So after completing my 125 mile ride last weekend, and future ambitions on the horizon, I thought this would be a good time to rename the blog. I’ve set up another blog on wordpress at: www.kdtraining.wordpress.com and will be writing there from now on.

I’m going to begin training this fall to compete in triathlons next year, so I hope you’ll continue to follow & support over at www.kdtraining.wordpress.com!

Adios!

Its finally done. This past Sunday, I completed the 125 mile Harbor to the Bay Charity Ride!  It seems hard to believe that just two months ago I was watching the Tour de France and in the impulsive way I do things, went out, bought a road bike and signed up for this ride.

Since that time I took on several rides, including the grueling 63 mile Gran Fondo and the tamer 100 mile Schuykill Century. I upgraded my bike, revamped my training, and logged hundreds of miles.

All of my cross training- from running 5k’s to paddling with my dragon boat team was designed to prepare me for these 125 miles- the furthest and hardest physical activity i anticipated participating in. Unfortunately, about 2 weeks out from ride day, disaster struck- my body began protesting all of the physical abuse. It started with a tweaked knee following a brisk 5 mile run, showed up as back and shoulder pain the next day during a work out session, continued as quad and hamstring tightness, and culminated as general fatigue and soreness- all as I was trying to prep for this big ride.

Prior to ride day, desperate to recover, I had a few sports massages, and majorly curtailed my training. Unfortunately, by ride day, my IT band hadn’t fully recovered, and it started paining me about 15 miles into the ride. Here are my thoughts on the ride:

-Preparation: Mentally, I felt ready for the ride. I had logged my first century (100+ mile ride) 2 weeks prior, on a relatively hilly course, and I finished in a decent time and relatively little pain. I figured the Harbor to the Bay would be on pretty flat terrain, so tacking on another 25 miles would have been no problem. Physically, I wasn’t where I would have liked to have been. Tweaking my knee the week before definitely was not in my game plan. Also, driving 7 hours the night before from Philly to Boston and getting to bed at 1:00am when I had to get up at 4:00 wasn’t the greatest- especially since I discovered one of my tires had gone flat overnight!

-During the ride: I felt for the most part the ride went well. The other riders didn’t take a ridiculous pace from the start which allowed me to advance through the pack without expending too much energy, and in fact the pace felt a little slow for me, so for much of the first 15 miles I was passing people. Around mile 10 I started running into problems however. My chain would jump between gears, especially on hills, and it made it difficult to cycle. By mile 15 my IT band started irritating me, which was my fear for this ride. I stopped at the first rest stop and took care of both issues. The bike tech tightened up my derailleur, and I put on a knee band designed to put pressure on the IT band to prevent it from sliding around too much. Both fixes worked- the derailleur for the rest of the ride, but the knee strap for only about 5 miles.

About 30 miles into the ride I linked up with another rider, John (who turned out to be a VP @ AIDS Action!), which was a great experience. Not only did we have a great conversation, but he helped out when I got a flat tire (twice!), and we pushed each other over the next 80 miles or so. Riding with someone else was definitely helpful, I wouldn’t have kept the pace I did otherwise. Partner or not though, by around mile 90, my left IT band was completely shot. As tired as I was, I hated stopping because getting off the bike and trying to get my foot back into the toe strap was just too painful. For intervals I was cycle with only my right leg- the left one was just along for the ride.

It was quite the welcome site then, around mile 110, when I crested the final big climb, and saw the ocean for the first time since the ride had started. Coming downhill into the town provided a welcome rest, but I was sadly suprised when I discoved we had another 10 miles or so to pedal through Provincetown! Those were the longest 10 miles I’ve ever biked. What a welcome site at the colorful “1 mile remaining” marker, and then the cheering volunteers when I crossed the finish line.

If there was one thing about this ride that stood out, it was the spirit of the volunteers who kept us well fed & motivated. Their constant support and encouragement along the route meant a lot more than they probably realized.  Also, when I finished the ride, Brisa was there to congratulate me and help me walk (I needed it), and that was a really nice finish for the evening.

We had some dinner, and went to the closing ceremonies, which included a 2 mile bike through provincetown, with all of the locals clapping and cheering us on. Hearing the people talk about the effects of AIDS on our communities and their friends was very moving, and I felt good about raising part of the $340,000 collected in this year’s ride. For that, I have to thank you, all of my sponsors for the ride. From the $5 to $50 contributions, all of them helped me reach my goal, and will truly make a difference in the life of someone who receives lifesaving medication, or needed support.

I’m sure I’ll be back in the saddle or running a race sometime soon, but for now, its rest, rest & rest!

DragonBoat Racing!

Posted: September 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

In addition to cycling, every week I practice with my dragon boat team. This weekend we competed in the Mercer County Dragon Boat Festival. Our mixed crew placed 1st in the C division (& I sat stroke for the 500m races!)

The name of our team is Dragon Boat Crew (DBC) & it consists of a number of subgroups. The Philadelphia Fire Dragons is our mixed team, and the one I paddle with. Spitzfire is our women’s crew, and the Dynamic Paddlers are a bit of a “farm team” for our main crew. We can be found on meetup.com here: DragonBoat Crew

Dragonboating is a great sport, here are the basics:

-The Boat: The dragonboat is essentially a long canoe that seats 20 (10 rows of 2). The reason they are called dragonboats is because the sport originated over 2000 years ago in China, and during races, an ornamental dragon head is affixed to the front of the boat.

The Crew: A fully loaded competition dragonboat carries 22 people, and can easily weigh over 4,000 pounds. 20 of the individuals are “paddlers”, and they sit 2 to a row (hard, bench-style seats). The front 2 paddlers are called the “stroke pair“. It is their job to set the pace for the rest of the boat and to demonstrate good form. The middle of the boat is called the “engine room“. It is the widest part of the boat and is usually filled by some of the teams strongest paddlers.

Also on the boat are the steersperson & the drummer. The steersperson stands in the rear of the boat & their job is steering the boat down a course in the straightest line possible, maintaining good boat balance during  wakes and turns & avoiding other water crafts. The drummer sits in the front of the boat, facing the paddlers. Their job is to help reinforce the pace by beating on a large drum and also communicating commands to the paddlers. Our coach always fills one of these two roles during practices and races.

The Gear: Like any sport, dragonboating can be expensive if you start picking up a lot of gear. The only necessities however are a paddle and a life jacket. The paddles range from very basic plastic, to wooden, to carbon fiber, with each costing a little more. Life jackets range from your run of the mill PFD (personal floatation device) to fanny-pack style pouches with co2 containers that inflate the vest when you pull a rip cord.

Everything else just makes the sport more comfortable, because at its core, its not. Sitting on a hard wooden bench for long periods of time and sliding back and forth while paddling can cause, at best, chafing. Lots of paddlers use a variety of pads to help stabilize their position on the bench and for general comfort.

The boat itself costs thousands of dollars and offsetting this cost is part of the reason teams usually charge a nominal membership fee.

Races/Season: Typical race distances are 200 meters, 500 meters & 2,000 meters. The dragonboat season generally starts as early as it is possible to go out on the water (march) and will continue until it is too cold to go out anymore (november). Most competitions fall in the May-September months.

Teams range from breast cancer survivors to elite international teams. Its a sport everyone can do, and there is a team right for the level of intensity anyone is looking for. www.meetup.com is a great place to find a team near you!

Technique

Below are three videos that give you a pretty good idea of what dragonboating actually is. The first one demonstrates basic technique, the second is an overhead comparison of two teams racing, and the third is  an “in the boat” view of a very strong team practicing (although I’m not a fan of their form :D).

Injury & Upcoming Events

Posted: September 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

So yesterday my body told me I’ve been pushing it too hard these past couple of weeks. Wednesday morning I strained my back on the Cybex Bravo machine I use in the gym, and in the evening I got major pain in my left knee after pushing myself on a 5 mile run. I’ve done research online and it seems that its likely that the knee pain is Illiotiabil Band Syndrome.

I was able to still paddle Wednesday night, but had a terrible time with stairs on Thursday. I’m icing my knee and resting Thurs/Fri to try to recover as much as possible before my team’s dragonboat races this weekend.

I have a full schedule over the next few weeks, so I’m hoping I can fully recover in time:

Sept 11th- 100 mile ride (done)

Sept 18th- Dragonboat races

September 25th- 125 mile ride

October 3rd- Duathlon

Hoping for the best- I want to take advantage of these last weeks of warm weather!

100 miles down, 125 to go!

Posted: September 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

So last weekend I completed the Scenic Schuylkill Century- a 103 mile bike ride that left from Philadelphia and looped out to Schwenksville and back.

I found  the ride to be pretty good  and really enjoyed the challenge of completing my first century (a 100 mile ride). Everything went better about this ride than the Gran Fondo, for a lot of reasons: 1) I’ve been training since the Gran Fondo- making sure to hit the hills, 2) I stopped at each of the 5 rest stops, and made sure to fully hydrate and eat throughout the ride, 3) The weather was beautiful,  4) The course, although hilly, was spread over longer gradual climbs, versus the dramatic rises and falls in the Gran Fondo (even so, there was still over 5,600 feet of climbing) and 5) My new bike felt good to ride. I felt cramped on the old frame, and it was significantly heavier. Getting this bike was definitely a good move!!

I met a couple of cool old timers who told me about their cross country bikes they did back in the day, and I got some encouragement from one of them, who told me finishing a century in under 8 hours is a solid benchmark, especially for a first timer,- and I came in just over at  8hr 20 minutes!

Probably more than anything, I’m really starting to build some confidence in my riding. The Gran Fondo showed me I could gut out a really tough ride, and this one showed me I could do well. I passed lots of folks during the ride and I even passed people on some of the climbs- and they never passed me again. Riding rocks! Bring on the 125!!

Fundraising Goal Reached!

Posted: September 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

I finally reached my fundraising goal  of $500 for my 125 mile ride later this month to benefit AIDS research, health care & advocacy! Thanks to everyone who donated!!

Also, I’m  getting ready for the Scenic Schuykill Century this Saturday- A 100 mile ride leaving from Philly & sponsored by the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia.

New Bike, New Training

Posted: September 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

Recently I was able to get a new bike from a co-worker who doesn’t ride anymore. It’s not a top of the line bike, but its definately an upgrade.  It’s a lot lighter than my old bike, and its a larger frame. I was told by employees of a bike shop that the frame is too large for me and could cause lower back pain, but they also observed that my old bike’s frame was too small. So far I haven’t had any pain from it, and I feel a lot more efficient, so I think I’ll be all set. If need be, I can always adjust the stem & handlebars in the future.

Since getting this bike I’ve been focusing on hill climbs in preparation for my upcoming rides (Schuylkill Century- 100 miles Sept 11 & Harbor to the Bay- 125 miles Sept 25). I’m finding that I feel stronger already on the hills, and I think I’ll be okay for the Schuylkill Century, which is coming up sooner, and will likely be a hillier course. I’m using the cool website www.mapmyride.com, which allows me to map my rides, and more importantly, it displays the elevation of a given route.

Unfortunately my fundraising has stalled- if you can help me reach my goal of raising $500 for AIDS research & health care please donate here I only need to raise another $75. Thanks!