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Fear

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Fear can be a great motivator. But it can also hold you back.

When I started teaching my Learn to Run class this summer, one of the major themes from the newbies was that running was a way of tackling something they fear. One amazing woman said this year she was doing all of the things that she was afraid of.

I was lucky in that I never really felt that fear when I started running. But it’s been an entirely different story when it comes to the bike.

The bike is scary ya’ll.

Think about it: you can go up to 30 mph on a downhill, only some foam and plastic between your skull and the road. Cars pass too close or don’t see you on a curve. The shoulder isn’t wide enough. And what happens if you pop a tire 20 miles from home?

I’ve always thought that running was much easier. You don’t go nearly as far, so if you end up having to turn back for some reason, it’s usually doable. You can run on gravel, out of the way of traffic. And finally, I’ve always found biking alot more tiring than running.

It’s alot of excuses. But what it ultimately meant was that I have this amazing road bike that I’m too afraid to take out on the road.
Did you read that? A road bike that I’m afraid to take on the road.

That’s ridiculous. So today I strapped on my helmet and headed out. I tackled my fear head on. I brought my phone with me just in case I needed to call someone to pick me up, but guess what? I didn’t need it.

I only rode ten, hilly, exhausting miles, but I could have stayed home.

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Turn around point on Co. 11 and Co. 2. I discovered after I turned around that I had been riding with the wind the whole way out. Go figure.

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Rocketman

You know, I really was planning on doing my race report from the Falls Duathlon right away.  But life got in the way and now I’m waiting for my mom to send me the pictures from race day.  In the mean time, however, I’m too excited to wait to write about my most recent experience.

As I explained a while back, I got a new road bike in the fall.  This was the first time I’ve ever had a road bike.  I then went ahead and bought SPD pedals and bike shoes.  I bought the bike too late to ride it last year, so early this spring I started thinking about getting outside and training on the new bike.

I was more than a little anxious, bordering on scared, to get on the new bike.  Everything was different: the gear shifting mechanism, the brakes, the seat, the tires, and especially the pedals.  That, combined with uncooperative weather, meant that I didn’t get on my bike for the first time until Monday.

Monday morning I went out my front door and clipped my left foot cautiously into the pedal.  I’d been warned by pretty much every I know who owns “clip-in” pedals, that I would fall at least a couple of times when I was just getting started.  A little voice in my head told me to just get on with it, and so I took off.  Miraculously, my right foot clipped in immediately.  I went down the street a bit, slowed, took my right foot out of the pedal, and came to a stop.  No falling.  I kept going like that until I discovered that the SPD pedals weren’t that big of a deal after all.  I was enjoying flying down the street, my feet and legs feeling strong in the pedals.

This evening, I took the bike out for my very first “official” ride of the season (better late than never).  I went out with my mom on the Douglas Trail near Rochester.  We ended up riding 16 miles on the trail, probably the farthest I’ve ridden in the last year, and discovered as we finished the ride that I was still feeling strong.

As I went down the trail, clicking the gears into place, I felt like I had strapped a rocket to my back.  Lacking a computer, I have no idea how fast I was going, but my mom’s computer topped off at 22mph as she tried to catch up to me.

I felt like Lance Armstrong.  And though I’m pretty sure I didn’t look like this:

I’ll settle for this:

Hey look! Those are my bike shoes!

When I got home, I couldn’t get Elton John’s “Rocketman” out of my head.

What song is the background for your workouts?

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Stats

Age:   55

Years cycling:  29

Current bikes owned:  4

Average miles in a single year:  4,000

Today I’m starting a new feature on my blog, an interview with someone I consider an “expert” in his or her fitness field.  Today I’d like to introduce you to someone who knows what he’s talking about.  You can judge for yourself here, but I can vouch for him.  He’s been giving me good advice for the past 29 years!

 

First off, can I just say, 4,000 miles in a single year!!!!

Now on to the question and answer portion of our post…

 

When and why did you first become interested in cycling? 1980 or 81 – had arthroscopic surgery on both knees.. doctor suggested I should not be running anymore due to the wear on my meniscus cartilage.

What was your first bike?  Bought from the neighbor across the street – SEAR ultralight (I think) weighed about 30 lbs!

What suggestions or advice do you have for a person new to cycling? Get a decent bike, but not a “cheap” bike,  stay away from the “department store” bikes – go to a bike shop – you get what you pay for.  Start out with achievable goals…  don’t try and ride 30 miles the first time out.. start out low and work your way up – you legs and butt will thank you.

What do you suggest for cyclists during the winter months?  Do Spinning classes or stationary bike, or get a resistance trainer for your road bike.  Don’t forget to do some strength training too.

What equipment/gear can you not live without?  Helmet.  Cycle computer (need to know distance, time, etc).  Decent shoes and bike shorts or gel saddle cover for those long rides.  I also need to know how to fix a flat and then carry a spare tube and the tools necessary to do the job.

What do you love most about cycling?  The freedom to cover greater distances and see more things than you can with walking or running.. Great aerobic exercise without much risk of the type of injury you would see with running.

What are your favorite routes in Southern Minnesota?  I like to get over to the Mississippi River valley, Whitewater River valley, or Root River area near Lanesboro.  I love the scenery and the challenge of the hills.

THEN. Proof (well, almost) that he really has been doing this my whole life!

NOW. The cyclist in 2004. That's him on the right.

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Today I’m going to talk about the plight of most girls searching for a way to comfortably exercise: where to find a supportive sports bra.

This is a problem that is particularly troublesome for any of the well-endowed ladies out there.  But I’ve been told by women with less up top that they have difficulty finding a good bra too.  So while this post will speak directly towards the large bosomed, I’m sure any of you will find good advice here.

The importance of a good, supportive, and comfortable sports bra cannot be overemphasized.  Any woman who needs to wear a bra on a regular basis can tell you this.  If you’re uncomfortable not wearing a bra walking around the house or to work, you will definitely be uncomfortable with a bad bra at the gym. I’ve talked to women in the past who have given up running or walking because their breasts hurt when they did their activity.  It’s sad that this is probably the most important piece of workout gear, an item that can make or break a workout, and yet it’s almost impossible to find the right bra.  I mostly blame this on the manufacturers, who apparently can’t figure out that some women need more than marginal support and wear larger than A cups.  But you’re not completely alone in your fight.  You can find good sports bras out there, if you know where to look and if you’re willing to do the work to find the right one.

Boobs don’t just bounce up and down, they also bounce side to side, in a figure-eight pattern as you run, so it’s important to look for something that stops the bounce in any direction.  It’s also very important to make sure you have the right fit.  80% of American women are wearing the wrong size bra, so I would suggest getting a professional fitting as soon as possible.  You’ll be able to find the right fit for your every day bra, but you will also be able to find the right sports bra, especially if you need to order it off the internet, like many women do.

Let’s start with the bra that I wear, the Enell.  The Enell bra is probably the ugliest you will find.  It looks like a straight jacket.  The fabric is not all that flattering.  The seams across the nipple area generally show through most workout shirts.

However, and this is a big “however”, none of those things matter when you consider the fact that this is absolutely the most supportive bra you will find.  Generally, I would suggest this bra to bigger gals, though I think women with smaller breasts might appreciate the support and coverage as well.  This bra comes in five colors and ten sizes.  The largest size is designed to fit someone with a 50DDD chest – so this bra should fit almost everyone who is looking for support.  While the seams in the nipple area aren’t all that flattering showing through a shirt, Enell tells us:

The arch seam of the ENELL SPORTS Bra is designed to create a unique encapsulation and compression fit for well-endowed women.  This patented form fitting feature helps to minimize the “uni-boob” look.  We have conducted research and trials using a seamless molded cup, and this greatly compromised the performance of the support.  ENELL stands behind the Science of Superior Support & Comfort in our SPORTS Bra.  Therefore, at this time, we are not willing to eliminate the arch seam.  However… our research team is always looking into alternative seam applications.

All of this is undoubtedly true.  The bra does not have that traditional “uni-boob” look and it does hold everything in place.  I say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Next, I want to tell you about another bra that I will wear for low-impact activities and the company that makes it.  Moving Comfort makes bras for every activity level.  They also sell tops, bottoms, and underwear.  I actually own a Moving Comfort compression short which I really do like.  The bra I want to tell you about is the Maia, found here for $46.  The Maia is extremely comfortable, with wide, adjustable straps, a 3-hook closure in the back, an underwire, and molded cups.  The Maia for me is best for low-impact activities like biking and yoga, though for women with less to support, I think it would be great for high-impact activities like running as well.  The only downside of this bra is that the front does come up rather high, much like the Enell above, which can make wearing certain v-neck tops a bit difficult.  However, several times I’ve worn this bra with the top of the bra showing like a camisole over button-down shirts.  The great thing about this bra is that it is comfortable enough to just wear around the house, but supportive enough to wear out-and-about.

These are the two bras that I own and can vouch for, however, I’d like to point you to one more resource for bras, Title Nine.  Title Nine is a great women’s only fitness clothing company that sells bras, tops and bottoms, as well as shoes, accessories (like yoga mats), and even everyday dresses, skirts, and skorts for the active girl.  Title Nine’s bra selection is extensive.  But luckily they have a great selection tool.  They also test out everything they own and each bra is usually accompanied with several reviews.  Title Nine organizes their bras into “barbell” categories.  A 4-barbell bra is for high-impact activities and for larger chests.  You can also shop by cup size as well as by activity.  I ordered my Moving Comfort Maia bra from Title Nine, and they also carry an Enell look-a-like bra called The Last Resort.

Another option for women who wear a D-cup and smaller is to go to a local running or fitness specialty store.  For example, The Running Room carries many great brands including Moving Comfort, Nike, and Champion.  However, if you’re well-endowed like me, you will probably not have much luck finding something to fit you in a local store.  You will most likely have to find something on the internet.

Before I conclude, I just want to re-emphasize the importance of find a good sports bra before commencing any kind of exercise regimen.   A ill-fitting or unsupportive sports bra could be the difference between sticking with your fitness routine and quitting after a few trips to the gym.  I should know: prior to buying my Enell bra, I made do with two ill-fitting cotton bras that really didn’t help much.  Every time I thought about going to the gym, I thought about those ugly bras, uncomfortable bras, and then, more often than not, thought better of making the trip.  Now, if you’ve had a chance to check out these bras, you have already probably noticed that a good bra is expensive.  Let me tell you though – it is worth it!  Not only will you find yourself at the gym more often, you’re also going to prevent saggy breasts.  If you don’t wear a good supportive bra, the connective tissue at the bottom of the breast can actually tear from too much bounce, causing your breast to sag – and I’m pretty sure none of you want that!  Make the investment in a good bra, and you’ll be thanking yourself later.

Between these four sources (Enell, Moving Comfort, Title Nine, and a local running store) you are sure to find a bra that works for you.  If you can’t find anything there, send me an email or write a quick comment and I will try to point you towards some other resources (I’ve done the research so there’s no reason you should have to do it too).  If you have any suggestions for other bras I should try, please let me know in comments.

Bounce-free workouts are possible, ladies!

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I can’t believe it’s almost been an entire year since I started running, biking, and swimming.  I guess I must be having fun, because it doesn’t seem like it’s been all that long!

Of course, that means I’ve spent an entire year in much of the same workout gear and it’s really time to start replacing some of it.  I mentioned last fall that I got a road bike.  I haven’t had a chance to take it out on the road yet, but in time I’ll write a post about what’s sure to be a fall-inducing first ride (I bought cleats and SPD pedals so that will be my first time incorporating all these new things out on the road).

Since I’ve lost weight since I first started this insane quest, many of the things I bought last May are getting a little sloppy.  Now that my tax refund has come, I think it’s about time to purchase some of the things I’ve been putting off.

  • First on my list is a supportive sports bra.  I’ve been wearing the Enell Sports Bra which has worked great, but is too big now.  So I’ll be buying a new, smaller Enell today.  I’ll also be on the lookout for other brands with supportive sports bras for the well-endowed, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.
  • Next on my list is a new pair of bike shorts.  I bought the Performance Century Gel II short online, which was not ideal when I bought it; the legs were a loose and I probably bought a size too large.  My dad, an avid cyclist, told me at the time that I hadn’t really picked the best quality short.  But I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep up with my training, so I didn’t want to spend too much money.  Now the short is starting to show it’s wear.  While the gel chamois is still in good condition, the nylon/spandex fabric that the rest of the short is made of is starting to wear a little thin.  This time I might invest in something a little nicer, and perhaps pick up more than one pair.  Dad, any suggestions?
  • I’ve had very little luck finding the right swimwear for my training.  I’ve been using the Speedo Ultraback Moderate cut suit (little hint: I buy all of my swim gear from Swimoutlet.com.  I’ve found they have the best selection for the best price).  But this suit is still a little too large and doesn’t offer the support I’d really like for my bust.  I originally picked a moderate cut with a lot of coverage in the seat, but now I think I’d prefer something with a slightly higher cut.  I’ll need to do some more research before I find the right suit, but if you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to comment.
  • Finally, I really, really, really need some new tops and bottoms for running and cycling.  I already mentioned the bike shorts above, but I’ve never had any luck with cycling jerseys.  They just aren’t made for larger (read: large busted) women.  However, I refuse to believe that no one out there makes a jersey that will work for me.  So I’ll be spending some time researching that as well.  Additionally, my selection of running bottoms is seriously lacking.  As I mentioned before, now that I work at The Running Room, I have a little leeway in terms of the cost of some of the great products that are out there.  However, we haven’t received much of our spring/summer wear yet, and I have no desire to run in long, heavy pants.  What I have in my closet now is pretty sad.  I have one pair of cotton Champion shorts from Target, which don’t wick and don’t stay put.  I have one pair of Champion capri leggings from Target which are at least 5 years old; the prominent feature of these puppies is the rip in the seam on the back pocket.  I have one nice pair of running spandex shorts with a liner, but these are too big in the thighs, and too low on the waist.  Oh, and there are, of course, the two or three pairs of leggings or pants from God know’s where that are more than 5 years old and have stretched so much that it’s a miracle they haven’t come apart at the seams yet.  So, suffice it to say, I need new bottoms.  I’m not lacking so much in the top department, but I tend to wear the same four tops over and over. My favorite is probably the New Balance Tempo Tank, which once again is too large now.  But I think I’ll definitely be ordering more for this coming season.

I’ll be ordering a few things shortly and as soon as they arrive I’ll start posting reviews.  In the meantime, what kind of products will you be ordering for this season?  Any suggestions or idea for products you’d like to see me try?

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You gain weight.

No really.

Over Labor Day weekend, post-race of course, I gained a whopping 5 pounds!  5 pounds!  Some of that was probably the result of the delightful cinnamon roll breakfasts, and the beer cheese soup, as well as the fantabulous deserts my sister always brings, but no doubt a large portion of that weight gain was the result of 3 days of drinking nothing but wine and beer.

That makes me sound like a lush.  Of course I drank other things besides wine – but I did drink a lot of wine.  And with my off week starting with wine, it only seemed right to continue the trend.  That week I think I had two or three more beers at various dinner events.

And guess what?  It is sooo much easier to put weight on than it is to take weight off.  Go figure.

So here I am, two weeks post-race, and I’ve sucessfully dropped 2 of the 5 pounds I gained from the weekend. 

And I had a bad week, training wise — life will sometimes get in the way.  But I am starting week 2 of my 10K training strong, with a 45 minute bike ride, followed by a 2 mile slow run.

Oh, and the most exciting thing to happen this week?

I’m getting a new bicyle!  A practically brand new 2009 Specialized Dolce Elite. 

Ain’t it purrty?

Can’t wait to ride it and get some clips and shoes.  I’m sure there will be some amusing posts in the future after my first few attempts at riding a road bike, and riding a road bike with clips. 🙂

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