Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fun, Not Fear

I spent last weekend in North Carolina with my two sisters, one brother-in-law, one niece, and two big dogs. Aside from dealing with a leaky water heater, we had a wonderful time. I successfully defended my title as “Sister Scrabble Champion,” despite a strong challenge from my baby sister. I even did some “training” – if you count walking the dogs on the beach and riding a one-speed, coaster-brake bike around town.

I did do one amazing thing, however. I went parasailing with my niece. Harnessed to a parachute that was pulled by a motorboat, we drifted 800 feet (we were told that’s equivalent to a 30-story building) above the coastline for 10-12 minutes. The feeling of floating in the sky was fantastic. Of course, there was a moment of near panic as we ascended, when I realized the boat was a long, long way down and I hadn’t asked what to do in case of emergency if we needed to come down immediately. But since there was nothing to do but hang on to the harness strap, I decided I might as well enjoy the ride. As we descended, we dropped into a sea of swirling jellyfish (the captain said they weren’t the stinging kind). Then we were pulled onto the boat and returned to shore via a banana boat. What an adventure!

So, if I can parasail without trepidation, why can’t I ride my bike with both feet clipped into the pedals? For that matter, why does starting off with only one foot clipped in make me feel like I’m taking my first unsteady ride without training wheels? Climbing onto my bike has become a test of fortitude. I’m okay while I’m riding, but I’m terrified to stop because I fear falling off and seriously hurting myself. The three hairy cats that share my house would not make particularly handy nursemaids.

This morning’s ride at WC started fine. After two loops, I stopped at the parking lot for water. Hurray, no problem! I decided to practice some “stops.” One “almost fall” later, the chain on my bike got twisted. As I stopped, with my left foot not clipped in and on the ground, I toppled over on my right side with that foot still clipped in.

The only outward damage was a skinned knee. I got back on the bike, but my confidence was gone. Fear is a powerful glue. I simply could not lift both feet off the ground onto the pedals at the same time. I wanted to put the bike in the car and not get on it again until indoor cycling begins. But I’m supposed to do the Yorktown Sprint next Sunday, so I knew I had to deal then and there with my fear.

I changed into regular street shoes. Riding with the heels jammed against the pedals, I managed two short loops (between the parking lot and the FB entrance) and stopped without incident.

I couldn’t tell any difference in effort or speed riding clips v. no clips. Now I’m wondering if I should put regular pedals back on my bike as long as I’m riding it on the road. I want to feel as comfortable riding this bike as I did riding last week’s beach cruiser. Surely a more relaxed attitude will compensate for any perceived lack of efficiency. My new mantra – fun, not fear.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Now that I've announced the existence of this blog to the TGs, I'm feeling obligated, or maybe even compelled, to produce entries, and especially ones that people might think were interesting enough to read. In the words of a country song I like, "what was I thinking?!"

And to completely change the subject, one month from today is the HY-Vee Tri. I don't think I'm nearly ready for the swim part. I have yet to swim the distance required (.9 mile). I've done .8 twice, but never seem to have time to do more. I'm getting worried I won't be acclimated to the distance for the tri, and what I'm hearing in my head with each stroke is "what was I thinking?!"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Toys

I have a wetsuit now, complete w/ TG logo, which I got on a great sale from Fit2Race. I'm not sure it fits right, though. When I ordered it, I gave them my measurements and took the size they said I should have. It was incredibly hard to get on, which the directions say means that it probably fits. Another marker of proper fit is whether you can "pinch" a bit of material in the arms and thighs once the suit is on, and if you can't, it's probably too small. I can do that in the arms, but not the thighs (oh, rue my misproportioned body!), so I'm debating whether to keep it or exchange it.

I have new trail running shoes, too. I'd intended to get a pair on sale, but they weren't as comfortable as the non-sale shoes, so I paid full price for a pair of La Sportiva Fireblades. According to the box, they were a Runners World choice in 2007. I've been wearing them some around the house before I try them on a trail.

I also have a new digital camera. It's not either of the models I originally thought I wanted, but the price was right for the features (do you sense a theme in the way I buy things?). An amazing thing to me about the purchase was that I saved $30 simply by ordering it online and then going to the local store to pick it up, instead of going to the store, taking it off the shelf and paying full price.

Finally, for Mother's Day my son and daughter-in-law gave me some family tree computer software. I'd been impressed with their set when I was in Florida in April, and I'm looking forward to having time to play with it myself.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Run Like A Girl

On May 4 I did the 5-mile trail run at Pocohantas State Park, which was part of the Run Like A Gril Series sponsored by Montrail. There were 300+ participants in this women-only event, ranging in age from 7 to 70. Point of reference -- I was faster than the 7-year-old, but not faster than the 70-year-old, who finished in about 45 minutes! The trail was generally a smooth track, but there were some fairly challenging hills -- most of which I walked up and tried not to slide down. Fellow TG TB, an accomplished trail runner, ran with me. She stayed on my case, ever urging me onward, and not listening when I said, "but I'm going as fast as I can!" TG TD also ran with us. We all used to run together twice a week after strength training at MMF, so it was good to have the group back together again. The entire event was great fun, and the swag was terrific -- nice tech shirt, socks, cap, and water bottle, plus some tasty chocolate-raspberry Luna bars. I definitely see more trail runs in my future.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Catching Up

What have I been doing since my last entry? I took my purebred Himalayan cat to a professional groomer – she looks much better, but she’s been living under my bed for two weeks now because whenever she ventures out, my two shorthair domestic cats hiss at her. She’s been groomed before, without any adjustment traumas, so I have no idea what happened this time. Perhaps I need a Cat Whisperer.

I went to Florida to visit my son and his wife, who were temporarily back in the US from his job overseas. We had a wonderful time – ate great seafood and mango key lime pie, went to an art show and the beach, and did a 5K race. The run was out and back over the causeway (I mistakenly called it a “bridge” and was corrected by a transplanted NOVA retiree). The temperature was warmer than I’m used to yet and I could have used another water stop at mile 2.75, so the last mile was slower than I’d hoped it would be. I finished in 39:01, which is not a PR for a 5K, but is the best I’ve done so far this year. The times for my age group ranged from 28:33 to 57:17, and I was 8 out of 24. There was fantastic fresh fruit at the end, along with sandwich fixings, granola bars, chips, and water. The best part, though, was running w/ my son.

I also tried out a wet suit in their pool. (I know that’s not recommended procedure, but I wasn’t in the water all that long). The pool temperature was 72, and even w/ the wet suit on, I felt chilly when I first got in. I had no problem swimming in it, but getting it on and off was a struggle. Any improvement in my swim time from wearing a wet suit will no doubt be cancelled by the increase in my T1 time unless I just do the whole tri in my wet suit!

Finally, I’ve been shopping for a digital camera. I’ve found several I like, but I’m having a hard time deciding which one to buy. The current frontrunners are two Canon models and a Panasonic. I’ve studied the specs, read all kinds of reviews, solicited other people’s advice/opinions, and made numerous trips to different stores to check them out, but nothing has said “buy me” yet. Of course, the point of having a new camera was that I wanted to add some pictures to this blog, but I wasn't able to figure out how to use some in this entry that my daughter-in-law sent me, so it may be a moot point!