Friday, February 27, 2009

Bike Fitting 101

After months of fiddling with my bike, and staring at various bike fitting videos on YouTube, with little success, I finally caved and made an appointment with the local bike fitting guru to get my bike "professionally fitted”.
Let me just tell you, if you asked me which was easier, getting a bike fitted correctly or finding the perfect pair of jeans that make my butt look compact and my thighs slim, finding the jeans would certainly take the cake. Who knew that fitting a bike could be so technical! Apparently, many people are well aware of this fact.

My orthopedist recommended that I visit T3, a triathlon store here in Indy. ( Vern LaMere is the go-to guy there. I think Dr. Kollias’s exact words were, “Vern works with a lot of the elite amateur tri guys. I am not sure how many women he fits, but he should do a good job for you.” One thing I’ve learned this far in my “athletic career” is that I have no time or patience for sexism. As a result, when someone recommends a specialist or doctor to me, the first thing I ask is, “Will he or she treat me with the same candor and respect as they would a male 33 year old guy.” If the answer is yes, then I’ll take the time, if there is a pause or a wrinkle in their forehead, then I know it’s a no. I’ll admit, I often walk into a new establishment or doctor’s office with a fairly decent chip on my shoulder. “Don’t you talk down to me just because I am a woman. I will be treated just as you would treat a male patient/customer or I will take my business elsewhere.”

Happily, Vern turned out to be a fantastic guy. He spent 2 and a half hours with me, doing a insane amount of measuring, videotaping and adjusting on my bike. I am saddened to say, that all of the adjustments I personally made to my bike were dead wrong. I moved my seat forward, it needed to be moved back, and not just a little bit, but 4 INCHES! I raised my seat; it needed to be lowered. Vern was pretty nice about it. He said, “You know it is just tricky to try and fit yourself to your own bike because you are looking down on everything.” I appreciated the comment, but I also realize I’ve got so much to learn. So what? We've all got to start somewhere. I'm learning. Everyone starts somewhere right?

I enjoyed chatting with Vern as he viewed the video and made different adjustments. He grew up in Wisconsin. We talked about how much we both like that state, Summer Fest in Milwaukee, how nice people are in Wisconsin, etc. He asked me several questions to find out what kind of rider I was. When I told him I planned on doing a few triathlons this summer, he suggested a particular pair of tri shoes to shorten my transition times. I laughed, needing to explain myself, “I am never going to be someone who is out there competing to place within my age group. I am just out there to have a good time.” He actually looked surprised. Do I look like I could possibly place? I don’t know, but I loved him for thinking I could or that I wanted to.

The thing is, as a woman out there, I want to be taken seriously, but at the same time, I am not out there to kick anyone's butt but my own. I am out there for the experience, for the sense of empowerment I feel, not for time or a medal. I appreciated all of his questions and the fact that my answers were accepted at face value. I didn’t feel pressured at all. He explained to me that he fits the bike to the person’s preferences. My preferences quickly became apparent. I am looking to stay within a certain price point and I want to be comfortable. Meaning, I do not want to be in any pain and make it cheap!

Cheap it was not. I walked out of there with new pedals, new shoes for the new pedals, a new seat post and, oh yeah, a bike that fits correctly. I am not a big spender, and I specifically choke on big ticket items. So, I tried to not to collapse into a total panic attack when I paid the bill. But as my sister later reminded me, “Kate, you are supporting the economy. Someone has to spend money and you just spent money at this guy’s shop, and he’s a good guy.” And it’s true. I want to ride, my bike feels good, my shoes feel good, and Vern is a cool dude. So, I guess that would qualify as money well spent.

There are my new Speedplay pedals. Vern suggested these after I told him how I get worried about getting stuck in my pedals. During one of the Hilly rides I was climbing the biggest hill, Mount Tabor, and passing people because I don't have smaller gears and therefore need to muscle it up hills. As I was pushing past several groups of riders on their left, a pick-up truck flew up and over the crest of the hill. I had no where to go to get over. I tried to clip out but my legs were dead and the hill was so steep that there was no cruising, stopped meant falling over, falling meant taking down several riders or getting hit by the truck, all of this in about 2 seconds. I did manage to pull my foot out of the clips and stopped fairly safely, but it freaked me out. So, these pedals are easy in and easy clip out. Plus, they've got lots of float in them so it feels great on the knees.

The shoes. I have to say, I love the purple trim on these! I wore my brother-in-law's old Shimano road shoes for years. They were of course too big and thus caused some problems. It was certainly time for a pair of shoes that actually fit!

So this is the cleat that clips you in. Cool huh? What can I say, I am my father's daughter. He LOVES gear. I do too.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Toilet Technology

I am all for the progression of technology, but there are times when all the advances in our daily lives bites me in the butt, or perhaps it would be better explained as spitting in my face. Let me explain.

Are there any other parents out there who have had this similar experience?
Kai needed to use the bathroom. So, being the good mom that I consider myself to be, I immediately escorted him to the bathroom. In this particular case, we were at the library, so we enjoyed the benefit of using a nice clean bathroom. We both squeezed into the stall meant for one person, my purse and bag of books taking up precious space. Kai gratefully leaned forward and peed into the pristine toilet bowl. I waited patiently, leaning my back against the stall door. When he finished, he turned around , needing some assistance with his pants. As I bent over him to yank the stubborn pants up over his tosh, the tiny red light above the toilet rapidly blinked three times, “Huh,” I thought. And before I could remind myself what that flashing meant, the white bowl erupted in a violent tsunami-like wave of automatic flushing.

The flush swirled with such vigor and force that sprays of my son’s dirty toilet water vaulted up and out of the toilet like a group of vagabond surfers riding a massive wave. Much of the water landed on the toilet seat, but a few drops did land, disgustingly, on my face. All of the air left my lungs as I let out the longest sigh in history. To say, “Yuck” just doesn’t do the experience justice.
Needless to say, I decided that afternoon that Kai must now always pull his own pants up. I don’t care if we are pressed for time; if he only gets them half way up his butt, or whines the entire time he works them back up to his waist.

I will not again find myself baptized in toilet water.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Valentine's Day Mania

Who knew Valentine's Day was such a big deal? I guess I should considering I work for a greeting card company! But I really didn't have any idea, that is, until these past two weeks!

Normally I work about 12-24 hours a week. Last week I worked 35 just in the first 3 days. So, I have fallen behind on getting anything ready to post.

But I will share just one moment from last weekend. I went out for a run/walk early on Sunday morning before work. I noticed a man in his sixties kicking the rolled newspaper down his driveway. He'd take a few steps, give it a gentle kick, take another few steps towards it and then kicked it again. "What is this guy doing?" I wondered. He didn't notice me staring because his gaze remained on the paper.

Finally, the paper reached his mailbox, where he placed his hand on the box and leaned on it so he could bend over to pick up the paper.

Ah, so that was it. He wasn't able to bend over without support. How much easier would it be for this guy is the delivery person just put it in the newspaper holder under the mailbox?

But before I understood why he was kicking the paper, his actions completely puzzled me. I felt that was an appropriate lesson for the day. Even when I think people may be acting irrationally, there is often more to the story that explains what is really going on. If I can slow down and take the time to watch and listen, often the story reveals itself fairly quickly.

Now, if someone could just explain the rest of the story for the guy who stopped me in my Target store the other day and asked, "Do you have cards for Mistresses?"

After he left the women shopping next to me said, "Did that man really just ask you what I think he asked you?"

"Yup, he sure did."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Two men on the lunch list

I am not a huge fan of celebrity men, but there are two fairly famous men I would love to meet someday, Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser and Ira Glass, the host of the NPR radio show and podcast, “This American Life.”

I’ll talk about Ira in a later post. Let’s focus on Bob today. What is it about this man that is so attractive? Yes, he is physically attractive, but lots of men are. With Bob, I know he would connect to and love the chunky adolescent girl in me. I think we all carry around a well worn mental picture of ourselves from some point in our childhood. I do. In my photo, I am ten years old, refusing to wear a much needed bra, and willing to do anything to escape my developing body.
Bob would totally get this girl. He’d gently get to know her, pinpoint what makes her laugh, understand what she worries about, and help her focus in on the strengths that she can’t see yet. He would tell her that she is beautiful and miraculously, she’d believe it, because a guy like Bob wouldn’t lie to you. Then, only after he had taken the time to do all of the above, he would find out just when the weight issue began.

My history with weight goes way back to second grade when the school nurse wheeled the scale into the front of the room and announced our weight aloud as each student stepped on and off the scale with a thud. At eight years old I weighed 75 pounds. I didn’t feel heavy at the time, but my cheeks flushed hot with embarrassment, when I realized that my number branded me as the heaviest girl in the class. Only one or two boys surpassed my numbers on the scale. Similar annual weigh- ins continued through junior high, where at twelve years old, I weighed more than I do today.
As a tribute to my parents, up until that day in second grade, I didn’t regard myself as overweight or even view myself in terms bodily terms. I loved to take care of my dolls, played on a softball team, bravely jumped my bike off ramps, and arrested my neighbors during cops and robbers games. I was an athlete, mom in training, dare-devil and enforcer of the law. According to different studies, around the ages of eight to ten, girls start to understand and notice the cultural messages about women and their bodies. If you are thin, have light skin and long blond hair, then you are beautiful. Somehow as a femaIe, you are expected to make beauty an important priority.

What I love about Bob is that he wants his clients to lose weight for bigger reasons than reducing the size of their pants. He strives to help people heal those wounds from the past. For me, my weight turned into a difficult wound for me to heal. I struggled for years, feeling horrible about myself. My parents, in different ways, loved me through it. My Dad encouraged me in my sporting endeavors and celebrated even the most minor accomplishment with unbridled enthusiasm. He taught me how fun being involved in sports could be, that I could be noticed for a good play in the outfield and appreciated for my athletic skills.
As the teasing continued, my mom often put her arms around me and rocked me. On the day the boys followed me around the playground mooing at me and calling me a cow, it took a long time to cry it out. Never, ever did she mention the word diet, or suggest that losing weight would make things better. That was one of the greatest gifts my mother gave to me. As tears rolled down my face incident after incident, my mom patiently listened to the stories, acknowledged my pain and then proceeded to tell me how smart and creative I was, what a caring young girl I was, and that my weight was not “me”. Eventually, I believed her, and it is no surprise that the weight then slipped away.

Many trainers focus so much on calories and six pack abs. When really, I think most people just want to feel good in their own bodies and heal whatever is bothering them in the process. Bob seems to do that. It’s like he takes that worn photo and frames it. And when he gives it back to you he says, “You know, this kid is gorgeous. Put that picture where everyone can see it.” And you believe him. You hang it up in your entryway and your perspective changes.

That Bob, he’s part trainer, part counselor and part eye candy, not a bad combination! Yep, I’m a fan for sure. Now Ira, well that’s a different story…

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More than one witch in our house

Another 2 hour delay, instead of rising at 5am like I normally do, this week I’ve been sleeping as long as I can. The snow, heavy and gleaming obscenely outside of my window like an overly dramatic Crest commercial, is officially unwelcome. I am a big old bear in hibernation. I want to eat, sleep and growl at people.
So this morning, even though the kids clamored around me before I could make my way to the coffee pot, I managed to pour my coffee, grab my journal and head off to write my morning pages in peace. As I wrote, Josh ironed and listened to NPR in our bedroom while Kai created a city in his room. The fire truck sounded its alarm over and over again on its way to the local bedroom disaster.

I didn’t hear Elizabeth, but assumed she was fine. When I finished writing, I opened the door and yelled, “Okay, who is ready for lemon pancakes?”

“ME!” Elizabeth and Kai yelled flying out of their rooms.

As we all headed back downstairs, Elizabeth said, “Mommy, while you were writing, I started a story about a witch stuck in a snowstorm. You want me to read it to you?”
“Yes!” I answered as she pulled out one of her many half-filled notebooks, adorned with her progressing kindergarten writing.

As she read, I felt so privileged to peer into this tiny window of her mind working through her own story line. She proudly read me her story and then bit the tip of her pencil trying to decide what should happen next. Kai, always wanting to be in on a game, offered some suggestions to help move Elizabeth along, but the ideas weren’t hitting the right note in her head and she brushed them aside. She wanted to discover it on her own, create a melody all her own. Kai’s stories are about witches and horses. He likes the horse to eat me as the “problem” in his story. Then he orders the witch to save me as I yelp, “Oh no! I don’t want to be eaten by a horse!” I’m sure he didn’t understand why Elizabeth’s witch did not have a horse.

After a few more minutes of writing, Elizabeth arrived at her stopping point for the morning, put her pencil down and looked up, her head tilted towards her shoulder.
“I’m going to bring my story to school and read it,” she told me. “Mrs. Smith says she wants to hear all of the stories that we write. So I’ll read it to the class.”
Not a bad morning after all.

Once upon a time, there was a witch, a very mean witch in a spooky haunted house. One day,she got stuck in a snow storm. She did not know what to do, but she cackled, "I know just what to do!" She saw a little cottage near by. She said to herself, "I will get in that cottage and sneak their car!"
The End
By Elizabeth Kneifel age 6