Friday, February 27, 2015

Omaha Masters Swimming

The Omaha Masters Swimming team is hosting a free month in March for those interested in coming to try it out.

Where and When:
College of St Mary/ Lied Fitness Center (7000 Mercy Rd.)
Mornings Tues/ Thurs 5-6 am
Evenings Sun/ Wed/ Fri 5:30-6:30 pm
DiVentures – 4303 S. 121 Plz. 1(120th & I St.)
Mon/ Wed/ Fri 6:15-7:15 am

This open to anyone regardless of swimming ability.

I started with Omaha Masters in 2008 with the intent on improving the swimming portion of triathlons. However, before doing a single triathlon, I became hooked on racing my road bike. Despite thinking that I was never going to do another triathlon, I stuck with Omaha Masters and have been a regular member ever since.

The reason I stuck around is because the Omaha Masters program is good. Really good. I've swam as a guest with several other teams when I've traveled out of town, and none have matched what our program offers right here in Omaha. The head coach, Todd Samland, also coaches the UNO Mavericks women's swimming team. He has a lot of experience running a program and developing workouts.  In the seven years going there, I don't ever recall doing the same workout twice.

The best thing this program has done for me was to help me rediscover the joy of swimming.

There's a terrific mix of people -- from the very young (19), to the not so very young -- that show up to practice every day. The swimmers range in ability from being fast and knowing all of the strokes, to being not so very fast and only knowing one stroke.

What I also appreciate about swimming is that I can always bank on it. I swim at 5:30 AM. Other than being lazy, there's no reason why I can't get a workout in at that time. For cyclists, swimming's low impact makes it ideal for recovery workouts, or to get an extra hour of solid cardio in.

But the best part is the feeling after swimming. It's like yoga, only better: I feel deeply relaxed. like I've had a long massage.

If you know someone who's interested, now is the time to try it out for free. There are no obligations. Nobody cares if you can swim fast. Nobody cares how you look in or out of a bathing suit. Just come out and give it a try.

Happy Friday and Thanks for reading

Friday, February 20, 2015

Traces of Pico De Gallo in My Blood Work

As many of you know, the UP lunch group ride has a standing tradition every Thursdays to hit the Dos De Oros taco truck parked in the O'Reilly's Auto parts store on 24th Street, just south of Vinton.

If you follow my Strava feed, you'll be able to easily spot this activity simply by the map footprint:


From downtown we head across the Missouri river via Bob Kerry Pedestrian bridge, then south through a lovely stretch of casinos. From there we head east through a trailer park -- that's the distinguishing bootleg on the map above. After that, we head back west along Hwy 275 across the South 'O Bridge and through Spring Lake Park. From there, it's a short jaunt to 24th and Vinton where we pick up the tacos, then ride back to UP to chow down.

Anyway, we're regular customers. As stated, every Thursday. The tacos are that good. Just about everyone I know agrees on this point.

Last week, we brought some tacos back for the UP Fitness Center crew to try. The staff raved about them later that afternoon. Now, two of them are seriously talking about purchasing bicycles from the great Trek Bicycle Stores of Omaha. Was it because of the tacos? Probably not, but who knows?

It's funny. Those seemingly simple tacos are powerful little thingys. They're succulent. I'm not sure if it's the marinated meat, or the finely chopped pico de gallo that I like best. And don't forget the shredded cabbage, cucumber, radish and a twist of lime. Oh golly, they do wonders for one's motivation. I wasn't kidding about the fitness center's staff talking about purchasing bicycles. Or what about that time when Bryan Redemske joined us and later remarked that his cycling season -- maybe even his entire cycling career -- was vindicated by one Dos De Oros taco? I'm paraphrasing here so I might have misquoted him a smidgen. Regardless, he liked it.

I will tell you this. There have been several super cold Thursdays this winter that I probably would have made an excuse to not ride over lunch hour had there not been the Dos De Oros tacos waiting in that parking lot. That taco truck has kept fire in my belly for training on these frigid days. True story.


If you pay them a visit, bring cash. Two tacos for $3.50. Tell them the UP cyclists sent you. If they like you, they might throw some mints in your bag, gratis.

Well that's that. Happy Friday and thanks for reading.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Rollers

A colleague at work sent me the a YouTube clip featuring a young woman ("Siri) riding her rollers while making an omelette in her kitchen.


That's pretty good. I have rollers, but have never tried making my steel-cut oats while riding them. That'd probably be disasterous. Afterall, I once crashed into my living room's coffee table while watching The Italian Job. But he never asked if I've watched a high speed car chase, or made an omelette while riding them. He was just curious about the rollers.

Anyway, my colleague confided that he rarely used his because of a confidence issue.

I can remember having that feeling the first few times I rode my rollers. Mounting/dismounting, let alone riding on steel drums several inches above a concrete floor can be unnerving at first. It's not unlike learning how to ride a bicycle. But like riding a bike, confidence increases with repetition. Soon, you're not even thinking about how you're riding as much as you're enjoying the feeling of it.

This is why I like rollers. You're literally riding a bicycle, balancing and all. The action of the hips plays a big part of this, and in my opinion, is much more natural on a set of rollers than when on a bike that is anchored squarely into a stationary trainer.

I much prefer riding rollers over the trainer. I suppose I can get away with this because I do most of my winter riding outside. But when the weather is bad, or I'm in a time crunch, rollers are a great way to get a recovery spin in, or to work on cycling form/cadence.

If you're new to rollers, set them up in the middle of a door frame. That way, you can brace yourself until you've got your form dialed in properly and can ride with confidence.

When ready, consider giving one of my go to roller workouts a try.

Warmup
05:00 Warmup spin

Mainset
5 x 5 mins at high cadence with 3 mins of easy spinning in between each interval.

hint: spin up to where stroke becomes choppy, then back off about 5-15 RPMs &  hold that for the 5 min interval.

5 x 1 min at wobble cadence. Try to smooth out the stroke

Cooldown
10 mins easy spin

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Dashed Up

Last evening was the second annual Red Dress Dash. The Dash a half mile sprint in Downtown Omaha to raise awareness for Heart Disease.

Unfortunately, I couldn't participate in the Red Dress Dash this year. It's too bad, too, because I won the dash outright last year. Not that anyone was really counting or anything. But I did, and it was exhilarating.

I should also mention that I won the race wearing a red dress and matching boa. I got the red dress from Leah. So yeah, there's that.

So anyway, the best part of last year's Red Dress Dash wasn't wearing Leah's dress, nor was it winning the thing. And though I'd like to say that participating in a worthy cause was honorable and worthy in itself, it still wasn't the best. No, the best part of last year's race was taking a wrong turn and leading the entire throng of three hundred runners behind me off course. Oh boy, the pandemonium. I think what was funniest was seeing the cops jumping in their squad cars to chase me down with hundreds of others running behind me before I ran us into the river or something.

That's all I've got today. Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Flummoxed

One of the big stories this past week was the flare up of a 21st century measles outbreak. I'd like to say that the measles would get people to reconsider their anti-vaccination stance. But who am I kidding? Lookout, the return of the plague is right around the corner.

Speaking of viruses, this past week, my friend John Wait lamented about the horror of coming down with the flu during a bicycle ride. During? Yes, that is what he wrote. It sounded awful, and I do feel bad for him. Still, I couldn't help but be bewildered at both the precision of identifying when he came down with the flu, as well as the circumstances surrounding it --  while riding a bicycle. How could those even be related? I've since come to accept that it's possible, that one could get the flu during a bike ride, but it seemed so weird to connect the two in the same thought.

I'd like to say that's the strangest flu story I've ever heard, but there's one even greater. A friend once told me that she got the flu from eating a hotdog. I'm not kidding. A hotdog. This wasn't the false food-poisoning, "barfy-flu", either. I would understand that a hotdog could cause barfing, because hotdogs are simply gross. But no, this flu was the real deal: a high fever, chills, body aches, etc. Anyway, I remember being utterly mystified by hearing that string of words fall from her mouth. So after gathering myself, I asked her to repeat it, just to make sure I didn't mishear her. Again she said, "I ate a hotdog earlier today and got the flu." Until that moment, I never knew that those words could be assembled in the same sentence. It was an astonishing claim. More so than saying they got the flu while on a bike ride.

I don't know about you, but these stories have left me flu-mmoxed.

To John Wait and anyone else suffering the calamity of hotdog-influenza: A hearty get well soon!

Happy Friday.Thanks for reading.

Tim Kazurinsky as SNL's Dr. Jack Badofsky c.1982

Friday, January 23, 2015

Outrunning The Bear

Katherine and I watched the movie, The Imitation Game this past Tuesday. If you haven't seen it, or aren't familiar with the story, it's about how the real-life math genius named Alan Turing helped develope a machine that could decipher coded German Enigma messages during the Second World War. Turing's work has been estimated to have saved two to four years of the warring, and some 14 million lives. YPG. Anyway, like any historic fiction, the film took some artistic licenses as to the exact sequences and events of how it all came to pass.

One such contrived scene was when Mr Turing tried to improve office productivity by being unusually whimsical. This behavior was out of character for Turing, who was as seemingly arrogant as he was aloof. As a result, his staff hated him. What he did to try to win them over one day was to give each of his colleagues a small gift (an apple) before preceding to tell a joke. It went something like this:

Two guys were camping in the woods when a bear walked into their campsite. One guy starts frantically lacing up his boots as the other one asks, "Why are you doing that? Don't you know that you'll never outrun a bear?" To which the first replied, "I don't need to outrun a bear, I only need to outrun you."

--//-- 

Lately, I've felt like I've been running a race with a bear at my heels. If it's not a race at work, or a race on the bike, then it's a race to make ends meet. Yes, it feels like a bear is chasing me. But whereas in times past the bear was a person or a material thing, I've finally come to realize that the bear is not my boss, nor is it Chris Spence or Lee Bumgarner, and it's not a bill chaser. It's simply time. Time is the bear.

So as I look over my shoulder, I see the wall clock morph into the face of a Kodiak. The clock's hour, minute and second hands like powerful legs bearing down on me. Each stroke like a thunderous foot-fall of lean muscle closing in on its prey. Time is the bear.

As I close this week's post, I am grateful for the insight that I'll never have enough time to get it all done. That said, I'll do everything possible to deliver my best with the time I currently have.

And with that, my boots are laced, and I'm off running again, this time to catch the bus to work.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Priorities

As some of you may know, I am getting back into road racing this year. That means no triathlons and no running this year. I do intend to keep up with Omaha Masters swimming because it's great upper body and core work. Otherwise, it's all about the bike for 2015. To this end, I was recently asked about my motivations to get back into road racing. Here they are, in order of priority:

1. Safety, Having the Courage to Care



Safety is my top priority. I took that line from my employer's -- Union Pacific Railroad-- mission statement. At UP, safety is the first goal set for the new year, and it is the first performance goal reviewed at year's end. Practicing safety is something we do every day at the railroad. There's even a whole corporate culture even built around the phrase, having the Courage to Care.

On the bike, safety means being vigilant about the rules of the road. It means following and supporting all traffic laws, whether solo or in the group. Off the bike, it's taking a commitment to safely operating vehicles to and from races, group road rides, etc. This means wearing seatbelts, refraining from texting while driving, and designating drivers when alcohol is involved. Still, accidents can and do happen. That's why we must do everything in our power to mitigate the risk to avoid it. If we don't all come home in one piece, then we have failed this top priority.

2. Having fun
Of course, road racing isn't easy. It's grueling work, with long hours in the saddle. That's not always fun because, well, it's work. But all of the other stuff that comes from putting in that effort should be happy times. I'm thinking of times like riding in a paceline while Shim belts out a Rolling Stones tune horribly off-key, or being present when Lucas spontaneously decides to bicep-curl the host family's cat. True story. These are good times and is why I value this as #2.

Lucas bicep-curling the host family cat
3. Supporting the team (Winning)
There's no doubt that winning is fun, as it is contagious. Conversely, losing sucks and can chip away team morale. But losing, or winning for that matter, should never come before being safe and having a good time. I guess what I'm trying to say is that my ego isn't pinned on whether I/we win or lose. Certainly winning is the more enjoyable of the two and I will do my best to support these efforts to climb on top of the podium.

A podium shot during the 2014 cyclocross season
4. Personal Development (skills and fitness)
As a junior member/cat 3 racer, my role is support for the cat 1-2 racers in open races. I hope/expect to gain experience simply by racing. Along the way, there may be some opportunity (Masters races and cat 3 races) where I will have a chance to work on attaining upgrade points, but only if it makes sense to do so. Anyway, since I've mostly sat out of road racing over the past couple of years, I have a long way to go before I have a chance at even considering upgrading. And like I said in #3, my ego isn't dependent on upgrading.

The other part of personal development comes in better fitness for fall's cyclocross season. Road racing and cyclocross complement each other nicely in this manner.

And that's it. Thanks for reading.

Happy Friday.

If only

Friday, January 9, 2015

Yoga in My Team Kit

It's come to this. While some of my friends are down in Austin at Cyclocross Nationals, where it's reasonably warm -- balmy compared to the upper midwest -- I've been relegated to workout inside by riding the trainer, swim, and/or do group fitness classes. To be specific, in the past week, I've been on my rollers/trainer three times, gone to Omaha Masters swimming practice twice, and have done a couple core fitness classes.

And then there was the day that I did yoga in my team kit.

Shim sent me an SMS saying that he and Leah were going to be doing the Yoga class at UP's Fitness center over lunch. I replied that I'd join. But when I arrived at the gym, I discovered that I didn't have the appropriate attire in my locker. All I had was a (clean) cycling kit. For my regular readers, you know that I normally keep extra sets of clothing in my locker for such occasions. But as this was just coming off an extended holiday break, I was negligent about restocking my locker. So in short, I was left with a choice: 1) go back to my desk, or 2) don the spandex and go for it.

I chose the latter and got crap for it later.


As Leah points out, Shim is fine with wearing cycling clothing to yoga, so long as it's not a full kit, and he's wearing it. Good one, Leah.

Oh well, I didn't care. In addition to getting my downward-dog going, I was able to make a fine plug for my team, the great #trekbicyclestores #MWCC. Of course I would have preferred making that plug at the starting line in Austin today.

Happy Team Kit Yoga Friday. Thanks for reading.