Monday, May 28, 2012

Update to the Tale of Two Bikes...

When I last left you my bike was missing and I was headed out on a loaner bike for day two of the Challenge of the Centuries...  It turned out the whole weekend was going to be a series of odd incidents.

Just like the day before, on Sunday I got up bright and early at 4AM to meet BB for the bike ride.  From our meeting point, it was an a 70 mile trip to the ride start.  The drive passed quickly and we arrived at the ride start around 6:30.  We grabbed our registration receipts from the previous day and headed to check in.  At the registration table, we gave our sob story about the missing bike hoping that they would not make us pay for day two but let us use our registration from the previous day.  We had barely launched into the story when the man asks if the bike looks like "this one".  He motions over to the right and leaning up against the wall is my bike!  I gave a little shriek that was later described by the registration guy like "a kid at Christmas" and went over to investigate.  The handlebars were bent up, seat trashed and other little scuffs on the tri bars and pedals but the frame didn't seem bent or scratched up at all.

Now it is even more of a mystery.  We drove for 60 miles before stopping for gas at that station.  I suppose it could have fallen out of the rack.  It was my friend's car and a different rack so am not familiar with what properly locked down would look like.  I would think though that if we didn't hit a bump and had already driven 60 miles on the highway it would have fallen out long before then if that is what happened.  We had retraced our steps yesterday and the bike was not there.  So very strange.  Either way, the bike is back and what happened that morning will forever be a mystery....

On to the bike ride... Several guys from the bike shop were along for the ride today.  They were doing the full century as is their tradition and we took off about 30 minutes early to help avoid some of the heat.  The guys took off and we followed behind.  A few miles into the ride, we noticed one of the guys was no longer behind us.  The other guys stopped to wait for him as we kept on going knowing that they would have left us at some point anyhow since they were faster and we were doing the 62 miler.  We followed the markings on the road and kept pedaling.

As we got further and further along we kept wondering when the other cyclists were going to catch up with us.  Our speed usually keeps us in the middle of the pack so we knew the super speedy riders should be catching us any minute.  We laughed and set a goal of making it to the first rest stop without anyone catching us.  As we pulled off towards the first rest stop, BB's phone rang.  It was Bruce (one of the other riders).  He called to tell us that we had all started out on the route from yesterday instead of the route today.  (Basically, we should have turned left at the ride start and not right).  We decided since we were already 12 miles out we would just follow the ride from yesterday and make our own rest stops hoping there would at least be one convenience store along the way.  We pedaled on.

We arrived at the reservoir of the lake stopped briefly to take a few pictures and pedaled on.  BB was in the middle of a story about her hitchhiking in her youth when we came upon a locked gate across what was supposed to be our ride route.  Yesterday, they had ridden across the dam.  Today, the corps of engineers was not allowing access.

We turned around and headed back to the main road taking a right to head back towards town.  A few miles down the road, we stopped at a convenience store to get water and a bag of combos.  It was good that we stopped as that was the only store along the rest of the route.  (we did not bring fuel with us as it was a supported ride with SAG stops - but you only get the SAG stops if you follow the correct route - ha ha)  With the bag of combos in pocket and fresh water, we pedaled on eventually making it to the correct route.

We followed that route for a bit and then turned around at some point in order to end the ride at 62 miles.  About a mile from the car, there was a tiny country store where we stopped for a Diet Dr. Pepper which was just what we needed at that point.  That bag of combos wasn't really quite enough for a 4 hour Gilligan like tour.  The drinks were just enough to mentally revive us for the last mile or so back to the car.  Whew - we made it!  The craziest "group" ride for two ever.

Side note, I also got to meet KC for the first time which was quite exciting!  I talked to her briefly Saturday before I realized my bike was gone so it was good to see her again on Sunday.  Of course, I expected her to zoom past me early on (which she would have had I been on the right route.. LOL).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A tale of two bikes...

Saturday morning I got up bright and early to head 45 minutes north to a friend's house.  I was to be there at 5:45 AM so we could head even further north to the Challenge of the Centuries Ride in Hartwell, GA.  I was excited to be doing this ride with my new friend whom I had met at my last metric century.  I also was excited because I was also going to get to meet KC at the ride.  We have chatted quite a bit through email but never met in person.  ( I knew I needed to get there early because once the ride took off that was the last I would see of KC as I was sure she would leave me in the dust with her speed!)

My friend loaded up my bike on the back of her car and we were off.  We chatted and laughed updating each other on the past week, talked about gluten free energy bars and other important things in life.  We exited off the highway and filled up at the BP in Lavonia, GA.

As my friend was pumping gas, she noted how large my bike bag was and mentally tucked away that I could possibly store some bars in it.  She also noticed a group of people that seemed sort of out of place.  Nothing in particular about them but they seemed to be checking her out.  They just gave off a bad vibe.

She pulled the car over to the front of the store, around the corner from the pumps and left the car running while she went to the restroom.  As I sat in the passenger side, I suddenly got the same sixth sense about this group of people and wondered for a moment if I shouldn't lock the car door as the car was running and someone could hop in the front and take off with me in the passenger seat.  I left the door unlocked thinking that it wasn't necessary, we were out in the country, things like that don't happen in small towns like that.

My friend soon arrived and we headed 6 - 10 miles down the road to the ride start.  We had printed directions which didn't seem correct so about a half mile down the road, we found ourselves back at the BP asking this group of gentlemen for directions.  They pointed out the way even checking the GPS on their phone for us.

When we arrived at the ride start, we made a quick circle of the parking lot looking for a spot to park when we saw KC.  We briefly chatted at the car window and headed off to park.  My friend pulled the car into the spot and I hopped out of the car.  As I was getting out, the exchange went something like this:

BB:  Where is your bike???
Karen:  (puzzled look on face) Whaaaaaaa????

It was surreal.  What do you mean my bike is gone?  My initial thought was this was a joke but then I realized it was not.  We confirmed that the car had indeed been on the bike rack at the gas station 10 miles down the road.  We were certain it was tightened down in the rack and could not have fallen out.  Surely, if it were to fall out it would have done so on the 60 miles of interstate we rode prior to the gas station.  We retraced our steps after the gas station looking for any signs of my bike on the side of the road.

We began discussing the gas station.  All the bad vibes from that group of men who for some reason were hanging out at the BP at 7 AM with all car doors and the trunk open in more than one vehicle.  We had each felt odd about them at the time but had not discussed it, it was just one of those things we tucked away subconsciously that didn't seem important.

We came to realize that in those few moments when I was considering whether or not to lock the door while BB was inside the BP, they had taken the bike off the back of the car while I sat there not even realizing what had happened, much like the stealthness of a pickpocket.

We checked inside the store to see if there was video.  They promised to review the video as soon as possible but we have not heard back. The bike really wasn't worth much but it was my only bike and it did have a little sentimental value as it got me through Beach 2 Battleship. It makes me sad that it is gone.  It also makes me sad that you can't even leave your bike unattended for a second without worrying about someone taking it. I investigated credit card fraud for years and that saddened me on a daily basis - there is a whole industry of people out there who do nothing but steal from others.  It is pathetic.

So this is a tale of two bikes...  Saturday afternoon, BB and Bruce from Apalachee Cycle set me up with a loaner Trek Lexa to ride tomorrow (he even added on clipless pedals, bottle cages and a little tool pouch).  I am going to meet BB early in the morning once again and we are going to head out to Hartwell for day two  of the ride.  We shall overcome!  As much as I am disgusted by those who take what don't belong to them in this world, on the other end of the spectrum, I am always overwhelmed by the kindness of others.  Thank you Bruce!    :)  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Helping out Kirsten...

Sunday during the Iron Girl race one of the athletes, Kirsten Walker, had a serious accident during the bike leg.  No one seems to know how the accident occurred but we do know -  thanks to the help of her fellow triathletes who were nurses and happened to be racing at the time -  she was stabilized at the scene and survived. 

I found out about the accident through a friend who was an officer who arrived on the scene after Kirsten was in the ambulance.  He had mentioned the accident appeared to be fairly serious and was concerned about her condition.  There were not a lot of other details available.  I posted a call for prayers and good thoughts on my facebook page that night not even knowing her name. 

As we all know, facebook has a way of making the world seem so small.  Shortly after my post, one of my friends said they knew her and her name was Kirsten.  From there, my friend Meredith who you all might know as Swim Bike Mom took the information and ran with it reaching out to her family to offer assistance and support. 

You can read the details of the story HERE and HERE.  Kirsten, a wife and mother of a four year old daughter, suffered broken bones, a collapsed lung and traumatic brain injury.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in checking off those training miles or finishing my race three seconds faster than last time that it is easy to forget how dangerous the sport can be.  It is comforting to know that when things go in a way other than what we expected that fellow triathletes are so supportive.  Those nurses didn't hesitate to stop in the middle of their race to help someone in need and quite possibly saved Kirsten's life.  I have seen posts from so many others in our community who are thinking of Kirsten and praying for her recovery.  People she does not even know.  Her husband mentioned that he knows of people around the world praying for her recovery.

If you are able to spare $10, Meredith has put together a fundraiser for Kirsten and her family.  You can visit Meredith's post HERE for the details.  Thanks for your support.  Please continue to keep Kirsten in your prayers.      

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Iron Girl Atlanta...

This weekend kicked off my tri season of 2012.  I guess you could call it tri season.  I mean, if you only have one this month and nothing else really planned until September or October it doesn't sound like much of a season, does it?  How about the first triathlon of the year?  Yes...  today was the first triathlon of the year!

The Iron Girl race in Atlanta is a sprint tri (1/3 mi swim, 19 mi bike, 3 mi run) and is pretty popular with the ladies around here.  It is a tough course but very well run and does not disappoint.  I have only done the race one other time, in 2008.  This was back when I thought adequate training for the bike leg meant riding to the end of the driveway, around the cul-de-sac and back into the garage.  As you can imagine, it is hard to be fully prepared when your training ride was about 50 feet.  I had such a bad experience back then that it was three years before I ever did another triathlon.  I could tell you why it was so bad in 2008 but that would require me to tell you that I rode all clipped in into a parked motorcycle coming out of transition and well...  let's just say I have been told that maybe I should embellish the story a bit so it sounds better.  Once I come up with a version that sounds better, I'll post it here.  This year it was time to conquer the course and make things right with the world.

It ended up being such a great race in a lot of ways.  I felt good about how I performed but just really had a great time in general.  When it was over, I genuinely felt sad to see it end.  We had done a couple of training rides leading up to the race and was able to meet several new people who were doing the race so I had a great group of old and new friends racing with me.  It just made it so much fun!  I loved seeing everyone along the course.

I had quite a few friends who were conquering a tri for the first time or coming back from injury so the day was extra special to them.  I was just excited to be able to share it.

Theresa and Keicha have been training with TNT to conquer the triathlon.  They did it today!

(I love this picture so much I stole it from Theresa...  in the background, you can see me, Jan and Debbie standing on the corner cheering Theresa to the finish.  LOVE that smile on her face.)

- Meredith was coming back from a broken metatarsal.  She walked (most of) the 5k but got it done and has officially re-lit the triathlon torch!

- Joanna had a bike accident almost a year ago which involved a few surgeries and sidelined her triathlon plans for all of 2011.  She did awesome today and is back in the game!

- Charity completed her first triathlon today.  She says she doesn't know if she will do another.  I am pretty sure she will...

- Also got to see Andrea, Jan, Debbie, Fran and Judith (who was volunteering).  We even had Colleen to drop by and meet everyone for lunch along with several other new friends.

I have done a lot of races on my own but I think after today, it just won't be the same unless I can share the experience with a group!  Like I said, I was so sad to see the day end...   Guess we will all just have to plan another one :)

* Most all of the photos were stolen from Meredith with her blessing because she takes pictures and I do not.  I realize not taking pictures goes against all things bloggy.  Someday, I will take a few of my own.  Really.




Thursday, May 10, 2012

A little bit of limbo...

I'll let you in on a little secret...  After 25 years in the banking industry, I turned in my notice so that CR and I can go into business for ourselves.  I'll have to save the specifics for later but just know that we are very excited!  He has some really odd hours so it will be nice for us to synch up our schedules a bit.  I kind of think that is one of the things we are most excited about - we'll get to see each other more than an hour a day.  

My last day in my current job is May 15th which makes me feel like I am in a weird limbo of sorts.  I am not sure what my schedule will be after the 15th which makes it hard for me to plan and, Lord knows, I love a good plan.

It really makes no sense but the job change is impacting my workouts.  I can't seem to make myself get with the program.  I have been swimming pretty consistently and doing a few things here and there but I don't feel like I am doing enough.  In my mind, I keep hearing that voice saying "let's just wait until after the 15th".  Does that make sense to anyone?  Why can't I just keep working out as if nothing is going to change and then switch it up after the 15th?  I have such issues.

It is a strange feeling to leave the security of a job I have been in for so long.  I keep telling myself that you can't make big gains if you don't take risks.  They are having a luncheon for me tomorrow.  Hopefully there will be cake....  I'll add "cutting back on desserts" to my 'To Do After the 15th List'.    :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Swimming in the sunshine...

The outside pool at my gym opened up a couple of weeks ago.  Even swimming outside at 6 AM is heaven.  The morning we were told we were swimming outside it was as if you had told us we had all won slots at Kona.  Pure joy. 

Today, I was able to go at noon.  Pure joy x 1000.  Somehow the water is clearer - even through my fogged up goggles.  I loved trying to study my form or lack thereof in the reflection on the bottom of the pool.  It didn't even matter that there was a straight 1000 slapped on the end of the workout. 

400 warm up
2 x 300 swim
200 pull
4 x 50 (25 drill / 25 swim)
200 pull
200 kick
1000 swim

A perfect way to spend a lunch hour :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

April Re-Cap...

In April, I feel like I did more biking than usual which is a good thing!  Running is paying the price but I am sure it will all come full circle in May...  Technically, I did double my mileage from March but it still isn't really adding up to much.  I am not all that worried about it right now.

Running Miles: 48.75 miles.

Cycling Miles: 155.5 miles. 

Swimming Yardage: 21,210. (it is an odd number because I swim in a 25m pool and the program I use to log my workouts coverts the meters to yards)  We have a new swim coach who quickly realized we are able to swim a good bit more than 2000m in an hour which is what we had been swimming.  I was glad to see the yardage go up.

Races: I rode in two charity rides this month, the Tony Serrano Ride and the One Can Ride.  Both were great experiences and will pencil them in for next year.  I met a new friend on the One Can Ride and we are planning more rides in the future.  I also got to do the Dirty Girl Mud Run last weekend which was a muddy blast as well!
What I did to bust out of my comfort zone: Two charity rides.  I also FINALLY met up with my tri group and my tri mentor for a group ride at Stone Mountain and an OWS.  We did a bunch of hill repeats on the ride and was glad I went as I have ridden at Sotne Mountain many times before but would have never thought of doing hill repeats.  (I mean, who does that on purpose, right? ha ha)

What I am watching: Revenge is back!  Also still watching Smash.  Quite shocked by the new turn of events at the end of this week's episode....  I have to say I am kind of over American Idol right now.  CR and I used to watch it religiously.  This season is just kind of blah.  I have to say I don't really care...  Is it just me? 

What I am reading: Finished Catching Fire and I've Got Your Number.  Both fun reads.  Nothing new yet as I literally just finished the last book at lunch today.
Current excitement: Looking forward to riding the Iron Girl course this weekend with friends and then racing Iron Girl on May 20th.  Also doing a century ride at the end of the month and meet up with more friends.  Riding, riding, riding.  I think this time last year I was just figuring out how to not have a death grip on the bike and still getting used to unclipping.  No joke.
What I am loving this month: Still getting motivated by all the race reports, makes me wish some of my bigger races weren't so far away!  I am also loving that the contract on my phone is up this month.  Time for a new one.  WOO HOO! 

My favorite product this month: Tri Slide.  I got to use it for the first time at an OWS with my tri group a few weeks ago.  That stuff WORKS.  My wetsuit was MUCH easier to get off than normal.  I had my doubts, but am a believer!

What is going on in May:

- Iron Girl, May 20
- Century Ride in Hartwell GA May 26

Have a great weekend, everyone!  Good luck to all the racers at IM St. George and Rev 3 Knoxville!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Filthy Dirty...

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? Just when you think I have fallen off the face of the planet, I re-appear like magic :) I have been riding bikes like crazy, mud running and generally juggling life as always! Lots of exciting things happening!

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to participate in the Dirty Girl Mud Run here in Atlanta. It was fortunate, not only because I got to run the race but also because I got to meet Kristin, Colleen and Alec live and in person! The Dirty Girl Mud Run is a obstacle filled 5k race for women only which should just scream "WEAR SOMETHING PINK AND SPARKLY" to most people. Having done a mud run in the past (in Georgia red clay which is not easy to wash out), clearly my main concern was wearing something I did not mind trashing. Wearing pink or a costume never entered my mind. DUH.

Colleen had the foresight to sign up for the very first wave and we all jumped on that bandwagon which turned out to be a brilliant idea. When I arrived at the venue, there was no problem parking and there was no line for packet pack up. (It was at this point that I realized I was waaaay underdressed for this occasion!). I was surrounded by all sorts of sparkly team costumes in various shades of pink. This was definitely an event that you want to attend with a large group of friends. Colleen and Kristin quickly found me and Alec. We killed some time at the start checking out the vendors because who doesn't need a new cowbell or sunglasses?

Before we knew it we were off! Before the race, there were discussions about how Kristin wanted to take it easy because she had a 70.3 the next weekend. We had a shoe malfunction in the group shortly after the start and found ourselves literally at the back of the pack. We thought it might be fun to hang back until we got to the first obstacle and there was a backlog of people trying to get over a pile of hay bales. At that point we decided it was time to sprint ahead and put some distance between us and the imaginary SAG wagon.

We went through a variety of obstacles from climbing under cargo nets stretched over mud (errr potting soil), fallopian/utopian tubes to crawl through, and climbing up and over a cargo net wall. we went through a matrix of ropes, a tire run and plenty of just plain running in between. Right at the end, there was a mud pit which we all lamely ran through. Later on we realized that you were supposed to sort of face plant in it and crawl through. Ooops. I guess we were too focused on getting our free beverages. Imagine our disappointment when we realized it was a can of Busch beer. Ha.

We passed on the beer and hosed off in the shower set up which was actually pretty nice. The previous mud run I did only offered a lake to wash off in and no changing area so this was a nice touch to be able to rinse off and change if needed for the ride home.

The only downside to the race was the lack of food or water/drinks (besides the beer...). The pre-race info mentioned bringing money for the post race food but there was none to be found. Not even a bottle of water. Well, I take that back, we did hear that there was a man selling chick-fil-a on the side but it seemed a little sketchy. We opted to head to midtown for food at Einstein's (not the bagel place) which turned out to be MUCH better. :)

All in all, I had a great time! I loved meeting Kristin, Colleen and Alec (who turned out to be a professional mud runner). The race itself is definitely a fun time out for all you dirty girls out there. The obstacles weren't terribly difficult and if you came across one that you just weren't feeling, it would have been easy to walk around it.  You do not need any special skills to participate - ANYONE really could do this race.

Thanks to FitFluential LLC who compensated me for this campaign. All thoughts and opinions are my own.