Tuesday, June 18, 2013

IronGirl Lake Zurich Sprint Triathlon Recap

IronGirl Lake Zurich Sprint Triathlon 2013
June 16, 2013 at 7:00 am
1/3 mile swim
14 mile bike
3 mile run

On Saturday morning, I got up bright and early to volunteer at the Run for Boston 5k.  I'll be talking about that experience soon, but I had a great time.  Afterwards I headed over to Lake Zurich to pick up my race packet and rack my bike.  The goodie bag contained a lot of stuff which I was pumped about--Biscoff, bars, gel, and other samples.

I got swag.
The expo was good-sized as well.  I wasn't expecting too much on the expo front as this was inaugural year for this race and Lake Zurich isn't exactly a booming metropolis.   But they had a few good booths and I picked up a few more goodies from Athleta, Walgreens, and Costco.  Road Runner Sports was there with a ton of "once worn" shoes for $50.  I was too lazy to walk back to the car to get money so I didn't buy any shoes.  But Road Runner was back after the race on Sunday so I did get to buy a pair of Saucony Kinarva's. (I'm not sure how much running I will do in them, but I figure they will be a good cross-training shoe.)

I didn't stick around too long at the expo because Matt was visiting so I wanted to get home and hang out with him.  That night I laid out all my gear and packed it all up in preparation for an early wake-up call the next morning.

Triathlons require so much stuff.
This race was not a "A" race for me and so I didn't purposefully taper, obsessively check the weather, or in general spend too much time worrying about the race. All of which are par for the course for me.  After a fairly hard effort weekend at Ragnar, I had a lackluster training week. That being said, I still planned to race hard and woke up feeling great on Sunday morning.

I rolled out of bed a little after 5 o'clock did the usual pb, banana, toast breakfast, braided my hair, and did a last minute check to make sure I had all my stuff.  I let Matt sleep in the extra 15 minutes because I felt bad for making him get up in the 5 o'clock hour.

I allotted about 30 minutes to setup in before transition closed which was plenty of time for this race, but I typically allot at least 45 minutes just in case something goes wrong.  After transition closed I headed down towards the water start with Matt and tried to relax for a few minutes before putting on my wetsuit.  The water was a comfortable 72 degrees but I opted for the wetsuit mostly because I paid a lot of money for that thing so I might as well use it whenever possible. I got in the water and swam maybe 100yds to warm up and remember how constrictive the wetsuit feels again.  It does make it easier to swim though so that's a bonus.




Kelly and I were in the last wave at 7:15 so we stood around and chatted while waiting.  Matt, my triathlon sherpa and race photographer, took some pictures for us while we were waiting.  After we were let into the water, I took up a spot on the very outside of the course.  This way I can avoid most of the crowding and still make a direct line to the first turn buoy.  My swimming times have improved greatly since starting triathlons and I probably should start much closer to the inside, especially at smaller races, but I'm more comfortable on the outside.  

The swim went well for me and the smaller field helped a lot in terms of crowding and getting hit and kicked, but I still managed to take a foot to the mouth.  I got caught behind a breast-stroker and tried to cut to the left to get around her but underestimated the amount of space I needed and got too close to her foot.  Thankfully, it wasn't too hard and I escaped with only a very slight swollen lip.  So slight that it wasn't even noticeable to others and only I could feel it a little bit. 
Transition went off without a hitch and I headed out for the bike.  Here's another insider triathlon tip*: run a few feet past the mount line before hopping on your bike to avoid crowding.  So many other athletes stop right after the line to mount so running a few extra steps can save you time. 



The bike was fairly uneventful for the first half, but I did ride right by my office! I pushed hard in the first 5 or so miles and did a good job keeping my pace up even into the headwind, but I lost a little muster in the second 5 miles.  I was passing a lot of people and was only passed by 1-2 people, but I think I should have been pushing harder in those middle miles.  As we were riding into downtown Lake Zurich, I saw the woman right in front of me get hit by a car which was really frightening. I'm still not even sure what went wrong, but as the cyclist was moving through the stoplight intersection a car started going through the intersection from her right.  The cyclist slammed on her brakes and flew over her handlebars.  Two cops were standing at the intersection so like I said I don't even know what happened.  Maybe there was miscommunication between the cop and the driver or the driver simply wasn't paying attention.  I did get a chance to talk to the woman after the race (she was a friend of Kelly's) and she said she got up and finished the race.  Her arm was scrapped and the car bumper slammed into her leg, but she was okay.  Thank goodness! To everyone: please, please, please pay more attention to the road whether you are cycling, running, walking or driving!

Transition 2 went really well and I quickly switched my shoes, my helmet for my hat and headed out for the run.  I started running and my legs felt like dead weights, but I know that if I just keep running they will loosen up eventually.  I grabbed some water at the first aid station soon after transition but the run was HOT and I wished I had used my handheld.  After the bike ride, the run was thankfully uneventful.  I didn't really have any idea how fast I was going, but just worked on picking off runners in front of me. I tried to pick it up for the last mile as my legs finally felt like they weren't just dead to the world.

As the runners were rounding the corner to the finish line, a guy was standing there yelling, "You know you can catch the girl in front of you." So I really put the hammer down and managed to pass her in the last 200 yards or so.  As we got closer to the finish line, I heard her coming up from behind so I really had to put the pedal down.  In the end, I managed to out kick her! But ugh, that didn't make me feel good.  They had cold sponges and a misting fan at the end of the finish line chute which was much appreciated.



Results:
Swim: 9:19  (1:45/100m pace)
T1: 2:36
Bike: 46:07 (18.2 mph)
T2: 0:59
Run: 26:09 (8:43 min/mile)
Overall: 1:25:10

At first I was a little disappointed that I missed out on being top-3 in my age group, but as I looked at the results I've realized how much I've improved over the last year. Those paces are some of the best I've ever done in a race.  And this was the first time I've ever ran sub-9 min/miles in a triathlon.  In fact, my next best pace is 9:41 min/mile that I did at the Camp Courageous Sprint Tri last year.  And my 5k PR pace is 8:41. That is a huge improvement! I should not be disappointed with my performance.



After the race, Kelly and I hit up the breakfast buffet and waited our turn for the post-race stretch provided by Athletico.  The post race food spread was pretty good--eggs, potatoes, turkey sausage, yogurt, and fruit.  I was a little disappointed they didn't have cinnamon rolls only because Kelly had planted that idea in my head and it sounded delicious.  The post race stretch felt AMAZING and it was totally worth the wait.  And now I know I have a really tight left IT band.  I better make friends with my foam roller again.

We stuck around for the awards ceremony because Kelly snagged 2nd place in our age group!

Congrats Kelly!
Another perk of staying for the awards ceremony, afterwards we were able to pick up an 8-pack of Biscoff jars.  I think I'm set for awhile.

Overall comments on the race.  If you signed up early this race was a good deal, but I'm not sure I would want to fork over $95 (or up to $125 by packet pick-up time) for a sprint.  The post-race breakfast was a nice bonus and there was a lot of swag which I would expect with that price tag.  I really liked the course and this race was close to me which is always a bonus. The shirt is nice and comfy and fits me well.

On the other hand, I am not a huge fan of races where you need to rack your bike the day before.  I realize you most likely have to go on-site to pick up your packet anyways, but it seems like more a hassle to me. I really wished there was another water station on the run course because I was really thirsty at mile 2.  Although 2 water stops on a 3 mile course should be plenty, it was already hot by 9 am that day.

 I'm not sure how I feel about all-women races.  I'll all for women-power and all that, but I don't think women need their own separate races because they can and do compete with the men.  This probably deserves a whole post in itself, but I thought it was worth mentioning here.

That all being said, I will probably consider signing up for this race next year, but I will make sure to register early if I do.

I do want to give a special thanks to Matt for being an extra awesome sherpa.  I can't imagine it is fun to carry around all my crap while I race.  I hope the jars of Biscoff kind of make up for it!

*I feel like I'm giving away all my secrets in this post and now I'm going to be upset at the next triathlon when everybody is in my usual spots. Oh, who am I kidding, not very many people read this. 

Disclosure: I received a free race entry for the IronGirl Lake Zurich as an ambassador.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ragnar Chicago 2013

First things first.  The winner of the Venus de Miles giveaway is Lindsay.  Congrats to her! The winner generator actually chose Katie the first two times, but she passed on the prize since she already won Erin's! She's a lucky one!

12 people. 2 vans. 2 days. 1 almost sleepless night. 200 miles. And another successful Ragnar is in the books.  My boss had so much fun at Ragnar last year that he decided to sign up another team this year much to the dismay of my coworkers.

Filling up the team was a little more difficult this year as compared to last year.  I think the heat scared away most people.  My boss even had to recruit his brother-in-law and nephew from Florida and he kindly suggested to the new employees that Ragnar was "a right of passage" at my company.  We did have a little snafu when one of my teammates stepped on a nail only a week before the race and we had to convince our North Carolina coworker to fly back to help us out!

Van 1 met at the office at the ungodly time of 2:45 am to head to Madison for a 6 am start time.  I couldn't be more glad that I was in van 2.  Seriously before 3 am? I would have considered sleeping under my desk.  Van 2 didn't need to meet till 7 am so I did what any normal mostly insane person training for a HIM would do, got up early to get in a swim before the race.  Which brought me to a grand total of 6 workouts in 72 hours--only slight overkill.  We headed over to another coworker's house to load up the van with plenty of snacks, water, and gatorade while loading ourselves up with bagels and cream cheese before piling into our minivan and heading off to Lake Mills, Wisconsin, to meet van 1.  Last year we had the big 12 person van and I was apprehensive about being crammed into a minivan, but in the end it was okay.  It was a little packed at the beginning, but we ate our way to more room. No really, the more snacks we polished off the more room we had in the van.

Exchange 5
Turns out van 1 had a lot of ringers in it.  Three of the guys in van 1 put down average paces of about 9-9:30 minutes per mile and then proceeded to run paces of about 8 minutes per mile.  Two of the guys hadn't run in a few years and so they just guessed at their pace, but they guessed way too high.  Good thing van 2 showed up with plenty of time to spare or we would have left runner 6 waiting at the exchange!
Runner 7 faced some challenges when a bridge was out and the leg was extended about 3.5 mile, but the runners weren't informed beforehand. It wasn't till a few hours later that we received a text message from Ragnar about the added length and that teams were allowed to split the leg between two runners.
All green except for orange socks.
I was runner 12 so I waited for what seemed like all day to start my run.  In fact I had to wait till 5 pm to get started.  And something that will surprise no one, not eating a real lunch and fueling up on beef jerky and nutter butters does not a great run make.  My stomach didn't feel terrible but it certainly never felt good during my 6.7 miles.  My legs felt pretty heavy which I am blaming on the combination of running a fairly hard effort 5k on Thursday night and sitting in a van for several hours on Friday.  I still managed an average pace of 9:31 and I was glad to finally be running! Since I was handing back off to runner 1 and he had no idea what I was wearing my teammates had told him I was wearing all green (I didn't match at all which is what I get for packing at 5 am that day) so he could easily spot me when I came into the exchange.  When I came running in, he didn't see me at all as was actually trying to move out of the exchange zone.  For some reason, he thought I was going to be wearing orange and was really confused when I was wearing all green.  Apparently green = orange now? We had a good laugh about that.

After wrapping up our first set of runs we headed to Outback Steakhouse to get some real food before starting up our second legs.  I had the steakhouse salad which was probably the only green thing I ate all day.  Then all 6 of us piled back into the van to head to exchange 18 to wait for van 1.  They had a lot of short runs so we didn't get a whole lot of downtime before starting up running again.  I was so disappointed that exchange 18 didn't have s'mores this year like they did last year.  Bring back the s'mores! 

The night legs are where the real shenanigans started to happen.  We dropped off runner 5 for his 5.3 miles and drove to the next exchange.  About 5-10 minutes before he was estimated to arrive, 4 of us piled out of the van to wait. And we waited and waited.  I would guess almost 20-30 minutes passed by and we were starting to get worried so my teammate texted runner 9 to ask if everything was okay.  He responded that he was fine just tired.  So we waited so more and he still didn't show up.  Then he sends in a text, "I can't leave till you guys get here." What?! Turns out he got off track and somehow missed a turn and was at the next exchange.  So we jumped back in the van to go to the next exchange.  

We had runners 10 and 11 split the next leg so runner 10 could still run a bit.  During his run, a drunk woman came up to him and no joke, pulled up her shirt and started running next to him while telling him she was going to run all the way to Chicago with him. I can't even! Dan (runner 10) said she didn't last very long and he was a little taken aback by her.  What a hoot!

The craziness didn't stop there.  Runner 11 Heather kept trying to tell me she was going to get attacked by wildlife like a bear.  I reassured her that there were no bears in southern Wisconsin and most animals are afraid of humans anyways.  Then she came up with the idea that she was going to get hit by a drunk driver and I also told her that was crazy and not going to happen.  I should just keep my mouth shut because a car actually did run her off the road.  She was following another runner and the car kind of swerved towards him and he had to dart out of the way and Heather ran down into the ditch.  That had to be incredibly scary! Thankfully both of them were okay, but I really wished they would have called the police then and there. 

Heather handed off to me at exchange 23 and I headed out for 4.7 miles in Racine.  I got to run past the start and finish area for my half-Ironman last year which was pretty cool.  And then as I was running to the bridge with two other runners a few people at a bar yelled and asked what the heck we were doing.  I guess running through Racine at 2:30-3 am isn't very normal.  I finished that run out with an average pace of 9:07.  After that run I am officially retiring my running skirt because it sucks.  


Ouch.

After handing off to van 1 at exchange 24 we headed back to my coworkers house since he lived close-ish to the next major exchange to shower and catch a few hours of sleep.  We were all exhausted, but the 2.5 hours of sleep felt so good at that point.  

Only one leg left! The legs were heavy and the temperature was rising but van 2 powered through.  And this time we didn't lose any runners or have any crazy adventures. 


I prepared for my final leg by getting in lots of rolling on my foam ball.  My legs were tight all over and that ball felt so good.  I'm so glad I brought it because it helped a lot.  My teammates also appreciated it.  I also wore my compression socks between legs and I think they helped too.
And I am now a tight short convert.  I'll admit to thinking it was stupid when girls wore tight, short, running shorts, but this pair I grabbed recently is awesome.  Loose running shorts always ride up on me and I can never leave home without plenty of BodyGlide, but these babies didn't ride up and are super comfortable.  I am a convert.
Heather handed off to me in Evanston and I headed off to the finish line at Montrose Harbor.  This leg was supposed to be about 8.2 miles long, but according to the Endomondo app on my phone it was only 7.4 miles.  Short? Fine by me.  Once I started running and my legs loosened up I felt really great. I managed a 9:14 pace for this last run, I'd say I did a pretty good job when I estimated my pace to be 9:15 when I signed up for Ragnar.  

When the finish line at Montrose Harbor came into view, I called my teammates so they could meet me at the finish line! I don't think he could hear anything but my labored breathing, but they all showed up. I was running to fast for my teammates trying to run in the sand in flip-flops with sore legs and they were yelling at me to slow down. In my defense Brandon was trying to race me.  He's in the green on the left side of the picture.  
We all crossed the finish line together though to complete another successful Ragnar.
We collected our medals and window decals.  Bonus: the medals also double as bottle openers! We finished in around 31 hours.



Then we collected our two free pizzas and our free beer.  Domino's pizza was a big upgrade from the cardboard pizza we had last year and I think about 5 or 6 of us finished off both pizzas.  The beer was only meh and most of us ended up tossing them into the trash before finishing them.  A real disappointment for this  beer fanatic. 




One of the biggest drawbacks of this relay is the cost.  Thankfully my company covers the cost of our entry fee and van rental (hey it's teambuilding) so it was pretty cheap for me.  And if you really, really need your sleep this probably isn't for you.  I was worried about being cranky and not having enough alone time, but I stayed in a pretty good mood the whole trip.  I did get a little slap happy around 1 am! 

Overall, I had a great time, even though I was dreading it before hand.  And I would highly recommend a Ragnar Relay if you are looking for something new and different to add to your race schedule.  My teammates are already tossing around the idea of doing Ragnar Tennessee in the future.  Another coworker is trying to convince a few of us to sign up for an Ultra (only 6 runners) next year.  Although I think that seems crazy, I've already volunteered to do it.  And I've already come up with our team name: Ultra Stupid

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bike Rides + life lately

I finally have internet at home again! As it turns out, I didn't have a bad cable modem as I had suspected, but instead, I had a bad cable modem power cord.  But my problems are all fixed and I can read my email, blog stalk facebook as much as I want now.

Life, as always, has been busy lately, especially with triathlon training thrown into the mix.  But I'm enjoying it right now.  I'm not overwhelmed, but I'm also not watching too much TV at night.  It's a good balance.

Since I haven't been doing any weekly training recaps, I thought I would highlight some of my recent rides.  On May 19, I rode in the Arlington 500 for the second time.  Before you worry that I rode 500 miles, let me tell you that is 500 furlongs and only an easy-peasy 69 miles (just kidding, 69 miles is tiring).  I met an older lady named Ruth from the Chicago Triathlon Club who had competed in the Galena Triathlon the day before.  She was a trooper because Galena is hilly so her legs had to be tired from pounding up those hills! She invited me to ride along with her and her friend and I was all, "Drafting, yay!" Okay I didn't say that, but I really appreciated it and had a nice time chatting with Ruth.  Sadly, the aid stations didn't have any Oreos this year, but I still ate plenty of other delicious snacks. You absolutely cannot go wrong with this $10 (pre-register) or $15  (day-off) ride.

The next weekend, Matt came to visit.  Memorial Day is supposed to be the unofficial start of summer, but it was freezing that weekend.  No sitting by the pool for us and we even had to wear jackets to bike in the afternoon! We spent the morning testing driving a car that Matt is looking at.  By we, I mean, Matt drove because I still don't know how to drive a manual without everyone in the car wishing they had a barf bag.  I made the huge mistake of forgetting fuel. I had one spare gel in my fuel box to split, but 50 calories for a 2+ hour ride is no where near adequate.  Matt was fading quickly on the last lap around Busse Woods but we still managed to get in 40 miles!


More importantly, I'm still faster than Matt. I'm just kidding, I'm sure he will be kicking me butt on the bike sooner or later.

I have a new partner-in-crime--Kelly--to talk about all things including triathlon, wine, running, and certainly not least important, food.  I feel like I annoy most people when I talk non-stop about triathloning and training, but Kelly also likes to talk about all that stuff.  It's a match made in triathlon heaven, if there were such a thing.  

Kelly recently invited me to a Yelp event at Frato's Pizza in Schaumburg. Kelly is a Yelp elite and after this awesome event, I am on the quest to be a Yelp elite (great tips from Kelly on how to be a Yelp elite here). The event was a ton of fun and I ate a lot of delicious food.  Highlights include a coffee burger, lots of pizza and a spicy mac'n'cheese.  I didn't even bother trying the ghost pepper sauce though for fear of burning my mouth right off. I can't wait to go back to Frato's!


On the following Sunday, I got to hangout with Kelly again.  I told you she was my newest partner-in-crime! We were participating in the Udder Century hosted by the Mchenry Bicycle Club in the little town of Union, Illinois.  I carpooled with Kelly and we arrived at Donley's Wild West Town around 8 and I got registered for the ride and Kelly (pre-registered) picked up her wristband.  Before we headed off, we met up with fellow blogger and triathlete Lauren along with her husband and two friends. 

Photo courtesy of Kelly
Again the weather was not really cooperating with bike riding and it was cold and windy.  And I mean holy wind, Batman.  At one point while I was riding next to Kelly, I felt like I was riding fairly hard and I looked down and we were only going 12 mph.  25 mph headwinds are not pleasant. I was relieved to turn back towards the start after the last aid station and have a nice tailwind.  It made 20+ mph feel fairly effortless.  


Hosted bike rides are the best and I loved that this ride had a cow theme.  The rest stops were fully stocked with PB&J and only PB sandwiches for the jelly haters out there (me!) plus bagels, bananas, cookies (delish!), granola bars, lemonade, gatorade, and water.  Due to the cold temps, we didn't hang around long at the rest stops because it didn't take long to get cold when you weren't riding.  At one point, Lauren even noticed that my lips were turning blue.  Definitely time to get back on the bike.

Photo courtesy Kelly
Funny story to share.  Right before we pulled into the first aid station, we pulled up to a stop sign at a cross road.  Across the road was a church and I instantly recognized where we were--on Highway 20 in Garden Prairie.  I think this means I've been cruising between Iowa and Illinois too much! 

After the ride, Kelly and I headed out for a 40 minute transition run. Unfortunately Kelly had to turn back due to tummy troubles but I finished out the 40 minutes.  It was so tempting to quit especially when I knew there was a pasta buffet waiting for me back at the finish.  

Kelly, me, and Lauren sporting our Venus de Miles jerseys (photo courtesy Kelly)
The pasta was great and overall I would highly recommend this ride. I hope I am able to make it back next year.

I'm still in recovery mode from Ragnar this weekend.  But I have a lot of stories to share with you!





Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Biking Tips + A giveaway!

I've been spending a lot of time in the bike saddle lately in preparation for both Venus de Miles and the Pigman Long Course Triathlon.  And as the saying goes, "It's like riding a bicycle"--once you learn, you won't forget how to ride.  But if the last time you rode a bike was when you were 12 years old, you might need to freshen up on your bike skills to make your bike ride enjoyable.

I've been riding my road bike for almost two years now and have made my fair share of mistakes and improvements in that time.  So you can learn from my mistakes, I'm sharing a few bike tips so you can stay safe, comfortable, and happy while biking!
  1. Always wear a helmet.  This is the most important safety info when it comes to bike riding and that's why it deserves its place at #1.  A helmet can save your life.  It doesn't matter if you are just riding around in town or out for a ride on a country road, you should wear a helmet.  Even the best riders can crash or you can be surprised when a person walks out in front of you or a car cuts you off.
    Anytime your helmet has a impact it needs to be replaced.  The foam portion of the helmet is made for one-time use and will not absorb the force nearly as effectively once it has been impacted.  Even if it looks okay, it's time to replace it. (reference)




  2. Keep your knees pointed forward.  I've seen many other cyclists pedaling with their knees pointed out at a 45 degree angle from their bike.  First off, I don't understand how this can be comfortable.  Second, this form is reducing the power, you can apply to the pedals.

  3. Get your bike properly fit.  One of the reasons #2 occurs is because the bike isn't properly fit to the rider and the rider might feel like their knees are too close at the top of the pedal stroke.  A proper fit will help you get the most out of your bike while staying comfortable and minimizing the risk for injury.
    My bike store did a free basic fit when I bought my bike.  They watched me pedal on the bike trainer and made seat and handlebar adjustments from there.  Another type of bike fitting involves monitoring your power via a computer and making adjustments to maximize your power output.  Here's some additional information.  
    Check your local bike store for more information on their fitting process.  You can also read about Erin's experience of bike fitting.



  4. Skip the pedal mashing and spin in a high gear.  Mashing refers to pedaling slowly in a too high gear.  In other words, it is taking a lot of effort to move the pedals around in a stroke and your legs aren't moving too fast.  It is more efficient to spin--moving legs quickly in a low, easier gear.  Cadence is the rate at which you pedal and is measured in revolutions per minute.  So remember--high cadence, low gear. This is especially helpful on hills! (reference).
  5. Relax the rest of your body. After my first triathlon--an off-road mountain biking triathlon that I was NOT prepared for--my forearms were so sore.  Why? Because I spent much of the race terrified of crashing my bike and squeezed the handlebars and brakes too much.  So learn from my mistake and keep a loose grip on those handlebars and relax your shoulders and your arms.  You want to be putting as much energy into your pedals as possible and squeezing your shoulders up to your ears is wasting that precious energy.

    Scary hill from first triathlon
  6. Hydrate.  In the heat of the summer, biking can be a great alternative to running.  You can move much faster on the bike and the action of the air moving over your skin will help keep you cooler.  But just because you feel cooler, doesn't mean you still aren't sweating and losing water.  I carry two insulated water bottles with me on my rides and recommend you always take water with you as well.
  7. Build up slowly. Running plans often have runners increase their long run by 1-2 miles each week.  The general rule is no more than 10% increase each week.  The same type of slow build up should be applied to biking as well.  My triathlon training plan has me increasing my long bike each week by 5 miles.  If that seems too long for you, try increasing your ride by 10 minutes.  Don't forget to take a recovery week every 4 weeks or so as well.  Before you know it you will be ready for the tour de France.  
  8. Get some bike shorts, your butt will thank you. A bike seat can be a little uncomfortable if it's been awhile since the last time you were on one.  The more you ride your bike the better you will be at learning to put more weight in your legs and less on the saddle which will help alleviate your pain in the butt.  Another great way to make your ride more comfortable is to invest in a pair of padded bike shorts.  It will really help your stamina on those long rides.  Also bike shorts are meant to be worn sans undies.  Less seams means less risk for chafing. 
  9. Lube up.  Some of us are more prone to chafing than others and my body seems to fall onto the "oh there is a slight seam there? I'm going to make all the skin rub off" category.  It's not very pleasant.  It doesn't heal very nicely either.  The best medicine is prevention so before you head off for a ride, slick up those chafing-prone areas. For me those are around my sports bra and where my shorts might rub on my bottom.  I've used both BodyGlide and Aquaphor, but I've also heard of a product called Udder Cream.
  10. When in doubt, slow down. This is definitely a "Do as I say, not as I do" tip.  I'm incredibly guilty of riding too fast when the conditions are questionable or my bike handling is poor. And I've paid for it dearly with numerous crashes and bad road rash.  Matt has yelled at me more than once for going too fast.  Other people, wet pavement, loose gravel, and curvy roads are all good reasons to take it slower.  And more words of wisdom from Matt, "You don't have to try to impress me." So slow down.
And now for the giveaway!  One entrant will win a free entry to the Venus de Miles all-women's road ride in Lake County, Illinois, on July 28.  Winner will have the option of the 25-mile or 61-mile route.  You can read about more about Venus on my previous blog post.  This year,  Venus de Miles will help support 9 Greenhouse Scholars from Illinois. In total, 27 Greenhouse Scholars make up the Class of 2017 and together they have volunteered over 16,500 hours in their communities.  


For more bike reading, check out these articles.

http://www.active.com/cycling/Articles/9-Cycling-Tips-for-Better-Hill-Climbing.htm

http://www.active.com/cycling/Articles/9-Tips-for-Beginner-Cyclists

Disclosure: I am an ambassador for Venus de Miles and am provided with a free entry for the ride.  I was not compensated for this post.
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