4-Paw Drive: Running with Sherpa

Who needs a Garmin when you have a four-legged running partner! Our lab Sherpa loves a good run-walk-job mix around our neighborhood streets, paths or trails.

Pros & cons of running with Sherpa:
+ her natural sense of pace
+ her company when I need it
+ her dog vision for night running
+ her scary growl/bark to protect me if I need it
- the poop bag
- her sense of smell
- holding the leash

I'm not sure if dogs' gaits are described like horses' gaits, but when I run with Sherpa, I consider her gaits & speed levels to include:

1-paw drive - the walk: a slow four-beat gait; pleasant, time for Sherpa to smell things and to explore as my legs warm up for my run-walk-jog.
2-paw drive - the trot: a two-beat gait; as I pick up my speed, she shifts into a slightly quicker pace but it's "no big deal" for her to stay ahead of me, she appears bored.
3-paw drive - the canter: a three-beat gait; as I top out my speed, she seems surprised & excited to run alongside of me.
4-paw drive - the gallop: a faster, four-beat gait; a rare mysterious speed that shocks us both.

Active.com Expert Gale Berhardt recently blogged about running wih her dog Meeka & shared tips for running in the heat. Running With Your Dog in the Summer: & see her cold-weather tips as well Cold Weather Running With Your Dog:. Also see Active's article: 10 Races to Do with Your Dog.
And find tips for handling scary dogs on the bike or foot in my earlier post "Chopper, sic 'em boy!" (includes a classic Stand By Me clip.)
Questions for you:
- If you have a dog, do you like to run with him/her? What speed/gait do you reach?
- What tips do you have for running with a dog?
- What bothers you most about other runners who bring their dogs along?

The Bike Fit @ The Bicycle Dr.

Ken's back on two wheels again after Friday's drive and scheduled bike fit at the Bicycle Dr. in Dousman, Wis.

The Bicycle Dr. has a great trailside location, setup next to the Glacial Drumlin Trail, a 52-mile trail connecting Cottage Grove to the Fox River Sanctuary in Waukesha, Wis. Official DNR map here.

The shop had a fun yet relaxed feel to it and friendly staff. Some bike people drive me nuts, but the guys I met at The Bicycle Dr. were funny, smart and ready to help.

A man with Edward Cullen-ish hair (Joe) helped Ken with the fit. I sat on a picnic table outside enjoying one of Wisconsin's recently rare perfect afternoons.

A wide mix of riders rode past on the trail in front of me:
  • three 10-year old girls on bikes too big for them and no helmets (buy a helmet!),
  • several couples riding comfort or road bikes,
  • several lonely riders pushing 18 mph,
  • two black Great Danes and their owners pushing a baby stroller.

Multiple groups stopped in for a snack or drink at Doc's Cafe & Energy Bar.

The Bicycle Dr hosts two weekly group rides:
- Drop the Doc ride, 40 miles at fast pace, show up at 8 a.m. Saturdays
- Wednight night ride, 28 miles, A & B pace leaving at 6 & 6:10.

We're very pleased with the Bicycle Dr.'s service, responsiveness and topnotch manner.

For more on bike fit read my favorite bikefit articles:
Bikesport Michigan's Kama Sutra of Bike Positions
active.com's 3 Principles of a Successful Bike Fit.

Questions for you:
- Describe your ideal bikeshop salesperson.
- What's most important to you in a bike store person?

photo credits: photos taken by me during our fun date @ the bike shop! More pics of Ken & the bike to come.

The Pre-race Taper: Tips from Mark Allen & Luis Vargas

It's nearly taper time! My husband's big event Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene is June 21st, leaving him 34 days until the cannon fires on race morning.

Of course, it helps to have a working bike before you start your taper. (Ken found out Friday May 8th that his FELT S22 had a crack in the rear seat-stay making it unrideable. We've been working since then to get a replacement frame under FELT's lifetime warranty.) Ken has an appointment this Friday (May 22) to get a new bike fit on the frame currently in transit.

So, that brings us to the taper. We hope Ken will have his new bike fit & settled this week, giving him two days before starting a 4-week taper & 9 nine days if using a 21-day taper. Oh my.

A few weeks ago we listened to six-time Ironman World Champion Mark Allen & Luis Vargas, USAT Level II coach, co-founders of MarkAllenOnline, discuss "Beginner's Guide to Triathlon Training, Peaking & Periodization" via a USA Triathlon webinar.

Allen and Vargas suggest a 4-week taper, cutting 15-30 percent off of previous peak week's total volume and workout length. Ninety percent of endurance athletes go into events overtrained, they said. It's better to be 10 percent undertrained than 10 percent overtrained.

The taper may feel strange. Allen & Vargas summed it up with these four phases:
week one: feel like a champ
week two: feel like a chump
week three: feel more normal
week four: feel like a champ again

Overall, you need rest, suggested Allen. Naps are great ideas! Read more from Mark Allen in "The Perfect Taper" and Five Perfect Weeks to Kona: The Art of Tapering.

More Taper Help

Question for You:
- What's your taper experience been like? Were you able to stay on plan?
- Who else could use a nap?

photo: our youngest catches some sleep.

Pre-race Melt-down - FELT didn't ship the frame

The Bicycle Dr called my husband this morning at work and asked him if he wanted to hear the good news or the bad news first... that's never good.

FELT didn't ship my husband's new replacement frame. Last week we believed FELT had immediately responded to the Bicycle Dr.'s warranty claim and shipped a new frame. We thought we'd drive to The Bicycle Dr. this week to get Ken fitted on his new ride. While he'd lose riding time, he'd have time to prep before his taper for Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene (June 21).

Unfortunately, while The Bicycle Dr. has been responsive, attentive and helpful, FELT has not.

Again, we're in a high-stress situation. Frames take time to ship and time to assemble. We'd already lost time. Now we're in pre-race melt-down.


A Crack in Our Plans-45 Days from Race Morning
The Bicycle Dr.'s Cure

The Bicycle Dr.'s Cure

Last week (Friday), my husband Ken learned his baby (S22 FELT bicycle) was unrideable (crack in the rear seat-stay). Crushing news given his big race Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene was in 45 days...

We were referred to the Bicycle Dr, a FELT dealer in Dousman, Wis. Ken called the shop and drove 45 miles the next morning to see what his options were. Kevin, from the Bicycle Dr., emailed the warranty claim that day (Saturday) and called FELT Monday morning.

We were in pre-race serious problem panic mode Wednesday night with no new information. Frames and bikes take a minimum five days to ship, then time to assemble and then time to fit. And it's busy season for bike shops in Wisconsin. Ken's pre-race taper was nearing too.

Thursday late afternoon I got another phone call. Our options:
  • FELT shipped the Bicycle Dr. a S32 frame to arrive around May 19th.
  • FELT would give Ken a discount on a B16 complete bike or a discount on a B12 frame, either option about $1,900.
Ken made a second trip to the Bicycle Dr. Thursday night to check out the B12 and B16. And he called the Bicycle Dr.'s owner Friday morning to get his opinion. Ken's going with the factory frame option, which surprised the Bicycle Dr.

Ken's very pleased with the Bicycle Dr's service. They've given Ken multiple options at many levels all during their busiest sales time. When Ken asked about upgrading parts, the Bicycle Dr didn't push parts Ken didn't need, which during a panic period, would have been easy to do.
They were sensitive to Ken's timeline & to getting him the best fit & option during this high-stress situation. I think we'll be driving over again next week for Ken's fit.

We're happy to receive the new frame from FELT & thankful they mailed it immediately.

I'm thanking God Ken didn't crash his bike riding a broken frame!!


A Crack in Our Plans--45 Days from Race Morning

Last Friday I got a call from my husband I wasn't expecting. Ken had taken his baby (his S22 FELT bicycle ) in for service at Williamson Bicycle Works & Fitness in Madison, Wis.

In addition to needing a regular pre-race tune-up, he asked them to investigate a noise he'd heard. He'd called the bike guy before coming in and he and Ken thought it could be bottom bracket related. There was also something about a hub and the bike needed a new back tire. All issues we could handle/afford paying for. All great things to wrap up before a big event.

Later that day Ken went back to pick up his baby and instead won the pre-race "don't want to hear it" lottery.

Ken's bike frame is cracked.

Williamson Bicycles was wonderful, supportive & understanding. They charged Ken for some parts, that's it. But Williamson Bicycles is no longer a FELT dealer, so they referred Ken to the Bicycle Dr., a FELT dealer in Dousman, Wis.

Ken called the Bicycle Dr and drove there the next morning to see what his options were. We'd taken photos of the crack Friday night & I scanned a copy of his original receipt so we had backup.

A bike mechanic named Kevin at Bicycle Dr. took in the situation and the FELT salesrep was on site. Things in our favor:

  • Ken is the original owner.
  • Ken bought the bike from a FELT dealer.
  • Ken loved and cared for his bike like a baby.
  • We have the original dated receipt.
  • All FELT frames have a lifetime warranty.

Things that get tricky:

  • time
  • time
  • time

Kevin e-mailed the warranty claim on Saturday and called FELT Monday morning. Monday evening Kevin told Ken we'd know more by Wednesday. The FELT salesrep was going to check on frames, upgrades and discounts Tuesday.

It's Wednesday night and we have no new information. We're very close to panic mode. Frames and bikes take minimum five days to ship, then time to assemble and then fit. And the days/weeks continue to race by as Ironman CdA nears.

Questions for You:
- What's your most stressful pre-race situation? How did you handle it?
- How would you handle it if you were Ken?

photo: Ken's poor S22. The crack is on the rear seat stay.

A Training Party With Trek & Sally Edwards

This week I met Sally Edwards, triathlon pioneer and spokeswoman for the new Trek Women Triathlon Series.

Although I've finished triathlons of all distances I've never done a women's only triathlon. Either the dates didn't work out or I already had other events in mind. To clarify, I'm a slow & humble triathlete, I wasn't avoiding the series because I had years of experience etc.
I knew I couldn't make this year's closest Trek event (*same weekend as the USA Triathlon Level One Coaching Clinic in Minnesota), but I wanted to learn more about Sally & the Trek series, so I went and I had fun.
About 100 women of all ages & sizes were chatting around the room as I walked in. Sally had us do a mixer helping people meet triathletes who lived closest to them. She offered free race registration to the 2 women who met tonight for the first time, set up a time to workout together in the next week & lived the closest to each other.
Most women were already triathletes--they came back to this meeting for some of Sally's famous pep talks. Sally also included info on: how to use heart-rate charts, how to find your max heart rate, what bricks are, and how to taper.

Party favors included: lace locks, SportsBeans, financial advice/handouts from MassMutual Financial Group & a free 8-week Trek training program.
Sally suggested we become students of training: study, learn, go to events, meet other triathletes and have fun! She emphasized fitness is the best gift we can give ourselves. And, she told triathletes who are afraid of being the worst one there to "invite someone worse than you to train with you!" Besides, Sally traditionally finishes last at every Trek Women's Triathlon, just as she had with the Danskin series, so that no woman has to be last.

Funny, the two women who won free race registration even looked similar. I think one was named Diane and one named Dorrie. They'd never met & live less than a mile from each other. They're meeting to swim this week.

What a fun party! Thanks Sally!
Questions for you:
- Have you done a women's only event? Thoughts?
- How would you market something similar to men training for their first tri? If you know of one, tell me.

photo credit:
another party participant took my photo with Sally but I cropped myself out, I had squinty eyes and a terrible chin angle (pride), Sally's tiny.

Wet, Windy & COLD - the MN Ironman Bike Ride

Wow, the 43rd annual Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride was challenging. Ken & I dropped off the kids with relatives (thank you!!!) & drove to Lakeville, Minn., for a fun escape. Ken's training for Ironman Coeur d'Alene so he registered for the Century. I signed up for a fun 30.

We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Burnsville (close to Lakeville, mall nearby, pool/hottub, hot breakfast & comfy bed!) We got up early (oh sweet bed...) & drove ~10 minutes to Lakeville High school, arriving 6:30ish.

With over 4,000 riders, this was my largest event, and people were everywhere. Lakeville HS is huge & beautiful. We registered, walked through the expo and used the bathroom. There was actually a long line for the men's bathroom--too bad Ken! That never happens!!

We bought new long bike gloves, gobbled a hardroll from a race sponsor & headed out. It was already cold & we knew the rain & storms were coming, so we wore layers.

I had on top: - sports bra, - silk turtleneck, - long-sleeve tech shirt, - bike jersey, -arm warmers, - yellow & - a raincoat! On the bottom: - bike shorts, - long spandex, - socks, -bike shoes. + my sunglasses, short gloves & long gloves on top!

Ken had similar stuff on. But he has bad circulation from frostbite & needed more/something else.

It was 38 degrees when we left around 7:30. Ken & I biked together for two minutes & then he took off, which was fine. Our routes would split soon anyways.

The 30-mile route was wonderful. The road quality was excellent, the sinage was perfect & the traffic control/assistance was top-notch. Many families do the 30-mile route, and I saw many kids on tandems, tagalongs and riding solo. There were two rest stops on this route. The rest stops had: candy, fruit, coffee, water, rolls, chocolate, clifshots & more--best selection I've seen.

The 30-mile was a mix of streets, bike paths and neighborhoods. The route had rolling & challenging hills. Ken was on the 100. He did see a pack of 6 guys on unicycles on his route and other interesting riders. I wonder how the unicycles fared in the downpour.

The rain started about an hour into my ride. It was a popcorn-like rain, bouncing off my helmet. My sunglasses fogged repeatedly. My top layers stayed dry, though my socks/shoes were soaked.

Things I learned/noticed:
- people wore shower caps over their helmets
- wet bike cleats are slippery clipping in & pushing off
- it takes longer to stop in the rain
- a SUV sped past showering me with a combo-blast of wind & puddle, nearly knocking me down
I was happy to finish. I'm not a big fan of biking in the rain. I couldn't feel my right foot--it was a block of ice. It was a huge day for me. I have major fear issues on my bike, so this ride took me to the "scary place."

I got back to our van & partly hid behind the van door & started stripping wet layers. When you go commando, it's best not to change in semi-public parking lots. I remembered too late, laughed & then threw myself inside the van for cover.

So, what tips do you have for biking in the rain?

photos: of Ken & I taken with a disposable camera that barely survived the bitter, wet cold of the ride...