Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Moment of Silence, Please

If you are just a casual visitor of this blog, you may not know that I spend several hours a week as a swimming coach for Portland's Team in Training triathlon teams. I've been involved in TNT since 2005, in memory of my grandfather, who died of leukemia while I was in law school. Coaching and mentoring our athletes takes time and emotional energy that I don't often have to spare, but I wouldn't give it up for the world.

Natasha Curtis, the little girl that was our teams' honored teammate for the last three seasons, passed away this morning. She was 8 years old. She will be mourned and missed by all whose lives she touched.

You can find out more about Natasha at the CaringBridge website in my links list.

For those of you that have asked if there is anything you can do...click on the goofy wetsuit picture to the right and donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The LLS is devoted finding a cure for blood cancers and improving the lives of kids like Natasha.

Thanks for your support.

Monday, March 30, 2009

That Sound You Hear is My Brain Being Blown Around in my Fool Head: Piece of Cake Race Report

Because the only thing I like more than racing in the snow is racing into a headwind, I followed Saturday's Independence Valley freeze-my-ass-off-athon with Sunday's Piece of Cake wind ringing in my hungover brain-athon.

I finished second in the Women's Cat 4 race yesterday. Its a great result from an individual perspective and my sprint finally didn't suck. But from a team perspective, I wish things had gone down differently--although we had all four of our non-flatting riders finish in the top ten. Again. That's pretty fantastic.

What wasn't fantastic was my recovery strategy after IVRR, which involved too much wine and too little sleep. I felt like total ass on a stick Sunday morning. Had to force myself to eat and hydrate.

I drove up with Christy, Heidi and three cans of gingerale. And lots of beer. I had a feeling it was going to be that kind of day.

PreRace: My job Sunday was to attack, chase breaks, keep my teammates up front and out of the wind and to do leadout for the sprint if I wasn't dead in a ditch somewhere of alcohol poisoning.

I had a little discussion with my legs as we staged:

Me: Hey, this is going to hurt today, but its only 34 miles.

Legs: Fuck you.

Me: Seriously, it'll be fun to shake things up. And its SUNNY!!!!

Legs: Seriously, fuck you.

Lap One: It was windy and I was crabby. Jan, one of my former Group Health teammates, started attacking early and often. I knew this would happen from knowing Jan for years and racing crits with her last season. I love Jan, but still found myself thinking "Jan, I am really just not in to your crap today."

What I wasn't also "in to" was the fact that I forgot to check pre-race to see that my bike computer was working. It wasn't. I spent the entire race not having any idea how fast we were going or how far into the race we were. This was probably a good thing.

The first lap was basically attack and regroup, attack and regroup. I did my part, keeping my teammates at the front and attacking twice, then fading back to make sure HV was still attached to the lead group. The fading was annoying at least one woman in the front, who kept insisting that I pull though, which I refused to do if I couldn't see my teammates over my shoulder. I don't work for you unless you are wearing pinstripes.

Lap Two: More attacking and regrouping. My legs were pretty much over the whole racing thing after about 75 minutes. After Mindy and I pulled to pick up the tempo into the wind, I looked at her, told her I was cooked and was going to go hang out in the back for a bit...not to worry if they didn't see me for a bit. I hung out mid-pack for about ten minutes and it turned out to be a good decision. The burning anger in my legs faded to a manageable whine.

It took me almost 10 minutes to work my way back to the front and all of my girls (Sallyanne and Christy both flatted early on, leaving just Alice, Anna, Mindy and I in the race) were at the front with 3K to go. So was Heidi, which made me ecstatic--considering all of her recent mechanical snafus. After the 300m corner, Anna and the Poplollies gal jumped.

I am thinking, "Anna's got this, Anna's got this" and screamed at her to GOGOGOGOGO. I glanced over my shoulder and found Mindy on my wheel. The front of the pack kept speeding up, speeding up. I remembered to get in my drops (finally!), kept the pace and as the first wave of began to fade with about 75 left, I screamed at Mindy to go.

Nothing. I glanced around and she was gone.

Shit. Shit, it wasn't supposed to be me up here alone. Nice leadout, you bonehead.

I had a split second to make a decision. Wait? Go? What the fuck do I do? Where is Alice? Where is Anna? Shit! Shit!

There wasn't enough time to answer any of those questions, so I went. It hurt.

I have no idea what happened in the last 25 meters other than what was occuring in the red-spotted tunnel straight ahead of me. I ended up 3rd overall (2nd in Cat 4's because Jan was in the mix at the end), but thought I was 5th or 6th until I saw the results. That's how completely out of it I was.


So here is my honest race assessment. Second is good. So are the sweet Castell gloves I won as a result. But I would give them back in a heartbeat to have correctly calculated how to get my teammates into podium spots. Since everyone did what they were supposed to do and was in great position going into the fninishing stretch, I feel like its my fault that it didn't go as planned. Did I go too early? Too late? Should I have gone or not?

With every race we figure one thing out, then find out that there are three more lessons to be learned.

But for now, time to rest and regroup. Right now my legs are hamburger, so I've got a lot of recovery to do before Friday. Cherry Blossom, my first stage race, is this weekend. And the first crit of the year-aw.....hell yeah.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Independence Valley Road Race: The Five Minute Race Report

-It cost me $1 for every mile I raced today. But I got $5 of it back for returning the race number.

-We had a six mile neutral to start the race. I don't understand why, but it was really super cool to yell "slowing" for twenty minutes.

-It rained, then it snowed. And kept snowing.

-We got to the top of the second hill on the first lap and there were only seven of us left. So that was the break.

-There was some yelling, and then we organized and pacelined until the 1K mark.

-I got out-maneuvered to start the sprint and then my hands were too numb to shift gears.

-So I finished fifth. All of the races paid 5 deep except mine. Lame, lame, lamerton.

-Then we had to ride four miles back to the staging area and I lost feeling in both hands.

-The ladies in the break were really cool. It made the race as enjoyable as the weather allowed.

-I didn't quit shivering for 45 minutes and almost peed my pants as a result.

-I met Martha Walsh. She pretty much kicks ass.

-So does Burgerville.

The End

Monday, March 23, 2009

Aren't We There Yet?! Banana Belt #3 (#4?) Race Report

After nine goddamned laps around Hagg Lake over three weeks, I can truly and wholeheartedly say that I have no desire to ever see it again. Or at least for 11 months. Say the words "Lee Hill" to me right now and I'm likely to start banging my head on the closest wall. I can't imagine anyone who has done 12 or more laps feels any differently.

Pre-Race: The HV ladies gathered at for a pre-race potluck at my condo. Two hours of gossiping and 15 minutes of "statergerizing" for Sunday morning. I won't reveal our master plan here, partly because it didn't work yesterday and partly because we will make it work in another race. Muahahahaha. We did bestow a new nickname on one of our new riders ("I deem thee 'Cardboard'") and learned the ways of proposing casual sex from a jedi well-schooled in the ways of dating. By the time everyone left, my belly and face ached from laughing.

The drive out to the race was typical pre-race neurotic Christy/Lindsay fare. We really should record the conversations that we have in the car, just so people will believe that we actually have said conversations. Its almost like a series of Seinfeld-like shorts...we spent at least ten minutes contemplating whether a "canoeist" would be a person who canoes OR a person that hates canoes. Christy also considered abandoning the race in favor of unionizing those poor buffalo ("Organize! Revolt! Or at least quit fattening yourselves up, you stupid suckers.").

It was cold for our race, but not raining. Our entire team, save our HoodRiver-based teammate recovering from an injury, showed up to race. Nine ladies in pinstripes. When we lined up, the field was so small that we comprised almost 1/2 of the combined Masters/4 field. It gave me the chills...the good kind.

This is a longer race report than usual, but it was a more interesting race than the first two, and more lessons were learned (at least by me):

Lap One: Angela, one of our masters riders, set the pace for the entire first lap. She did an amazing job...it was fast enough that no one challenged the tempo, but slow enough that we were able to warm up and get positioned tightly together. Alice and Mindy did a great job of protecting Anna and I and keeping us close to the front--near Lindsay Fox, the strongest rider in the field and the one most likely to make a break stick.

(HV up front: Anna, LK, Christy, Alice, Mindy. Credit: Oregon Cycling Action)

The first time through that "damn corner" was the sketchiest of the nine times we came through over the course of the series. Two of the riders that had been leading coming down the hill practically came to a stop coming into the corner. Since our field was small and was communicating well, we were able to split around them, but it was dangerous and I think some words were passed around at the back of the field.

We took off as a team coming off the dam to see how the field would respond. We probably dropped only 2-3 riders, so we sat up again and let other riders set the pace for the rest of the lap.

Lap Two: Sallyanne took charge at the beginning of the second lap and she and Mindy pulled the field for almost three miles. Anna, Alice, Christy, Jen and I all took turns at the front. Lots of blocking on the hills so no one could attack.

(Credit: Jon Gornick)

Anna and I's pull was less of a pull, and more of a signal to someone else that they needed to take charge at the front. We led most of the way over the dam...at about 14 miles an hour. If someone else wanted to take charge, let them. I even heard someone kvetch "What the hell are those two doing up there?!" Um, controlling the race, sillies.

Jen and Christy's pull was the most memorable. They shot up from mid-pack coming off of the dam. The HV gals and Margi immediately started cheering for the Blond Ball of Hate. Everyone else looked at us like we were bat-shit crazy. Christy's pull increased the pace considerably and allows me to position myself close to Dawn and the Fox. The Fox is going to jump and throw down some hurt...I know this. It's just a matter of when.

And she does it on Lee Hill. God.Damn.It. Dawn is the quickest to latch on. I'm out of position, have to sprint to the top and am seeing plaid by the time we hit the downhill. Looking around coming through the finish line, I see that Margi, Robyn from Chinook and Mindy have also made the jump-all powerful riders capable of bridging to the front. We're only about 20 meters back. Margi and I yell at the five chasers to organize and we quickly catch Dawn and the Fox.

Lap Three: Of course the hardest lap of the nine would have to be the last one.

(The Third Lap Break. Credit: Oregon Cycling Action)

There are some attempts to organize the seven person break, but we lose one person to a blowout and Fox attacks again on the next climb. And the next. Then its just Dawn and I, working together but still losing time on every climb. I'm the bigger rider, so I pull the downhills and Dawn drags me uphill. Over the dam, we struggling with the headwind...tired as all hell and are switching every minute or two.

I looked back once or twice and thought Dawn and I had comfortably established a gap on the rest of the break coming into the last 2 miles. When we both struggled up Lee Hill for the last time, we allowed ourselves to sit up at the top and take 20-30 meters to shake it out and catch our breath. Then we started up again, but probably at a less intense pace. I was burnt and I could tell from Dawn's body language that she was struggling as well.

(The Oregon Cycling Action caption for this photo: "Lindsay Kandra (Hammer Velo) tries to stay in contact with the leaders on the last lap." To which I respond: "You ain't kidding.")

Big mistake. At the 1K mark, Robyn from Chinook goes charging past us. I can't tell if Dawn said "Oh, SHIT," or whether I said it loud enough for both of us. We took off after her. Dawn recovered better than I did and held on for 2nd. I had less than nothing left and Anna (coming out of absolutely NOWHERE after chasing for the whole lap after missing the break) edged me for fourth. Mindy was right on my wheel for 6th.

(Finish: Dawn Riddle 2d, Robyn Paulson 3d, HV 4-6th. Credit: Oregon Cycling Action.)

In addition to our 4-6th finishes in the Cat 4 race, our Master's riders (Sallyanne, Angela, Lisa) finished 1-3. Everyone played a significant role in controlling the pace and effecting the outcome of the race. We stayed (mostly) organized, communicated and worked so hard that a few of us almost puked at the end.

Absolutely stellar work all around, which was celebrated with champagne post-race.


Lesson #1: NO FIDDLE-FUCKING AROUND IN THE LAST 2K. Instead of having an opportunity to race for second, the physical and mental break I took at the top of Lee Hill pretty much sealed my fate.

Lesson #2: Being in small breakaway is hard fucking work. But having a good pre-existing relationship with the other rider/s makes all of the difference in the world. This is why I have been making a huge effort to get to know the other ladies in the field...you never know when you'll need some one's help during a race.

So in the end, I think I'll end up finishing fourth overall for the series(UPDATE: THIRD!!!)...a series that a month ago I swore I would NEVER do. I'd eat my words, but they'd probably taste like race morning oatmeal and I don't think my weary stomach could handle that right now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Its Not Easy Being Green

I have a friend that is the throes of a new romance. Right now her life is all giddy sleep-deprivation and public displays of affection and plans and hope. I listened, questioned, laughed and before we changed topics, said, "Girl, if you weren't my friend, I'd be very jealous of you right now."

Riding home, I realized that what I'd said was a lie. I was totally jealous. In fact, I was so jealous that I could spit.

I got home that night and decided to brood in my bedroom instead of joining my roommate for Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo. Instead, I found Footloose on some random movie channel and sat on my bed reading Cycling Action and picking the polish off of my toenails.

This brings me to a passage from the Bible. I'm not a religious person, but Ecclesiastes 3 has always struck a chord in me, despite the high pop culture cheese factor associated with its inclusion in Footloose. Especially so I'm feeling impatient and dissatisfied with my existence.

For those of you unfamiliar with either Ecclesiastes 3 or Footloose (either way, evidence that you've lived a cave for the last fifteen years), a refresher:

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sow; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."


I'll quickly get to my point.

With everything going on in my life right now, there is a palpable absence of romance and physical intimacy. Honestly, it sucks. As does the fact that being irritated about it is taking up a lot of mental energy and focus that could be better spent on other endeavors.

I'm watching Footloose and sulking when the obvious hits me.

This isn't my time for all of that.

I had my time for crushes and romance over the last few years, and now that that time is passed, it is time to concentrate on other things until life comes full circle again.

So what IS it time for?

I've spent the last few years being moderately-to-totally unfulfilled by how I spend my time 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. I'm good at it and make good money, but have a distinct lack of passion for it. Especially when compared to the passion I have for coaching and writing and all things bicycle related.

On Tuesday, I took a major step toward remedying this problem.

The risk may reap huge rewards. It could also be a total disaster. But at least I've made the decision that it is now the time, the season, to do something better for me. Even better, I've acted on that decision.

I'm simultaneously scared and thrilled. It feels like stepping off the cliff into an abyss, but I'm lucky to have an employer that is willing to provide me with a safety harness.

Wish me luck.

And thanks, Keven Bacon.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

40 Degrees, 30 Dollars and a 100% Chance of a Weather Related Temper Tantrum

"I can't believe I payed $30 for this."

"Me neither, but I suppose it's too late to ask for my money back."

"You're probably right. I just keep thinking that $30 would have bought at least 4 Bloody Mary's."

"Or a bottle of whiskey."

"To drink or just to break the bottle over my own head?"


This is what is going on during the staging of the Cat 4 women's race at Banana Belt #2 at about 9:25 this morning. It's torrentially raining out at Hagg Lake and I am in a less-than-snappy mood about it. I'm cold, thirsty and totally discombobulated after breaking the zipper on my favorite shoecovers, dropping my gloves in the restroom toilet and spilling most of the powder contents of my standby water bottle into my gym bag. I look like a sopping wet coke fiend by the time I get to the start line.

The race was the first in the 2009 Cat 4 Women's Series, so we were expecting a big turnout, but the field was still bigger than I'd expected, given the weather. As Christy and I drove west out of Portland, the sky kep getting darker and darker. The windshield wipers were on high and I still didn't have a clear view of the road. The phrase "Are you fucking kidding me?" was uttered every two or three minutes. We barely have the energy to make fun of the buffalo...still chillin' under the "Burgers for Sale" sign on highway 47.

But my team has shown up seven strong and I'm considering the race as a sort of self-punishment for Friday night's shenanigans. If I wanted to take the nicest day of the year thus far and turn it into a goddamned hooligan-fest, better damn well show up and race in the monsoon on Sunday. And LIKE it.

Lap 1: Much slower first lap than last week. The crowd is pretty much the same, with the addition of some of the Sorrella ladies, Margi and some collegiate riders. Someone from Ironclad goes off the front almost immediately. I look at Alice and Mindy and shake my head. I don't think it'll stick and its too early in the race to expend a whole lot of energy chasing people down. The middle part of the first lap is pratically a tea party. I don't make a whole lot of conversation, instead concentrating on my wheel and keeping myself from getting boxed in. If someone makes a serious jump, I want to go with her.

(Damp Descent. Credit: Oregon Cycling Action.)

I've promised myself that I'd be patient and sit in, but if the pace keeps like this, going to need to talk to Alice about doing her Alice thing to shock the field into picking up the pace.

Lap 2: Sallyanne takes her turn near the front, driving the pace up a few steep hills. This shocks the field a bit, and shortly after that, Rhonda Morin from Sorella jumps. This is where the chess game of bike racing kicks in, and it a part that I'm learning to really like. Rhonda is a very strong rider, one capable of making a break stick. But she's also racing masters. If she goes, it doesn't affect the Cat 4 race. We decide to let her go for the time being.

At this point, my legs are comfortable. My eyes...a different story. I had to stash my glasses on the first lap because of fogging and have started to blink compulsively to keep the road spray from getting underneath my contact lenses. I'm also constantly making zurbert noises with my lips to get the grit out of my mouth. I look and sound like a fruit loop crazy person.

[Remember>>>> I PAID THIRTY DOLLARS to do this. When you're cold and wet and covered in cancer-causing road grit, its hard not to think about what else you could have done with that thirty dollars. 12 pints of happy hour beer. A steak dinner at the Heathman. Season 4 of Lost in DVD. At least ten minutes in a peep show booth on 82nd...or so I've heard. ]

Lap 3: Pace is still gradually picking up, but Alice, Mindy and I are having no problems responding to the attacks the Sorellas are throwing off the front.

(HV up front and on the move...from L to r: Anna, Alice, LK and Mindy over my shoulder. Credit: Jon Gornick)

But they are the least of our worries. The other Lindsay, Lindsay Fox, the one that climbs like a mountain goat (I'm the Lindsay that climbs like a Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicle), has attacked at the start of the third lap and is steadily moving further away. We catch her on the neutral, and when she gets her head start on a downhill (and with an extra few seconds from the lead car), she's gone. And we're not organized. And we stay disorganized. There are a few moves by the Sorellas to bridge, but none sticks. HV makes the mistake by not trying to do it ourselves.

Fox has the race won by the time we hit Lee Hill. It's now a fight for second. I'm up front, working hard as I can and hoping the red jersey out of the corner of my eye is Alice, Anna or Mindy. I need a wheel. Badly. The woman that passes me is not a teammate and I let her go, having watched her climb the whole race and thinking that I can make up any gap on the final incline or on the sprint.

But I'm wrong. It becomes a race for third in the final 200 meters. Dawn Riddle moves up from my left and I grab her wheel and hold on for dear life all of the way to the finish line. Fourth, but only by a hair. Someone was charging hard off to my left and I didn't have another ten meters left in my legs.

(Final Sprint. Edged TAI's Elena Larson for fourth.... by inches. Okay, maybe an inch. Credit: Jon Gornick)


Hammer Velo had a great day. Our two (!!!-what a bunch of pussies) men finished 2nd and 4th in their races. But it was really our day. Results aren't official yet, but we think we had 4 racers in the top 10 and 5 in the top 20.

It bascially comes down to this. My teammates were superwomen today. They were fearless competitors and worked their asses off. And they managed not to kill me during my pre-race temper tantrum. For that alone, I am grateful. But I also feel very lucky to have these women as my friends and am pretty stoked to see how we develop as a team in the next few months.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Today is One Bright Shiny Object After Another

Not sure whether I've got adult-onset ADD, acute boredom or a great-week-with-even-better-weekend-coming-up hangover, but I've been bouncing off of the walls since yesterday afternoon.

All three of my hard workouts went well (despite some cramping issues Wednesday night carrying over to Thursday afternoon), especially the climbing workout yesterday afternoon. Rode in the cemetery with Christy and felt light and strong despite the fact that I was climbing on the Woolly Mammoth into a headwind for most of the workout.

Caught up with a lot of current friends this week, and reestablished some connections with some old friends. I've finally made my way out of my winter "Cave of Doom" and now have all of this extra energy to expend working on my relationships. Its invigorating...like taking a cold shower with all of the positive energy from the wonderful people in my life.

This weekend: Riding, HV Happy Hour, More Riding, Racing. Perhaps some Saturday early evening socializing...emphasis on "early." No bourbon-ing my way out of racing on Sunday. Because I'm feeling good about Sunday's race. Really good.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Getting the Hands (and Liver) Dirty

No race report from Sunday this week. Banana Belt #2 was canceled and rescheduled due to inclement weather. Not like I would have made it out there anyways. The BTA Alice Awards were Saturday night. My ride picked my up at 5:30PM. It was almost eleven hours before I got home again.

I've only stayed out all night (or almost all night-that's about as close as I get) twice in the last five years. The first was in September at Interbike, after Cross Vegas and the Sinclair Imports party. A party at which I was drinking jager out of rocks glasses. Full rocks glasses. Three weeks later I was still re-calling (mostly in humorous horror) some of the things that came out of my mouth that night. I also might have threatened to hump Christian Vande Velde's leg when we saw him at the party. I think that last part is just a rumor.

Things were much more subdued for Alice, even though I bought a great new dress and managed to goad almost 20 of my favorite friends into joining me for the evening. A couple of glasses of wine at the fundraiser and a few bourbon rocks at Rontom's after we escaped. No scenes, no intrigue and I laughed a lot, but managed to not say or do anything too embarrassing. Gunderson hasn't posted her pictures, so there might be proof in there of something I don't remember. Closed down both the bar and the Montage with a couple of friends.

Went to bed feeling a bit guilty. I had gotten a few teammates fired up about racing in the morning, and there I was, finally hitting the sack an hour before my alarm was supposed to go off, no intentions of facing the world (or my hair in the mirror) until at least noon.

Christy and I's pleas to the weather gods were answered, however, and I got several text messages around 7 stating that the race had been called off due to snow.

I spent all day thinking about going for a ride, then taking a nap instead. This cycle repeated itself at least five times. I even suited up at one point, but when it started to rain, I laid down on the couch to wait it out. And fell back asleep and dreamed about racing. Woke up exhausted.

Not even the nagging guilt of taking ONE WHOLE DAY off of the bike (my first since the beginning of February) got me motivated again once I found a women's basketball game and an ANTM marathon playing simultaneously. Then I remembered the six-pack of beer I had stashed in the cooler for post-race refreshment. And a Haagen Das bar in the freezer. Any hopes of a productive and healthy Sunday were officially over.

Sometimes a bike racer needs to just be a lazy single party girl.

I made up for Sunday by diving head first into Monday. Lots of work. A short run between hailstorms-my first in weeks and a pounding, aching reminder of why I stopped in the first place. And the highlight-my Gracie's Wrench class with teacher Tori and Heidi.

This was our second class. Last week we learned lever-free flat changes and how to take off and clean our derailleur pulleys. Last night we did brakes. Changed brake pads, tightened and centered the brakes and learned to cut and size cable and housing. Next week is shifting and drive trains. I'll also learn how to true wheels and we're planning on taking an entire class to learn how to un-fuck-up our cross bikes.

I'm loving every minute of it. Tori, Heidi and I get some serious girl time in and I'm learning something. Gone are the days of first looking to a boyfriend, mechanic or whichever sucker on my team is sick of my whining to fix my stuff.

The big lessons: Empowerment=good. Loose brakes=bad. Now go ride.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Weight for Me

Weight is a sensitive subject for cyclists. Most of my cycling tribe knows, down to the .5 lb, how much they weigh, how much they should weigh and how much time each .5lb costs them climbing up to Skyline.

I've weighed about the same, give or take 5 pounds, most of my adult life. There was a brief period that I dropped down to about 135 in law school due to the simultaneous stress of a divorce and the bar exam. It didn't last long once I moved for my first job and compensated with being bored and broke with TV on DVD, food and wine.

Since then, I've been mostly OK with my body. I was much more irritated with the shape of my nose that the shape of my ass. Each winter I backed off the sauce when my pants starting getting snug, but even with all of the triathlon training in the last four years, I never managed to fall below 155.

I weigh in at TAI every Tuesday morning. Yesterday's number: 148.

After I mentioned weight loss in a previous post, I got an email asking me how I did it. So here it is, my unscientific, totally unproven and mostly unadvised guide to weight loss. Like many things I undertake in life, I don't recommend doing things my way.

1. Start by going to Vegas and drinking twice your weight in cheap beer and Jagermeister. In three days. Then look at the cyclocross photos taken two weeks later and realize that you are in the second trimester of a beer baby.

2. Weigh self and pretend to be ok with the number "164.8". For about 2 hours.

3. Join significant other in laying off the sauce. For him, it was 24/7. For me, a beer (or three) on Thursdays and after cross races. Then maybe a small one on Fridays. Or Mondays. This strategy, obviously, totally went to shit after six weeks.

4. I did, however, start halving my portions at meals and eating the other half only if I felt hungry again. Most of the times I wasn't.

#3 and #4 led to about a 5 lb loss in two months. This was good. My goal was 15 in a year. But, as usual, life interfered with this plan.

5. Go through a break-up, a existential job crisis and being snowed in at the same time. Quit eating anything that doesn't come out of a saltine box or soup can for several weeks. Consume most of your calories in bourbon and gingerale drank out of a plastic liter bottle while watching episodes of "Intervention" while wearing a wife beater, ski cap and backwards basketball shorts. Because nothing makes you feel better during a good drunk than contemplating those that "really have a problem" with alcohol.

6. While going through #5, continue to workout like a maniac because its the only thing that is keeping you from going crazy.

#5 and #6 led to a 10lb loss in a less than a month. Stress caused my body to just start eating itself, and it continued to do so for almost six weeks as I got myself sorted out.

7. Train to road race in the dead of winter, a time where you can burn 500 calories an hour just trying to stay warm. Do this for at least 10 hours a week. Preferably on a steel bike that weighs about 23 pounds and while wearing 5 layers of gear.

8. Overschedule your days to the point that you have neither the time nor energy to shower, grocery shop or drink beer.

But seriously, there were some healthy changes that took place during this time. I cook a lot more for myself, bike commute almost every day in addition to my regular workouts and don't drink much during the workweek--mostly because I'm not getting home most nights until almost 9PM.

I am riding almost every day and my body apparently responds to cycling differently that it responds to other activity. I have incorporated two high intensity workouts into my weekly routine and have been taking a core/conditioning class twice a week for over a year. Both have done some amazing things for the shape and strength of my body. Even as I weigh less, I'm carrying more muscle on my body than I ever have. More muscle-more calorie burn in everyday life.

That's all there is. Not magic or advisable or replicable, but the simple truth.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I Can't Be Bothered To Think of a Catchy Title: Banana Belt #1 Race Report

Its 9am and I'm currently sitting in my office drinking my third cup of coffee, my left hand alternating between typing and holding my head upright. I've done my morning blog rounds and am trying to find the energy to motivate myself to review and revise the stack of contracts on my floor. My inclination is to just light a match and let chemistry and physics take care of the rest.

Instead of lighting my office on fire, a race weekend report:

Friday: New kits!!! Beer at 5Q!!! Friday Night ANTM marathon!!! You can see what the kits look like by checking Anna, Sallyanne and I out in the picture on top of Heidi's race report.

Saturday: The Hammer Velo ladies sat down with Jeff as a team after our Saturday morning ride to talk about racing as a team. Between the four of us present, we had raced two total races, so we have a lot to learn. Jeff made it simple for Banana Belt #1: stay up front, stay upright and drive the pace if we could. Junior Varsity stuff.

I went out with Mo on Saturday evening and wisely cut myself off from the free beer at the PACE party at 8. I still had a wet kit in the washing machine and three tons of gear to pack. My five years of triathlon out at Hagg Lake has cruelly taught me to prepare for any and all weather patterns, including toads falling out of the sky.

After doing some research Friday on strategies to help with persistent achy legs, I bought compression tights on Saturday morning. Wore them while doing housework during the day and slept in them Saturday night. Interesting, but I could get used to sleeping in them.

Sunday: My first thought when the alarm went off at 5:45am was that that my condo was on fire. Or that Portland was being attacked by the Germans. My second thought was that my legs felt a lot better than they had the night before. My third thought involved a prayer that someone would text me and tell me that it was snowing or raining toads out at Hagg Lake and the race was cancelled. I waited for an answer for about ten minutes, then reluctantly got up and made coffee.

Carpooled out to the race with my teammate Christy. Did anyone else notice the buffalo on Hwy 47 hanging out under the "buffalo burgers for sale" sign?-poor suckers and their inability to understand irony.

Lap 1: Staged in the front and nervously twitched around for ten-fifteen minutes while my stomach churned and flip-flopped. I'm hoping that as I race more, that the nerves will gradually wear off. I'm getting really tired of having to pee every 5 minutes for the half hour before race time.(Looking Way Too Serious. Credit Brujo Sandoval)

Spent most of the first lap trying to establish a good position up front. Which meant that I ended up doing a lot of work setting the pace. Not the best strategy if the goal is to win, but that wasn't the goal. Rather: stay up front and push the pace. That was all I was aiming for. Those savvy Ironclad gals would send someone off of the front every once in a while for most of the race. I chased down most of these at first, then got more selective as the miles ticked off.
(Credit: Brujo Sandoval)

The only real mistake I made (at least the only one that I'm aware of) during the race was before the big corner on the first lap. I was focused too much on holding a wheel and not enough on the course and starting slowing and lining up for the corner too soon as I had mistaken another turnoff for our turn. If you were in the race and read this...sorry! Totally my dumbass inexperienced fault.

Lap 2: We were neutralized a couple of times, mostly with no apparent reason. The pack would slow, crashes were narrowly averted, and then we'd roll along and wait...and nothing would happen. During one neutralization, someone rubbed my back wheel and went down just as the pace started to pick up again. I didn't dare look behind, but I'm hoping that whomever went down is ok.

Lap 3: I think our pack broke up for good on the last long climb on the third lap...I hadn't dared drop further than 10 people back the whole race and had no idea how the race was developing behind us. I knew Anna was up in the front, as we were in communication frequently and she went off of the front a few times in the second lap to shake things up a bit.
(Credit: Brujo Sandoval)

Our pace picked up dramatically in the last 7-8 miles and I was really pleased with my climbing Even when I felt like I was getting close to red-lining on the climbs, I was still able to push the pace and recover on the downhill sections. This is where all of the puke-fest interval training pays off...I could feel throughout the entire race that my body was recovering quickly from the hard efforts.

The last time around the "big corner" was the only "oh, shit" moment of the race. Two gals to my left both wanted the line on the center yellow line and there was some swerving and slowing and then some kvetching as that played itself out over the dam. The latter was sort of annoying, but it did slow the group down for a minute or two a nd allowed me to catch back up (I had slowed considerably to avoid being taken out) and communicate with Anna before the final 5K.

And then things started moving faster. And faster. And faster. And I was still holding on.

The finish was on a downhill stretch and I wanted to make sure that I wasn't boxed in when everyone started to accelerate in the last 1K. But it really didn't play out that way. My good spot ended up not being so good as the pack shifted to the right in the last 500 meters and I had to work my way left to find room to accelerate. When the sprint started, I was about 10th or 11th back. I buried myself as much as I could (my sprinting legs were at about 75% after 33 miles of pace setting) and got back up to 6th by the finish line.
(Credit: Oregon Cycling Action)

Anna came in 10th-and my guess is that she won't place much lower than this for the rest of the season--she's ridiculously talented.

Five HV ladies started, and five finished. Christy unfortunately dropped a chain 2 miles into her first ever race and ended up racing alone, but with a smile on her face (or so I heard). Everyone worked hard, stayed upright and was really positive at the finish. Lots of hugs and smiles, no matter the placing.

Overall Grade: B+. Did what Jeff told us to do, and it worked. I did more work for the lead group than I probably should have--if the goal had been to conserve energy for the last lap. But since it wasn't, I am pretty pleased with being able to stay in the mix and push the pace for most of the race.

Bucket list of things to work on:

1. Again with the hydration. This was a shorter, faster race, but I only went through 1/2 of a water bottle. I didn't maximize the time spent in neutral to hydrate, as I was pretty focused on staying upright. I didn't feel thirsty or calorie depleted during the race, but not fueling is probably effecting my ability to recover today. I feel a little crummy.

2. I got myself stuck out of the line by myself a few to many times. Mostly from losing focus as the pack was shifting on the downhills. More wasted energy.

3. Remembering to get in the drops to sprint.

4. Bring beer for post race refreshment.