Monday, February 05, 2007

Thank You

I am going to take a vacation from posting for a while. Mostly, because there is so little going on right now that I just don't have much to say. But more importantly I think, is because I plan to take a break from triathlon. At the very least, I'm just not going to think about it for a while. I've been pretty ambivolent about the whole tri season, and while I expected to snap out of it once I started training more, it's just not clicking. Instead of beating myself up about it, I'm going to give into it and move on.

Now, I don't want to give the impression that my Type A competitive personality has been quieted all together. I may have been unmotivated to get into the pool, but I still ran 85 miles in January. I still have several road races on the books, including the Coeur d' Alene and Spokane Half Marathons (where I plan to break 2 hours)and Bloomsday 12k run. I plan to spend a lot more time on my bike, hopefully completing my first Century ride.

What is most important about this post is that I want to thank you. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this sporatic jumble of thoughts and experiences. Thank you for your comments and emails. Thanks to you, I was motivated, educated and inspired. And thank you for allowing me the pleasure of reading and commenting on your personal blogs. Trust me, you'll still see me now and then. You can't get rid of me that easy!

After spending this winter enjoying the company of my partner Urs, I've decided that life is too short to have regrets. 2006 was a stressful year. My folks were both quite ill, my 85 year old aunt had a long list of "to do's" for me, the RV Park looked a little rough around the edges, Urs had a progression in her cancer, and I was always playing catch-up with my triathlon training. This year, my goal is to run because I can, ride my bike because I want to, and spend as much quality time with Urs as I possibly can.

Keep in mind that we will be in Madison, WI. in September to cheer on the RaceAthlete folks at Ironman Wisconsin. I'd love to meet up with any of the folks that have included me in their triathlon family.

I can always be contacted at my email address: If you drop by here and noone is home, feel free to drop me a line.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Latest

I've been busy with all kinds of fun happenings, but I thought I'd better make a post before my blogger faithful dis-owned me.

Most important is probably the fact that Urs and I have put our gluttonous holiday season behind us and are back to consistent work outs. It has remained well below freezing for several days, reaching -11 one night, so we are most happy to spend our time on our treadmill. Haven't gone swimming since sometime around Thanksgiving. It's difficult to get very excited about getting wet and cold when it's snowy and cold every day. Fortunately, the swim is probably my strongest event, and it shouldn't take me long to get back into the swing of things come spring.

I got my newest bike back from the shop yesterday. Betty looks really nice as a 40x17 single speed. My initial intent was to put a bull horn handle bar on her with bar end aero brakes, but I'm waiting to see how much I enjoy riding her before I put any more money into her. For the time being, I've put a flat bar on to make her a comfortable errand speedster. In the end, I've gotten off cheap. Bike $4, one new tire $12, rear cog $20, re-dish rear wheel $20, bringing an old bike back to life.... priceless.

In other triathlon related news... I've signed up to go to a seminar by Joe Friel, author of one of the most popular triathlon books out there, The Triathletes Training Bible. I felt this was an opportunity that I just couldn't pass up. $65 for a seven hour seminar which includes lunch. Since this is probably the only chance to hear Joe Friel speak, especially here in Spokane, I just couldn't pass it up. Hopefully being immersed in triathlon talk for a whole day will be just what I need to get all excited about this season.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am crying the blues because my Seahawks lost to the Chicago Bears in the NFC playoffs. It was a hard fought game, and I felt my Hawks gave it their all. Somebody's got to lose, and today it was us. As with many people who's teams are now watching the play-offs from their livingrooms, I am now rooting for the New Orleans Saints. I guess being a long time Seahawks fan has me always cheering for the underdog. I'd love to see the Saints make it to the Superbowl for the first time in franchise history!!!

Ok, the final bit of exciting news. Urs and I have booked a cruise to the Mexican Riviera! It's not until October, but I'm sure the time will fly! This will be our first time on a cruise, so any words of advice will be welcomed. (We have already started our "must pack" list and a "don't forget" list). We had been seriously considering cruising the Alaska Inside Passage, but when we got our latest Olivia catalog, a company specializing in women's only vacations, they advertised the Mexico cruise as their 100th! We know this is going to be a party to top all parties and we knew this was the one for us! We've already checked out the shore excursions, and the one we really want to do is Swim With Dolphins in Puerto Vallarta. That would be a once in a lifetime opportunity!

So, there it is. Just about one more month left for us to goof off and enjoy the easy life. With the spring thaw comes lots of work around the campground. We're looking forward to it.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Back To Business

I have to admit that I didn't spend the last three weeks of 2006 making any athletic gains. In fact, the only gains I made were around my middle. As of the New Year, I'm back to working out, but the first week hasn't brought me much joy. A diet short on carbohydrates has made my morning runs a real struggle. Enough of that!

I know the key to weight loss is to eat healthy, cut out sweets and alcohol, control portions and increase aerobic (and sometimes anaerobic) exercise. The body changes will come. Eat to train NOT train to eat! Most importantly, regardless of the outcome, have fun! After fueling to train, I had a great 4 mile run this morning and it was a relief to know that I hadn't lost all my running fitness over the past three weeks of glutony.

Oh, and just a quick note here while I'm thinking about it. It's official. Baring any unforseen circumstances, I will be in Madison in September to cheer on the gang from RaceAthlete at Ironman Wisconsin. Thanks to Simply Stu, I've got a reservation in an awesome campground/RV park that is right on the bike course and a short 3 miles from the finish line. I'm looking forward to meeting lots of Tri bloggers that week! It's going to be a blast!

I have had a little project that I've been working on over the past couple of weeks. Her name is Betty and she's an old black, steel Schwinn road bike. I picked her up for $4 at the local bike auction and am working to breath new life into her. She will be a single speed with a flat handle bar. She will be ready to go to the bike shop to have her rear wheel re-dished as soon as I can figure out what gearing I want to use on her.

I was going to use her big chain ring and run a 52/17, but I think that chain ring would be too slow and too hard on the knees. Most people run a 42/17 or 42/15, but come to find out my small chain ring is actually a 40 tooth not a normal 42. I'm not sure how being a bit smaller will effect the feel. When it dries out enough to try a similar gearing on one of my other bikes, I'll figure out what my ideal would be, and then get with the bike shop guys and their gear ratio charts and figure out what will work for me.

The advantage to having a single speed bike is that it requires quite a bit less maintenance. No gears, no derailleurs, no shifting cables, only one front chain ring and one rear cog. It's the ideal bike to ride in crappy weather, no one would want to steal it and gives me no excuse not to ride. Best of all, it adds a new bike to the family! What could be better?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Oh Happy Day!

Only three days into the new year and already, I am greeted by the best of news! Bob Nardelli, CEO of Home Depot, has resigned! Can I get a Hallelujah????

I know, this topic means very little to many of you, but for me, someone who has every intention of retiring on the value of my Home Depot stock, it has great importance. I have watched Nardelli (a CEO transplant from General Electric) come into the Big Orange Box and in his first year, destroy everything that made the company great.

Home Depot was started in 1978 by Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank. These two men, idolized by associates, were the foundation, backbone and life pulse of the big orange stores. Daily language in the store was filled with cliches such as "Stack it high and watch it fly!", "Are you a hero or a zero?" and tougher ones such as "Just make it happen!". Most importantly, every person in the company was taught the key to solving any issue that might develop... "Do the right thing." Do the right thing for the customers, do the right thing for the store, do the right thing for the employees. Those of us who believed it and lived it, went far.

Well, for once, Nardelli did the "right thing". He has taken his scare tactics, his heavy handed micro management style and his $210 million dollar separation package (yes, that's not a typo) and gone elsewhere.

The greatest loss is not measured in dollars, but in the reputation of the company. Maybe, to the benefit of customers and employees, the company will start to heal, but I don't think it can ever rebuild the culture and belief system that made it great.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Years Resolutions

This is a list I stole (shared with my friends) from a posting on the triathlon section of the Dead Runners Society email list. Thought you would enjoy it.

Learn right away that the front brake is the most effective one, and
to never lock the front wheel in dirt.

Learn how far you can lean over without scraping a pedal.

Learn to keep the inside pedal UP when you corner, and learn to ride
safely in all conditions.

Signal your approach to pedestrians, especially if they're old, and a bell is better than "On your left!" If no bell, try clacking your brake levers. If all you got is "On your left!" that's fine.

Sometime next month, put some double-sided cheap-style pedals on a good bike and ride in non-cycling garb.

Carry an extra tube you can donate to somebody with a flat tire and just a repair kit.

If you're a guy, don't try to be a mentor to every female cycler you meet.

Don't ride in shoes you can't walk through an antique shop in.

Don't wear clothing that makes your sweat stink even more.

Don't think you'll go faster in a significant way if you and your bike become more aerodynamic.

Put a $20 bill inside your seat post or handlebar and hold it there, somehow.

Don't ride until you're confident you can fix a flat.

If you ride more than one bike, have a set of bring-along tools for each one.

Learn how to remove your rear wheel (put the chain onto the small cog, etc.).

If you ride in a group, bring food for you and somebody who forgot to.

Go for a one-hour ride underdressed sometime, because it's good to be really cold on a bike every now and then.

Never blame your bike or your health or anything else if you're the last one up the hill or in to the rest stop.

If your brake hoods are black, wrap your bars with a different color tape.

Never let your chain squeak.

If you pass another rider going up a hill, say more than "Hi," but if it's a woman and you aren't, don't assume she wants to chit-chat. If you're a woman and it's a guy, you can chit-chat all you like.

If you see another rider approaching you from the rear, trying to catch you, let it happen. Fun is more important than fast.

Don't put any cycler up on a pedestal, except Lon and Freddie.

Sometimes, bring normal food on your ride.

Shoot photos on your rides and give them away.

Feel comfortable mixing high tech and low tech, old and new parts and technologies, and don't apologize to anybody for it.

Compliment other people's bikes, especially if they're new.

Buy the cheapest helmet that fits well.

Try seersucker shirts for hot weather riding, and long-sleeved ones are best.

Don't underestimate fig bars.

If you get a new widget and like it, don't "swear by it."

Don't always shop by price and never ask for discounts at your local bike shop.

Every time you go into a bike shop, spend at least $2, and if you ask a question and get good advice, spend $5 (get a cable).

If you buy a rack, don't ask for free installation.

Don't assume your bike shop is making money.

Ride only when you feel like it.

If you know a fast new rider, don't say, "You really ought to race…"

If you see a stocky woman rider, don't suggest she race track.

Have at least one bike you feel comfortable riding in a downpour.

Ride in weather that keeps other cyclers indoors.

Never keep track of your pedaling cadence.

If you have a normal loop or ride, count the number of times you shift on it; then the next time you ride it, cut that in half and see if it makes any difference.

Learn to ride no-hands and to hop over obstacles, but not simultaneously.

Never hit a pedestrian.

In traffic, be visible and predictable.

If you have several bikes, set them up with different equipment…but always ride the saddle you like best.

Don't try to keep up with faster descenders if you're not comfortable descending.

Never apologize for buying something that's not quite pro quality by saying, "I'm not going to race or anything."

If you buy a stock bike, do something to it that makes it the only one exactly like it in the world.

Don't think it's important to match front and rear hubs or rims.

If you borrow somebody else's bike, for a short test or a long ride, say something nice about it.

Always bring a pump.

Build at least one wheel.

Wear out something.

Don't ever describe any bike, no matter how inexpensive or dilapidated, as "a piece of crap."

If you get a fancy bike assembled by somebody else, allow them a scrape or two, especially if the bike is really expensive.

Happy New Year! Ride safe!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

I've Been Tagged

Spokane Alhas seen fit to tag me with the following task:

1. Find the nearest book.
2. Name the book & the author.
3. Turn to page 123.
4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
5. Tag three more folks.

Well, you'll be disappointed if you expected something deep and intellectual. There happens to be a book sitting on the end table next to me, one which I often pick up, open randomly and read a page or two. This book is just one of my numerous literary examples of my love for adventure and travel. The book: 1,000 Places To See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz.

Page 123 puts us into a chapter describing an area of the world fairly far down on my list of places to see... France. Specifically, the fifth sentence on the page describes The Camargue and the Gypsy Pilgrimage in Languedoc-Roussillon, France.

"A microcosm of the area's wild, rugged scenery, the ranch is both a government-protected bird sanctuary (known for it's flock of pink flamingos) and the final frontier for the gardians, some of the last cowboys in Europe. You can ride out on one of the 300 snow white Camargue horses or help the herders gather the stocky black Camargue bulls, which are raised for races. At the heart of this wilderness stands Le Mas de Peint, an unassuming 17th-century stone farmhouse."

Who knew there were pink flamingos in France?

So there is my contribution. I tag Spence, JCand TriBoomer.

Carry on...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Special Gift

Have you ever known a place that held a special place in your heart? It could be a house, a lake, a city... a park. Maybe it's a special place because warm memories were created there, or it's the site of some special event.

Urs and I have a couple places in this world that we consider special above all others. Discovered together, their magical properties enveloped us and taught us to appreciate each other and the awesome beauty around us.

One of these places is Mt. Rainier National Park. This magnificent mountain is so awe inspiring that it takes the breath away. The glacial clad beauty raises from the forest floor, so large and imposing that it looms over you even at a distance of 50 miles from the base!

Keeping all that in mind, and the fact that I must have been a Very good girl this year, here is a picture of my early Christmas present. It's a custom made gold band with the image of Mt. Rainier on it. BLING! The picture does not do it justice! It's incredibly beautiful and well made. It's the most heart felt, sentimental gift I could have gotten! I love it! (...I thought I was getting cycling socks!)