Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ah what a week. We did it all. From sunshine rides to stormy, tsunami warning rides with sheets of rain soaking us to the bone and sandy beach with grit in our teeth rides. A perfect way to end the week in sunny California. Our bags and bikes are packed, our digital cameras filled with moments of hilarity and our ambitions and dedication renewed after a solid week of training.

(Mary's response just now - 9 o'clock. YES! I've gotten accustomed to this lifestyle and I don't want to change it when I get home...)

An evening spent laughing with Gary and Anita at a local Mexican resturant in Hermosa Beach was the perfect way to end the trip.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The most awkward dinner - EVER.

Let's see if I can set this up right....

Earlier this week, Sunday to be exact, Tela, Mary and I rode over to Gary and Anita's (Ryan's dad and step mom's house) to borrow their VW Passat since they were going to be out of town for the week. We were super stoked to have a car since we're staying in a not so nice part of town - so thanks Pops and Anita! But the unfortunate part - the key was hidden inside a bird cage that when opened, the bottom fell out and shattered the blue bird vigil placed inside for Big Bird (Gary and Anita's beloved cockateal who up until they discovered she laid eggs thought it was a boy).

It broke into three pieces and I remember looking at Tela and Mary in nervous laughter and thought maybe we could find a replacement this week. Ha ha. Are you kidding me? I couldn't believe my luck. But being the aunt of Coleman the three layer cake tipper, well I guess I should have seen it coming.

The week has been filled with several failed attempts to find a replacement bird. Oh and we've been working out of course. Double days every day with the exception of Wednesday has added up to three tired chicas by the end of today. Our hunt in TJ Max was about as close as we came to finding anything.

Flash forward to today, an early morning after a late night of comedy thanks to Adam's brother performing in Hollywood - and several hard hard efforts of max capacity. Unfortunately I can't say that I puked on this trip but today was the closest I got. The conditions were perfect - thin saliva, light headedness, nausea - but alas, I kept the urps to myself.

Our recovery ride was probably the hardest ride I've done in a while. And judging by Mary's quiet sufferage by pedaling behind Tela, Liz and I - she was cooked too.

But the highlight of the night? A dinner at Tela's friend and his parents in Cypress. Luckily we had eaten a couple bites before heading out so we wouldn't seem like hoarders. Turns out his parents are pretty religious. We're talking TV turned onto the religious channel pumping out the beats religious. We're talking not one, not two but three prayers before dinner religious. And we're talking serious restraint by us three girls to keep swearing to a minimum since we've been baching it all week (cause we're not so religious). But in reality - there was no reason to worry about that because about 5 minutes after eating the homemade tortilla soup - Mary and I became sitting zombies while Tela had to carry on the whole conversation. All I remember? Homemade biscuits. And Tela trying so hard to make a conversation by pulling their teeth out of their heads. At one point the ceramic bird story came up - a perfect opportunity for me to add to the conversation. But all I could utter?


After a quick exit, stage left - almost the minute we walked out of their door, we uproared in laughter, waking up all of their neighbors by recalling how awkward that had been. Seriously. It could have been on some Arrested Development show or something.

I guess you should have been there. But for most of the dinner Mary and I weren't.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Close calls and reminders

After yesterday's hammer session at the track (Mary and I did 4 one lap flying efforts with 3 laps at tempo pace at the rail between) x 3 with 20 minutes rest between in a MAMOTH gear, we were more than happy to be out on the road bikes this morning paralleling the Pacific Ocean. Up and up we climbed, along Palos Verde Boulevard with Liz, Mary, Tela and myself. The views were great (despite noticing the smog hanging off the coast line that was a dark snot color) - even Catalina island was in view. Little did we know we'd be doing some character building miles - with tears of struggle, anguish and eventual triumph.

We cruised up a massive hill with t-pain driving the train, downshifting toward the top and sending my heart rate into the red zone. A quick stop at the top, and down we quickly descended through a canopy of trees and light traffic and light rain splattering the roadway. Our next left hand turn, half way down the hill provided the highlight/lowlight of the ride.

We noticed a bright neon green sign titled "Walking School Bus" and as Tela went to point it out in a what the? she didn't realize Liz was next to her and swerved, over corrected and went down in the lane of traffic, just as a red truck almost struck her. Too close of a call for comfort, we pulled over and sat down in a little pow wow. Some woman in a Lexus sedan and sweater dress with caked on makeup stopped to make sure we were okay. She came over to Tela asked if she could say a little prayer and then proceeded to bless her in this time of crisis. Mary, Liz and I stood around completely baffeled by the series of events we just witnessed. Luckily I had enough sense to whip out the camera and get the Jesus lady on film. Close call! And glad we all walked easily away from that one. It's not every day you can say you've been blessed and prayed about.

Now we rest, chilling in our hotel getting for some more butt kicking efforts tomorrow. My legs are still throbbing but better to throb now then in competition, right?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A little clarification

So since most of the world doesn't understand the nuances of track cycling lingo, here's a basic description of what I did yesterday on the boards. (aka track. I call them boards because the track is composed of Siberan White Tiger wood. All 250m with 47 degree banking.)

We shipped our track bikes down earlier (they're the kind without brakes) and flew down with our road bikes on the airplane. Checking in at the airport is kind of a pain if you're flying with bikes because they are put in an oversized box and you can bet you'll be charged any where from $50-175 extra each way for such a luxury. (Shipping them costs anywhere from $35 to $175 depending on who you use to ship, declared value, how they measure the box, etc.) Oh and you can count on TSA searching your bike box for explosives and such due to the metal or carbon tubing. You can only hope they put the box back in it's original condition so things don't shift around - but that's the risk you take.

Anyway - we rode to the gym from our hotel yesterday morning to meet Adam at 8:30 for bike assemblege and getting things set up for the day's workout. Everything arrived in good shape - with the exception of Tela's box. Her wheel hubs were sticking out of the box. But after riding on it she discovered it was all good.

On tap for today's workout was a warmup with the Canadian National team (who has been in town since January prepping for the upcoming March world cup). 50 laps with a steady increase in tempo in a smaller gear. Since you only have one gear option, the warmup is used in a smaller gear (50x16, which is roughly an 84") to open up the legs and get your aerobic and central nervous system ready for the specialized efforts later. Since most of the work on the track is done with near 100% capacity, a good warm up is essential to prevent injury.

After those 50 laps, you go back into the infield and change your gears into what ever is prescribed next on your schedule. Tela's gears are usually a lot smaller than mine since she's a sprinter - she's more reliant on fast twitch muscle fiber to generate a high rpm. You need to be able to get up to speed quickly and then hold it for her efforts. Since I'm more of an endurance racer, I have larger gears to generate the most power over a longer period.

Anyway, my goal for this session is to work on my standing starts for pacing in the pursuit. Basically I'm going from a stopped position, held up by a hydraulic starting gate that releases when the clock counts down from 10 seconds to 0. Jump the gate by going to early and you can scrub a good 2 seconds off of your time. Go too late and you have zero momentum to start. It's all about finesse.

Then the effort itself has to be within your ability - especially if you're doing more than one lap. Since the pursuit is 3000m (or 12 laps on this track), pacing is everything. At nationals in October I went out of the gate HOT - too hot. My start was equivalent to Sarah Hammer's 3:30 pace. And guess what? I'm not Sarah Hammer. Unfortunately at this time I can't hold that pace. Such a strong start builds up lactic acid in the legs quickly and you start slowing down. So although I had started with a blistering pace, I physically couldn't hold it. To deal with this lack of fitness, I'm starting my laps slower so I can finish stronger in the end, verses the other way around.

I had 2 sets of 3 standing start one laps in a 94" gear (53x15). Hopefully that makes a little more sense now. My goal? Do a 24.7 second starting lap. Nothing faster. But for some reason when that gate releases and I go, I can't dial it back. I'm putting in a 22.4 second starting lap. I have to tone it down or else I will detonate later in the effort. After several attempts to do so - the only thing that happened was my time kept getting faster. So I have to work on slowing down.

The good news though? I have it within me to do that kind of start. Now it's just a matter of building that fitness to hold it. That's why those stinking hill repeats up Hollywood hill in the wee hours of the morning and despite the rain are so important. The ability to hold high wattage (power) is crucial to the pursuit.

Either you're more confused than ever or that helps a little bit. Bottom line? I have to slow down to go faster. :)

And today's workout, just to confuse you, is a sprinter workout. Good times! Wish me luck as I try to spin my own legs off!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

There are signs on the road.

And it is up to you to heed them or not. They are recommended speeds, warnings of upcoming curves and steep descents. Bumps, children, school zones and deer crossings. All things that could potentially slow you down or collide with you. Do you slow down? Do you pay attention or do you sail through them without thought or worry about what could happen?

The signs serve as a perfect analogy for life. Though instead of being encased in a metal box of a car, I prefer my bicycle. Even still though, those warnings are still warranted and you can bet I pay careful attention when they are passed.

You're probably going to be hearing a lot more from me on this blog in the coming weeks. Call it a premonition of sorts. Writing is such an amazing outlet for me - always there no matter what's going on in my life. I can easily pick myself back up by letting it out in words and paragraphs; it provides a therapy of sort. It's an old friend I can always check in with that doesn't judge and is always there.

I've decided that there should be a new sign - one that warns people of upcoming puke. Yep, you read that right. Puke. And gross as that sounds - I convinced myself that I want to push myself harder than ever. I want to find out my true limits. And once I've reached them, finally, I'll have worked so hard that my body revolts. I know, it sounds silly. Who would rightfully put their body through such a thing? But I want to push pass the mental limitations, the warning signs that your brain sends to your body to shut down before you complete your goal. As crazy as it sounds - I want to get there. I want to be able to push myself to new levels. And I figure puking is a good way to start.

This next week should provide the perfect opportunity. I'll let you know how it goes.

(And as I mentioned this to Ai and Anna last night in our pondering of why we don't push ourselves that much anymore - answers of I'm too lazy, I did it once when I was younger and I hate the taste, I'll do anything NOT to puke. And my response? It's because we'd have to clean it up now ourselves, isn't it?)

Friday, February 19, 2010

...breaking news.....

This just in -

Tela Crane, Mary McMeen and Jennifer Triplett are taking the concrete jungle and land of a million highways by storm starting Sunday. For the next week the trio will descend upon Los Angeles leaving no road unturned. Their plan? An assault on the banked track in Carson, California (not to be confused with its neighboring city Compton).

It's time. Time to test the winter mileage and fitness gained. Time to test their mental strength in sprints, pursuits and going in circles ridiculously fast.

Three girls, six bikes and no car. Should make for an exciting week.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


(Doug Mills of NY Times)

Lindsey Vonn is my hero. Watching her in the start house for the woman's downhill Olympic event, visibly shaking from the pressure and emotions filling her want, desire and need to win - was nerve racking. Watching as she flew down the hill, recovering from slight deviations from the perfect line, catching major air on the final jump and practically landing on one leg to save her injured shin, I couldn't help but hold my breath.

And then the sheer amazement and joy when she learns that she did in fact win gold. At first she appears in shock letting out small cries, the reality of the accomplishment yet to soak in. Yet as the cameras continue to follow her throughout the interviews - her emotions come to surface. The tearful happiness of overwhelming joy - and then falling into the safety net of her supportive and loving husband. I couldn't help but cry with her. Knowing how much time and energy and sacrifice she has done to get there. And to have the planets align?

If you didn't catch it last night - youtube will probably have it up and running soon. Lindsey earned every ounce of gold in that medal through and through. Congrats champ!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Last night I dreamed about rock climbing. I can't remember who my female companion was - but we decided to down climb a long section of rock to find our way back to the car. The down climbing was easy at first - with big chunks of gneiss rock and huge jugs to hold onto. It was similar rock to the down climb in the N. Cascades Liberty Bell group. But as we got to the crux of a massive over hanging, no feature section I froze. Stricken by panic of potentially falling to my demise I couldn't move down. Instead I decided to climb back up and find another route. And that's when the cat I'm sitting jumped on my face. Stinking cat!

Up early this morning for a drizzle ride to Hollywood hill times four. Cold wet fun!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stoke Factor = TEN

As an athlete, we often push our bodies to the max. A steady amount of pain is welcomed - in the legs, lungs and sometimes heart. For me, each and every ride serves a purpose and goal - to get stronger and faster. And even though sometimes I fail, at least I know I gave something everything I had before that failure.

Cycling is an endurance sport in more ways than one. Physically there are long grueling hours put in on the saddle, reliant on pieces of man made machinery and reliant on the ultimate engine, but sometimes just as faulty, the body. Countless hours are spent training and fueling, taking time for recovery and creating a life balance so that each time I pull on my spandex, each time I clip into my pedals - I know why I'm doing it. It's a long road toward my ultimate goal - world cup competition in track - but I choose to do this. I am fortunate that the planets have aligned and I can spend the majority of my waking hours cycling. And for that I am forever thankful.

Mentally cycling is an endurance game as well. Day in day out, hours devoted to 90+ revolutions per minute - without the proper mental capacity you could easily fail on lack of motivation alone. It is often too easy to make excuses: it's raining outside, my legs hurt, my saddle gives me discomfort, I don't feel like it. But some how those things are quickly forgotten. A rest day comes and though I'm thankful for the time off the bike, I can't wait to get back to it to express 100% of my ability. I still feel the excitement as I did the first year I started racing. The giddiness of feeling the endorphin rush, the wind in my hair, the hum of my rear hub.

Even when the going gets tough - and today it did - I still find myself in love with this sport. It pushes me to the limit on hills and when I hit that limit I'm reminded of being a mere mortal. A mortal who is gravity challenged. I smile to myself because my pursuit isn't after hills, though mastery of everything I do is deep seeded within me. I smile because I know come track season I'm going to be able to push harder and faster than last year. I look at the top of the hill with one focus in mind - the finish line or pull in team pursuit, or lapping attempt in a points race.

Sometimes it's important to restate why you do what you do. What gets you stoked? Why do you do what you do?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ode to Fenders

I missed you today, despite your finicky rubbing and home made duct tape buddy flap. I should have known to strap you on and deal with the constant reminder of your presence - for the rain is inevitable in Seattle.

I but a fool - thinking I would be sans rain on a training ride in February. Instead I was reminded of your virtues and sheer luxurious demeanor.

I got dumped on. Hard.

And it wasn't the grit that was shooting up my back like a rooster tail on a jet ski that did it. I wasn't yearning for the music to my ears of your whining noise, oh no. But as soon as it started raining so hard the pavement was soaked, I started to wonder why I deprived myself of such simple pleasures?

Oh fender. Today you were missed. Like a long lost lover on Valentines day. Like the garlic in my mashed potatoes. Like, like - the rear fender on my bike - nothing compares.

Warming concoctions were made to subsist without you. Their potent potions are so harsh that only rubbing alcohol can adequately remove it. More gear needed to replace such a simple item. Who decided that racing without fenders is cool anyways?

Don't worry fender - I will be back for you. And you can rub all you want before I throw you in the bushes.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Up and at 'em

I wake up early to feed Makiah and answer my ringing phone. It's 6 am and Sharon is calling to let me know she didn't sleep all night and doesn't think it would be a good idea to do hill intervals as a result.

Sleepily I tell her no problem. You can come next time.

I lift the dog food container down from on top of the fridge and give Makiah a 1/4 cup serving. She quickly gobbles it up as I put the kettle on and grind some coffee.

It's cold in my house. 58 degrees. I turn the heat up as I go put on some lycra as water comes to a boil. A quick glance outside reveals some fog but no rain. I put on wool socks, thermal tights and a long sleeve base layer. Makiah comes into my bedroom to let me know she's done chowing and is ready to go outside to do some business.

My reflection in the mirror shows puffy eyes from last night's late Soba noodle dinner and the scale shows some nice water retention. Great - an extra 5 pounds to lug up that hill this morning. I thought weight training was this afternoon?

After a quick bite to eat and gulping my morning java, I make some bottles with my favorite concoction - Hammer's perpetuem. I've been on a steady diet of drinking it every time I ride and am thankful for its extra calories every time. I give the bottles a quick thorough shake and head out the door.

I wish I lived closer to longer hills. So that my planned ride could start and finish from my house as it's much easier to come home and immediately strip off my spandex and hit the showers to warm up. But today requires 10 minute hills so I start up my diesel engine and drive north to Log Boom.

It's 7 am and the park gates are still locked. I park outside and quickly dress. The sun has come up just enough so I decide to venture without my front light and switch my blinky on. I can't tell if it's the cold air that makes my face ache or the sodium injected noodles from the night before.

The fog made the temps dip a little lower than usual. My normal warm up seems to take a little longer as my quads remind me that they were worked after this past weekend's thrashing. But after 30 minutes that sensation goes away as I quickly approach my first interval up Hollywood.

The first couple of inclines get my heart rate up to LT, and I push myself on the flatter sections by switching to harder gears to keep the watts up. A couple of road workers make a joke or two as I whiz by the first time and before I know it 10 minutes have passed and I'm flipping it near the top of the hill to bomb down and do it again. The descent is exactly 5 minutes so at the bottom I quickly start my next punishing interval.

As the pain settles into my legs, I keep telling myself in mantra like fashion, that it will go away. Just keep pushing. You're alive. Your legs are telling you to stop but you're stronger than that. Keep pushing. You're almost to the next section. Shift. Shift. Push. Push. Look up at the crest of the hill. Keep your breathing going. Inhale, exhale. Next hard section. One mailbox at a time. Focus. Push. It will go away... this is just temporary. Push! Done.


And on the third and final one, I passed all the little kids and their parents waiting for the school bus. It must have looked funny - seeing my pain face and hard breathing at such an early morning surrounded by fog. But I don't care. What I care about is enjoying the fast fun descent that someone recently broke their collarbone on during the last Rocket ride. I weave my way through the back roads of Woodinville and Maltby. The slightest inclines make my legs scream double time in protest - a confirmation that my morning workout was beneficial.

After I got home, I ate some split pea soup I slow cooked overnight and took a long hot shower. My digits were screaming in protest and I emptied the water tank just soaking in the warmth.

And now I sit, looking slightly forward to my weight training workout this afternoon. These double day training sessions are hard but I know that I will reap the benefits in a short time to come. The idea is to make the training harder than the racing...

Monday, February 08, 2010

Thinking of you Bubba.
Now that I think about what happened to me on the ride Saturday, I'm pretty sure what happened was the lack of eating proper foods after my two workouts the previous training day that did it. In the morning I had LT interval sessions and then a 4 hour recovery period (working) and back into the gym. After the initial workout I should have had a meal higher in the carb content and another higher carb meal after weight training. I did drink a recovery drink after both sessions - but timing the right meal within the magic hour of glycogen replacement is critical for long term endurance training.

Call me crazy but this shit is super fascinating.

And I think the "bonk" that I felt isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's my body reacting to after using up my glycogen levels and dipping into body fat reserves. Which is a good thing - but everybody handles this shift differently. I've found I have a low tolerance to this change - and mentally need to focus on pushing through the lows. This might be a crazy theory - but some people like the Kristin Armstrongs and cycling goddesses who seem like they are from out of this world - have an amazing natural ability to do this without having to focus on it. The rest of us struggle and, if we're lucky, adapt to this change.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


After about a month of carefully watching and monitoring what I take in for training and eat on the bike - yesterday I bonked. I'm pretty sure it was from a lack of carbohydrate the night before that did it... green salad with protein and no real carbs to speak of is not a good pre-race/train meal. After our first longer climb on the ride, my muscles started screaming in protest since they were eating themselves. And no amount of perpeteum or bars can reverse that damage once it's been inflicted. It's good to have reminders of why you're sticking to a plan and what will happen when you don't...

Friday, February 05, 2010

"If you time your nutrient intake well, you will store less fat in your fat cells, store more protein and carbohydrate in your muscle cells, and use more calories to supply immediate energy needs than you would if you ate precisely the same nutrients but timed their intake poorly." -Matt Fitzgerald.

And for those trying to cut weight but are doing it at the expense of your performance - this one's for you....

"On the other hand, when you habitually consume too little at certain times of the day, your metabolism will slow so that more of the calories you consume at other times are stored as body fat, and your body will break down muscle tissue to make up for the deficit of food energy."

Bottom line - it's all about timing.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

It's a sign of the times, don't you think? When only 5 out of 40 blog subscriptions that I follow update on maybe a weekly basis. Myself included. I used to write a lot more - but then I lose interest or can't quite find the time to jot a few thoughts down. I've probably lost some readers along the way - but to be honest this blog was more for me than for them. At one point I did create a separate blog that was aimed at getting my gripes out - about the injustices in my silly little world. The drama - the situations I encountered that were baffling. But I couldn't post them here- because I do know some people read this and that would be just slanderous. And mean.

But back to the original point. Why don't people jot down a few words? What's your day really like? What makes you happy? 50 years from now when you look back at your entries - chances are a blog will give you more context then random sentence thrown out into space.

Maybe it's the social media revolution that has taken the world by storm? They'd rather tweet and proclaim a few sentences to the tweeting community. What is it about tweeting that makes it more attractive to follow than complete sentences? Is its celebrity appeal? Like you have a small glimpse into my world but not really kind of thing? I think it's like spying on someone. But yet they are putting it out there for the world to observe and judge. Kind of fascinating, don't you think?

Is it ultimately destroying writing? That's a thought.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Helpful struggles...

It's hard to describe the sensation that fills your legs after a solid 3 hour training ride, with a couple of big gear efforts thrown in the mix and followed by a nutritious pecan crusted salmon, Moroccan carrot salad and quinoa. Oh, and a beer. But it is a really really really good feeling and reward for punishing myself in the saddle today. For those unfamiliar - it's like a warm throb as the muscles start to relax and take what nutrients they want from the meal I just ate.

And despite earlier predictions, today's ride was completed without any rain. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

I needed that. Especially after last nights restless night of sleep from a really hard workout on Jennie's indoor pain machine. She's got some whirlie bird thing that doubles as a trainer but keep track of your wattage. Those LT efforts are done without any excuses now. "You're in the last few kilos of a race Jen. Just pedal away from them, pedal away." I think that proved to Tela and Jennie what my pain face really looks like. 10 minutes of straight up nausea.

And the discovery today that my 5 year old FSA carbon cranks are toast. They cracked where the pedal threads into the crank and will definitely break off any time now. I was about to give up when the sun came out... so on my old Kona Kona I went - out I-90 toward Bellevue, a loop toward Billy's house (Medina) and around the north end. To top it off? Some mountain bike commuter that was sitting pretty much straight upright was more than willing to give me a draft those last 6 miles toward the University. What a stud with his blue jacket flapping away in the breeze and slicks on his steed. You gotta love the Burke. :)