It was bound to happen some time...

If you're a cyclist, the saying goes it's not if you crash but when.  After several years of riding and racing, it was finally my turn.  But I was lucky - there were no other cyclist involved or cars.  I didn't flip over my handle bars or wreck my bike.  But I still did a good job.

It didn't take long.  I was riding at the Downtown Airport and just got on the road.  They have been repaving down there and they finally finished.  I was excited since it was brand-new pavement and smooth. 

It was windier than I expected.  Apparently, I didn't pay attention to the weather and it was the windiest day of the year so far.  John told me wind gust were 35 mph or more.  In retrospect, I won't argue.

The road construction was finished, but there were cones with Caution tape tied between them where the construction company had put down new shoulder gravel and grass seed.  I was about 3' from the edge of the road and down in my aero bars, going over 19 mph.  A strong gust of wind blew, which blew the Caution tape into the traffic lane.  It all happened so fast.

Top speed 22 mph and just over 19 mph at the end.  All in less than 1:30.
The tape caught my right front brake lever.  It caused my front end to jackknife and I went down.  But when you start at 19 mph, you don't just go down.  I kept moving forward, too.  I landed on my left side, mostly on my hip and slid at least 10' into the opposing side of the street.  I used my shoulder and elbow to stop myself and left a good portion of skin on the road.  I managed to keep my head up, so my very important noggin was just fine.

Two guys were fairly close when it happened.  The first rode on.  The second was a good Samaritan and stopped to check on me.  He had me drink water and calm down while he tended to my bike.  The caution tape was wrapped through my bars, around the pedal, and around the gearing about 10 times.  Luckily, Thelma was OK.  I need to replace the bar tape on the front, the seat is chewed up, the front brake needs to be adjusted, and she has some minor scrapes, but no real damage.  The Caution tape stopped her from sliding as far as I did.

John had class so I showed up at Kelly's house since I needed help cleaning my wounds.  The pain in my hips was pretty bad and getting worse.  It hurt to use the clutch.  It hurt to bend it.  After talking with Kelly and my personal doctor, MO, I decided it was probably a good idea to go to the ER and have it x-rayed just to make sure I didn't crack or fracture anything.

Nothing is broken and I got some good pain meds.  I'm sore and moving slow but otherwise just fine.  I was very lucky.  I'm not yet sure how this will impact my training, but I suppose that's not a big priority at the moment.  Now that it's a day later, I'm starting to get even more sore.  My rib cage, back, and neck are getting sore and it hurts to sit on my hip.  It looks like I'm sleeping in tomorrow morning.


You Stink! But I can help.

Don't take it personally, but if you run or ride you probably know your favorite technical shirt stinks.  Even straight out of the wash, well-worn technical fabrics stink.  Or you get 5 min into a ride and realize you reek.  Maybe this only happens to me.  Either way, I have a solution.  Drum roll please!

That's right, OxiClean!  Seriously.  My home-brewer of a brother recommended it, it's what he uses to sanitize his bottles.  I bought a tub and took out the nastiest "white" technical shirt I had to try it out.  This was one of my favorite shirts but it stunk.  It was pitted-out beyond belief.  I was meaning to throw it out, but I just never got around to it.  So I filled a metal bowl with water, put 1/2 scoop in and let it soak over night.

I wish I had taken before and after pictures, but it was unbelievable.  It no longer smelled AND the pit stains were gone.  I soaked all of my offensive shirt and I even soaked all of my white dress shirts and tank tops.  At $6 a tub, this stuff is awesome.  Now, every load of workout clothes and whites gets a full scoop.  For particularly funky workout clothes, we'll let the whole load soak overnight before closing the lid of the washer.

If you still need convincing, I have it on good authority that it also removes red wine stains.  It takes out blood.  Seriously, try it.  But be careful of the spray.  I've heard it can bleach fabrics.


The Adventures of Sam and Thelma

I had a nice 60 mile ride planned for this weekend.  I decided to try out a new route that I never rode before.  Let's call it an epic ride.  I didn't get a flat tire, but just about everything else that could go wrong, did.
Can you see my detours?  There's more than one!
First, there was road construction that forced me onto KS 32, which is a state road where the speed limit is 65 mph.  Not good.  I rode it for about a mile and got off on the first paved road I found.  A little later, I stopped to check my map and make sure I was on the right track.  I forgot to zip up my seat pack and on the next uphill, I head "Smash! Clatter!"  Oh no, that sounded like my phone. I turned around and sure enough, my phone was sliding down the hill in several pieces.  Don't worry, it was just fine.  But I had to walk up the hill since it was too steep to get back on my bike. 
I went looking for hills and I found them!
 So I kept on.  Later, I missed a turn and that put me on KS 24, another 65 mph route.  I quickly back-tracked and was headed to the next town.  I stopped at a gas station and refilled my aero bottle with water and bought a Gatorade.  Good thing I did, too.

Just south of town, I saw a sign "Road Construction Next 10 Miles."  Oh no, I need this road for at least 8 miles.  The road wasn't closed, but it was milled, which is very rough pavement.  I tried to ride it and I couldn't.  I stopped and called John.

"Please tell me you can find me a paved detour."

"Um, it's gravel in all directions.  Sorry Sweetie.  Do you want me to come and get you?"

"No, I'll tough it out."

I rode on the rough pavement about 2 miles until I found a side road that was paved.  The rough pavement seriously hurt my hands, arms, legs, and butt. 12 mph was the best I could do.  I was so glad to see smooth pavement.  I was feeling good until that point and after the rough pavement, everything just fell apart.  Then, two miles later that pavement turned to gravel.  Shit.

Now I'm several miles off the nearest "paved" road, which isn't much help anyway.  My aero bottle developed a crack on the rough pavement and I lost all my water.  I'm somewhere around 55 miles in this day, I'm down to one bottle, and I hurt. I was on the verge of tears.  The only option was to head south on the gravel road and hope I hit pavement soon. 

So south I rode.  I couldn't use my aero bars and couldn't go over 15 mph without losing control.  I did another 2-3 miles on gravel (on a tri-bike) and finally hit pavement.  Thank God.  I headed back toward Kill Creek Park.

But my bad luck wasn't over yet.  On one of the last big uphills, a car that had passed me and was clearly lost, decided to come to a stop in the middle of the uphill. 

"You stupid piece of @(*$^(*ing  $#@)(!!!"  I wasn't happy and too tired to have to re-start on a steep uphill.  I just wanted to get back to my car.

I made it back and finished 62.5 miles in 3:30.  I'm hoping that I used up all of my negative karma on this ride so everything goes smoothly at Austin.  It actually would have been a nice ride if not for the milled pavement.  But on the bright side, my legs still felt fresh over 40 miles in.  I'm still feeling good about Austin.


Another week closer

Austin is about a month away and so far I'd say I'm having the best training cycle ever.  I knocked out 8x400 intervals this weekend, all at a 6:30 pace.  The rain kept me on the trainer inside, but I did 2:45 on the trainer and followed that with 4 miles at an 8:30 pace.  It was a good weekend.

Tonight I did 11 and while I felt great this weekend, my legs are definitely feeling the accumulated fatigue of the last few weeks.  I did 8:30 until mile 6 but my time fell off quickly after that.  My quads were heavy, my hamstrings were tight, and my calves were stiff.  But I stuck it out and did the full 11.  I might need to take it a little easy as a recover weekend.  I know I should, I'm about 4 weeks out, so it would be the perfect time for a little recovery before my last two big weeks.  I just hate taking recovery weeks.  They make me...squirrelly.

The gluten-free experience is still going well.  John and I have been eating gluten-free most of the weekend and we've both noticed a difference.  This just might be the silver bullet to ending my major GI distress issues.  I'm no expert, but if you're prone to GI issues when working out, you should seriously consider trying a gluten free diet the day before a big race or training run.  It can't hurt right?  My fingers are crossed this keeps up!


Oooh, my tummy doesn't feel so good...

Some days everything works well and your run goes great.  Other times, you spend your post-run in the bathroom.  I don't think details are necessary.


Sunshine and High Hopes

I took this picture while I was out on a 50 mile ride this weekend.  I love the sunflower fields in Kansas.  The weather has finally broken and I've gotten some good workouts in lately.  It only took 8+ months, but I finally found my motivation and have high hopes for Austin.  I usually only get one or two rides in over 50 miles before a race.  I'm hoping for 5, including some over distance rides and long ride/long run bricks.  Besides that, I have Kelly running with me for some weekend intervals and weekday long runs.

Once the pools reopen after the local cryptosporidium outbreak (gross) I'll be back in the pool.

The biggest difference this race is 1) motivation and 2) food.  Since we've become, well, I don't really know how to describe our eating other than flexitarian.  Anyway, we've been eating a lot more vegetables and I bought a vegetarian cookbook that has been amazing.  Spicy tofu and broccoli stir fry, confetti vegetable stew, avocado and pinto bean salad with salsa, and the list goes on.  Today, I made cucumber crab salad over mixed greens.  Cooking fresh food makes such a big difference.

We've been trying to eat gluten free the nights before long runs and John and I have both noticed a difference there, too.  The downside to a few weeks of good training - I was starving all weekend.  I was hungry at 9 am.  I was hungry at 3 pm.  The upside to good training - I was finally able to fit back into my size 4 pants.  That's the first time I've been able to wear them all year!  Today's my day off and I almost feel guilty not working out.  Yoga it is!


More food stuff

I recently had another food Aha! moment, this time race-related.  My favorite pre-race meal has been Thai food; I've never had stomach issues after having Thai food.  Maybe I should clarify, neutral Thai food.  I know better than to order the triple spicy curry before a race.

Unfortunately, I've had several races where I've had stomach issues but I had a hard time figuring it out.  Two things are required for my stomach to turn south: heat and high exertion level.  I've never had a problem during ultras or even running races, only triathlons.  But I think part of the problem is that it's usually 11 am when I'm starting the running portion of a 70.3 versus starting a 1/2 marathon at 7 or 8 am. 

After reading several articles, and taking my personal history into account, I decided to try going gluten-free for Nationals.  Shelley's family was planning on veggies and pasta so I picked up some quinoa pasta.  And while it's not rock-solid science, I didn't have any problems in Burlington.  During the run, it was in the upper 70s to low 80s with full sun and I was definitely working hard.  I think gluten-free the day before might be the trick.  I still had Pop-Tarts for breakfast and I'm assuming there is gluten in them.  But my current theory is that Pop-Tarts are such simple carbs that I can digest those without a problem.

The hydration and nutrition part of racing is beyond complicated.  I'm still learning and I can see how having a lot of racing experience can make a huge difference in performance.  And it's all so personal.  It doesn't really matter if the latest research says pickle juice is the best thing to drink while racing if the thought of taking a big swig of pickle juice makes you want to vomit.  I know that GU sits well, Hammer Gel does not.  On a cool day when my hydration is good, I can drink Gatorade.  On a hot day or if I'm over-hydrated, Gatorade makes a bad situation worse.  Ice water always tastes good, but it's easy to get salt levels out of whack.  Contrary to my previously held belief, vegetables the night before a race will not wreak havoc on my system.  And I will NEVER drink Gatorade G3 Recovery again.  I took a huge gulp of that crap after Nationals and then spit it out, almost ruining some lady's shoes.  Man, if this keeps up, I'm going to have to tattoo a list of food guidelines on my arm so I can remember what to eat and what to avoid.


The Omnivore's Dilemma

I know this book has been out for a while and has won a bunch of awards.  But it was new to me.  A co-worker read it and we got into a discussion about food and food sources over lunch at The Farmhouse.  Great restaurant if you're in downtown Kansas City, by the way.

As a disclaimer, I should note that I am exactly this author's target-audience.  I grew up on a farm, eating meat from our animals, dairy straight from the tank or our creamery, and helping my mom with our garden.  I raised the baby calves from 0-8 weeks old and helped milk the cows, along with the usual work of pitching pens, throwing hay, and the like.  I have a soft spot for all animals and can't bring myself to eat veal.  Now, I live in a city and get my food the way most Americans do - from the store.

The first part of the book is all about corn and how it has infiltrated every aspect of our diet.   It's interesting information, but it moves a little slow.  Once you get past the corn section, it moves much faster.

The author went around the country and visited all types of farms.  He spent time on a corn farm in Iowa, at organic farms on the west coast, and a grazing farm in Virginia.  He follows our food, as best he can, from the farm through the system.  He also makes an attempt at hunting and gathering.  Again, I found it humorous since I used to hunt growing up and now have a large garden.  I took so much of my upbringing for granted.  I remeber when I was little, I thought everyone had cows.  Who didn't own a cow?

I'm well aware of the conditions of most commercial farms and I'm well aware of what animal slaughtering processes entail.  But it's easy to put that kind of stuff out of your mind when you don't have to deal with it every day.  To be perfectly honest, there was a large section of the book that I was almost in tears.

If you've never hunted, gardened, or lived on a farm, you absolutely have to read this book.  There is such a disconnect between us and our food.  The best information in the book was the website http://www.eatwild.com/.  If you're interested in getting your food from local sources, you should check that website out.  If you'd rather stay oblivious, then don't read this book.  I don't blame you, there is a lot of information that most people would find disturbing.  I'm not trying to start a food revolution. 

But John and I are starting our own personal food revolution.

As a results of the book, and several previous conversations between John and I, we have decided that we're going to eat only locally raised meat.  There are the health reason of lower saturated fats and higher essential fats from grass-fed meat, but for me, there is also the moral aspect of it.  I'm not going to preach on what I think your personal moral code should be.  But I know that if I were to walk through a commercial laying farm or stock yard that I wouldn't be able to eat that meat.  (I might also be inclined to stage a midnight animal rescue)  I don't have a problem with locally raised and humanely slaughtered animals.  I'm not going completely vegetarian.  But I am going to do my best to avoid all commercially-fed meat and eggs. 

I don't want people to have to cater to me, so I'm sure I'll still eat mass-produced meat on occasion.  I'd don't want to inconvenience others or force my agenda on them.  Now if you're a guest in my house, then all's fair in the kitchen.  So if you're over for dinner, don't be surprised if what we're serving is mostly vegetarian.  Or the most delicious grass-fed beef you've ever eaten.