Friday, March 30, 2012


And . . . this is why I'm riding on the trainer today. 
4 hours sponsored by: Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys 2, and/or Pirates of the Caribbean
My hope is to get all the hard work out of the way today so I can enjoy the weekend.

 . . . Which will be AWESOME because I am going with my mom to see Hunger Games

Thursday, March 29, 2012

March has arrived.

I guess we couldn't really expect those 80-degree days to continue right on thru next November—this is Michigan afterall. Supposedly its 50 out right now, but I am certain I could see my breath and I was so chilled that I needed to wear my calf-length down coat. Brrrrr.

Now that BRX is past it is officially 'crunch' training time for Lumberjack 100! I managed to carve out some time for a 4-hour ride tomorrow. However, it's supposed to be in the 40's, windy, and rainy. Looks like I'll be going for a record-breaking indoor trainer ride instead. I'll be parusing Netflix for a couple of good movies to watch.

Today's training: Shortish run followed by 30 minutes of strength training.

Here's what March is looking like in my backyard right now.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Barry-Roubaix 2012 Race Report!

(Photograph by Andrea Tucker. View more BRX photos by Andrea here.)

>>>My complete race report at GTMTBA!

The days leading up to Barry-Roubaix were rather stressful. I was a ball of anxiety. Last winter I went to Danielle Musto's indoor spin at the Ada Bike Shop and stayed connected with a lot of my mountain biking friends and even made some new ones. This year, however, I was a bit of a hermit. Not being around that energetic group, I became a little lazy. Bike racing faded into the background and playing with the kids and lazing around floated to the forefront. It was a good winter.

And then March arrived. Bringing with it the Barry-Roubaix: The Killer Gravel Road Race. Killer it was sure to be. In fact, I mentally prepared myself for a large portion of suffering with some humility on the side.

We've had an unusual March, with temps in the 80 degrees. Friday before the race, Middleville was pounded with rain and the temps cooled to around 60 degrees, which I think is perfect racing weather.

I had two goals in mind:
1) Ride my own race: In the past I've gotten caught up in trying to keep up with a group I had no business racing against or I've allowed others to get in my head. This usually results in a bad bonk with 8 miles to go. I did not want to bonk! There is nothing worse than having to coast slowly across the finish line because your legs have long since turned to lead.
2) Average 14.5 mph. This was a number I came up with based on results from previous races. However, my horrible awful pre-ride a few weeks earlier killed my confidence. I didn't want to admit it, but I struggled to average 11 mph that day--and that was with lots of breaks!

The race started in waves, I stayed towards the mid-to back of my group for the start. The first few miles are on pavement. I went hard . . . but reigned it in a notch. Bonking at Iceman last year was still fresh in my memory.

I was hoping to get in with a good group of cyclists to work with for the race, but I didn't have luck on that front. As a result I either rode alone or with one or two other guys.

My average was looking good at this point and I made a new goal, to finish under 2:20.

The last two-track on Shaw Road was a mess. The sand was heavy and deep. There was wall of hike-a-bikers and I too was forced to walk that section. At the top of the hill I was able to hop back on my bike for the wicked descent through sandpits and giant mud puddles. It was AWESOME!

That brought us out to the last 5 miles of rolling pavement. I knew this section would favor the cyclocross riders and my fear was that I would have dead legs and get left in the dust for a lonely and humiliating ride into the finish. To my surprise I found I still had some gas in the engine and my legs were ready for the final haul in!

The last five miles I continued to accelerate.

I have to say, the day was a huge success.
I finished with a time of 2:19 which was good for 15th place. And was an average of 15.5 mph! Woot!

And I want to make a shout-out to my friend Michelle who did the race on a 26" single speed! She is one of the toughest women I know. Congrats Michelle on your race! :-)

Happy face after a satisfying day at BRX!

That looks like blood on my bottom bracket. They don't call it the Killer for no nuthin . . . 

Muddy legs.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Barry-Roubaix 2012

I had a great day yesterday at Barry-Roubaix. The weather turned out to be great for racing, not too hot and not too cold. And there was just enough rain to make the course a lot of fun. Let's all be honest here, riding through giant puddles is super fun. And the best part was seeing all of my mountain biking friends! I have really missed them over the winter. I saw many of them on the course--most of them as they passed me by . . . Alright, getting passed didn't feel so awesome. Nonetheless, its a good thing to see friendly faces even in the midst of suffering.

I'll work on a detailed race report and post it later this week. For now, I'll just say it was a good day, a lot of fun. The only real low point for me was riding about 12 miles all on my own--not a good idea for this race. In my solitude I became so focused on hammering the cranks that I did not pay any attention to the course. I ended up riding myself right off the road into a deep, rutted-out trench filled with rain water. Ugh. Being an awesome mountain biker with superb bike handling skills (yeah, right) I was able to save myself from further embarassment and avoid what was sure to be a very sloppy and muddy fall.

Today is recovery day. I am looking forward to spending some QT with the family, working in the yard, going on a Treasure Hunt with the kids and maybe, just maybe, I'll squeeze in a short run around the 'hood. The neighborhood that is.

Hope everyone else out there had a great experience at Barry-Roubaix. Oh, and I can't forget to thank Ken and Bill at Breakaway Bicycles for fixing my flat just minutes before the start of the race. You guys saved me!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Salad Slaw

Occasionally I get serious about what I'm eating (like when my pants stop fitting or I go to look down at my toes and I see my belly-button instead).

When that happens I start journaling what I eat. My main goal is not to hit 'x' number of calories but rather to consume the right mix of fuel: leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, root veggies, fruit, lean protein, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, grains, blah, blah, blah.

As I go throughout my day, I check off each category of food. By the time I get to dinner, I look at what categories are left and that's my dinner. I end up eating some very unusual meals, like salsa with sunflower seeds and spinach. Or a table spoon of peanut butter and a bowl of broccoli and eggs. This all goes back to my lack of ability to plan-ahead.

Anyways, the other day I got to dinnertime and I glanced down my list, oye, I had not consumed any of the many variety of vegetables my body was craving. I pulled all of the vegetables out of the fridge and stared at them, waiting for inspiration to strike!

Disclaimer: I'm not a chef. Most things I make are edible to me while no one else in my house would dare come near my unusual creations. I think that's because my sense of pride in cooking something overcompensates for my taste buds. 

After staring at the pile of vegetables for a long time, a vision came to me, clear as the 80 degree and fully sunny March day we were having in Michigan. And this is what I saw:

Salad Slaw

For those of you that want to try this at home, here is the recipe:

1 sm. summer squash
1 sm zucchini
1 beet
1 large carrot (washed and peeled)
1/2 red onion
1 small bunch broccoli
1 small bunch kale
1tbl spoon EVOO
Handful of Raisins

Wash veggies. Cut the florettes from the broccoli stem--so you have little bushes instead of big trees. Using the a large grate (because I'm too lazy to cut things to matchstick size), grate the remaining broccoli stem, summer squash, beet and carrot. Finely chop up the Kale and red onion. Mix together in a bowl. Add raisins.

In a large skillet, add the olive oil. Toss in the vegetable slaw and cook on medium heat for a few minutes. Just enough time to tenderize the broccoli and remove the bitterness of the vegetables. Sprinkle with sea salt and seasonings as you like.

Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. Serve cold, garnished with roasted sunflower seeds.

Surprisingly, I've really enjoyed this meal. I've served it as is or on top of a bed of mixed greens. I'll probably make this again sometime soon.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


The last two weeks have reminded me of the only time in college when I pulled an all-nighter. I was a Biblical Lit major and while the class in itself was not remarkable, the final was exhaustive. If I remember correctly, there were 30 essay questions and 50 Bible verses that we were supposed to memorize. Fifty. And, in true 'Heather' fashion, I didn't read the study guide until the night before the exam. Ooops. I had not memorized one single verse. I remember wandering the halls of the dorm at 4 AM, mumbling "stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord . . ."

It was not a good day.

And now the mountain biking season has snuck up on me. Barry-Roubaix is just two days away and I feel ill-prepared. I've tried cramming 3 months of training into 10 days. 

I'm finding myself facing the hard fact that there is no over-night substitute for months of hard work. And as I recall, I didn't do so hot on that final exam either. 

If I were to get grades for training, here is what my report card would look like:

Spinerval Interval workouts — Incomplete
Cross-Training (running) — B-
Hilly Training Ride — Incomplete
Steady State Intervals — A
Strength Training — C+

Shall we call this an 'E' for Effort???? 

My big plan was to do a 3 hour gravel, hilly ride on Saturday last weekend. However, my husband ended up having to work and I was unable to get out for a ride. I spent the day playing with the kids and had a nice cookout at my parents house.

Sunday, to make up for my missed ride, I was going to ride the BRX course one final time with Matt, Jim, and Jim. But that was going to be 3 hours of driving plus 2.5-3 hours of riding. I didn't want to be gone all day.

I compromised, doing a 38 mile ride along the Lakeshore Trail from North Muskegon to Hoffmaster State Park and back. It's not gravely, nor hilly. I didn't get much of an interval workout, but I did try to keep my intensity level up. Then, that evening, we took the kids on a 15-mile bike-ride to the Muskegon Channel. 50 miles in one day is near record for me, especially when considering I was towing an extra 60 pounds for the last fifteen miles.

By the way, the Weehoo is a HUGE hit. And the extra weight is an "equalizer." I don't completely disappear behind Chad now on family rides. 

My legs were trashed by the end of the weekend. 

Wednesday I have a standing lunch road-ride scheduled with a friend. Typically its a recovery ride for me, an easy pace for 24 miles. Being the genius that I am, I thought I would up the intensity and ride my mountain bike this week instead. 

What I learned is that riding a road bike at 17 mph is a nice recovery ride, but riding a mountain bike at 17+ mph for 24 miles is a freaking challenging workout.

After thoroughly destroying my legs, I am taking two days of complete rest—for better or for worse.

Barry-Roubaix Strategy

I'll admit I don't have a race strategy. I still consider myself new to xc racing even though this will be my third year competing, this is my first time racing BRX. Every race is different and full of their own unique challenges. One thing is for certain, this will be a race for the teams and the cross bikes. Even though I may not be competing for a place on the podium, this race will be an accurate gauge of my fitness going into the three months preceding the Lumberjack 100. In that respect, I do have a goal in mind . . . but that is only for me to know. I like to face my demons internally, alone, mano-y-mano and suffer in silence.

Read more BRX preview reports and interviews:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Things I regret not photographing this weekend

1) My son found a container of Bag Balm. Locked himself in the bathroom with it and smeared an entire (new) container of the goo in his hair, all over his body, on his clothes . . . He's going to look like he's used a gallon of hair gel for the next few weeks.

2) Our 6 year old daughter went for her first solo ride in full kit: new PI cycling shorts (size youth small--they are tiny and yet so big on her), new jersey, little pink gloves, pink Optic Nerve sunglasses gifted to her from her idol, and a pink helmet. All that gear for 8 blocks and 10 minutes of independent cycling bliss!

3) And last, a long family bike ride along Lake Michigan. The lake was blue and golden and white all at the same time. The dune grass was tall and soft. It was simply amazing and beautiful.

I need to start carrying my camera with me . . .

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Years ago when I became pregnant with our first child, I panicked. My husband was working a bazillion hours then and I knew that I would be home alone with this kid that I had never met. I imagined myself being anchored to the house. I was suffocating.

Even though we didn't have the money at the time and my husband was vehemently against it, I spent the big bucks and bought brand-spankin' new Burley Solo AND a Burley Piccolo bike trailer. Bike rides, I imagined, would be my great-escape.

Turns out, those were investments well worth it. I've spent hours and hours and miles upon miles riding with the kids. When everyone became cranky and ornery, I'd pull the bikes out, strap on the helmets, grab a few snacks and the stress would fly away in the wind as we pedaled.

I have never regretted spending money on either of those products. However, there is a myriad of baby products I was told I "must-have!" that I completely regret buying (Bumbo, boppy, babyswing, the 'Travel System' . . .  trust me, do not waste your money on a travel system).

A few years have passed, we find ourselves with 2 kids, ages 6 and almost 3 years old. And our 3 year old is wanting to do everything his older sister is doing. Which means he does not want to ride in the Solo Trailer, he wants to ride on a tag-a-long bike.

Our 6 year old has some good bike handling skills and is in good shape--she is more than capable of going on 3-5 mile bike rides on her own bike, freeing up the Piccolo for our son.

However . . .

Who is happy just going on a 5 mile bike ride? That's great for after dinner on a week night. But what about those long 12 mile rides to the beach? The ice-cream shop? Around the Bay in Traverse City????

Once again, I found myself splurging this morning. I gagged the part of my brain that attempts to be financially responsible and ordered one of these . . .
It's a Wee-Hoo I-Go trailer (who wouldn't want to ride on a Wee-hoo?).
It should arrive on Monday morning. I. Can. Not. Wait. 

Disclaimer: Why didn't I get another Burley Piccolo? I have to say that I love, love, LOVE my Piccolo. However, our son is a little young and too short to comfortably ride sitting up on it yet. At almost 3 years old, I was concerned about him balancing and hanging on for long bike rides. The Wee-hoo will give him a more comfortable ride while allowing him to participate by pedaling and sitting in the open.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hello Sunshine

Can you believe this weather? What a beautiful weekend we had. I thought it was a crime to be indoors on Sunday. As soon as the kids ate breakfast, I scooted them out the door.

I had some chores I needed to get done inside before I could play with the kids. I glanced out the window every few minutes to check on them. About my third glance they had disappeared. Hmmmm. Fourth glance, still no kids.

Thankfully, by the fifth glance they materialized from behind the shed. My daughter had dragged out the bikes and fitted our 2yo son with his helmet. They were rarin' to go!

They each got in about 50 laps around the house before I was finally ready to ride (time drags on forever when you're a kid).

One of my top priorities this year is to teach my daughter to rider her bike downhill. The sooner, the better.

I announced to the kids we'd be riding down the bike path. I was met with immediate and forceful resistance from my daughter. She knew what that meant: the BIG HILL.

I can't do it! You can't make me! Noooo!!! Followed by gushes of tears.

Look, kid. You have to learn to ride down hills.

Fortunately, "the Big Hill," although while it is big, it is also gradual. We took small sections at a time. I'd ride ahead and then stand across the bike path so I could stop her if she got going out of control.

I was not surprised to turn around to see her walking her bike while throwing wild accusations at me "You just left me! You abaondoned me!"

I was 30 feet in front of her, after I explained exactly what I was doing. Sigh.

Let's try another little section of hill. You can do this, girl! I hollered back. This time she was at least ON her bike, but she was dragging both of her feet and screaming.

Okay, okay, see--you did it!

No I didn't! I was going to die!

This is the last section. You can do this. Just keep those two fingers on the brakes. You've got this!

And you know what, she did it!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Pain

Through an unexpected and last-minute turn of events I was able to pre-ride Barry-Roubaix course this week afterall. I was a little tense but excited, this would be only my third ride outdoors this year (I'm a fair-weather cyclist).

I have ridden the course once before, about 2.5 years ago. I remember thinking it was hilly, but I handled it. I was feeling pretty confident on the drive down.

Four of us--Matt, Jim, Jim and Myself--rolled out, cold, but ready to tackle the gravel roads ahead.

The Wall

I felt pretty good the first mile. And then we hit our first little hill. How did everyone suddenly get so far ahead of me? Why wasn't I going anywhere? I felt a bit of panic rise. I tried rationalizing away my nerves--my legs will be alright . . . they are just getting warmed up. Yup.

Nope. My legs had nothing. We'd (actually, I would, as everyone was so far ahead of me) come to the base of the hill and my brain would say "Conquer this thing, Attack! Attack!" And then I'd feel a heavy resin drain down my legs. They were resigned. On-Strike. My brain and my body were in contention, leaving me in a deep place of pain and suffering.

It was a bad, bad day.

Matt, Jim, and Jim were true gentlemen and waited for me at the turns. I wish they had not been so polite as I prefer to suffer alone. One of the things I like about Matt is he is a genuine, laid-back, nice-guy. So at every turn I would roll in and Matt would offer some sort of encouragement "you're doing great!"

If I could have spared the energy, I would have taken off my shoe and punched Matt in the teeth with my cleats.

I have very violent thoughts when I am completely depleted of nutrients.

To make things worse, the course was muddy, sticky, and hillier than I remembered. And I was way, way off my anticipated pace for race day.

As ready as I am to sell my entry to some other sucker, I know that I need to see this race through. Barry-Roubaix is the first stepping-stone in my training for Lumberjack 100. No matter how humiliated I may be by my results and performance at BRX, I will keep my eyes focused on the big picture.

Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

2.5 weeks to BRX

Yup, that's right. Just 2.5 weeks until Barry-Roubaix. I feel as though I've procrastinated the last--oh. . . uh, I'd say 4 months. Woops! Poster art by Daniel Clark.

The dwindling calendar coupled with a successful Mountain Bike Registration Week (Iceman AND Lumberjack 100) has me eager to get my wheels spinning!

. . . . And then lil' Bear got sick. Late nights, sleepless nights, doctor appointments, missed work, etc. Training is the bottom of the list. I was hoping to get in a pre-ride of the BRX course later this week, but that is now not going to be possible. Heh, pre-riding the course is over-rated.

Bear stayed home one more day yesterday. From the start it was apparent that he was well on his way to wellness. Which meant he would not want to snuggle the day away. Nope, he'd want to play Firefighter, Monster, or Trucks. That's alright. I had a plan.

Oh yes, we played trucks. And monsters. And firefighters. And then we played them some more. I was going to play circles around this kid until he played himself out. Then I fed him a nice carbo-loaded lunch. And while he ate, I set the final stages of my plan: I hung knock-out drapes, set the white-noise machine, got the humidifier steamed up, lined the stuffed animals and created the perfect Snuzzle Nest.

Bathroom, drink, blanket, moose, hug, kiss, prayers . . . and then I tiptoed to the door and gently closed it . . . "mom! Lamby! I need my lamby!" Arghhhhhhh. Lamby, where the heck is his stuffed lamb? These kids have way too many and care way too much about their stuffed animals. Thankfully I found lamby pretty quickly, riding one of the dump trucks in the play room. Another hug, another kiss and I was out that door.

I whipped on my cycling gear, mounted my bike on the trainer, and started a Spinerval DVD. Because I was certain he'd be stomping down the stairs at any moment (how is it possible that a child that weighs 30 pounds sounds like a herd of elephants tromping through the house?) I pushed myself beyond my limits. If I was only going to get 5 minutes on the bike, it was going to be a dang effective 5 minutes!

Surprisingly, Bear slept and I was able to finish the entire Spinerval DVD! My legs were completely and totally wasted afterwards.

Bear ended up napping for four hours! It was such a long nap that I worried he had gotten up and walked out of the house while I was doing the spinerval workout. I finally broke down and went in his room to wake him up. That's how good of a Snuzz Nest creator I am.

Last night we had an impromptu family night. The kids wanted to go to the track to run races. My legs were not up to the challenge! Despite my greatest efforts (believe me, I tried my hardest) I could not keep up with my 6 year old daughter. She won, fair and square. I'm just hoping I can still keep up with her this summer for the 1 mile fun run circuit.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Updates

Lil' Bear--Still sick! Double ear and respiratory infection. He looks absolutely miserable.

Ticker at the top--It used to say 15 pounds to go . . . now it says 14! Woot!

Ticker in the right column--Only 102 days left until my first 100-mile XC race!

Training--I met with my doctor/therapist/chiropractor/trainer/nutritionist this morning and she gave me some good ideas on where to set my training goals over the next few months to be properly prepared for Lumberjack 100. Time for the real work to begin!

Friday, March 2, 2012


I mentioned it in my last post so it was bound to happen. When I picked up my lil' Bear from daycare, he seemed extra ornery. He fell asleep on the floor before dinner. And then to show me exactly how awful he felt, he refused his pudding cup (this is a special, once-a-season treat) in preference for going to bed.

My husband and I were up all night snuggling a sick kiddo.

This is the face of a boy who thought he was getting away with something: 
I get to stay up and snuggle with mumma . . .

And this is the face of the boy 30 seconds later, giving in to his fever :-(

And this is 4 AM.

Today I'm brewing another large pot of my signature vegetable soup, Bear's favorite. Hoping the extra veggies and nutrients will help him recover quickly.

Skipping the training today to lay low, rest, eat healthy, and care for my family. The trainer will still be there tomorrow.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Training Schedule and Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers

This post is brought to you by wasted time attempting to register for Iceman . . . 

Limited time only: Get your Free Traverse Area Trail Map by applying for a free GTMTBA Membership.

I did something this week I haven't done in a long time: I looked at my training schedule.

Today's workout is a run. I was apparently feeling VERY OPTIMISTIC and just a little overconfident when I put this together. Because I am supposed to run 7:30 minute/1 mile intervals. Hahahahahaha!!! 

3/1 Run: 2 mile warm up, 2x1mile @ 7:30 pace, 1/2 mile between, 1 mile cool down = 6 miles

This is classic Heather. I set the bar really high. I don't have expectations of actually achieving that goal, but I try my darndest. And as a result, I work harder than I would have and go farther than I thought possible. 

My training calendar is not from a coach, a book, or a website. I briefly looked into coaching or paying for a training schedule, but every sample schedule I looked at required 5-6 days of riding and several of those rides are 2 or more hours long. It's not realistic for me to plan multiple 2+ hour rides a week.

I make it up myself, loosely basing it on a build for 3 weeks with a 1 week recovery. However it is mostly scheduled around my work, family, volunteer commitments. In a typical week, I accomplish about 80% of my planned training. If you have kids, you understand. Especially young kids that seem like they are always sick and waking you up three to four times a night, every night . . .

Lean in close, shhhh, a little closer . . . I'm going to share my fancy-schmancy, coveted training schedule with you.

  • Bike for 45-80 minutes Wednesday and Friday
  • Run for 30-80 minutes Tuesday and Thursday
  • Strength Training for 15-30 minutes 2x a week (any day I can squeeze it in)
  • Run for 90-120 minutes on Sunday

Very scientific stuff. I ride on the trainer following a Spinerval or Sufferfest Video for at least one of those rides every week, year 'round.
Why do I do that?

  • My time is limited. There is no room for a flat, a broken chain, detour, etc. If I have 45 minutes, that is all I have and I want to spend as many of those minutes as possible on the bike. 
  • It's a controlled workout. There is no stopping for a traffic light, slowing for a turn, or coasting down a hill. I'm working for 100% of my alloted time.
  • There is 0% chance of getting hit by a car.

This week I made Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers (I apologize for the crummy pic). The recipe made about 20 patties. Since no one else in my family will touch something so organic, I packed them as pairs into the freezer. It will make eating healthy while camping this summer a cinch! Just grab a bag and go. While the family is feasting on hot dogs and burgers, I'll have my own, healthy, alternative burger. They are bit dry, so I do recommend serving them with the curry mayo or ginger ketchup (recipe provided with the link above).