My Cycling Essentials and Tour de Cure®

I am getting ready for a 5 hour trainer ride to raise money for the American Diabetes Association® and the Tour de Cure® at Kyle’s Bikes on Saturday, April 18 and thought it would be fitting to share with you my cycling essentials as I prepare for this longer trainer ride. Yes, you read that correctly…5 hours in the saddle on the trainer…and I thought 3 hours & 45 minutes last weekend was tough. Please click here to make a donation; I would be forever grateful.

My cycling essentials tend to differ just a bit depending on where I ride…am I riding outdoors or am I riding on the trainer? As you’ll see, there are some common cycling essentials for cycling in both situations, but some differences do exist.

  1. Mojo…My Specialized Transition  IMG_2011
  2. Terry Butterfly Ti Gel Saddle  Screen shot 2014-07-09 at 8.10.22 AM
  3. Specialized Cycling Shoes  IMG_2302
  4. Speedfil water bottle  IMG_3869
  5. Coeur Sports seam-free chamois tri shorts  IMG_1917
  6. Osmo Active Hyrdation  IMG_1508
  7. Hoo Ha Ride Glide  IMG_3184
  8. Garmin 910XT  IMG_2521
  9. Powertap  IMG_3036
  10. Road ID Bracelet…I never take this offIMG_3280

Trainer Rides:

  1. Kinetic Fluid Trainer
  2. Trainer Tire
  3. Trainer Skewer
  4. Sweat towels…lots of them

Outdoor Rides:

  1. Bell Cycling Helmet  IMG_3868
  2. Tifosi Sunglasses  IMG_3867
  3. Bonk Breaker Bars (on the longer rides)

    Photo courtesy of Bonk Breaker
    Photo courtesy of Bonk Breaker
  4. Barnana (on the longer rides)…if you order from Barnana, please feel free to use my discount code Coeur15 for 15% off your order 🙂IMG_1931

What are your cycling essentials? Have you ever raced or participated in an event for a charity? If so, which event and which charity?

Friday Night Urban Bike Tours

The Iron Hippie and I LOVE to take an easy bike tour around town on Friday evenings…especially when most of the Iowa State students have gone home for the summer.  We typically don our cross bikes, ride the trails, take a tour of campus, and just enjoy a leisure pace.  Here is a look at our most recent urban bike tour:

Riding to grab some dinner.
Riding to grab some dinner.
Waiting at a stop light in campus town.
Waiting at a stop light in campus town.
Grabbing a wonderful dinner on the patio at Stomping Grounds in campus town.
Grabbing a wonderful dinner on the patio at Stomping Grounds in campus town.
Yummy goodness!!
Yummy goodness!!
Heading home on some local trails.
Heading home through campus.
The campanile on central campus with no peaceful.
The campanile on central campus with no students…so peaceful.
Lake Laverne is a buzz with the resident swans and some geese.
Lake Laverne is a buzz with the resident swans and some geese (all of which are difficult to see in this picture).
Riding through a very peaceful campus with nobody around.
Riding through a very peaceful campus with nobody around.
The Iron Hippie enjoying our ride.
The Iron Hippie enjoying our ride.
A little Molly the Raleigh love :)
A little Molly the Raleigh love 🙂
A beautiful evening for an urban bike tour ;)
A beautiful evening for an urban bike tour 😉

Urban bike tours help us keep balance in our busy lives…especially during an Ironman training year.  What do you do to find balance in your busy life?  How do enjoy a beautiful day?

Lessons Learned the Hard Way While Triathlon Training

We’ve all learned a lesson or two the “hard way” at some point in our life.  I thought it would be fun enlightening to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way while triathlon training.

  1. While Hoo Ha Ride Glide (chamois cream) is minty fresh in the shorts, it is NOT minty fresh in the eyes.  Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly if you accidentally get some on your finger BEFORE rubbing your eyes.           IMG_3184
  2. Tiger Balm in the groin area (for a sore/tight psoas) sounded like a great idea until I accidentally got some on the underwear…oops, now it is in the hoo ha area.  This is not nearly as pleasant as it was in my mind before the application.     tiger balm
  3. Applying sunscreen to exposed areas only to have my workout apparel shift during the ride/run and end up with a small sunburn line where the sunscreen wasn’t applied.  I’ve learned to spray sunscreen on under the clothes lines to prevent this.
  4. Releasing all of the CO2 before attaching the cartridge to the new tube to inflate…I guess I’m calling for a ride back to town since I have no other means of inflating this new tube.
  5. What starts off as a niggle can turn into an injury, so listen to your body, back off and don’t push through it.  I have been on the injury train before, and I don’t like the ride.  One would think that I’d learn from this and listen to my body so I don’t hop back on that miserable train, but apparently that isn’t the case, since I am back on this miserable train…again.

What lessons have you learned the hard way while training?

Hard Workout

Luke McKenzie is a professional triathlete.  Triathlete Magazine recently posted an article with his “hardest workout” and it just so happens to be on the bike.  I would love to know what his Ironman Watts are that he puts out!! 🙂

It doesn’t matter if we are professional athletes, age group podium athletes, or recreational athletes…every one of us has a workout that we consider to be a “hard” workout at some point…one that pushes us physically, mentally or both.

Friday I had a VERY. HARD. RIDE.  Since purchasing my new toy a few weeks ago…


this was the first ride that REALLY challenged me (both physically and mentally).  After having my VO2 Max test at the end of February, I know what my power zones are:

  • Power Zone 1 = 0 -123 watts
  • Power Zone 2 = 124 – 167 watts
  • Power Zone 3 = 168 – 200 watts
  • Power Zone 4 = 201 – 233 watts
  • Power Zone 5 = 234 – 266 watts
  • Power Zone 6 = 267+ watts

Friday morning’s ride was power intervals and looked like this:

  • 30 minute warm-up
  • 6×3 min power zone 3 (mid to high z3) while keeping my cadence above 95 rpm with 2 min easy spin between each set
  • 15 minute cool-down

Typically I have at least one other person to ride with in the sweat cave early in the mornings, but not this time.  I was all by myself.  In my own head.  Staring at concrete walls and a bunch of empty bicycles.

Here is what my performance yielded:

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 10.44.44 AM

My power and cadence were nearly spot on according to the targets I was to be aiming for.  The first 4 intervals were challenging, but physically I felt strong.  By the 5th and 6th intervals, I really had to use my mental focus, self talk (or yell) and visualization to dig deep and finish as strong as I could.

Before training with power, I was training on heart rate.  According to my heart rate data below, my heart rate was solidly in zone 4 for each interval after the first two and was nearing zone 5 by the final interval.  With power zone 3 being the target, I was forced to work harder, pushing my heart rate much higher than zone 3.  If I would have done this same workout using heart rate, I would not have pushed this hard.

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 10.44.53 AM

This was only the first of many more HARD WORKOUTS, but I am excited to see where training on power will take me!!

I'm. Beat. Nothing. Left.
I’m. Beat. Nothing. Left. Put. A. Fork. In. Me. I’m. Cooked.
Puddles of sweat on the floor next to the bike = good workout.
Puddles of sweat on the floor next to the bike = good workout.

What is your hardest workout?  Do you train with power?  If so, what improvements have you seen as a result?


Week #13 (Recovery Week) Totals:

Swim:  4700 yards

Bike:  76.2 miles

Run:  21.7 miles

Strength Training:  2 hours & 15 minutes

Hot Yoga:  1 hour

Week #13 in the green 😉

Spring Equinox

Yesterday the Iron Hippie and I got up, went to the gym to lift weights, did some chores at home, ran some errands, and then hit the trails on a BEAUTIFUL spring day!!  We had a BRick scheduled…2 hour ride followed by a 30 minute run…

Time to Ride!!
Time to Ride!!  33.76 miles in 2 hours = 16.8 mph…not bad for being on the trainer since January 1, 2014
Ride is for the run!!
Ride is done…now for the run!!  3.42 miles in 30 minutes = 8:47/mile…This was an easy run off the bike for me

Yesterday Mother Nature decided to have a good attitude and show us what we’ve been missing all winter.  The high temperature for the day was 58F with very little winds and lots of sun.  It felt SO GREAT to exercise outdoors with the sun on my face and the breeze in my hair!!  Thank you Mother Nature for a nice weather day, even if it isn’t going to last 🙂

What did you do to “celebrate” the first day of spring?

What Gets You Out of Bed in the Morning?

Lately I have had a few people ask me how I am able to get up at 4:15 am every morning to complete my workout(s).  I realize getting up early is difficult for most people and I would agree…it can be very difficult if you don’t plan accordingly.  I would pose a similar question to those that are not early risers…How can you possibly stay up until 10 pm???  😉

Because I get up at 4:15 am, I am always in bed no later than 9 pm; however, staying up that late is a very rare instance.  I typically go to bed at about 8 pm, read for a few minutes and shut out the light.  Going to bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep is critical if you want to be an early riser.  I make sure that I get 7 hours of sleep minimum, but most nights it is much closer to a solid 8 hours.

What motivates me to get up in the morning and get my workout done before most people even consider getting out of bed?

  1. I prefer to get out of bed in the morning and complete my workouts before my brain can kick in and tell my body to procrastinate.  I feel so much better throughout the day knowing my workout (or at least one of them) is done.
  2. Exercising in the morning is a great way to boost my energy and mood going into the day ahead.  I am more focused and alert throughout the day and generally much happier. 🙂
  3. I am motivated by my goal of having a much better race at IMWI 2014 than I had in 2011.   Don't quit
  4. I have other people coming to our house to ride bikes 3 mornings a week…I have to get up and moving when others are “counting” on me.
  5. When my alarm clock lights up (instead of an annoying buzzing noise or a radio) I immediately put my feet to the floor.  Once my feet are on the floor, I start moving and don’t let my head fall back to the pillow.
  6. I think about what I want most, instead of what I want now. 🙂
  7. The Iron Hippie keeps the same schedule, so it is easier to get out of bed early when your spouse is too.
  8. I have a Training Peaks account and I HATE to see my workout show up as red…not completed.
  9. If I complete my scheduled workout, I earn a $1…that is motivation to complete all my workouts 😉
  10. I commit to a morning workout the night before, set out my workout attire, get all of my hydration ready the night before, so there are no excuses in the morning.

am workout

Getting into the habit of waking up early is a bit challenging, but after the first week, my body settled in and decided this was the new normal.  To make waking up early a habit, you need to make a decision that this IS what you want to do, make adjustments to your schedule so you can get the necessary sleep and then force yourself to put your feet on the floor and get moving when the alarm clock goes off.  It will get easier…you just have to be stronger than the person telling you to hit the snooze button.  Waking up at 4:15 am has officially become a habit in our household.  Even on the weekends I find myself waking up on my own (without the alarm clock) at about 4 am.

When do you prefer to complete your workouts?


Week #6 (Base Training) Totals:

Swim: 5100 yards

Bike: 67.3 miles

Run: 16.7 miles

Strength Training: 2 hours & 15 minutes

Hot Yoga: 2 hours & 30 minutes

Week #6 in the green 😉

Suffer to Succeed

My legs are burning, my heart is beating out of my chest, my lungs are working overtime and there is enough sweat dripping off my face to put out a small fire…I am suffering.  Physically this is REALLY challenging…mentally I am focused…physically my legs are shot…mentally I am strong…physically my legs want to take a break and stop moving…mentally I will push through…physically my legs have turned to jello…mentally I will finish strong.

I know that success on race day comes from all of the challenges I will face and overcome in all of the days leading up to the race.  So…what was the workout that made me suffer the most this week???  A trainer ride with zone 4 intervals…

0:00 – 0:15 Warm-up
0:15 – 0:24 20 sec sprint / 40 sec recovery
                   40 sec sprint / 20 sec recovery
                   60 sec sprint / 60 sec recovery
                   Spin 5 minutes
0:24 – 0:33 20 sec sprint / 40 sec recovery
                   40 sec sprint / 20 sec recovery
                   60 sec sprint / 60 sec recovery
                   Spin 5 minutes
0:33 – 0:42 20 sec sprint / 40 sec recovery
                   40 sec sprint / 20 sec recovery
                   60 sec sprint / 60 sec recovery
                   Spin 5 minutes
0:42 – 0:48 2 min Z4 / 4 min recovery
0:48 – 0:54 2 min Z4 / 4 min recovery
0:54 – 1:00 2 min Z4 / 4 min recovery
1:00 – 1:10 10 min Z2
1:10 – 1:24 10 min Z4 / 4 min recovery
1:24 – 1:38 10 min Z4 / 4 min recovery
1:38 – 1:52 10 min Z4 / 4 min recovery
1:52 – 2:00 Cool-down

Suffering during a 10 minute Z4 portion of the workout.
Suffering during a 10 minute Zone 4 portion of the workout.

Suffering now = Success later 🙂

What workout(s) has(have) made you “suffer” lately???


Week #5 (Base Training) Totals:

Swim:  4700 yards

Bike:  63 miles

Run:  15 miles

Strength Training:  2 hours & 15 minutes

Hot Yoga:  2 hours & 30 minutes

Week #5 in the green 😉


January Totals (successfully completed all scheduled workouts):

Swim:  12.7 miles

Bike:  190 miles

Run:  63.8 miles

Strength Training: 10 hours

Hot Yoga: 10 hours 45 minutes

Two States Bike Ride

This last weekend, the Iron Hippie and I went to Okoboji to visit my parents.  We had an AMAZING run on Saturday and followed it up with an AWESOME bike ride on Sunday.  The Iron Hippie was scheduled to ride for 60 miles and I was scheduled to ride for 2-3 hours.  I knew that I would not be able to ride 60 miles in that 2-3 hour time window, but figured I would come close, so we mapped out a route.

70 mile bike route surrounding the Iowa Great Lakes area, including Iowa and Minnesota saddle time.
70 mile bike route surrounding the Iowa Great Lakes area, including Iowa and Minnesota saddle time.

Living in central Iowa, we rarely get the opportunity to ride in two states in one day, but since Okoboji is only about 15 miles from the Minnesota border, we decided to map a ride that would take us into Minnesota.  We have also never had the opportunity to completely circle the Iowa Great Lakes region by bike, so we decided that we would accomplish this goal on this bike ride!!  In order to completely circle the Iowa Great Lakes area AND bike in Iowa and Minnesota (safely), we had to make our route a little longer than 60 miles…it ended up being 70.5 miles.  We definitely could have made the route shorter, but we would have had to ride our bikes on some roads with really heavy traffic and decided to opt out of that option.

We donned our bikes at 6 am and headed out in perfect weather…low 60s, less than 5 mph winds, full sun…couldn’t be better for cycling!!  The 6 am start time would allow us to get most of our ride done before the Iowa Great Lakes region woke up 🙂

On the north edge of the Iowa Great Lakes area, there is a stretch of road that is right on the Iowa/Minnesota border.  Since we were the only ones on the road, we decided to take a picture of us riding down the road…my husband was in Iowa, while I was in Minnesota!!  Not everyday you can zig zag across the road and switch the state you are in so quickly 🙂

My husband is in Iowa on the left and I am in Minnesota on the right.
The Iron Hippie is in Iowa on the left and I am in Minnesota on the right.

During this ride, I could definitely tell that I had raced hard the week before.  My legs were a bit sluggish, but I just kept pushing forward!!  We finished our 70.5 mile route in 3:55:00…giving us an average speed of 18.0 mph…I have become stronger and gotten faster on the bike and I am super stoked about it!!

We LOVED this route, the smooth surfaces and the little vehicle traffic that we encountered!!  This is definitely a ride we will be doing again in the future!!

The Triple Brick

Last Sunday I had the following workout:

3x(1 hour ride & 20 min run)…the first set was to be easy (with my heart rate in Zone 2), second set should be a little harder (Zone 2-3) and the third set closer to race pace (solidly in Zone 3).

I was SUPER excited to do this workout and see just how far I could push myself…both physically and mentally.  When I woke up Sunday morning it was dark and gloomy outside…it better not storm…I have been looking forward to this workout all week!!  I looked at the weather forecast and saw that there were chances of severe storms starting after 1 pm, so I knew I needed to get started!!  I had already decided that I was going to ride the same route and run the same route with each set to see if I could get a little farther every time before turning around and heading back home.  This would prove to be a much bigger challenge than I originally thought…especially on the bike!!  Come on Mojo…Let’s do this!!!

Set 1:  I started out on Mojo heading east, then north and finally east again.  When I got to the 30 minute mark, I turned around and headed back home via the same route (west, south and west).  With the winds from the ESE at 13 mph, I thought I would be able to get home a little faster (heading west)…and  I was right.  I ended up riding 14.76 miles in 56:36 (just shy of the planned hour).  This meant my average speed was 15.6 mph for the first ride.  I felt as though it was really easy and I wasn’t pushing hard at all.  I took very little time transitioning to the run…I was shooting for a 9:00 pace off of the bike for the first set.  I started off nice and easy and felt like I was at a pace that I could maintain for a few hours at least.  I was right on pace…I ran 2.26 miles in 20:16.  This meant my average pace was 8:58 for the first run.  I was off to a great start!!

Set 2:  I immediately transitioned back to Mojo and headed out for the second set.  I started off slightly faster on this set than the last set.  I felt as though I was working, but not very hard…little did I realize that the winds had picked up and were now closer to 18 mph from the ESE.  I did make it farther, but decided to ride for 32 minutes before turning around to get me closer to the 1 hour time I was shooting for…this strategy worked!!  When I turned around and headed south back into town, I really felt that headwind…WOW!!  I ended up riding 16.17 miles in 1:01:14, which gave me an average speed of 15.8 mph.  While I was not much faster on the bike this time, I was faster…and every little bit counts!!  🙂  I knew I needed to keep some energy in the tank for the last set, so I quickly transitioned to the run and went out faster than the first set, but not pushing to exhaustion.  I ran 2.34 miles in 20:15.  This meant that my average pace was 8:39…I felt like I could have maintained this pace for quite a while…I’ll take that!!

you can

Set 3:  I again quickly transitioned back to the bike and hopped on Mojo for the last set…Let’s get ‘er done!!  I knew I wanted to push hard, but at a pace I could maintain and I did just that…I made it even farther than set #2 before turning around.  This time when I headed south back into town, the winds were even stronger than during set#2…the winds had increased to 21 mph from the ESE.  I was mentally really strong and focused during this set…”I am strong.  I am tough.  I am strong.  I am tough.”  I rode 17.16 miles in 1:03:04 during my last bike leg…WAHOO…16.3 mph average speed for my last set!!  With my fastest transition yet, I was off and running.  I quickly found a pace that I could maintain, but with difficulty.  I ran 2.35 miles in 20:04, giving me an average pace of 8:33…YEEHAW!!  I DID IT!!

I successfully completed this workout as planned!!  With Ironman Kansas 70.3 only 3 weeks away, this was a HUGE mental boost!!  I was exhausted, but ecstatic…time for food, a shower and a nap 🙂  Oh yeah…the severe storm that was suppose to come…it came later in the day with 70 mph straight winds and tornadoes around us.  Glad I wasn’t out on the bike then…

“Kiss Me Harder!!”

This last Sunday we went outdoors for our bicycle ride.  This may not be a new phenomena for some of you, but for those of us who live in Iowa, we are really tired of riding our bicycles on the trainers in the basement.  We have been in the basement since late October, so it is definitely time to get off the trainer and get outside!!  I had a brick scheduled for Sunday…ride a hilly route for 2 hours and then follow that up with an easy 20 minute run.

As we pulled away from home, I knew it was going to be a challenging ride.  The temperature was in the mid 40s and the winds were blowing at a sustained 25 mph from the NNW with gusts much higher.  Because of these winds, we decided to ride to the NNW first so we could get the most challenging part out of the way, with the hopes that we could enjoy our return ride home.  Positive note…we were riding outside and it was a bright, sunny day 🙂

The shadows of three amazing riders...Kris, me and my husband.
The shadows of three amazing riders…Kris, me and my husband.

That wind was BRUTAL!!  I thought back to my most recent marathon…when the winds picked up at mile 18 and made the run more challenging, Adam started talking out loud to the wind, “Kiss me harder.”  As I was leaving town and riding to the north into the headwind, Adam entered my head and I immediately started talking to and eventually shouting at the wind… “Kiss me harder…Kiss ME harder…Kiss ME HARDER…KISS ME HARDER.”

My husband and I stopped at the stop sign at 170th street to hydrate.  He decided he was heading back home (he had been sick the day before and didn’t have much energy from his inability to keep nutrition in his system).  I was mentally questioning myself, “Can I do this?  I’m really tired and this is REALLY hard!!”  Thankfully Kris was riding with us as well.  As she pulled up to the stop sign she yelled, “I only have 2 and a 1/2 more minutes in Zone 3.  I’m going to the next stop sign.”  “Ok, I’m with you!!” I yelled back.  I told my husband to ride home safely and took off after Kris.  The winds now created a crosswind as we rode west on 170th street.  I knew I was riding at a severe angle, leaning hard to the right, but this was a must if I was to keep my bike on the road.  “Kiss me harder!!”

We stopped at the next stop sign and talked about our plan.  I told Kris I was going to the next stop sign and she decided to join me.  We fueled up and again turned back into the headwind as we went north on R38.  “Kiss ME HARDER!!”

It was on R38 that I had the following conversation with myself, “I’ve never had a name for my bicycle.  I should name you!! …KISS ME HARDER… Red…Ruby…Rojo (red in Spanish)…Mojo (even though they don’t rhyme, they are spelled nearly the same)…KISS ME HARDER… Mojo…that is your new name!!  Come on Mojo…get me to the next stop sign!!  …KISS ME HARDER…”

Unfortunately this conversation didn’t last very long, so I needed a new strategy to get me to the next stop sign…time to play mental tricks on myself… “Ok…you CAN make it to the church up the road…WHAT?!?!?! I’m only going 7 mph…KISS ME HARDER…You CAN make it to the goat farm…too bad those goats aren’t fainting goats…I’ve always wanted to have fainting goats…KISS ME HARDER…See that gray house…you CAN make it there…that flag is blowing straight out…KISS ME HARDER…9 mph is a little better than 7 mph…KISS ME HARDER…See the green house…you CAN make it there…KISS ME HARDER…OH, there is the stop sign!!  I’m at an hour and 5 minutes ride time.  There is NO WAY it is going to take me an hour to get home…Just go to the farmhouse on the top of the first hill on E18, then you can turn back and head home.  Ok…let’s do this!!”

As I approached the stop sign, I yelled to Kris, “I’m going to the farmhouse on the top of the first hill on E18, then turning around.”  Kris responded with, “Ok I’m with you.”  As I turned back to the west, that crosswind was back and my private conversation continued… “Kiss Me Harder…I WILL finish this…Kiss ME Harder…I WILL FINISH this…KISS ME HARDER…I WILL FINISH THIS!!  YAY…WE MADE IT!!!”  It took us 1 hour and 17 minutes to get to the turn around point…14.78 miles.  Though there weren’t many hills on this route, the headwinds and crosswinds posed enough of a challenge that I wasn’t too concerned about the lack of hills.

We made it to the turn around point!!
We made it to the turn around point!!

Now for the return trip home… “This is why we were pushing so hard on the way out…it feels awesome with that wind at my back…KISS ME HARDER…Oh my…I’m going 25 mph without even trying…KISS ME HARDER…Let’s see just how fast I can go…30.4 mph with no more gears to upshift to…KISS ME HARDER…Let’s go faster…KISS ME HARDER!!”  It only took 46 minutes to go back the 14.78 miles home.

Now for the run portion of my brick…KISS ME HARDER!!!