Tuesday, May 31, 2005


This was a cold weekend. First, we had another swim in Santa Monica. There were no waves to spak of so the swim itself was easier than last week, but it was much colder. I have a sleeveless wetsuit and my arms were FREEZING getting into the water. The were FREEZING in the water. They were FREEZING after I got out of the water. I should have bought a full-sleeved suit. Oh wait, that's right, I wanted to but none of them fit me.

Then on Sunday there was the weekly bike/run workout at the Rose Bowl. It was moved earlier to 8:00 am (!!!) and I didn't see anyone else from our group show up. (the usual parking lot was closed so maybe I just missed them.) Anyway, instead of doin laps around the Bowl I decided to ride the streets of Pasadena instead. With all the tree-lined roads and gentle hills it was actually pretty nice. Until the rain hit. Yuck. It never hit downpour level but it was more like a constant drizzle keeping you frozen the entire time. The rain picked up a bit near the end so I cancelled the run.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Panty Lines

I have new found respect for The Fairer Sex: how do you ladies eliminate unsightly panty lines?

I have a pair of shorts I wear under my wetsuit. They are offical triathlon shorts- they can get wet, but then as soon as you take off the wetsuit they turn into bike shorts, and then after that they turn into running shorts. They are handy-dandy-3-events-in-1 shorts. But whenever I pull my wetsuit up over them, the legs of the shorts roll up and cause a big ridge which pops up even through the wetsuit. It interferes with the aquadynamic flow of the suit and slows me down tremendously. Well maybe not. But I can see it and feel it and it drives me crazy.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Googling Goggles

Last week we all showed up at the beach wearing those small Olympic-style swim goggles. Our Imperious Leader told us we'd be better of getting some larger face-mask style ones instead. My first reaction was "no way". I just keep sinking (no pun intended) more and more money into this event and now I need to buy different goggles?! Sure enough, as soon as I hit the waves I think I wound up with one lens on my cheek and the other covering my ear. Useless.

I bought the style he suggested and tested them in the pool. The way the lensing works, even when I'm out of the water I actually see BETTER wearing the goggles. I'm going to start wearing them to work.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Into the wild wet yonder

I tried my first ocean swim this weekend. I had been swimming 3-4 times a week in a lap pool and was feeling pretty good about it. I might as well have spent that time sitting on the couch because the ocean was totally different. It sucked. It's not just the waves; it's the idea that you can't see anything. There is no sense of motion. I would swim as hard as I could for a while and then have no idea if I moved forward, stayed in place or drifted backwards. Back on land, our team leader asked us "so, once you got past the waves, it was pretty great, right?". Well yeah, the same way that it feels great when someone stops hitting you with a hammer.

He started telling us a little bit about how there is a special way to get out of your wetsuit and wrap up your goggles with it so you don't need to worry about them, and therefore save precious seconds during the transition time to the bikes. It sounded logical to me, but I think we're in different worlds. MY idea to save time during the transition is that I'm going to order my pizza BEFORE I jump in the water, so it will be ready for me to eat when I get out.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Neoprene Wedgie

I went shopping for wetsuits again - ALONE.

Each suit is probably a 10-15 minute ordeal to select a size, squeeze into it, and then find out all the reasons why it doesn't fit. There were two salespeople in the store, and then another customer came in. He was a large Australian guy who obviously knew the salesguys- he was telling them about the Megathon he did the day before, swimming across the Pacific and killing a dozen wallabies with his teeth.

I came out of the changing room wearing suit #2, and the salesguys start picking and prodding at me trying to see how it fits. As it turns out, I didn't have it pulled up far enough. The Australian comes over and says "ya need to be wearin' it up, mate". He then goes behind me and grabs onto the suit - one hand on my lower back, one hand reaching around to my lower front (not-quite-inappropriately but still beyond my comfort level)- and just lifts me off the ground like a ragdoll. He does a little shaking thing and then I drop about 2 inches inside the suit. It helped, but I still didn't fit in the suit properly.

I'm sorry, but I'm not sure how comfortable I am with strangers coming up behind me and tossing me around while I'm wearing rubber suits.

Read about my first wetsuit-buying adventure: Puny Gurly Man

(thanks to Brad for coining the phrase "neoprene wedgie")

Friday, May 06, 2005

Fixing a bicycle

I brought my bike back to the store to be fixed. The guy fiddled with it for 10 minutes, then said “OK, you’re all set.” I asked “can you show me that it’s working?” He looked at me like I was crazy. I wanted him to put it up on the rack and demonstrate that the gears were working. “I fixed it, should be fine.” I had to explain to him “well, when I picked up the bike yesterday I was told it was fine and obviously it wasn’t.”

He put the bike on the rack and started jumping through all the gears. The front gears have 3 sprockets: small-medium-large. I watched the chain jump from the large to the small, then middle, large, small-middle-large, small-middle-large. It was never going from large to middle, which was one of the problems I was having. So I asked him “can you put it on the large sprocket? Now go to the middle.” The chain went to large, jumped down to small and back up to middle. “There you go” he says. “No, it skipped right over the middle sprocket to the small, then went back up.” He did the same thing again. “There.” “No, it should be able to go directly from the large sprocket to the middle.” AGAIN he demonstrated the large-small-middle transition and tried to tell me that it’s working.

He took the bike for a small test ride, came back and asked “can you leave the bike overnight?” So at least now I knew he was having trouble too, and it wasn’t just that I didn’t know how to shift gears properly I really didn’t want to leave the bike; It’s a 30-45 minute drive each way, and this was already my 3rd trip to the shop. I told him that I’d rather not have to come back again, but if there’s something wrong with the bike, it needs to be fixed.

I swear, this is basically the conversation we had.

“So you can fix whatever’s wrong with the bike?”
“Oh, there’s nothing wrong with it.”
“But you want me to leave the bike, so you can fix it?”
“Well, if it needs to be fixed, that means something is wrong.”
“The bike isn’t broken.”
“How are you going to fix something that isn’t broken?”
“These cables are too short, so I need to run new wires through the gearing mechanism.”
“OK, I get it, the cables aren’t broken, they’re just the wrong ones.”
“So these are the right cables for the bike?”
“But you need to replace them.”
“Because something is wrong with them.”
“Nothing’s wrong with them.”

It’s not me, is it? I’m not the crazy one, right? Right?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Buying a bicycle

I bought a bicycle.

I don't know much about bikes, but I do know a lot about myself. And I know I am neurotic about gear shifting. I'm one of those people who has to shift gears all the time because "maybe this isn't the absolute perfect gear for this moment". And I hate, HATE it when gears don't shift properly, or make that little rattling noise against the chain. Drives me crazy. So I spent some extra money to make sure I got a bike with better shifters. (On a scale of 1-10, mine are still just a 3 instead of a 2).

Well they don't work.

I'm sure it's just a calibration issue, but I think that when you buy a brand new bike, it should be in perfect working condition leaving the store. I've had bike "experts" tell me "well, shifting gears can be tricky. You just need to get used to them." No. I ain't buying it. These aren't the same gears we had on our 10-speeds growing up. For all practical purposes, you shift with buttons. You press one button to go up a gear, you press another button to go down. Imagine stepping into an elevator to go to the 10th floor but it doesn't work, and the building manager tells you, "oh, it's just a little tricky." Would you tolerate that? No.

I'll get the gears re-adjusted, but it's just very frustrating to have to deal with this. I don't think I'm asking too much to expect these things to be working when the bike is brand new.

There is one component of my bike which is working flawlessly: I got a killer whale squeeky horn.

Click to hear the horn in action.

Oh yeah baby, you are jealous.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Puny Gurly Man

My friend "Dutch" and I went shopping for wetsuits. We went to the store and the salesman was looking us up and down, sizing us up. He first says to me "hmmmm... I'm not sure what we're going to do with you." He then turns to Dutch and noticing his more, shall we say "sophisticated physique", says "now as for you, YOU we can put in the Men's 'Ironman'" and hands him a suit. He turns back to me and says "why don't you try this one... it's a unisex."


These things are supposed to be form-fitting, and my bodytype is UNISEX?!! He might as well have said "go over there and look in the little girl's section".

We tried on our respective superhero suits: Dutch was Wolverine and I was Jean Gray. His suit fit perfectly but I'm too skinny in some places and too fat in others and it just wasn't working. I tried on a second suit which I could hardly breathe in and the salesman says "no, that suit's way too big for you." Great.

I will never be a superhero. Stupid Dutch.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

How I Got Started

I blame Devo.

My boss is a big fan of the band, and he heard about the "Run Hit Wonder", a 5k/10k run through Los Angeles which features 80s bands playing along the route, followed by a concert by Devo. He figured it was a good way to see the band but didn't want to go alone so he told me "if you value your job, you'll do it too." Or something like that. I had never really done anything athletic at all before, but I was curious to see A Flock of Seagulls so I joined him. We survived, and then that 5k led to some 10ks, then there was a half-marathon. During my training I pulled my Achilles tendon. Ouch. Major ouch. I was fortunate that I didn't actually need surgery, but I had to stop running completely for about 4-6 weeks. My boss did the half-marathon (way to go!) and I had to sit it out.

I wanted to have SOME sort of goal to reach for, and to be honest trying again for the half-marathon frightened me. I don't trust myself enough that I won't injure myself again, maybe even worse, so I want to stay away from the long-distance runs. The sprint triathlon seemed like a good way to try something more challenging than a 10k, but without the risk of injury of the half-marathon. Well, except for the drowning part. And the getting-hit-by-a-car part.