, though, I think!)

I'm not anti-meat- I think I'm finding it just doesn't work for me.  Your mileage may vary, and I will gladly bless your Kobe burger.


So I think I'm going to try a challenge with myself.  I'm reverting back to vegetarianism from now through Leadman... and I'm going to see if it doesn't help me out in the long run.  Har har... get it?  Long run.

Considering that, back in the day, (the day being when I lived in Arlington), I didn't think anything of riding a spur of the moment long ride of 65 miles on my heavy hybrid bike and I never ate meat then at all, I'm optimistic for this.

Which means, I have a grocery list to make.  After traveling for most of the month, I have a pretty bare fridge and pantry.  All I have are Hob Nobs, ravioli, bok choy, a jar of relish, and a can of tomatoes.  It's like one of those crazy reality shows in this house.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Life Happening

The Vagabond has not been posting not because she has not cared deeply about sharing the minutiae, but because life is just so terribly busy.  She recently experienced a car engine blowing up and turning into metal confetti.

That is far less festive then it sounds.

Blogging shall resume when things calm down a bit!