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Where Has 2015 Gone???

As I reflect on this past year, I have come to realize that I have become the ultimate slacker with this site.  In my defense, this year has been quite a whirlwind of a year.  As the year started, I would have never expected to grow both personally and professionally.  It has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, trying to improve myself while still doing what I love and am passionate about.  As a fellow triathlete and friend just reminded me, I am good at what I do.  I had to question what she meant, but she said it perfectly “Making people feel successful in their training.  Motivating.  Practicing what you preach.  Being empathetic, but not enabling.”  Wow, I truly did not know that I made that much of an impact on others, but excited that my strong passion has carried over to others.  This quote reflects a professional goal as I continue on this life long journey.  And as we all know, no journey is perfect: there are hurdles, bumps, hills, and rocks, but that’s what helps us grow.  So I am vowing in 2016, not only to help others, but to focus on ME!

motivations 2

So what have I been up to this past year?  Well, I have always been interested in working in a bike shop to learn more about one of my favorite passions and to share that passion with others.  Dreams apparently do come true.  Late spring, while helping a triathlon client buy a bike, my friend working at the bike shop mentioned that they were looking for a store manager.  The wheels (no pun intended) starting spinning in my head.  Later that evening, I was emailing the owner of the company who I have known for a long time to inquire about the position.  Long story short, the position as Store Manager at a Trek Bicycle Store fell into my lap.  The decision was a heavy one, that meant giving up some of my jobs, leaving behind close friends, and just like moving to a new town, starting over a bit.  I have spent so many years developing a community at Prairie Life both with the tennis and triathlon, but in the end decided tennis is what I needed to give up.  I am fortunate enough to still have the time and opportunity to train my triathlon clients, plus it keeps me connected and active.  One thing I vowed to myself by taking this job was to stay in the loop.  I love my clients, co-workers, friendships, and the vibe at the gym.  No way could I give that up.  So now I try to focus on a balance between Trek and Prairie Life.  Balance is quite a challenge, but so far so good.  Beauty of it all is that by working at a bike shop and working at a gym, everything seems to blend together nicely.

MWC logo

Time for my rant-Men, warning, you may want to shut your eyes and ears.  What I have learned by working in a male dominated bike industry is that I starve for my female time now.  This was never an issue before, but now that I have to listen to dirty jokes, crude insulting comments, and interact with a male dominant customer base, I need FEMALE power.  As a female, I am trying hard to change the dynamic and culture in the bike shop to make it more inviting to females, but this will take time.  So for you females that are intimidated by bike shops, I get it.  It has never overly bothered me, but understand why chicks do not love the bike shop culture.  Between the guy talk, smell of grease, lots of tools, and lots of testosterone, it can be overwhelming.   But I promise, men in bike shops don’t bite.  Ladies, let’s work as a team to help change the bike shop image and make it just as welcoming to women as it is to men.  And ladies, I don’t want to hear excuses about working on bikes.  Am I good at it, heck no.  But when customers see me wrenching behind the service counter, it’s pretty cool.  I have a very limited skill set, each day my goal is to learn something new.  Guess my nickname at the gym, Bike Girl actually works.  female power on bike

Triathlon, where does this fall into the equation?  I obviously had to juggle a bit, but I still managed to train a kickass group of folks for the 4th annual session to get ready for the 2015 triathlon season.  And when I say kickass, that is an understatement.  It was a huge year, with lots of energy, motivation, goals, pr’s, and humor.   We had a lot of returning folks and a ton of new faces which made for a great group.  I am still blown away with what a great group it was and how we were able to train almost 40 folks.  There were many new challenges with a lot of beginner swimmers and even novice weight lifters, but no challenge is to tough for us.  The best word I can use for this past season is teamwork, both on the coaching side and as a group of individuals coming together.  I wish more groups could become something more like this.  This picture alone is just a small handful of the folks that raced last season, but wow, such a cool powerful pic! omaha women's

On a side note, did I race?  My race season was mediocre at best because of the work/family balance, but I was able to escape a weekend of Select Baseball and work to do an Olympic Triathlon.  Did I train, ehh.  Yes I did train, but not to the level I should have.  Needless to say, the road trip with a tri client/friend was worth it and it was a great race venue.  I ended up doing the Bluff Creek Triathlon in Boone, Iowa in the dead of summer.  Triple H: Hot, Humid, Hilly.  But doing triathlon can be therapy for me.  I love to open water swim, absolutely love to be on my bike, and running, well running is running, good days and bad days.  It ended up being a rough day both physically and mentally, but by some unexpected odds, ended up on the podium.  I can’t complain for being out of shape, overweight, overworked, and under-trained.  bluff creek

Lesson, we all have to ability to do anything, just never doubt yourself.  The sense of accomplishment is SOOOO worth it.  And I got the bug from the Olympic distance race enough to peer pressure both my sidekick and some of my fellow clients to do another race at the end of the season.    Black Squirrel Sprint Triathlon was a blast.  The swim sucked and was chaotic, the bike was awesome, fast, and flat, and I PR’d on the run.  Perfect way to end a season; racing decently, bonding with some of my favorite peeps, and gosh darned it, having fun!!!

black squirrel

What have I learned in 2015?  More than I would have ever expected!  I am almost at a loss for words.  It really has been a roller coaster.  I have found a new me.  I have learned the importance of a strong family support system, my close female friends are vital to my well being, working out is necessary for multiple reasons, my favorite pastime has been carved into my career, I have a new appreciation for music thanks to my employees at the bike shop, and life is too short to dwell on the negatives, find what you love and roll with it.  Make life fun and rewarding!  Cheers to a fresh start in 2016 and new adventures!

 

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Survival of the Fittest: Triple Bypass Ride 2014

Going back to the dead of winter, I am still not quite sure what I was thinking when I clicked the submit button to register for the Triple Bypass.  I had local friends give me lots of training advice from mental cues, do’s and don’ts, how to handle being a flatlander in high altitude, nutrition, where to train locally…All I can say is almost every piece of info went out the window once I  sat down on the saddle.

DAY 1

So let’s skip forward to the trip, you do not need to be bored to death hearing about my long winter on the spinning bike and indoor trainer.  From the get go, I had planned to go with my friend Jim and his wife Kay (she was just tagging along for the trip), my friend Kristen who decided to sign up for the the ride to give her motivation post chemo, and the one’s who talked me into the ride Bob and Stephanie.  Long story short, Bob and Stephanie had to drop kids off along the way to Colorado so we never got to connect, Kristen decided recovery was not going so well so better pass on the ride this year, so the road trip ended up just being Jim, Kay, and little me (literally).

Time to hit the road for the Rockies!

Time to hit the road for the Rockies!

Having fun at the roadside pitstops in the middle of Nebraska.

Having fun at the roadside pitstops in the middle of Nebraska.

The road trip was fun as they always are.  We cruised west on I-80 and once we crossed into Colorado, I knew this ride was for real.  Once we could start seeing hints of snow in the mountains, my mindset started to change a bit.  Kay was nice enough to pull up the ride info on my phone, yeah probably not the reminder I needed to see.

Triple Bypass Day 1 Elevation

Triple Bypass Day 1 Elevation

Once we arrived and got settled we headed up I-70 to Evergreen to pick up our packet and get a feel for the start of the ride.  I fell in love with the town almost immediately, just much more mellow version of Estes.  We played tourists a bit,checking out the lake, downtown, local bar and grill, and hit the bike shop for our race packet.  I about fell over laughing when I opened it up and in very easy to read print, ” First Timer”!!!

Bike, helmet, and wrist sticker!

Bike, helmet, and wrist sticker!

 

 

 

 

DAY 2

We were lucky enough to be staying with some folks the split time between Omaha and Colorado.  I had never met them before, but through the cycling groups, was familiar with their names.  Our one host, Garrett, was nice enough to take us on a ride the day before the big day to get slightly acclimated to the altitude and climbing.  We cruised all over the foothills of Littleton, around Red Rocks, the Manor, and some beautiful residential neighborhoods.  The one thing that surprised both Jim and I was how rude drivers were to cyclists.  For being such an active, healthy area, most drivers did not give us 3 feet when passing, sat on their horns behind us, and just drove erratic.  But this little taste of riding in Colorado at about 6,000 feet of elevation gave me a small taste of what to expect.  My legs felt fine, but the lungs were definitely angry and neck was already acting up.  During the ride  Garrett who lives and trains in Colorado and has done this ride many times gave us lots of advice for Saturday.  The three tips that I listened to were, take it easy on the downhills-don’t get too close to the riders; keep your head up; and do not stop at the first aid station.  Overall the ride was what we all needed.  The rest of the day was spent playing tourist in Boulder, getting the bikes tuned up, carb loading for the big day, and packing a full day’s worth of  riding which was an adventure in itself.

Jim, Kay, Garret, and myself at the Manor.

Jim, Kay, Garret, and myself at the Manor.

Day 3

Alarm went off at 4:15.  Pretty used to that from all the races and events I have done over the years.  First thing I felt when I got up was that the pasta dinner from the night before was probably not the best idea.  Lovely, I knew from the get go that the binding in my gut would be an issue.  We were ready to roll under a full moon and made the drive up to Evergreen.  I had hoped to connect with Bob and Stephanie, since I ride with Stephanie, but could never get through to her 😦  Once we parked and unloaded everything we rolled up to the start, hit the bathroom, and boom it was go time.  We started off slow because of the large pack of riders, but it spread out pretty quick, and of course Garrett was already long gone.  Oddly enough, a rider, Tom that I had connected with on Twitter was doing the ride and I had given him info about what I was wearing and to look for a short girl with a tall guy.  A few miles in to the ride and to no surprise, here comes Tom.  It was nice to connect in person with him since over the winter he had given me some good training advice.  He road with us for a while then took off.  And as soon as Tom left the ride started to become more real.  The climb to the top of Juniper Pass (thank goodness it was not Mt. Evans) was about 16 miles and took 2 hours.  Slow and steady climbing is all we did.  The oddest thing for me was to do a seated climb the entire time.  I am so used to standing to sprint up hills.  I told Jim about halfway up the climb that this ride was going to be a survival ride.  There is just no way to train properly for long climbs in high altitude.  So we did survive and made it to the pass where there was an aid station.  We listened to Garrett’s advice and did not really stop.  But I am glad we stopped for 30 seconds to roll back on our arm sleeves.  Nobody ever told me how flippin cold it gets on descents.  That first descent scared the crap out of me.  Tight twisty unexpected turns, crazy cyclists flying 55+ mph without their hands on the brakes, and bitterly cold.  And to top it off, my descents in the midwest are usually no more than 1/4 mile long, try  10+ mile decents.  When we got to the bottom in Idaho Spings I could hardly feel my hands, feet, and neck was an absolute mess.  I tried to use my IMBA Instructor skills on the decent, feathering the brakes with level pedals and butt behind the seat, but that constant grabbing in the drops just beat me up.  After that descent it was time to pop some Aleve, refill my Tailwind, stretch and get back to it.

The next section of the ride was beautiful and pretty relaxing.  We went through some fun mining towns right off of I-70.  We had a great experience in Georgetown getting to ride the trail as the train we going over the bridge.  Hearing that horn blow with the black cloud of smoke was just amazing.  We took a few stops in that area to get some awesome pics.

Photo time in Georgetown

Photo time in Georgetown

We continued climbing and then ended up on the bike path from hell.  I got excited when we went on a smooth and pretty bike path, but like Juniper Pass, the climb kept going and going and going.  Garrett said that climb was about 16 miles long.  If there was a moment I could have thrown in the towel, this would have been the spot.  This evil little trail was my all time low of the day.  My mind went to the bad place, my body shut down, I felt like crap, and was temporarily done.  And the worst part was knowing that we were not even halfway, still had 2 mountain passes, and the day was getting away from us quickly.  But somehow we did survive and then heard the rumbles and saw the big dark cloud.  We got extremely lucky to be at the Loveland Basin and ducked under the interstate just in time for the rain to hit.  We put on our rain gear, checked in with Kay, and once the rain passed we made our way to the aid station to take off our rain gear and prepare ourselves for Loveland Pass.

So Loveland Pass was the most difficult, but also my favorite.  It was the middle of the day, sun was shining bright on us, and this climb was a big one.  When I think of bike rides in the mountains, this pass is what I think of.  Steep, a bit more windy, steep drop offs that make the belly drop and the knees buckle, above the treeline, and even snow.  We did have to stop a few times on this pass to check our heart rate, mentally readjust, and of course take some photos.  My lungs were definitely in overdrive on this pass, but oddly enough, my heart rate was only at about 100.  Jim was working just as hard on this pass and it showed.  But gosh darn it, we did it and made it up to the highest elevation of the day.  If we had time, it would have been fun to play around at the top of the pass.  Lots of back country trails just screaming my name to be ran or ridden.  Will put that idea on my bucket list.

Loveland Pass looking up to the road above.

Loveland Pass looking up to the road above.

 

 

2/3 of the way up Loveland Pass

2/3 of the way up Loveland Pass

Loveland Pass Elevation 11,990

Loveland Pass Elevation 11,990

 

So once we got to the top, once again it was time to head down the mountain.   At least I knew what to expect this time and dressed more properly.  It was just as cold this time, but we were excited to get to the bottom, Kay was meeting us somewhere in Keystone with a Coke for us!  The oddest thing about this decent was the strange boulders laying on the road.  I just figured they rolled there, but Jim said that he looked over and saw some Billy Goats pushing them on the road with their heads.  Very dangerous, but very funny.  Once were rolled into Keystone I was content and zen.  I knew Kay was waiting for us and knew some mountain bike friends from Omaha were up at the top of Keystone racing their hearts out.  It gave me a fresh perspective on the day and seemed to give me a bit of a jumpstart.  My friends on top of Keystone actually got a pick of where we had just come from and it definitely gave me a fresh perspective of this ride.  Wow, those mountains in Colorado are huge!

At the top of Keystone looking towards Loveland Pass.

At the top of Keystone looking towards Loveland Pass and Lake Dillon.

So after the quick visit with Kay it was time to head towards Cooper Mountain and Vail Pass.  Oh goody, another slow climbing bike path.  Not as bad as the first one, but I was done with bike paths.  We took our time and of course survived again.  Cooper Mountain was again a breath of fresh air and knowing Vail was our last climb was a good feeling.  Plus everyone said the Vail climb was pretty and was not as challenging.  Very true, but when you are tired, a mountain pass is a mountain pass.  But we did the climb in preparation for our long 25+ mile descent into Avon.  Once again, I was not warned about this descent.  I was truly scared.  It was on a tight and windy bike trail going the opposite direction of I-70 traffic with no barrier.  I definitely did go slower on this descent, maybe capping at 38 mph, which is still insanely fast on a carbon fiber frame with two skinny tires separating me from the pavement.  But we did do it.  I kept looking at my watch and realized we had taken too much time at the rest areas and for photo opps that we were going to miss the shuttle from Avon to Evergreen.  Thank goodness for Kay, she drove to Avon to wait for us!  It was such a relief to see a familiar face at the finish line screaming our names.  We were beyond done with the ride, but having her at the finish was icing on the cake.

Finish Line in Avon

Finish Line in Avon

The only thing that was disheartening was finishing such a monster ride to find out they ran out medals 😦  I had to be very patient, but luckily almost 2 weeks later, the medal arrived in the mail.  I feel like the medal is the finishing touch to this beast of a ride!!!

Triple Bypass Finisher Medal, via USPS

Triple Bypass Finisher Medal, via USPS

 

So in a nutshell, I am crazy enough to have done the Triple Bypass Ride.  Would I do it again, I am not sure, but seeing all the mountains gives me lots of places and events to put on my bucket list.  I at least would know what to expect, but training is an issue in the midwest.  This is an experience I will never forget and feel as a coach, athlete, cyclist, triathlete, and person I have grown physically, mentally, and emotionally.  And I conquered one of the hardest ride in the US!  Thank you to my family, friends, and athlete community for the love, support, and encouragement.

Dear Motorist

Take a moment to watch the video, then go online to pledge as a cyclist or motorist to share the road. This info cannot get shared often enough!
http://www.dearmotorist.com/

Only cyclists would undertand…

Folks, this is just a quick fun Thursday post. My friend just shared this video with me and I got a chuckle out of it. Not quite as funny as the triathlon video, but this is still pretty good. Enjoy!!!  (and yes, there is a bit of profanity, you have been warned).

Bike Safety

Bke SafetyEver since my near miss with a car back in June and still healing my broken elbow, I have taken it upon myself to help spread the word about bike safety and sharing the road with cars. Vehicles are everywhere and drivers are too busy playing on cell phones and other distractions to notice us cyclists. This problem will only get worse. And I unfortunately live in a less than bike friendly community with very few bike lanes. So help spread the word to your community!  Be safe out there and have fun!

Road Safety~Cyclists, be cautious

Bike and Car Safety
This is just a quick and friendly reminder to car drivers, respect us cyclists. I will elaborate in a future blog when I have more strength and energy, but my racing and training season is over til fall thanks to a reckless driver while I was on my bike two weeks ago. I am lucky to be alive, but the simple daily things are quite a challenge right now since I am nursing a broken elbow.

So please, copy and paste this pic and share with everyone you know. Cyclists have rights, but those rights get taken away quickly when there is a reckless driver on the road!

Welcome to race season!

It has been a slow transition from winter to spring, but spring seems to finally be here.  And if spring is here to stay for a while, so is training and race season.  I have been meaning to recap the last few weeks, but am finally making the time now that my kids are on summer vacation.

Girls on the Run:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   This was the first season for my 2nd grader who just turned 8 to give Girls on the Run a try.  She is not a real sporty kid-prefers artwork, books, t.v. and the occasional bike ride, but she wanted to try running like I do.  All I can say is success!  The girls met twice a week at school and not only ran, but did team building, self-esteem, and mentored one another.  We drove down two weekends ago to Lincoln, Nebraska for the state GOTR event.  It was definitely a bit overwhelming with almost 2000 girls, but between the face paint, hair dye, team shirts, race bibs, and friends all around my daughter had a great experience.  And she exceeded my expectations by shaving time off her 5K, only walked at the water stops, and even sprinted to the finish.  And now she is begging to do some fun runs this summer.  As a coach and mother, I am very proud of her and cannot wait until next year.

Ella before the Girls on the Run 5K

Ella before the Girls on the Run 5K

Lucky Bucket 7K Trail Run:
I am all for fun runs, especially when trails are involved, but I definitely have more of a competitive edge.  I had no expectations at the Lucky Bucket 7k trail run, but was not expecting 1300 individuals with little to no running experience who were rather scared of the extreme trail conditions.  It was obvious rather quickly that most of the folks came out for the free beer which is not my cup of tea.  When I race, I plan to race and then have fun.  This event turned out to be a little bit of running with lots of standing around and hiking.  I have learned my lesson, from now on if I sign up for these races, I will move to the front of the line so I can actually race.  Trail running is super addicting when done right-downhills, uphill, water crossings, and stump jumping is all a part of it.  Lesson learned-be more selective when choosing which trails races to do.  For those in the midwest, check out the GOATz-Greater Omaha Trail Runners (www.irunwithgoats.com)

Kansas City Triathlon:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This past weekend was my first triathlon of the season!!!!  Or so I thought…  I recruited some of my clients to take the road trip from Omaha to Kansas City to tackle out first triathlon.  Most of my clients signed up for the sprint distance or a team tri, but I was ready for an early season Olympic distance.  I was warned that storms were a possibility all weekend, but watching the radar, thought we might get lucky.  Luck was not in our favor.  Waiting in our wetsuits at the water at 7:30 am, the storm arrived.  The race directors had us wait about 25 minutes to see if the storm would pass, but no such luck.    Lightening, strong waves, wind, and rain stuck around for about an hour.  The race directors made the call to cancel the race.  I am not completely upset that I did not race since I feel my personal training has been lacking a bit thanks to a very long winter.  Some of my clients are ready to throw in the towel and skip racing this season-I am the complete opposite.  I am ready to tackle the tri’s and show them that one cancellation cannot throw me off my game.  What is frustrating is that due to some politics, the Lawrence 5150 was the same day.  They had the same weather, but rather than cancel waited a bit and then did a time trial bike and run.  I sure wish we could have done that, but when it comes to nasty weather, safety has to be a priority.

Some of my Prairie Life clients at the Kansas City Tri!

Some of my Prairie Life clients at the Kansas City Tri!

I may  not have raced, but still had a fun weekend, bonding with some like-minded athletes.  And if anyone needs some motivation, my kids truly made my day when I got home from the race.  They knew I did not get to race, so with a little help from dad, they gave me some special awards:

Special Tri Awards-not exactly sure where the "Crush" came from.

Special Tri Awards-not exactly sure where the “Crush” came from.

I am still in the process of figuring out my race schedule, but will for sure race at HyVee, XTerra BOLT, Wall Lake, and possibly the newly added Clinton Lake, KS 5150 and Branson Half. So keep training and see you at the races!!!!!!!!!!!!

Slice of Humble Pie

Midwest Cycling

This is a very familiar site when I hit the road bike in the Midwest. Picture it: bumpy rolling hills, farms, livestock, country bumpkins, dust and gravel, rude semi drivers, road kill…but the one thing I probably dislike the most is 30+ mph winds. After today, I was reminded once again why I have such a love/hate relationship with wind.
I need to tell myself that I have not been on the road bike since last October-the indoor trainer and spinning bike is just not quite the same. But one of my rock star triathlon clients really wanted to get in a solid 32 mile ride today since weather was forecasted to be great and how could I say no. Thank goodness for planning. I made sure to watch the wind direction this morning so we could ride into the wind first then have a pleasant ride home. That was definitely success, but even knowing it was windy was not enough for my body. I am beat up. Lungs are sore, lips are chapped, legs are tired, neck is stiff from having to crouch down. I sometimes wonder why I do this to myself, but I could never quit riding. Of all three triathlon disciplines, cycling is my baby. But today was not my day 😦 I am not a whiner, so rather than whine, this is a learning experience.
Many people ask what the trick is to ride with wind. Part of it is sucking it up and just dealing with it. Key is to stay tucked, power through it, lean into the wind when battling cross winds, and always ride into the wind first so the ride home can be about double as fast. I cannot say that most folks love wind, but it does make you a stronger cyclist as an end result.
So for those that are lucky enough like me to fight the wind on a regular basis, use it as a training tool and rather than whine, be humbled by it.
And be safe, I have seen wind knock over even the best cyclists from time to time!

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