An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Dave!!

A quick birthday wish and love letter:

Dear briderdt,
You are the love of my life and continue to amaze me. You make 49 look GOOD!!


P.S. Posts related to triathlons, etc. to come in the near future :-)

Monday, September 17, 2012

A few hints and suggestions. A comical look at triathlons and life in general.

My wife Lisa has hijacked my blog for the month of September, adding her own insights into the world of triathlon.

I am one of the "newbys" to the triathlon world. I've done 5 sprints now - over the span of 4 seasons/summers. I've learned a few things along the way - a few things that lend themselves to apply to my life. Its funny how life mimics triathlons!
  1. Try new things!
    1. Ok...this is actually a bit opposite in life than in triathlon-ing. Never try anything new on race day. New shoes may blister. Different drinks/nutrition may upset your stomache. New clothes may rub you raw...
  2. Plan ahead.
    1. Especially your outfit! You'd hate to be late for a date or an interview because something didn't fit or look right! Guys and gals both. I was pulling together my outfit the night before my tri this past June - probably not the best situation. Triathlons take special consideration because, more than likely, you will be doing the whole race in the same thing. Have you ever tried to pull something onto a wet body?? Not fun.
    2. Spend a little time searching the internet for any questions you have. If all else fails, send the Race Director an email. They are usually super busy before an event, but due to smart phones they may respond quickly! (Please - as an RD - do a quick google search before sending/calling!)
  3. Step a little out of your comfort zone...
    1. ...into spandex. Spandex is acceptable - even if you wear XXXL! (Join the club...ok, not XXXL...but close.  And I'm not talking about Super Bowls either!) I complain about it - but Dave is comfortable in it - almost a bit too comfortable sometimes... Dave said to me the other day, "Do you know why people wear spandex in triathlons? Because it works!"
  4. Dress for success! Find something that fits, but is not too tight. 
    1. My tri in June I wore a tank top (with built-in) and a sports bra. I hadn't swam in it before (see #1) and it was practically making me flash anyone who saw me. I wasn't wearing a wetsuit because I was in the "retro" division. I had to make sure I was all in before getting out of the water...
    2. This past tri - first of September - I decided to wear my tri shorts. I knew they were a bit snug, but I figured I'd be OK. Lately I've been having stomache issues when I workout. I was "diagnosed" with irritable bowel syndrome earlier this year...which is something else...BUT seems to have crept into my exercise. When I got off the bike and started to run - I felt absolutely MISERABLE.  I felt like I was going to puke. I think I had a bit too much water on the bike and was sloshing around every time I tried to jog! After Dave suggested rolling the waist down...I finally started feeling better - about a half mile into the 5K.
  5. Be prepared! (Boy Scout motto anyone?!!?)
    1. If you are at all worried about time - do the course before hand, even if it's in a car. The most recent tri I had done the bike course twice with Dave beforehand. He had done the course multiple times and really helped. This course was quite hilly and he had a few suggestions. He knew there was a bit of a downhill but then an immediate uphill, so he suggested getting as much speed on the downhill, to have momentum on the uphill. (Granted when I actually did the tri and swam before hand...the bike was a LOT tougher!!) And if you can't do that - look at the course map and be somewhat familiar with it!
    2. Know basic bike repairs. Such as, how to change a flat tire and (And make sure you have spare tire with you) how to put your chain back on the ring.
      1. Also - super helpful - marry a bike nerd :-D
  6. Practice makes permanent! I had a softball shirt in HS that said true!
    1. Practice Open Water Swims! (or OWS - it was confusing on BT when Occupy Wall Street was a fad, because you weren't sure which one they were talking about!) I myself have a phobia of dark water. However, I am fine when there are quite a few people around/in the water. There was a Clif Bar commercial recently that really wasn't too far off the mark for a large and competitive race. (Sorry about the video quality - it's all I could find!)
  7. Compete with only yourself!
    1. I am not good at this at all! I can't help but compare myself to others - ESPECIALLY on the bike! But if you can learn to do this, you will enjoy your race more and -heck- maybe even do better!
  8. Be realistic
    1. If you start training a month before your first tri...I wouldn't expect to win! I encourage first timers to set a goal of finishing! You can look to improve times, techniques from there.
    2. Over training can be bad. Either in quantity or effort. You can easily hurt yourself. You can even mentally drain yourself so that you don't want to continue.
  9. Appreciate the rewards
    1. Do you feel better when you exercise consistently?
    2. Do you get to enjoy an extra food treat and still lose weight? That's why I work out...I want to be able to lose weight and eat what I want! (Of course, moderation is key.)
    3. Has your training and racing encouraged others to start exercising or make a healthy change in their life?
  10. Enjoy the ride!!
    1. Or the swim...and the run!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Engi-nerdy love!....and motivation!

Lisa continues her September contributions:

I lived in Chicago suburbs and Dave lived (and still does) near Tacoma, WA - when we "met". We met online...on

Dave first sent me a message...a few weeks later I was on a plane to spend New Year's Eve in Seattle. I had never been on the west side of the Rockies. So it was a good little trip for me! (I was barely there for 24 hours - I worked the day before and after.) We had talked for hours and hours on the phone prior, but of course once we were actually meeting in person - we both said very little :-)

We had some things in common, we were both Mechanical Engineers - but in very different fields - both (tried) to be active, had a similar sense of humor....etc.

A few months went by, with both of us racking up a few frequent flyer miles. I wasn't really enjoying my job - so I gave my notice and brought the 2 kitties on a long plane ride! (It was of course a bumpier plane ride..but they had each other to cuddle!)

He is a very patient and amazing man - with me. Not always so patient with others! [mostly this applies to telemarketers] But we greatly differ in our motivations to exercise. I pretty much exercise to be able to eat more. Or eat the same and lose weight. Dave exercises because it keeps him sane. (He gets pretty grouchy when he hasn't!) I can't say I really "enjoy" working out...but I know Dave does.

Why is it that 2 people- who are similar - are so different? It also brings up the point that motivation comes from different places for different people. I need external motivation (and I'm an extrovert...hmm...I bet there is a correlation!) I am consistently inconsistent with my exercise. I need a goal, a race to train for. (Funny enough, I don't actually like racing, but I'll get into that later.) Even with a race - I'm not always that great about training!

I guess the key is finding something you like to do. The problem is that I don't like to do anything for very long. So I guess that's where triathlons fit in - gives me something different to do each day! For a sprint, I usually train 5 days a week doing each discipline 2 times.

Another problem I have - not only needing an external motivator - I can't have something that is too far away. Or else I procrastinate or lose interest. This may make it difficult for me to do anything longer than a 10K...however, something that may work for me is to cross-train during the "off season". This month I am trying to do each of the aerobics, cycling, yoga classes offered at our local Y. (I'm not planning on doing the "low-impact" things.)

So while I try to keep variety and motivation....I wish my wonderful husband would figure out how to exercise FOR me.

Dave & My finish together - 6/30/12
(There were only 4 people in the "Retro" division - so we tied for 3rd :-D)
Photo by Image Arts Photography

Friday, September 7, 2012

Introducing...the wife!

As I had mentioned a couple days ago, my wife has stolen the keys to my blog and is hijacking it for her own purposes this month (not really -- she asked first). Here is her first installment.

Hello all of brider readers! I am Mrs. brider. (Which means bike rider, not anything to do with being a bride.) I am also known as The Mrs. T or Lisa.

I asked Dave if I could "hijack" his blog this month. His birthday is in a few weeks and I thought I might give him some time to work on a few ideas - and get them ready for October!

A little background about me. (I'll try to keep this short but I am not one known for brevity...or the use of under punctuation...) I played team sports growing up - basketball, softball and soccer. Soccer was my favorite, I believe. I've always struggled with weight - thanks to Dad's side of the family. So after being in the work-world for a few years and not having easy access to team sports AND having an indoor pool in my apartment building - I started swimming. I had tried swimming before but had never got the hang of it. Did a little bit of reading and even watched a DVD. Hey! This isn't so bad! Now that I had swimming "down" it only made sense to do a tri - I had ran and biked before!

First triathlon was in July 2009. This was when I still lived in the Chicago area. The chosen event was the Trek Women's Tri in Pleasant Prairie, WI - which is just over the Illinois border. I rode my 15ish year old Huffy Mountain Bike - with slicker tires - and finished! I did my 2nd tri that August. I did my 3rd tri in May of 2010 - after just moving to Washington. That was a bad, bad tri for me. The water was sooo cold, the bike was flat - except for the start. I wasn't used to clipless pedals and couldn't get clipped in and up the hill. Riding your bike and crying/hyperventilating isn't easy. By then my race mojo was gone. I finished the race and since there were only 3 Athena's - I got 3rd!

I said I was done with racing. However...I wasn't. This past January I rode a ladder down from our roof - a 1 story drop. My only injury was "just" an ankle sprain. I'm guessing it was about the worst sprain you could get. Grade 3 + really, really bad. I was in PT for about 5 months. In PT I decided to have a goal and train for a tri. I did a(nother) sprint at the end of June. Dave raced with me and it was the best tri I ever did! Dave and I were literally dead last - but it was actually enjoyable! I decided to up my training (had pretty much none before that) and do an Olympic distance for the first time. So from July 1st to August 31st I was building up the distance to Olympic. Two weeks from race day I realized I'd be able to finish the distances, but I wouldn't be able to finish it in the 4 hour time limit. I had tweaked my knee and my left shoulder was bothering me - I could do the sprint, but not the Olympic.

Race day came - just this past September 1st. The air temperature was in the mid 50's to start. The water felt fantastic! It was 69-70 degrees! I got into my full-sleeve wetsuit, a new purchase, and I was ready to swim! That was one of the hardest swims I had done. I'm not completely sure why. However - and I declared this when I exited the water - I wasn't last!! My race report is on BT. Dave has said I was too hard on myself, but I was really disappointed with my performance. I wasn't last this time and I even had speed improvements on the bike and run from the June tri! The recent tri was on a MUCH harder course.

It's a little hard to keep in mind to "race my own race" when you have a husband who is fast. I'm very proud of him, of course, but it's still hard not to compare.

I'm hoping over the next few weeks I can impart a bit of wisdom for those who aren't so fast and may be newer to the sport/exercise.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

By the liiiiight... Of the silvery moooooon...

I rode my bike, the acoustic one, to work this morning. Acoustic meaning no motor, other than the organic one that is me. Like the difference between an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar.

Anyway, I rode yesterday, too, but had started later so that it would be lighter outside on the way to work. Of course that also pushed the end of the work day to a later time as well. Coupled with taking some 45 minutes to schedule a medical procedure, and I didn't get home until after 5. I hate that.

So this morning I left the house at just a couple minutes after 5. Meaning it was dark out. The remnants of the waning moon cast a dim glow that at times was visible, but otherwise I was left to the illumination cast by my cheap (and very old) Cateye that uses two "C" cells and a standard flashlight bulb, and the blinking light I have to get drivers' attention (I also have two red blinking lights in back and reflective ankle bands). That blinking light is actually brighter than the steady headlight...

So I've also got an old Nightrider light, halogen something or other, that I'm going to use as soon as I get the handlebar bracket that I must have purged in a moment of rare "cut the clutter" mood. That should improve things greatly, as I was vastly under-lit whenever the street lights got too far apart. At least for anything close to 22 mph.

Ideally, I will be able to go with two lights eventually -- one on the handlebars, and one on the helmet.

I've ridden with this combination in the past before, and it's FAR the superior set-up. Especially of you do any riding off road. Why? Two reasons.

(1) Handlebar-mounted lights point where the handlebars point, which is great if you're riding in a straight line and on a flat track (or road). Once that track takes a turn, there's a tendency to want to oversteer the turn to get the light to shine over the track where the bike is going to roll -- the light will be far outside that line. And when you go over a rise, you're doing a great job of lighting the heavens instead of the road, and you get a feeling of dropping off the end of the earth into an endless abyss. A helmet light takes care of both of these issues by pointing where your head is pointed. Look through the turn and your path is lit. Look over the hill to the trail and the abyss disappears and is replaced by... the trail.

(2) So why not just go to a helmet light and be done with it? Because you lose all shadows when the light is above your eyes, and the terrain becomes "flat". Shadows are what you see that indicates undulations in the terrain ahead (holes, rocks, etc). If the light is above your eyes, the shadows are short and your eyes won't see them. Having the handlebar light casts appropriate shadows that you'll be able to see, so you can avoid things that will make you go bump in the night.

Current LED systems (using the CREE chip) are very efficient, create far less heat, and require far less battery power (and thus smaller battery packs) than the older halogen or other filament-bulb lights of yore. And they're (for the most part) no more expensive, especially when you take into account inflation from the last 15 years (they're retailing for much the same now as they were then).

I'll be looking for another light to add to my current system, especially if I'm going to continue riding the commute into the fall. And I'll let you all know what I settle on for the additional illumination.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fall approacheth

It's been a while, certainly the longest "pause" of posting for many months. I'm still alive.

Fall is approaching. You can see it in the cottonwood leaves that are turning yellow, hear it in the neighborhood as the kids are going to bed at a decent hour again instead of staying up and running around the streets in the dark hours.

I did my annual triathlon this past Saturday, kind of a season closer and yearly check-up. I turned in a time that was only 15 seconds off what I posted last year, though there was another old guy that snuck in ahead of me in the closing miles, so I was 2nd in my age group, and 9th overall.

The off-season blues haven't set in yet, maybe because the weather is still great.

I've been building up an old bike frame, and it's near completion -- just a few more pieces to finish it out. A pair of used wheels I bought had some issues that are being sorted out -- an axle that was damaged in shipping on the front wheel, and the rear being badly out of true, which revealed a rounded nipple, which revealed damaged threads on the spoke, so that needs to be replaced. They were cheap, so I shouldn't complain.

My wife asked me a couple days ago if she could hijack my blog for the month of September, kind of a vacation from posting, if you will. She's got some things bumping around in her head. She did the tri this past Saturday as well. So she will likely introduce herself soon, my first guest-poster.

Yesterday evening my wife and I went to my daughter's school for their meet-the-teachers night. After running around to all the classrooms and introducing ourselves, gathering the information from each, and signing their parent-information sheets, we stopped in the office to turn in our volunteer background-check forms (yes, they screen every volunteer with the state patrol to make sure we're not convicted sex offenders). And in the office was the principal's Specialized road bike. He'd made quite a point of talking about how he is very committed to the health and well-being of the students of this middle school, and that he himself rides his bike or walks the three miles each way to the school EVERY day. So I took a look at the bike, very well equipped for potential dark commutes.

He came in just as we were about to leave, and we talked much about his journey of losing over 100 lbs through riding and walking, his progress to longer distances, which has led to his (and his family's) participation in the Seattle-to-Portland ride, and his first triathlon just a couple weeks ago (where we were volunteering). We talked about how he is wanting to start a triathlon club at the school, with an event that the kids can take part in... Does this just seem fortuitous? We gave him a Lucky Cause Sports business card, talked about what we do as promoters, and offered anything we can do to help out.

I see good things coming out of this.