Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Monster Dash 10 Mile

For inquiring minds who want to know, I ran the 10 Mile Monster Dash in Minneapolis this morning with my mom and step-brother, Mark.

First off: It. Was. Cold. Probably around 34 degrees when I finally found spot I could legally park. Let me also say I don't like driving around Minneapolis, especially when anyone with half a brain is still snuggled in bed. And the wind? I think it was gusting up to 10 - 12 mph. Brrr! Fortunately, most of the route was sheltered by trees.

I will be one of the first to admit that I didn't prepare very well for this race. I'm usually a "fly by the seat of her pants" kind of girl. Leading up to today, the most distance I'd put on my legs at one time was about five miles.

My watch crapped out on me as soon as I hit the Start button. I had no idea what my time was or how fast I was running miles. GRRR!!!

I hung with Mom for the first two miles or so, but my legs started to feel heavy, so I slowed down to a quick walk. Let me tell you, it is a bit of a blow to one's ego when one's 50+ mother is wiping the pavement with her mid-20's daughter. ^_^

My mental game with myself sucked the first half of the race. All I could think of was that I shouldn't have been having as much trouble keeping pace as I was.

At roughly Mile Six, my left knee absolutely refused to move without shooting pain up and down my leg. I endured more limp-walking alternating with running, with tears of frustration and pain brewing in my eyes. Mile Seven saw me getting angry enough to push past the pain in my knee, turn Nickelback's "Follow You Home" way up, and run some more.

I kept my eye out for Mark and for Mom near the turn-around. Mark passed me, running quite well and not looking stressed. I saw Mom about ten minutes later and managed a "Go Mom!" when she passed me in the opposite direction. I think she yelled back, "Yeah Cait!", but I'm not sure. I was busy stuffing myself into the hurt locker.

I'm not sure I've ever been happier to see the finish line as I was this morning. I turned on the gas and even passed a few people on my way to the big orange blow-up. The emcee announced my name correctly (amazing, I know) when I crossed the finish line amongst crowds of people. Mom was standing off the the side, waiting for me to cross the line. I was a bit of a mess, as I could hardly move or put weight on my left leg with out pain, but Mom hugged me and reminded we were done and had survived. Thank goodness.

My time? 1:59:25

YES! I broke the two-hour mark; which was my goal, actually. ^_^ I'm quite proud of having survived this race and accomplished my goal. I'm already thinking I might be crazy enough to do this again.

So, the Half-Marathon next year?

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day '09 - Change the World, One Bike at a Time

The focus of this year's Blog Action Day is climate change. Now, I'm not a climatologist, a biologist, or a geologist. I don't understand all the highlighted graphs, charts, or the monstrous amount of numbers that these learned people crank out to try to get Congress's attention every election year.

What I do get is that the world I'm being handed isn't the world I want to hand to the next generation. I know I'm a small fish in a huge ocean, but by doing the little things I can affect change on my corner of the world. How? The bicycle. My bike is something I understand and I know it can change the world. Heck, it already has.

When bicycling first became popular in the 1800's, it was one of the first things a woman could do without a chaperone. For the first time, women could go where they wanted, when they wanted. Businesses sprang up to service bicycles, roads were paved to better acomodate riding, and various shops and resaurants opened to serve the women and men who rode.

The freedom and joy a bicycle gives to the rider is the reason I spend so much time astride mine in the warm spring and summer months. If every working adult in the US gave up their car just one day a week to ride a bicycle, who knows how many tons of CO2 wouldn't make it's way into the atmosphere. It helps keep my body healthy and my mind more alert. I'm rarely so happy as when I'm riding.

I'm not saying give up your automobile, far from that. Just be wise in how much you drive. Carpool to work and/ or school, if you can. Walk the shorter distances to the corner store or to the soccer field. Every little bit really does help.

Hey, Congressmen and women; turn in your car keys for a week and go ride your bicycle. I bet you'll feel better. And you just might save the world in the process.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another Entry In the Bicycle/Car Conflict

While I support freedom of the press in all of it's forms, I do not support the spreading of hatred or condone the physical or psychological abuse of anyone, regardless of how I feel about them personally. So, I am disturbed to learn that British TV chef James Martin won't face any sort of disciplinary action resulting from his treatment of a group of cyclists while test-driving an electric car.

Mr. Martin wrote in a review of an electric sports car: "God, I hate those cyclists. Every last herbal tea-drinking, Harriet Harman-voting one of them.

"That's one of the reasons I live in the countryside, where birds tweet, horses roam, pigs grunt and Lycra-clad buttocks are miles away."

Mr. Martin has every right to say this, it is his personal opinion and he's welcome to it. But, it's what he says he did that is disturbing: "Twenty minutes into my test drive I pulled round a leafy bend, enjoying the birdsong – and spotted those damned Spider-Man cyclists.

"Knowing they wouldn't hear me coming, I stepped on the gas, waited until the split second before I overtook them, then gave them an almighty blast on the horn at the exact same time I passed them at speed.

"The look of sheer terror as they tottered into the hedge was the best thing I've ever seen in my rear-view mirror. I think this could be the car for me."

*headdesk* Does the phrase, "Open mouth, insert foot" mean anything to you, Mr. Martin?

Furthermore, this isn't how you should apologize. He said he was sorry for his remarks. That's great, lovely. What about the cyclists he intentionally and unnecessarily frightened and endangered? He didn't apologize to them, or say that he was out of line, which he clearly was. While this oversight may have been a calculated move to save his own ass from criminal charges, what it amounts to is blowing smoke.

The sad part is, if a cyclist sneaked up on a car and smashed a rear window with their U-lock and wrote about it in a review of the bicycle they were riding at the time, there would surely have been criminal charges. What a mess.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pulling the Plug

The racing community heard last week that professional cycling's governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), voted to phase out two-way race radios. Tighten your helmet straps, everybody, it's going to be a bumpy night.

For those who don't know, every racer wears a two-way radio that is connected to the team director in the car following the peloton. The director has access to video from the cameras following the peloton, radio broadcasts from the commissionaires on the current course conditions and where the peloton is in relation to the overall course for the day. Sounds good, right?

Those who are for the use of radios cite improved safety and better communication with riders as benefits to keeping them around. When many directors and riders heard of the decision to ban radios, their reaction was that UCI is out of touch with racing and how the game works in the 21st century. When the 2009 Tour de France prohibited radios for Stage 10, the peloton soft-pedaled the stage in apparent protest.

Michael Barry, a professional cyclist who now rides for Columbia-HTC wrote a great opinion piece for expressing why this race radio ban will ultimately be good for the sport. Riders who have never ridden without a director talking in their ear have never had to learn the finer points of tactics and are sometimes incapable of acting without an order in their ear. Sport directors have become puppeteers and their racers puppets, in a way.

What do I think? I've raced my bicycle without a team or radio and I know that it can be done successfully. Just not by me, yet. So a strong rider loses some time due waiting for a flat change because he can't talk to the car? Cry me a river. That's racing! It sucks sometimes, but that's the way the game is played.

I'll keep watching and rooting for my favorite riders, with or without race radios. Without, though, would make things a lot more interesting to watch.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Update from the Masquerading Cyclist

For inquiring minds who want to know: Yes, I did get back on the treadmill. Yes, I did stretch and swallow ibuprofen before starting. Yes, it still hurt. Although the pain wasn't as intense as before, I think this is due to the fact that I slowed down and speed-walked when the pain became intense.

I'm starting to think my sister and Dad are right; I might not be cut out to be a runner and I should stick to my bike. Well, I'm not giving up. As I told a fellow athlete who's running the 10-miler with me on Halloween: I going to run my best and go 'til I puke or my legs refuse to move.

Oh, and who turned the thermostat around here down?! The average temperature for this time of year is 66 degrees F and it has yet to clear 55 degrees this past week. Riding on Wednesday night felt like early spring, complete with a stiff wind and what seems like a lot of rain. Granted, I should be used to riding in all sorts of weather, but we've had a cool(er) summer and thus, we've been spoiled with lovely riding weather.

Ah well, here's hoping for warmer temperatures for this weekend and the coming week!

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.