Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Last night I went to this place for a "ladies only bike night." I arrived about 5 minutes early so thankfully I did not have time to look around and wish I had one of everything in the place. I did however, have time to grab a piece of veggie pizza (mmmmmmm) and chat with JP before taking a seat up front where I could see everything.

The Trek representative aka Shop Girl was super, super cool. She was well spoken and very interesting. She started off by handing out a flier for this club(before you click, make sure you love argyle:). Then she handed out a Tour of California/Livestrong pamphlet with bike components that were heavily discounted for us for that night only. And finally, I received the 2008 RIDE booklet.

Then Shop Girl began talking about what the true difference between a bicycle and a WSD bicycle is. A women's specific design bicycle is different, unique for women. Many think a women's bike is just made through the "pink and shrink" method: Paint it pink and shrink the size. It is more complex than that. A women's center of mass is in her pelvic/hip region while a man's is above his stomach almost near his sternum. The WSD bikes are designed to have the top tube angle downward as to help alleviate the pressure on a woman's lower back and by moving the center of mass of the bike. The handlebars are also set at a smaller diameter so the woman's shoulders are not spread so widely apart to prevent unnessary tension in the shoulders and upper back. Of course, women are smaller in general so they have also made smaller shifters and brakes for easier handling. All in all it should provide for more efficient and more comfortable ride. She also stated for some of you super shorties (<5'3") that they do indeed make bikes for all shapes and sizes. YAY for riding, but what about racing? Ultimately, when it comes to racing and getting in the best aero position, your ass is grass either way and you just have to put up with the pain. Darn@!#@!

Shop Girl then moved on to the dreaded saddles. I bought my bike and couldn't take my first saddle so I upgraded it a fancy $80+ saddle in hopes it would literally save my ass, but after 1-1/2 years on it my ass has had it! There are 3 variables for your butt and she says 2 are very variables (the shorts and the saddle).

1) The Shorts... the more panels it has the more expensive and the less stretching the fabric has to do to keep all your business in the right departments. It seems 8 is a good number as it allows the chamois inside to flex appropriately and support your hinus.

2) Chamois Butter/Cream... it's white and like lotion that you just can't rub in. There is a regular and then there are some with menthol to provide a cooling sensation and medicated to prevent saddle soars, chaffing and infection. I wear chamois butter that is medicated and has menthol on rides, trainer sessions and spin class and it's a lifesaver.

3)The Saddle... apparently we are all unique and special just like our mommys said, right down to our sit bones. Some of us are nice and narrow, slim and sleek, others are curvacious and some of us just have a wide load. Although my $80+ saddle was better than the original I was still suffering. I had heard so much that it's going to hurt no matter what and you just have to build up a tolerance to it, so I "sat on" but the pain never became more tolerable, in fact it usually becomes worse and distracting after about an hour. It gets to the point where my legs are fine, but my ass has had it. One can only imagine what one of those 2 hour trainer sessions does to me! It usually redults in 2 days of walking around like I made a porn the night before and 5 days off my bike! And if you thought that was graphic...read on.

Well, not sure if riders know this, but they have lymph nodes that sit between their pubic bones and the skin down there. When mine are on my fancy, but painful seat they become compressed to a point that is painful and swell! It is so uncomfortable. They are the size of lima beans when I am done and it takes a week or so for the pain to reside and the nodes to return to normal size. There is some danger that this swelling can compress the nerves and cause permanent damage down under....uuugggghhh! Thankfully Shop Girl brought along an impression pad that you sit on and it takes a marking of your sit bones. I was green which is in the middle, where I always seem to be..average height, average weight, average income...no wait I am poor nevermind on that one. So anyway, remember the components sale I referenced in the beginning? Well, I found a green coded saddle that was $69 on sale until close of business for $39 + tax, so in the best interest of my ass, I bought it. I have 90days to break it in and see if it helps. If not I can switch it out for another one and try again. This is kind of how my relationships with men are too, try 'em for 90days, if you are not satisfied with the job done down there and they hurt your crotch get a new one and try again...


She then went over "how to change a tire." She said she wants to make women more self sufficient and not rely on their cell phones, "Can you come pick me up? I have a flat." Between Crabby Patty and my roommate, I think I saw them change about 15 tires in 2 weeks time due to pinch flats. Crabby patty even flatted so many times one night between the 3 of us we ran out of tubes and I had to ride home to get my truck to come back and pick him up! He also flatted in the privacy of his own home on the trainer later that week. Everything she went over was pretty basic...

How to pop the tire off
Stand on the non-derailer side (not to get dirty)
Don't lay the bike on the derailer side (not to mess up the bike)
Use the bike levers, look for the beads, start at the correct end

Anyway, what I did learn is that pinch flats can occur because there is a sticky rubber tire and a sticky rubber tube with 100-130 psi that may just have a little too much friction and BAM!! Another pinch flat is waiting, so she told us a if you carry a bit of baby powder in a baggy and put some on the tube before you insert it...TADA... no more pinch flats (well, you are less likely to get another one).

And just like that 2+ hours had passed. We all clapped and thanked her.I headed home after paying for my 3rd new seat. It was too late to ride my bike when I got home, but I did manage to get my new seat on. Now, I just need to break that bad boy in.

I was somewhat hesitant to go, but Shop Girl was a great speaker and I would recommend to anyone who rides a bike to attend a bike seminar on anything. You can't not learn something.

So yeah, that was my bike night.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Alternative Lifestyles

It has been what seems like forever since I have blogged and even longer than that since I have been able to go for a good quality run.

New Year's Day I had gone out for an easy 4 mile run with my aunt followed by a 4 mile tempo run in which I was sitting pretty at a 7:09/pace for the last mile when my hamstring seized up. It felt like something with big sharp teeth had bitten me. I hopped to a stop thinking that if I gave it a a minute it would abate. Of course it didn't and I had to limp the last 1/4 mile home. The pain continued for about 3 days and I struggle just to walk and move it. I could palpate tenderness from the outside of my knee up the back of my hamstring (specifically on the central head of my hamstrings). My diagnosis was a second degree strain of the biceps femoris. I was devastated. I had spent so much money for Boston and I had 16 weeks to prepare. What the hell was I going to do?

I started cycling so much I feared giving myself some sort of permanent camel toe!! I started at about 85-95 cadence, cycling for about 1 hour in my living room a few days a week. I even traveled out to the westside (~45 min drive) for my first trainer session in hope of getting in a good quality workout. When all was said and done, I managed 2 hours of hardwork and about 2 gallons of sweat. It was fantastic. I kept my head up and heart in it as it was the closest thing to a race I was going to get. I pushed my badunkadunk to it's limit. I discovered I was good a gauging my tempo pace, but I lacked the ability to break 130+ on my cadence. My core and hip area were just too weak. I took what I had learned and incorporated tempo intervals, spin-ups and single leg drills into my cycling workouts at home for the next month. Last week I went to another trainer session to see if my training was paying off. It had. I sucessfully got in a faster average speed for the 2 hours this time and I broke the 130+ cadence barrier. I also felt like vomitting for most of the evening after (yes, Mr. L / Kona Ironman competitor himself was leading the session and he hurt me like no other man has ever). I now pedal comfortably at a cadence of 95-105. Finally, yesterday, I did some above lactate threshold intervals with some spin-ups at the end and managed 145+. Result: My A S S hurts!!

Of course, I couldn't cycle everyday so I also focused on some swimming. I was in the pool about 3 times a week managing 4,000-6,000 yards. I managed to clip off about 5 seconds on my hundred meters, which moves me from a drifting speed (like survivors on a life raft) to a slow swimmer. I have also discoverd my "kick" is my strength and my "pull" is pretty much non-existant as I discovered when Daisy was nearly 50 meters ahead of me when we finished our long sets!! Many would refer to this as an ass whooping, (thank goodness that one only hurt my pride and not my ass again).

So where does that leave me? It seems I am maintaining my weight and some fitness with regards to aerobic activity, but ultimately the best way to improve running is to RUN. I made a few attempts to run for 20-30 minutes here and there, but the pain would creep back into my leg and I would be left with a dull ache for a day or two after. It was disheartening to think I had come so far only to have run smack into a brickwall. I finally went to my doctor the other day and after a $20 co-pay she determined that I did have a crudtacular hamsting strain. She advised to "let pain be my guide." Well, it fuckin' hurts!!!

That leaves me with my choice

Option A: Attempt to get in some running or no running and attempt the Boston Marathon
Option B: Quit