I’m not sure I can describe the awesomeness that was Saturday’s Sprint Triathlon. I would love to co-write a race report with Nikki, but we had NO time this weekend so I’m hoping to sit down with her tonight. So, until then, know that it was AMAZING, she smiled CONSTANTLY except for two times when she cried (I’ll let her tell you those stories) but she quickly recovered and went back to smiling again! It is a day I will cherish FOREVER.
I do want to show you what we found when we got to transition before the race. If this isn’t a perfect example of how amazing our triathlon community is, I don’t know what better example could possibly exist.
And then the close up:
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you I cried like a baby when I saw it, right?
And to hold you over until our race report, here are some amazing pictures from the always-on-point Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville. (Check out his whole gallery here.)
Thanks for thinking of us and cheering us on from afar. I’ll post more later!
If you want to lose your faith in humanity, read the comments on any news article ever. People insult the subjects of tragic news stories like it’s a game and the prize is a trophy that says, “World’s Biggest Jackass”. Then imagine the subject of that news article is someone in your family, or a friend, or a member of your church…then read those same comments and feel your heart break a million times over. Now…make the subject of the tragedy a cyclist. Those comments become a million times worse. Commenters on news sites seem to HATE cyclists with a passion of 1000 suns. Any time a cyclist gets injured in a traffic accident, you get tons of people out of the woodwork shouting, “Good riddance!” and if those people injured were people you knew? In your community? You want to find those people writing those comments and punch them a million times. Trust me. I felt this yesterday as news spread in our triathlon community that two of our own had be involved in an accident yesterday.
So, I’m asking you to do me a favor. Especially if you’re not a cyclist/triathlete or if you know a lot of people who are not cyclists/triathletes…will you talk about my husband and I? Maybe just casually reference your friend (me) who has a husband (him) who does 100+ mile bike rides training for his Ironman. Or maybe talk about that cool bike race/time trial your friend’s husband did where they LITERALLY pushed him off a ramp to get him going. Or maybe tell the story of the time your friend’s husband’s phone fell out of the back pocket of his cycling jersey when he was speeding down a hill, so he used “find my iPhone” to track it down and discovered it smashed (of course) on the side of the road. But the weird part was there was another smashed phone right next to it!
Why should you tell those stories around your friends who aren’t cyclists?
Because we need to put humanity on the road with our loved ones. We need everyone to know someone who is a cyclist, even if it’s a few degrees of separation. We need people to want to share the road because that girl on that bike might be their friend’s wife. Or their neighbor’s husband. Or in your case – their friend’s, friend’s husband. They need to be seen as HUMAN.
It’s different for Donnie and I. We were very much an antisocial homebodies before we discovered running and triathlons, so all of our friends are the humans on the road on their bikes. If they’re not on the road on their bikes, they’re on the roads on their feet so they know plenty of cyclists. None of us see a cyclist when driving and think about anything other than the safety of both parties because that could be our friend, our spouse, or our brother. Most of the time it is someone we know. That’s how tight this community is.
But I think a lot of people see a cyclist on the road and see one thing and one thing only: FRUSTRATING INCONVENIENCE.
Do you know how people care for frustrating inconveniences? They don’t.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because a few months ago, someone shared out a photo from a local person who had taken a picture of the cyclist on the road in front of her (legally on the road, following the law and being safe, unlike the person taking the picture) and was complaining about the cyclist. Since she was local I checked to make sure we had no overalapping Facebook friends. We did not. THANK GOD. But her message was: “Look at this guy! How annoying! He’s on the road! GRR! I hate cyclists!” And what was the response of her friends? “I know! I hate cyclists! They’re so rude! Why aren’t they on the sidewalk?”
And then worse? There were several “jokes” about running him off the road.
That could have been my husband. My brother. My friend. A Mom. An aunt. A sister. A grandmother.
Here’s the thing…every city/state can/does have their own traffic laws. But cyclists always have a right to the road and – in most cases I believe – it’s illegal for the ones like my husband to be on sidewalks and greenways. They’re going too fast. Not only would they injure pedestrians, but they would inevitably get hit by a car because drivers are not accustomed to checking sidewalks at every turn, especially not for a cyclist going 20 miles an hour.
So, it’s illegal here and in most places for VERY GOOD REASONS.
Is it inconvenient for you if you are stuck behind them? Possibly. But so is getting behind a school bus at a train track. Or a piece of farm equipment. Or mail trucks. Or a driver like me who makes sure the traffic is clear for 14 miles before I turn. There are tons of inconveniences on the road. Do we wish them ill will? Well…I know people wish me ill will because I get yelled at all the time for being a Grandma Driver. But do we wish school buses or tractors ill will? No.
Are some cyclist assholes? Yep. I have had one cyclist be an asshole to me. One. Do you know how many asshole drivers I’ve encountered? Hundreds? Thousands?
Do some cyclists ignore traffic rules? Yes. My husband and I see it often and it angers us as much as it angers you. Do some cyclists do their rides on unpassable roads at rush hour? Yes. BUT STILL…not representative of all cyclists. And STILL, not an indicator that they are not someone’s sister, or someone’s grandfather. They are still PEOPLE. Just because a cyclist is not a GOOD cyclist doesn’t mean they deserve to get hit, and definitely does not mean that every cyclist ignores the law. As a matter of fact, the cyclists I know are VERY quick to correct someone doing it wrong, because they know it gives us all a bad name.
I just want everyone to get to know a cyclist. Or get to know someone who is a cyclist. It would change their perspective greatly. Legally, they are allowed the road, that’s not going to change. I’m sorry if that’s an inconvenience to you (and it can’t be THAT bad of an inconvenience, they’re not everywhere at all times) but it’s a fact of life. Get over it. But can we at least try to spread stories and knowledge about cyclists so that everyone at least knows someone who knows a cyclist? Make your friends and family think of you when they see a cyclist. Maybe they’ll think, “Hmmm…I remember that story Susan told about her friend’s husband who lost his phone on a bike ride once. That was a crazy story.” and they’ll remember the person in front of them is a human being with friends and family.
In my small community alone, before yesterday, I knew of several people who had been hurt while riding and even some that had been killed. And my community is small. But yesterday? It hit closer to home. Two people from my husband’s Tri Team were hit. And now it’s all I can think about. How dangerous this hobby is, even though it shouldn’t be.
So…will you just tell our stories to your friends? To your family? Especially if you don’t know any cyclists in your community. Then probably neither do your friends or family. Talk about us so that your friends and your family will think of YOU when they see a cyclist. Remind everyone those are real people on the road. Don’t stand for anyone you know bashing cyclists. Remind them that there are asshole drivers too, but that doesn’t mean they all are. Look up the laws in your area. Remind them that it’s illegal (I’m assuming everywhere, because it would be so unsafe, but I’m not certain) for fast cyclists to be on the sidewalk or greenways. (If I’m seriously training, I’m even too fast for the sidewalk and greenway, and I’m the slowest of all of my friends.)
And think of our two friends who were hurt yesterday. One with minor injuries, but another with more serious injuries that required surgery and a hospital stay. These women are experienced cyclists/Ironmen. The fact that they were involved in an accident gave me nightmares last night because I tend to use my husband’s experience as a reason to relax more about his safety. Instead, last night, I dreamt of him being hit. I woke up terrified and sick. This accident yesterday hit too close to home. And seeing the comments on the local news stories basically celebrating this? Fuels a rage I never knew I had.
So! I did my longest run yet this weekend, although the heat had me walking a lot of the last few miles as I was finishing it up around 1pm. I did 15 miles and – other than the heat – I felt good.
And it got me thinking…I’ve not talked about how I’m fueling now as a vegan.
It also got me thinking…Why do cold showers get a bad wrap? They’re FANTASTIC.
But back to the vegan thing…
My main source of non-food running fuel (I prefer real food if I can do that, but it’s not always ideal) for last ultra season was the Running Gummy. Ever brand has their own, I didn’t mind the “Fruit Smoothie” flavor from Honey Stinger or the “Watermelon” flavor from Gu. But – as many of you know – gelatin is animal derived so that’s out. I knew that from day 01. What I didn’t know, was that there are several other ingredients that can be animal derived. As a matter-of-fact, Gu seems to catch people off guard because initially it appears vegan, but if you look at the addendum/comments in this write-up and this one you’ll see that bigger writers than I are quick to get corrected on this.
The point? It’s hard to tell.
And while I hate the word “vegan” for that reason “YOU CAN’T HAVE THAT, IT’S NOT VEGAN!” (This comes from BOTH sides, by the way, from vegans and omnivores) – I do try to stay vegan if I can and if it doesn’t go against any other ethical consumer issues I have. (Example: I buy locally made honey because A) it supports my local economy and B) It supports my local honey bees)) BUT! With running fuel, I’m flexible and have no ethical issues SO! I’m trying to stay vegan if I can.
This is the one I decided on: Strawberry Cliff Gel. It’s 90% organic, the ingredients aren’t scary synthetic, and I found several sources confirming it is vegan friendly.
THAT SAID. If you find a good sale on bulk, you’re still looking at about $1 each. And if you buy it by walking in a brick-and-mortar store, like I usually do, you’re looking closer to $1.75 each.
SO! If I need that super-portability (so tiny!) or if I need that caffeine boost, that’s what I use. But for that general, “Energy after 3 miles” type of need I’ve been carrying baby food with me! I’ve bought those squeeze apple-sauce type packets (in the applesauce section at Target) 4 for $2 – which is cheaper than the gels – and I’ve been running with those. They’re portable enough to fit in my hydration pack, don’t require chewing (like real food often does), but they give me a 60 calorie boost. Not as much as a 100 calorie boost from gels, but it’s a good trade-off for the feeling of eating real food and also for the cost.
I actually haven’t used a gel in weeks, I did my run Saturday entirely on applesauce packets. My energy level stayed FINE the entire 15 miles. It was just the heat that nearly killed me. The brand I’ve found actually has several flavors with the applesauce: peach, pear, berry, mango…so I’ve got a variety. I’m not sure how appetizing they’ll seem if I’m cold, but for now I love them. I look forward to my baby food breaks on my run.
So! That’s how my fueling has changed since I’ve been trying the vegan thing. I know you’ve been losing sleep over this.
I wrote an entry here that touched on some of the cold-weather gear I was using in an upcoming race, but my friend Lisa asked about running gear so I thought I’d do another one, maybe more aimed at hot weather.
It’s summer, staying hydrated is much more essential this time of year. Every new runner HATES all of the water options at first. The most common ones are hand-held, waist belt, and hydration pack (backpack). Trust me when I tell you – they will ALL take getting used to.
I like the hand-held water bottle the best. I wore a waist belt for awhile but it just irritated me. I’m so used to the hand-held bottle now that when I run without it I feel completely off-balance. I choose this one because it A) Holds my iPhone and B) Can fit all of the generic/free water bottles we often get at races. That’s the thing I hate about most hand-held systems, they ONLY use that ONE water bottle so you have to be diligent about washing it every time you use it. I like that we can use any of the small/standard generic bottles in our house.
However, that bottle only lasts me about 3 miles in the heat of the summer. So, I often use a hydration pack. My pack has survived 3 trail-running seasons when you need to carry more water on you because setting up aid is more difficult on the trails. I definitely recommend buying one with pockets on the front straps. These packs are all well-designed in that they’re adjustable in 100 different ways so you can set yours up to fit your perfectly. I love filling mine with ice in the summer before putting water in it so I get the added perk of a cool surface on my back in hot sun.
In the winter I swear by the full buff to keep my face warm but during the summer I swear by the headband buff. Not only does it keep my frizzies hidden but it helps catch the sweat from my hair so it’s not pouring down my face while I run. I would not go on a run without one. UNLESS…
It’s raining at which time I wear a visor. That’s really the only time you’ll see me in a visor, is in the rain. You really need a hat/visor to help keep the rain out of your face because that’s really the only bad thing about running in the rain. Especially in the summer when running in the rain feels AWESOME, you don’t want to be constantly cursing it and unable to enjoy it. If there’s even a threat of rain, I’ll throw on a visor. (If you can, choose a visor like HEADSWEATS that has the added plus of the sweat absorbing fabric.) I don’t wear a hat because A) I have too much hair and have yet to try one that fits and B) They smoosh the hair to my head making my head REALLY hot.
Obviously cotton is a HUGE No-No when you run, but especially in the summer. Cotton will hold your sweat against your body and you will get hotter as you sweat instead of cooler. My favorite clothing winter AND summer is the running skirt I bought last fall on sale at Fleet Feet. It’s the Brooks Mesh Skort. It’s super flattering AND it has long enough shorts to cover my chaffing spots on my thighs. Also, the shorts have that anti-move sticky stuff on the inside so they won’t ride up as you run. And finally – the best part? A hidden pocket on the shorts, under the skirt. It’s perfect for a pack of gummies or some chapstick or anything else, really. I don’t know why all skorts don’t have a pocket there because it’s GENIUS. I only have one of these skirts but it gets washed at least twice a week because it’s my favorite so I wear it the most often. I’ve probably gotten 100 wears out of it and it’s not even a year old (trying to justify spending $50 on it). I even wear it in the winter as long as it’s 40 or above. Below 40 and I’ll wear my running tights, but at 40 or above I’ll wear the skirt and some compression socks.
Speaking of compression…
I wear Zensa sleeves when I run in the winter just to help prevent shin splints. HOWEVER, everyone should have some compression socks to put on AT LEAST for recovery after a run. There’s debate about whether or not they’re helpful DURING a run, but almost everyone supports wearing them AFTER. I’ve worn compression socks all day following a long run. My favorite are these from Swiftwick and while the price makes you want to puke a little – I’ve been using the same pair for 2 years now and they still feel amazing. And I don’t even take special care of any of my gear. If I tell you something has lasted X amount of time, know that I’m throwing that shit in the dryer every time I wash it. I don’t bother with hanging stuff to dry. I’m too lazy and it irritates me to have to sort through stuff before throwing it in the dryer.
SO! That’s about it for my gear! Any other questions about stuff I use while I run?
This is a weird time of year for me. I kinda felt it last summer, but I was so stressed about my first triathlons that I at least had other things to focus on, even if I didn’t have any major running goals. This is the time of year I let Donnie lead the training schedule, I plan my runs around his workouts. And since he’s training for an Ironman in September, he’s working out twice a day many days, on Saturdays he could be gone for 5+ hours depending on where he’s going for his long bike ride. So, I squeeze in what I can, when I can.
My goal was to try to hang around 30 miles a week still this summer, which I’m getting close to. I’m usually hitting 24 or more, but never quite hitting 30 like I had hoped. It’s just tough because I’m doing my “long” runs on the weekends in the middle of the afternoon when it’s hot and I’m often alone which makes it very difficult to motivate myself to do more than 6 miles which is my standard running distance. If I’m getting out? I’d like to do at least 6 miles. And this time of year? It’s hard to motivate myself to do more.
Our Tuesday night Cross Country runs started last week, so that helps me get six miles in pretty easily at a time where Donnie never needs a workout. And our Fleet Feet has a Thursday night fun run that started last week too, I’ll be doing that. It’s scheduled to give me 5, but I can add one before just to give me the 6 I usually like. So, that’s two runs WITH people every week. But the weekends? OH MAN, THEY ARE KILLING ME.
On Saturday I really struggled to leave the house. It was hot and I was tired and I had no reason to run. That’s my problem, without a race to train for, I have a really hard time getting out the door. I know I need a good base so I do it, but man…I can not bring myself to do much. I tricked myself this weekend by do 3.5 miles out along a straight path from my house. I knew if I could make it the 3.5 miles, then I would have to come home and there’s not shorter route than straight back. To push myself to the 3.5 miles mark, I brought some money to buy a gatorade with at a gas station. That’s the other problem, in this heat? I drink 20 ounces EASY over 3-4 miles. So I have to either A) carry my hydration pack which I don’t want to do in the heat or B) plan for an aid stop or drop somewhere.
But this trick worked, I forced myself the 3.5 miles to the gas station. I relished my cold Gatorade, and made it home. That may become my standard Saturday route even though it’s flat and straight and BORING AS SHIT.
Sundays I might have more chances to find people to run with. Donnie’s workouts are shorter so he won’t mind sometimes giving me the morning, and I have friends who can’t run Sunday mornings so Sunday afternoons would work for them. Sundays I can work with. And if I keep tricking myself on Saturday’s then I might start getting the 30 miles per week I need until I start ramping up at the end of July.
It’s just hard. I know I’m a runner. I have no problem wearing that title. But MAN, I hate the summer and I hate not having something specific to train for. Even for me, a self-declared runner, it’s hard to get out that damn door.