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katieRIDESthis? Yeah, sometimes!

26 Apr

When I am not running, I like doing lots of other physical activities…like, say, cycling. I really do love cycling. Granted, I do not love it *quite* as much as I love running, but I do enjoy the speed and the different range of motion that cycling offers.

When I lived in South Carolina, my husband and I went cycling ALL THE TIME. There is a huge cycling community there thanks to George Hincapie and the City of Greenville has been very progressive about passing laws and ordinances that protect and support cyclists in the community. While it is a massive project that is still in the works, one of my favorite places to run/ride is on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. If you are ever in Upstate South Carolina, check it out. It’s beautiful! And if you are a lady cyclist, be sure and check out Pedal Chic! It is my favorite bike shop and its for ladies only! I love their motto…”roadways are the new runways”! YES!

So, why do I get off on this cycling tangent?

Because…I have registered for a bike race! I am not sure whether I should be excited or nervous…probably a combination of the two…but The Red Stick Crit is going down tomorrow night whether I like it or not. The Red Stick Crit will be my first bike race since moving to Louisiana and will be my first bike race based on time. I have done a couple of charity bike rides in South Carolina, but that was many moons ago.

I should probably mention that I don’t have a road bike. Yeeeeeah…

BUT, they DO have a fat tire division! WIN! I will be riding this beauty tomorrow night…

A crit (short for criterium) is “a bike race held on a short course (usually less than 1km), often run on closed-off city center streets.” (Thanks, Wikipedia!) Tomorrow night’s race course will held on a 0.91mi loop. The race length will be based on time. In this case, the goal for each division is to complete as many laps as possible in 10:00 minutes. Basically, I just have to pedal as hard and as fast as I can for ten minutes. I can do that, right? Yeah, probably. I am hoping that by registering for the fat tire division that I will not end up making too much of a fool of myself…then again, if I do, it will just be par for the course. But, hey, at least I will have tried!

My goal last year was to upgrade to a “real” road bike, spend more time in the saddle, and take my cycling more seriously. Then I got pregnant…and the “road bike fund” became the “baby stuff fund.” It is not looking like I will be able to upgrade this year either, so I am just going to continue enjoying my Trek hybrid until I am able to get a better bike. I am certainly NOT complaining about my Trek hybrid. She has been so good to me and, overall, I think this is an excellent bike for the money spent on it.

When I am not cruising around my ‘hood on my Trek, I can also be spotted on my Electra Navy Cruiser. I love her. Her name is Blue Betty. She is what I call my “3-speed Cadillac of bikes”…obviously built for comfort and not for speed. She gets a lot of attention when we are out in public together. Basically, Electra took a little girl’s bike (leather handlebar streamers, ching-ching bell, and all!) and super-sized it for women. Blue Betty was my first bike and I will never get rid of her. And, yes, I often talk about her as if she is a person.

All in all, I am looking forward to tomorrow night. If nothing else, it will be a new experience and I am always down for that! Plus, a bike race breaks the monotony of road races!

Are you into cycling too? Have you ever ridden in a bike race (of any size) or participated in a charity bike ride?

Being Back of the Pack is Humbling

27 Jun

If you have ever come in last at anything, you know what I am talking about. If you have ever come in last at something that you used to be good at, then you especially know what I am talking about.

Being at the back of the pack is about the most humbling spot for any group run/ride or race participant. I know this first-hand, as I have been pulling the caboose in a lot of group runs and rides lately. It is such a weird feeling and I will be honest…it is taking time adjusting to it.

At the first of the year, I had been really working on my speed and had FINALLY started placing (first even!) in my age group. Let’s not get carried away or anything…I was never in the position to actually win overall or even get overall female, but I was definitely improving!

2nd place in age a TRAIL RUN!

I should never have taken that “runner’s high” for granted. What I wouldn’t give these days to just come in at the middle of the pack. 🙂

At the group ride on Saturday, out of about 8 riders, I came in last…even after the mountain bikes and cruisers. I am keeping the same cadence and pushing with the same intensity that I have always cycled with, but I am just going slower. More weight just does not move as fast. At my last few group runs, I have certainly rocking last place…even cutting the route miles if I feel like I need to.

Coming in last and being forced to take it down a notch has certainly humbled me. It takes a lot of guts to get out there and do something, knowing good and well when you start the activity that you are not going to be awesome at it. Please don’t think that I’m trying to toot my own horn or anything, because I’m not. This post is dedicated to ALL of the “back of the packers” out there. I am inspired by your perseverance.

I know that I am only going to be getting slower, and (for now) I am okay with that. But I want all of those hanging at the back with me to keep pushing and keep getting faster. Just remember to pat me on the back as you are passing me by. 🙂

Where in the pack do you fall? Where do you want to be?

Today’s Awesome Factor = 12.

15 Jun

After my realization yesterday that I needed to just accept what my limits are right now (however temporary they may or may not be) and just go with them, my whole attitude changed. I decided that this is just the station in life I am currently at and all I can do is make the best of it! Seriously, it was as if the heavens opened up and rays of sunshine started beaming down. You know, something like this…

How could this not make you smile? 🙂

Surprisingly, I found some motivation at my job (a complete miracle in itself!) and the afternoon passed super quickly. I got really excited about my Tuesday night running group because we had three visitors and I got to turn virtual Twitter running buddies into in-real-life running buddies!

(Please overlook my all-white running ensemble. Apparently I packed my running clothes with my eyes closed.)

L to R: @DubyaWife, ME, @Bambi_P, @JenZenator, @RunBimma

And 3.0 miles and 36:00 awesome minutes later, here we are rocking that post-run glow! And yes, even with 4 weeks on me, Ms. Jen Z still beat me in. Wings on her feet, I tell you!

L to R: @Bambi_P, @JenZenator, ME, @DubyaWife

After the fun, we had delicious sandwiches provided by Jimmy John’s (crazy delicious AND they deliver!) and Tin Roof Beer…which, of course, I could not partake in. It smelled good though! On a side note, we toured the Tin Roof Brewery a while back for a BR Tweet-up and it was really fun to see how it was made.

It is amazing the kind of boost that you can get from being around positive, motivated people. Seeing my regular running buddies, along with a few new ones, really helped give me a new energy!

Tonight, I’m mixing up my training a little bit. Brent and I have decided to join a group ride called Wednesday Bricks at Alligator Bayou. The route is around 13 miles and the group keeps about a 15mph speed. I’ll have to push it in my Trek, but I think I can keep up! And, if not, the route is a loop so it isn’t like I can really get lost. We have been wanting to get in on a group ride for a long time and we are ready to take the plunge! Like with the group runs, a group ride will probably help me increase my speed, keep me motivated, and pick up some new tips and tricks on cycling. And I am sure I’ll meet some really cool new cycling/triathlon peeps! Bonus!

Trek WSD 7.3 FX

On top of all of THAT, we are now less than 24 hours away from knowing if Nugget is a boy, girl…or both!  How exciting!  I am so anxious and the suspense is just about to kill me.  I hope I am able to sleep tonight!  I better ride hard this evening so I wear myself out.

On a scale of 1 – 10, my awesome factor today is totally at a 12. I plan on riding this high as long as possible. 🙂

How do you mix up your workouts or keep them from getting boring? What is your awesome factor today?

It is nice to be NICE.

2 Jun

When I was in elementary school, I had this favorite substitute teacher, named Mrs. Cozy. She was the most quintessential “grandma.” Her body was soft and round and she had that look about her that made you think that she probably gave the best hugs and made the best chocolate chip cookies EVER. Mrs. Cozy. She was my favorite. One of the things I remember most about her was her saying, “It is nice to be nice.”

Cartoon Mrs. Cozy 🙂

She popped in my head recently and it got me thinking about the nice things others have done for me.

At my first duathlon (bear in mind I had signed up with NO knowledge of what I was really in for), as I was setting up my duffle bag transition area, I realized that the directions said I was supposed to have my number on a race belt. Race belt!? What the heck was that!? The lady next to me overheard my out-loud mini freak-out and said, “No problem, I have an extra one. You can just have it.” It was as if the clouds parted and the sun shined down. I smiled from ear to ear and gave her a great big, “THANK YOU!

A couple of years ago, two days after I got my bike, I took a NASTY spill on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. I mean, NASTY. (Apparently I completely forgot which hand brake controlled the front and which controlled the rear.) People came from both directions to help pull me up out of the ditch and remove the sticks and leaves from my helmet. One even offered to call 911 or my husband for me. I was shaken, and embarrassed, but otherwise okay.

And last night, when I really (I mean, REALLY) did not want to get out in the Louisiana heat, my sweet husband reminded me that it was National Running Day and that I really did want to get outside and run…even just a couple of miles. I really needed that encouragement (and the hoist off the couch).

I suppose that sometimes I am just so used to people being rude to each other or even just complacent all the time. It is a shame that when people actually do NICE things that I get surprised.

I wanted to know some of the nice things my fellow runners have done for other runners/cyclists/athletes, so I took to my Twitter. Here are some of the responses. They made me smile and helped remind me just how many GOOD people there are out there.

@JimDog – Not another runner, but last weekend while on my run I stopped to help a lady with her bike (chain came off). #runchat
(Before I knew how to fix my own bike chain, I loved people like you. Thank you for helping her!)

@KarenJanos – Just encouraging other newbie #runners to not quit especially when they feel they look like idiots.
(Sometimes we underestimate just how far an encouraging word can go!)

@fairelescourses – Gotten out of the way!
(Jeremy, you are too funny! But it’s true, sometimes I have felt most helpful too just by being aware and knowing when to move aside!)

@sbarrouquere – I can’t think of one big thing other than I try to be encouraging, courteous etc #runchat #RunLA
(A pat on the back speaks volumes!)

@RasberiRunner – I picked up a glove that a guy dropped ahead of me. It took me some 5 minutes to catch up and give it back! #runchat
(This is AWESOME! I’m not sure I could run that fast!)

@mkosterich – I always offer other runners my water or gels if they are without nutrition. And I offer a walk break to those struggling.
(That is so nice and VERY generous of you. I usually carry just enough for myself.)

@tpwatergirl – I was 6 months prego in the transition area before the NOLA 70.3 and a girls bike chain was stuck. I fixed her bike for her!
(Holy cow! I hope she appreciated it!)

@RunningRealtor1 – I’ve bought her an entrance into a local favorite 🙂
(Wow! It is one thing to offer a high five, but to break out your checkbook too? That rocks!)

@jamiecgary – Stopped in half marathon to give some guy potassium & water who was cramping in last 2 miles. Could have smashed PR.
(That was so kind that you put aside your PR to help another runner. That was very considerate of you.)

All of these things remind me that it really doesn’t take all that much effort to go the “extra mile” for a fellow runner.

What have you done that was above and beyond for a fellow runner or cyclist?

Groups Doing Good: Tour du Rouge

6 May

After pulling myself out of this morning’s no-swim-class funk, I decided to head into work for a little bit. I was almost to the plant, and who did I spy on the side of the road?? The Tour du Rouge cyclists! What a treat!

Tour du Rouge, Day 6

The guy in the front is going about his business, the guy in the back is calling out commands, and the guy in the middle? I think he’s more concerned with the crazy lady on the side of the road (out in the boonies, no less) taking pictures of them and yelling, “Woo hoo! Great cause, guys! Ride well!” Yep, that’s me. 🙂

The Tour du Rouge is a VERY important ride for charity. It helps raise funds to support Red Cross chapters in the Gulf Coast region (from Houston, TX to New Orleans, LA). In the last several years, the Gulf Coast has taken a beating from hurricanes and other natural disasters. Raising funds and awareness for the Red Cross will provide emergency assistance and aid to countless families during these times. If you have ever been a victim of a natural disaster or other emergency and have received clean clothes and a helping hand from the Red Cross, then you know just how much their services are needed and appreciated.

I happened to catch the riders on Day 6 (the final day) of their journey. Today, they were riding from Gonzales, LA to New Orleans, LA and today’s ride was a total of 79 miles. So far, they have raised $214,717.30! Amazing job, guys!! If you are interested in donating, please do so by supporting a rider!

Yep, I'm still stalking them...

Tour de Rouge cyclists almost to NOLA!

I’m hoping I can join them for this ride one day! I would definitely need a new bike first, but it if I could work that out, I’d be super honored to get in for a day of the ride! Keep up the great work, Tour du Rouge!

2011 Tour du Rouge Team