Friday, November 30, 2007

Time for a check

Since most of us are out of doors on a regular basis, and sweat like pigs which dilutes or removes sun screen, its time for a skin check.

Skin cancer isn't anything to play with or ignore as many of us are finding out. My teammate Katie is one of them. She has had melanoma removed. This is serious stuff.

One of the best marathon runners in the world, Deena Drossin, has also been affected. And today on cycling news, Amber Neben.

I've been trying to get an appointment to see a dermatologist for awhile now. The earliest appointment I can get is late April, and most of them aren't taking new patients unless they have a diagnosis of cancer. That in and of itself is cause for alarm. Get checked. One of my former bosses died of melanoma.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Angels Amongst Us

Have you ever seen such a haul! Too bad I didn't get the "ta dah" picture, which was a huge trailer, with all the bikes in it.
It's amazing what a few people can do to make the lives of someone else better.

From our HR dept.-
The Angel Tree campaign was a great success due to the kindness and generosity of our employees. You will be happy to hear we sponsored 110 angels providing clothes, toys and special items from their wish lists. This included 24 bikes! It took 2 pickups, 3 SUV’s, a car and a trailer to get all the gifts to the distribution center.

Now if I could only ride my bike to work! (no bikes allowed on the Wiley Bridge. Grrr....)

Serious Eye Candy

And yeah, I stole the picture, but it's worth it...

Is he tasty or what?

Thats Michael Lovato, tri- guy, nice guy, funny guy.

My idea of a perfect combination (except for that swim stuff.)

Bikes Begone!

No, thankfully, not my bike. But... sometimes I'm as dumb as a post, and last night it could have been my bike.

I went to Endorphin for our Cycor computrainer race night, and had the pleasure of inviting the best urologist/biker in Richmond to ride on a trainer next to me. We love Ike, and if you ever have pee pee issues, he's the go to guy. Needless to say, we rode hard, and I was soaking wet, and whipped when I got home. I went inside, got the dogs in, and jumped in the tub, then went to bed.

Thankfully, when I went out to go to work, Dottie my Lapierre was still on the bike rack where I left her. Thats the joy of living where I live. While I won't say that there is NO crime in Goochland, there is significantly less crime than in the city or surrounding counties. I can pretty much guarantee that anywhere in the City that if I had left that bike on the rack and went inside for more than 10 minutes it would have been gone.

I look at Craigslist a couple times a week, and check out the mountain bike forums on Richmond-More. Sadly, its just about daily that bikes are stolen. Stolen from garages, porches, from inside locked vehicles. Leave a bike on the porch and run in and get something you forgot, yeah, its gone.

So thank my lucky stars Dottie is still with me. I'm going to have to make one of those signs that all my friends who have garages and bikes on the roof rack use. You know, the flip down sign that says, "STOP!!! Bike on roof!" Mine will go on the front door... "STOP! Bike on rack! Go GET IT!!"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Joys of Kid's Bikes

I'll say it again, I work at a fabulous place. Colony is a huge believer in "Give Back" and while we normally adopt about 10 families, the new HR manager decided that we would adopt an entire Angel Tree. That's about 200 kid's for Christmas.

No sweat. I got my Angel, and had a blast buying clothes and toys. For someone who doesn't have kids like me, it was a fun way to get in the Christmas spirit.

Ok, not fun. The guys in the mail room came hunting for me. Seems that everyone went to the big box stores and got kid's bikes that need to be assembled. So of course they immediately thought of me. You know, the chick who is constantly getting those huge boxes that contain bikes and wheels and other goodies.

Too bad I didn't also get the case of wine that should be here any day from my wine club. I could have used a bottle or three while trying to put these things together. Have you ever tried to put together one of these pieces of crap, um, bikes? Nothing works. I spent an hour trying to get simple cantilever brakes to actually lie flat on the rim. One rim. I finally had to bag the whole deal and go back to work. Face it, exactness and kids bikes just don't go together.
So all thru the land, little kids will wake up on Christmas morning to their first bikes under the tree.... Slapped together by yours truely. It's a frightening thought.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thule ROCKS!

I have a wonderful Thule 4 bike hitch. Love it, love it, love it. One of the rubber straps broke, and I couldn't find the right replacement part on the website.

If you've read some of my posts, bad customer service really chaps my ass. Really good customer service, is a great thing. Thule wrote the book on customer service. Not only was the chick on the other end of the phone happy, and helpful... when I told her what the problem was, she put it down as a warranty issue and is sending me all new cradles for the bikes. Then she told me that they are tight, to use dishwashing liquid to get the cradles on the bars.

I think I have a new best friend. She went skiing in Vermont this weekend, was impressed that we were still riding here. Its a fabulous thing to have customer service people who use their own products, know them, and know how you use them. I'm pumped.

So if you need a bike rack, buy a Thule. They rock.

The Bravest of the Brave

Ok, I don't necessarily mind riding in the rain. Its a pain, you have to clean your bike real well afterwards, and the chances of flats goes up, but what the heck. You race in the rain, you'd better be used to riding in the rain.

All bets are off when you are talking about winter. Riding when its cold and rainy just totally sucks. J and I still talk about the Jeff Cup we did in the rain which actually didn't seem so bad at the time, until the end of the race when we couldn't shift or brake on the way back to the van, and then had to help each other get undressed as our fingers wouldn't work. (6 guys just got that dreamy look on thier faces and started a low chuckle...) I can tell you it wasn't such a fantasy for us, more like Nightmare on Jeff Cup Street.

So when it started to rain on Sunday, I was pretty sure that no one would come for the women's ride. Wrong. Three of us made it, and it was exactly the three that I thought. I had called J and told her not to drive the hour up, so I knew she wouldnt be there, but Katie and Jenn, were there ripping to go. And like most things, once we got started, it got better. Then it just flat out got fun.

I love riding with the guys, but every now and again its a blast to ride and have girlie talk. We did some season planning, discussed pt stuff, and other stuff you cant print. Jenn is pumped for the season and is getting stronger all the time. Now that she and Katie have figured out that they live within spitting distance of each other, they can help each other out. Its a match made in heaven.

And having Jenn around... I cant rotate pictures, and Jenn is this amazing graphic artist. When you see our new team stuff, its going to be Jenn's work. Finding her was one of my big accomplishments for the year. Not to mention she does great things for my ego. I've been doing my best to loose a pound or twenty, and having her go Wow! makes those efforts worthwhile.

Now if only I could get that Jillian chick from the Biggest Looser on the team. I'd like to know how she gets people to loose 20 lbs in a week. Crap, I'd like to loose more than one a week! I bet she'd scare those pounds right off of you... This year I'm not going to be an "Old Chick who gets fat and slow in the winter!"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Center of the Universe

That would be Ashland, Virginia to the uninitiated... Or on Saturdays, its also called Bike Mecca.

Cliff and I did our routine on Saturday of showing up for the ABC ride an hour early so that we could go run 5 miles. It was 19 degrees at the house, and 21 in the parking lot as we started. 21 running really isn't that bad unless the wind is blowing really hard. Lucky for us, it was blowing about 10 mph. The run was great, 1/2 on road, 1/2 trail, it just didnt get much better.

Then back to the van to pick up J for our ride. This was when things got tough. It was probably about 25 degrees, and the wind was picking up. That's just plain miserable. The Ashland ride can pull several hundred riders on a good day, and you could tell that it was NOT a good day as there were less than 10 riders not counting us.

The first ten miles were just awful. Both J and I were having a rough time with our hands and I swear I thought the tips of my fingers were just going to fall off. At least I hoped they were as they hurt so bad. Normally I have hot hands, so I bring two pairs of gloves, the start off ones with Windstopper, and another light pair to switch into after a few miles. I never got out the light ones as my hands never really got warm. Ouch.

When we got to Ashland Coffee & Tea, the most bike friendly shop in the universe, the talk quickly got to technical gear. I'm a big believer in having the right clothes for the event. My friend Paul fell in freezing water during an ultra trail marathon he was running with us. Cliff fished him out and we were sure he was going to die as it was in the low teens. Paul had on the right gear and was dry within about a mile. Technical stuff really can save your life.

During the ride my body was fine due to a Goretex jacket. My feet were very toasty warm with my Pearl Izumi fleece lines booties. I didn't even need wool socks. I just put bike shorts over my running tights and the legs were fine. I really am going to have to find a better pair of gloves for the cold and windy days though. Good stuff costs money, but not nearly as much as the misery and cost of treating frostbite.

Its a good thing that our winters are so short. This cold stuff with wind just sucks.

For something that doesn't suck, pull up ACT's website and check out their listening room. We went and had dinner and saw Susan Greenbaum play last night. I keep waiting for her to make a breakthru and hit the big time, for the time being, you can catch her every now and again at the most bike friendly place in the Universe.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Counting Pennies

I'm not a big one for the Black Friday madness, and in general the idea of shopping at Christmas time gives me the willies. This morning, I needed a new front deraileur as like a dolt, I ordered the wrong size in a grouppo and couldn't return it. Doh!

So 7 am I'm in Performance Bike, they have one without the box that they let me have at a big disocount. Thanks! Performance was having a 20% off sale, so I got some tubes and socks and stuff and gave the kid at the cash register my card, and the coupon. He rang it all up, and told me the total which seemed high. So I asked him if he took the 20% off and he said yes. The person behind me started to get checked out and out of habit I scanned the reciept. Nope, he hadn't taken the 20%, he thought the computer automatically did it.

No problem, with many apologies, he credited back my card, then re-rang everything, apologized some more, and did everything but fall on his sword. Nice kid. No worries, but looking at that reciept saved me over $27.00. To some of us schmucks, thats real money.

Dicks had a coupon to get my running shoes, today only for $59.00. There's a Dicks at the Stony Point Mall, which is DEAD. So I went in, got my shoes from a rack, and went to the front cashiers. Four cashiers. I gave the front line "manager" my shoes, and the coupon which she balled up and threw in the trash. Then she told me the charge was $72 something. I told her the shoes were $59.00 that I had the coupon. She told me thats right they rang up $69.00. ? Ok, I explained to her that I had the coupon, they were $59.00. Then we proceeded to a circular conversation until another cashier walked over, took the coupon out of the trash, and showed it to her. Then they proceeded to have a conversation as she handed me the pen to sign the reciept.

Ok, two stores, two totally different reactions. The Performance Store was a honest mistake, the kid apologized, and all is good. Dicks.. that sucks. There is a great poster about customer service that says something along the lines of, "if we ignore our customers long enough, maybe they'll go away." I think I"ll send a link to it to the Dicks Customer Service email address.

So this holiday season, while you are out helping out the economy, take a gander at your sales reciept in the store. I hit two stores, and had both overcharge me. That's 100% of my transactions for the day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Marshall Mechanical Women's Road Racing Team

I want to give a big shout out to Ann Hardy (pictured) and Emily Helmbolt who are taking the initiative to start up a women's racing team. Ann and Emily are some of the best and smartest racers around, and I know that they'll have a kick ass team. The more women oriented teams there are, the better off we'll all be.

So here's to you, Ann and Emily! I know that you'll have a great team, and I can't wait to race against you!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dream a little dream

Saturday night I had a dream that I was fast again. Not J fast, but the old me fast. When I woke up and looked at the paper, the race had corrected my time and had me down as running 40:08. So just by dreaming on it, suddenly I WAS faster. (still sucks though.)
Sunday we all gathered for the infamous Hadensville Hill Ride, and before we started, the whaling and gnashing of teeth about the fact that "F***, Karen its 29 DEGREES! cries were starting. I have a sign by the front door that says, "NO WHINING!" I just kept pointing to it. 29 degrees is bad, but when you are climbing you get warm, and there was no wind. Of course, decending is kinda bad now that I think about it.
Our first adventure was on Rt 250 with Cliff up the road when suddenly from the left I see two pit bulls flying across the yard to intersect us. Pit bulls cant run fast for far, but for a short distance they can sure get a jump on you. So we sprinted hard and then heard the sickening soft tissue thump as the leader was hit by an oncoming car.
We got to the bottom of the hill and collected Cliff and headed back up to see what we could do. The dog was in the woods and I had to go wake up the owners and convince them to come out of the house to try to do something. I was sure I was going to get shot. Turns out the dogs never leave the yard per the owner, she lets them out of a kennel to play. She didnt know where the third dog was, the one on 3 legs as a car had hit him, but her sweeties... Beyonce' and Cody would NEVER go in the road. That was it for me, exit stage left.
We got to the store in Hadensville and poor Katie chose that moment to go for broke. Two brothers in the parking lot heard us hollering at her and decided to join the fray. I think it was the highlight of their day stopping that crazy red head from pumping all the way to Charlottesville! You've never heard such cackling, and name calling. They were hysterical.
As soon as we left the store, a bad car crash happened right in front of us. Whamo! That one, we didnt stay for. Dogs are one thing. 29 degrees, and now wet from climbing we were not going to wait around for cops to come.
So next time you are bored, come join us on the Hadensville ride. Its always an adventure.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

NASA, we have lift off

I know that everyone has been waiting with baited breath to see if I did or did not meet my goal in the 8k today. Some 4 weeks of running after putting up the goal, I ran 40:07 this morning vs. the 50 minute goal. Yeah! Yeah, it still sucks. Thats a suckfest time if there ever was one, but, it's my first race post-surgery, so I'll take it. In fact, I'm going to call it my new PR, or PR-PR.. for post recovery personal record.

Julie was sure that I'd run much less than 50 once I got out on the course and the old "Grusome Growler" juices got flowing. She wasn't wrong. I was going to be content to sit about mid pack in the corrals, until I was told to move up. Its a shame that the people that told me to move up didn't tell some of the walkers to move back. I bet they would have had a much better time if they hadn't had those pesky fast folks running their asses over. I took me forever to get to the start line, and then I had to play dodge walker with people who were walking 3 abreast ahead of me. Grrrrrr.....

Once I was able to break free, it was a fabulous run. Too bad they had clocks out there, because I thought I was running really fast again. If I just didn't look at how slow everyone else was running, I could imagine myself back in the old days.

You have to take each day for what it gives you though, and for me, this was a stellar accomplishment. I ran 8k, I didn't get hurt, and I really exceeded what I thought I could do. Now I'm thinking about all the races coming up, and if I just do some interval workouts behind(way behind) Julie, I might just be able to sneak up in time before bike season. It will take a lot of ice, and a lot of motrin... but it just might work.

And... if I needed anything else to be thankful for today, I'm thankful I still have my teeth. I got on Dottie and headed out to bring James some gels and fluids. Unfortunately the expansion joints on the Lee Bridge had other things in mind for me, and I ended up with 2 flat tires. At least I didnt get stuck in the joint like I was afraid of as I hit it. I like my teeth. I had to walk almost 2 1/2 miles to get to where Julie's husband Dave could get me as I didnt have enough tubes. (who has 2 flats at once?) In the process I got to see James, but couldnt get his stuff to him. Im thankful I have such great friends that they'd come get me, thankful for my teeth, and thankful that James made it in dispite me. It was a good day.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Marathon Madness

The Richmond Marathon is tommorrow and all thru the land the familiar battle cry of "Oh, God! What am I gonna wear!" is echoing thru the halls. Temps are going to be about 35-40 at the start and will hit 50 by noon. Ok, folks that is PERFECT weather. Perfect. Unless you are James, who thought that last years temps that hit the 80's mid race was perfect. He's a cyclist thru and thru. Runners were laying down and dying (not literally) last year. James was having a field day.

It's not going to be like that part of A Christmas Story, where the kids dare each other to stick their tongue onto a pole. Thats cold. This is going to be chilly. Think throw away shirt, or my fav, a black Hefty bag with holes torn for your head and arms. You have to remember to tear the arm holes. A friend of mine asked why one time and I know I gave her the dumbass look of all time as we were walking over rough ground. You tear holes to protect that nice and probably expensive dental work that your Mom and Dad scrimped for...
I told James to wear arm skins so that he could peel them down and hand them to me. I'm betting I find him in long sleeves, gloves, and maybe a jacket. At least the homeless people make out well on Marathon Day, all that nice stuff people throw off as they over heat... its a good thing.
Me, I'm going to run the 8k, run back to the Queen Cab, and get Dottie out of the back. I'd normally bring my mtn bike, Boo Boo, but Cliff isnt coming, and she doesn't fit in the back of the truck. No way I'm leaving an expensive bike on a bike rack in town. I'll hookup with James at a few places on the course that his wife can't get to, and give him his fluids and gels, and then head back to the finish to cheer him on.
So head on downtown on Saturday. Park way out and ride your bike in. You'll be glad you did. Susan Greenbaum is playing at the finish line, there will be tons of people to cheer for, and I guarantee you a good time. (or your money back.)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I think I can, I think I can

I don't know why, but I like to suffer. Shhhh, its a secret. Why else would I have Molly at Endorphin, load up Wintergreen onto the computrainer last night. I could have ridden rollers with James, but I like to suffer, not go flying wildly into walls and stuff.
So what did I do, I rode the computrainer and kept trying to catch the wench in the red shorts who was on the computer screen in front of me. The harder I rode, the harder she road. I just know that she was laughing at me. Who was I to think that I could catch her in her snazzy red shorts and jog bra!
Of course I was never going to catch her. She represented me. Ok, maybe a little skinnier, but she was still me. When I was suffering, she was suffering. She just looked better than me an wasn't making those disgusting noises I make as I slog my way up the steep stuff.
48 minutes of solid suffering. James just shook his head. Yeah, why would a relatively nice, almost normal person put themselves thru that... especially since this is the OFF SEASON (his emphasis). I think he really just wanted to see me go airborne when I'd get bored on the rollers. He likes suffering too, just not his own!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Its a disease...

Ok, I admit it. I'm seriously addicted to good deals. Fact is, I'm just a bargain slut. Put my nose on the trail of a good buy, and like a Walker Hound on a 'coon, I'll be out all night until I have that sucker treed. I'm not alone, my friend Paul finds haggling with car dealers to be so much fun that he offers to do it for anyone that he knows who is looking to buy. Paul can make car salesmen cry. He's my hero.

I've been running with my friend, Katie. Katie has a beautiful daughter that she brings with us, which is seriously cool. Running pushing a bike trailer... not so cool. Think pushing a mack truck. So I went on a mission to find Katie a really nice baby jogger.
Isn't it pretty! These things are very expensive, but thru the magic of Craigslist, Katie now has a pink and purple jogger. Kylie's favorite color is pink. It's kismet. All of this for $30.00. The lady who sold it to me was so pissed. I don't think she knew how much her hubby paid for it, and as I was writing the check, he asked her how much she sold it for... I dont think there was marital accord in their house last night.
So if you really need something, ask. I bet with a few hours lead I can find it. Cheap. I love a good challenge.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Questions, Questions

James sent me an email this morning that he sent to all his friends... you know, one of those getting to know you things that you did in MIDDLE SCHOOL! Geez, James. Funny thing is though, we all have all these acquaintences, but not many of us really know each other any more. By the time I was 20, we had moved about 20 times. No kidding. I am really good at making acquaintences, and have precious few true friends. The friends I have, I tend to hold very dear. Can you count more than 5 friends? I can't. But I know and admire a whole lot of people.

Do you really know your friends? Maybe that silly email questionaire wasn't so silly after all. And in case you got one from me, I'm still wearing those white cycling socks with the holes in them. Just like James...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Living Each Day


Saturday was a fabulous day. Crisp, blue skies, chilly temps that we should have for this time of year, and a stiff wind to challenge us. It lined up to be just about a perfect day, the kind of day that you look forward to.

I started off with a 5 mile run with Cliff just before sunrise. When I used to show horses, I knew that this was the kind of day that you were likely to get bucked off, as that crisp weather brings out the hyjinks in all of us. It was the same for me and Cliff as this was probably the fastest I've run in more than a year as the weather made me feel so good.

Back at the van we amassed a group of riders... Katie and a bunch of the new Natures Path girls and headed out on our ride. I seem to have killed another computer as I was going to use the Garmin, and it was DEAD. I don't know what it is about me, but technology, especially bike computers, have trouble around me. So pace was a bit iffy with me in the lead, and I had to rely on if the person behind me was still there, or not.

Coming back in was much better, as we split up and joined a bunch of guys coming back. There were probably 2 young guys, 6 or so older fast guys, and me and Katie. It didn't take long for the young guys to get gapped and Katie and I had to sprint around them to catch the fine wine guys. Cliff, of course, was in the lead, killing everyone. He's such an animal. I don't think we ever so the "kids" again. I always wonder what they would have thought if they really knew that the age of the guys who just dropped them was anywhere from 55-65. Anyway, it was an exhilerating ride back. I knew that I'd be on the ice packs later, but you have to give it your all every now and again.

When I got home, I went to the computer to see the results of the men's Olympic marathon trials. The trials were in NYC, on a 5 lap, tough, tough, course. This was probably going to be one of the best men's fields ever, and I had really wanted to go, but couldn't. Halfway thru reading (thanks Weldon and Robert) J called. We were both in shock.

I had skipped to the message board, and had started with the early log ins on the race, and they were talking about how great Ryan Hall had done, what happened to Meb, and that now that Ryan Shay had died, maybe Hall was the future of American distance running. Ryan died?

To be honest I was thinking "dying a big dog death." AKA, he fell apart and didnt do well. (A phrase that I've been known to act out from time to time.) The further I read I kept seeing questions, "Did Ryan die?" What happend to Ryan?

Ryan Shay, 5x National Champion from the 5k to the marathon, died of ? at mile 5.5 of the trials. How does it happen to a 28 year old elite athelete, in the best shape of his life. It wasn't the pace, they started off slow. Someone has mentioned that he had an enlarged heart, but so do most really good ones. The autopsy is today and it will be weeks after that before the real story comes out, if they can ever figure it out.

I wish Ryan's family peace with the memory of a young man who lived every day to the fullest. He was an outstanding person, who died doing what he loved, surrounded by the best and brightest of the US runners, many of whom were his training partners. It was just way, way, too soon.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A typical Colony Halloween

I work in a pretty unusual office. We like to have fun. In fact, its not really about having fun, its about bonding, and beating the crap out of the other departments. Here are some photos from our version of "Deal Or No Deal" for the Halloween skits that each dept had to do. That's Renee who was our contestant. Renee blew everyone away, I see an acting career in her future. Of course, the whole episode was videotaped so that people could be blackmailed in the future, and we're going to send the tape off to the producers in hopes of actually getting Renee on the show.

As I have little in the way of acting skills, I was one of the "ladies" who carry the briefcases. Of course, being a big money kind of girl, mine had the million dollars in it. Too bad Renee didn't pick it.

So who's did she pick? Yep, thats my big boss, "Candy Graham." Cool isn't it to have a boss, who has a wicked sick sense of humor isn't it!