Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pro Shop: Good Stuff From the Girls! (from Pez Cycling News)

Pro Shop: Good Stuff From the Girls!: "Pro Shop: Good Stuff From the Girls!
Tuesday, December 18, 2012  7:13:43 AM PT

by Bruce Hendler

  First, let me wish everyone out there who reads our articles a Happy Holidays from AthletiCamps! 2012 has been a great year and we are looking forward to an even better 2013. It’s been a while since I wrote a Pro Shop article. I have recently had the pleasure of working with both Alison Tetrick (Exergy TWENTY16) and Robin Farina (NOW/Novartis.)

Not only are they accomplished and talented athletes, they both possess an exceptional level of training knowledge and professional insight. Let’s hear what they have to say about some interesting topics related to training in general and the state of women’s cycling:"

'via Blog this'

Vanderkitten announces 2013 roster

Vanderkitten announces 2013 rosterfrom Podium Cafe 
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Vanderkitten Athletics today announced their roster for the coming season, comprising of 12 athletes from the US, New Zealand and Canada.
The US-based women’s team, sponsored by Vanderkitten Athletics for a seventh year, will compete in NRC and NCC events as well as select UCI events.
New to the team in 2013 are:
- Canadian Criterium Champion, Rhae Shaw, formerly of Exergy Twenty12.
- New Zealand’s Sophie Williamson, 20x National Junior Road and Track Champion.
- Former Primal MapMyRide teammates Liza Rachetto, Emily Kachorek and Jessica Cutler.
Returning Vanderkittens:
- Jennifer Reither, 2008 USACycling Madison Champion
- Starla Teddergreen
- Kate Chilcott, 2012 UCI Road World Championships New Zealand National Team Representative
- Ruth Winder, Multitime USA Cycling Junior National Champion Road and Track
New Pro Recruits:
- Jeannie Kuhajek (NZL)
- Elle Anderson
- Amy Charity
In 2013, Vanderkitten will not be partnering with Focus bikes, instead the women will ride the Wilier Triestina Zero.7, Zero.9 and Twin Blade.
Sophie Williamson and Kate Chilcott will kick off the Vanderkitten year at the Calder Stewart Bike NZ Elite Road National Championships in Christchurch, NZ on January 12. The first team event will be GP San Miguel on February 27, followed by Vuelta Ciclista a El Salvador and Redlands Cycling Classic in California.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Perils of CX Hand-Ups

I've watched this clip several times now and the humor doesn't diminish with views. Thx to Grindcore for the heads-up.

Andrew's Ok. Jingle Cross Rock 2012 Butt Crack Hand Up gone wrong - YouTube: ""

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

If you can't see it, you can't be it...

Pretty cool to see Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Sesame Street. Made me think of the need to get increased media coverage of women bike racers because if you don't see it, you won't consider being it. (There might be a few exceptions, but I sure can't think of any right off.) Speaking of raising profiles...if you didn't see the news, USA Cycling added professional women's road category for 2013 national championships with EQUAL PAYOUT. This will increase media exposure and is a great move towards making being a pro racer a little more realistic in terms of a career choice.
 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

MIDWEST CX STITCH FINALE THIS WEEKEND

This weekend is the Midwest CX Stitch finale at the Greenstreet CX Weekend and NE State CX Championship. There are some awesome prizes for the cat 3 and cat 4 women. ***BOTH DAYS*** we will be awarding the top three finishers in each category with *** $100/75/50*** gift certificates from Trek Bicycle Store of Omaha. Series winner trophies, jerseys will be awarded after the races on Sunday. SHECLISMO also put together some great Omaha destinations for food and drink. See you at the races!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Right now, politics are more interesting than bikes

Change may be difficult, but it's inevitable.

From The American Conservative

America Is Already “Unrecognizable”:
Rod Dreher quotes Peter Hitchens as noting, “lax immigration politics … have revolutionised the country and will render it unrecognisable within 30 years.” It’s already unrecognizable, depending on where one sets the benchmark: a 19th century American would be surprised to see a majority Catholic, minority Jewish Supreme Court, as we have today, along with presidential tickets consisting of a black man and a Catholic and a Mormon and a Catholic. More than just immigration is responsible for this, though immigration certainly amplified the Catholic presence in American life. The U.S. today is still majority white, which it won’t be in 30 years time, but it’s already an America vastly different, ethnically and religiously, from that of a century ago.
Thomas Jefferson already didn’t recognize the country that leaned toward Andrew Jackson in 1824 and was gripped by the religious enthusiasm of the Second Great Awakening. As Gordon Wood has remarked:
He disliked the growth of the North which he thought was a hotbed of Federalist bigotry and religious enthusiasm mingled with Yankee money-making. That Andrew Jackson almost became president in 1824 appalled him. He thought Jackson was a primitive, violent man unfit for the presidency. All in all he thought the country was going to hell in a hand-basket.
Wood’s book Revolutionary Characters brilliantly shows how political and class changes after the American revolution led to a country completely transformed from the aristocratic colonial America that had shaped the Founding Fathers. That’s the point, of course, of the classic tale of Rip van Winkle, too.
There are two things to keep in mind in all of this. The first is that these changes in national character do not mean the destruction of the country or of all virtue. The second is that these changes were indeed profound and did involve loss and alienation for those who remembered the old order.
Change in the social order is momentous; some things are preserved, albeit in a transfigured way, and some things vanish. There’s no use trying to deny or prevent all of this: the conservative’s task is to preserve something, not everything. The fundamental thing to be preserved is order itself, and preserving order in a changing society — changing politically, economically, religiously, and ethnically — requires that order be dynamic rather than nostalgic. Edmund Burke understood this very well. As he said in what he hoped would be his last word on the French revolution:
The evil is stated in my opinion as it exists. The remedy must be where power, wisdom and information, I hope are more united with good intentions than they can be with me. I have done with this subject, I believe for ever. It has given me many anxious moments for the two last years. If a great change is to be made in human affairs, the minds of men will be fitted to it; the general opinions and feelings will draw that way. Every fear, every hope, will forward it; and then they who persist in opposing this mighty current in human affairs, will appear rather to resist the decrees of Providence itself, than the mere designs of men. They will not be resolute and firm, but perverse and obstinate.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Experiments in Ultra-learning: Train your mind like you train your body

Lots of us follow prescribed training plans and specific methodologies for bringing our bodies to peak functioning power in order to race bicycles, but how many of us apply similar principles to our mental lives?  There is growing recognition of "ultra-learning" principles and one can only hope knowledge and practices like these go mainstream. In fact, maybe all it needed was a good name. I mean, who wouldn't want to be an "ultra-learner"?

What follows is from Cal Newport's blog, Study Hacks.

============================================================

Mastering Linear Algebra in 10 Days: Astounding Experiments in Ultra-Learning:

The MIT Challenge
My friend Scott Young recently finished an astounding feat: he completed all 33 courses in MIT’s fabled computer science curriculum, from Linear Algebra to Theory of Computation, in less than one year. More importantly, he did it all on his own, watching the lectures online and evaluating himself using the actual exams. (See Scott’s FAQ page for the details of how he ran this challenge.)
That works out to around 1 course every 1.5 weeks.
As you know, I’m convinced that the ability to master complicated information quickly is crucial for building a remarkable career (see my new book as well as here and here). So, naturally, I had to ask Scott to share his secrets with us. Fortunately, he agreed.
Below is a detailed guest post, written by Scott, that drills down to the exact techniques he used (including specific examples) to pull off his MIT Challenge.
Take it away Scott…

How I Tamed MIT’s Computer Science Curriculum, By Scott Young

I’ve always been excited by the prospect of learning faster. Being good at things matters. Expertise and mastery give you the career capital to earn more money and enjoy lifestyle perks. If being good is the goal, learning is how you get there.
Despite the advantages of learning faster, most people seem reluctant to learn how to learn. Maybe it’s because we don’t believe it’s possible, that learning speed is solely the domain of good genes or talent.
While there will always be people with unfair advantages, the research shows the method you use to learn matters a lot. Deeper levels of processing and spaced repetition can, in some cases, double your efficiency. Indeed the research in deliberate practice shows us that without the right method, learning can plateau forever.
Today I want to share the strategy I used to compress the ideas from a 4-year MIT computer science curriculum down to 12 months. This strategy was honed over 33 classes, figuring out what worked and what didn’t in the method for learning faster.
Why Cramming Doesn’t Work
Many student might scoff at the idea of learning a 4-year program in a quarter of the time. After all, couldn’t you just cram for every exam and pass without understanding anything?
Unfortunately this strategy doesn’t work. First, MITs exams rely heavily on problem solving, often with unseen problem types. Second, MIT courses are highly cumulative, even if you could sneak by one exam through memorization, the seventh class in a series would be impossible to follow.
Instead of memorizing, I had to find a way to speed up the process of understanding itself.
Can You Speed Up Understanding?
We’ve all had those, “Aha!” moments when we finally get an idea. The problem is most of us don’t have a systematic way of finding them. The typical process a student goes through in learning is to follow a lectures, read a book and, failing that, grind out practice questions or reread notes.
Without a system, understanding faster seems impossible. After all, the mental mechanisms for generating insights are completely hidden.
Worse, understanding is hardly an on/off switch. It’s like layers of an onion, from very superficial insights to the deep understandings that underpin scientific revolutions. Peeling that onion is often a poorly understood process.
The first step is to demystify the process. Getting insights to deepen your understanding largely amounts to two things:
  1. Making connections
  2. Debugging errors
Connections are important because they provide an access point for understanding an idea. I struggled with the Fourier transform until I realized it was turning pressure to pitch or radiation to color. Insights like these are often making connections between something you do understand and the material you don’t.
Debugging errors is also important because often you make mistakes because you’re missing knowledge or have an incorrect picture. A poor understanding is like a buggy software program. If you can debug yourself in an efficient way, you can greatly accelerate the learning process.
Doing these two things, forming accurate connections and debugging errors, is most of creating a deep understanding. Mechanical skill and memorized facts also help, but generally only when they sit upon the foundation of a solid intuition about the subject.

The Drilldown Method: A Strategy for Learning Faster

During the yearlong pursuit, I perfected a method for peeling those layers of deep understanding faster. I’ve since used it on topics in math, biology, physics, economics and engineering. With just a few modifications, it also works well for practical skills such as programming, design or languages.
Here’s the basic structure of the method:
  1. Coverage
  2. Practice
  3. Insight
I’ll explain each stage and how you can go through them as efficiently as possible, while giving detailed examples of how I used them in actual classes.
Stage One: Coverage
You can’t plan an attack if you don’t have a map of the terrain. Therefore the first step in learning anything deeply, is to get a general sense of what you need to learn.
For a class, this means watching lectures or reading textbooks. For self-learning it might mean reading several books on the topic and doing research.
A mistake students often make is believing this stage is the most important. In many ways this is the least efficient stage because the amount you can learn per unit of time invested is much lower. I often found it useful to speed up this part so that I would have more time to spend on the latter two steps.
If you’re watching video lectures, a great way to do this is to watch them at 1.5x or 2x the speed. This can be done easily by downloading the video and then using the speed-up feature on a player like VLC. I’d watch semester-long courses in two days, via this method.
If you’re reading a book, I would recommend against highlighting. This is processes the information at a low level of depth and is inefficient in the long run. A better method would be to take sparse notes while reading, or do a one-paragraph summary after you read each major section.
Here’s an example of notes I took while doing readings for a class in machine vision.
Stage Two: Practice
Practice problems are huge for boosting your understanding, but there are two main efficiency traps you can get caught in if you’re not careful.
#1 – Not Getting Immediate Feedback
The research is clear: if you want to learn, you need immediate feedback. The best way to do this is to go question-by-question with the solution key in hand. Once you’ve finished a question, check yourself against the provided solutions. Practice without feedback, or with delayed feedback, drastically hinders effectiveness.
#2 – Grinding Problems
Like the students who fall into the trap of believing that most learning occurs in the classroom, some students believe understanding is generated mostly from practice questions. While you can eventually build an understanding simply by grinding through practice, it’s slow and inefficient.
Practice problems should be used to highlight areas you need to develop a better intuition for. Then techniques like the Feynman technique, which I’ll discuss, handle that process much more efficiently.
Non-technical subjects, ones where you mostly need to understand concepts, not solve problems, can often get away with minimal practice problem work. In these subjects, you’re better off spending more time on the third phase, developing insight.
Stage Three: Insight
The goal of coverage and practice questions is to get you to a point where you know what you don’t understand. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Often you can be mistaken into believing you understand something, but don’t, or you might not feel confident with a general subject, but not see specifically what is missing.
This next technique, which I call the Feynman technique is about narrowing down those gaps even further. Often when you can identify precisely what you don’t understand, that gives you the tools to fill the gap. It’s the large gaps in understanding which are hardest to fill.
The technique also has a dual purpose. Even when you do understand an idea, it provides you opportunities to create more connections, so you can drill down to a deeper understanding.

The Feynman Technique

I first got the idea from this method from the Nobel prize winning physicist, Richard Feynman. In his autobiography, he describes himself struggling with a hard research paper. His solution was to go meticulously through the supporting material until he understood everything that was required to understand the hard idea.
This technique works similarly. By digesting the big hairy idea you don’t understand into small chunks, and learning those chunks, you can eventually fill every gap that would otherwise prevent you from learning it.
For a video tutorial of this technique, watch this short video.
The technique is simple:
  1. Get a piece of paper
  2. Write at the top the idea or process you want to understand
  3. Explain the idea, as if you were teaching it to someone else
What’s crucial is that the third step will likely repeat some areas of the idea you already understand. However, eventually you’ll reach a stopping point where you can’t explain. That’s the precise gap in your understanding that you need to fill.
From that gap, you can research the answer from a textbook, teacher or online. Generally, once you’ve narrowly defined your misunderstanding it becomes much easier to find the precise answer.
I’ve used this technique hundreds of times, and I’ve found it can tackle a wide variety different learning situations. However, since each might be slightly different, it may seem hard to apply as a beginner, so I’ll try to walk through some different examples.
For Ideas You Don’t Get At All
The way I handle this is to go through the technique but have the textbook open to the chapter explaining that concept. Then I go through and meticulously copy both the author’s explanation, but also try to elaborate and clarify it for myself. This “guided” Feynman can be useful when trying to write anything on your own would be impossible.
Here’s an example I used for trying to understand photogrammetry.
For Procedures
You can also use the method to fully understand a process you need to use. Go through all the steps and explain not only what they do, but how they execute it. I would often go through proof techniques by carefully explaining all the steps. I also used it in understanding chemical equations or in organizing the stages of glycolysis in biology.
You can see this example I used when trying to figure out how to implement grid acceleration.
For Formulas
Formulas should be understood, not just memorized. So when you see a formula, but can’t understand how it works, try walking through each part with a Feynman.
Here’s an example I used for the Fourier analysis equation.
For Checking Your Memory
Feynmans also offer a way to self-test your knowledge of the big ideas for non-technical subjects. Being able to finish a Feynman on a topic without referencing the source material means you understand and can remember it.
Here’s one I did for an economics class, recalling the concept of predatory pricing.

Developing a Deeper Intuition

Combined with practice questions, the Feynman technique can peel those first few layers of understanding. But it can also drill deeper if you want to go from not just having an understanding, but to having a deep intuition.
Understanding an idea intuitively isn’t easy. Once again, getting to this point is often seen as a quasi-mystical process. But it doesn’t have to be. Most intuitions about an idea break down into one of the following types:
  1. Analogies – You understand an idea by correctly recognizing an important similarity between it and an easier-to-understand idea.
  2. Visualizations – Abstract ideas often become useful intuitions when we can form a mental picture of them. Even if the picture is just an incomplete representation of a larger, and more varied, idea.
  3. Simplifications – A famous scientist once said that if you couldn’t explain something to your grandmother, you don’t fully understand it. Simplification is the art of strengthening those connections between basic components and complex ideas.
You can use the Feynman technique as a way of encouraging these types of insights. Once you’ve gotten past a basic understanding of the idea, the next step is to go further and see if you can explain it using some combination of the three methods above.
The truth is plagiarism is okay too, and not every insight needs to be unique. Understanding complex numbers as being two dimensional is hardly original, but it allows a useful visualization. DNA replication working like a one-way zipper is not a perfect analogy, but so long as you understand where it overlaps, it becomes a useful one.
The Strategy to Learn Faster
Learning faster doesn’t need to be a trick to work well. It simply means recognizing what is actually going on when we reach a new level of insight and finding tools to help us reach those stages consistently.
In this article I described learning as being three stages: coverage, practice and insight. This gives the false impression that these three occur always in distinct phases and never overlap or repeat.
In truth you may find yourself going between them in a loop as you successfully peel down to deeper layers of understanding. The first time you read a chapter you may get only superficial insights, but after doing practice questions and building intuitions, you may go back and read for deeper understandings.
Applying the Drilldown Method for Non-Students
This process isn’t one you need to be a student to apply. It also works for learning complex skills or building expertise on a topic.
For skills like programming or design, most people follow the first two stages. They read a book teaching them the basics, then they practice with a project. You can extend that process however, and use the Feynman technique to better lock in and articulate the insights you create.
For expertise on a topic, the only difference is that, prior to doing coverage, you need to find a set of material to learn from. That could be research articles or several books on the topic. In either case, once you’ve defined the chunk of knowledge you want to master, you can drill down and learn it deeply.
To find out more about this, join Scott’s newsletter and you’ll get a free copy of his rapid learning ebook (and a set of detailed case studies of how other learners have used these techniques).
(Image by afagen.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

With friends like this....

I hardly need enemies.

"Let me see that UCI license. I thought you said you were a cat 2 in CX."

"I am. I was a couple of points short and then didn't race. The points expire, I think."

"Looks like USAC upgraded you."

"What? Are you kidding me?"

"HAHAHAHA, those elite girls at Jingle CX are going to hand your ass to you. I can't wait! HAHAHAHAHA"

Sometimes I seriously question the value of men as friends, let alone training and racing buddies.

My sheclismas and I had it all planned. We'd all race the 2/3s and if any of us were fast enough to get any of the payout, we'd buy beer with it and then watch the elite women. It would be blast and seriously social. Now, I'll be training with the mindset of cracking the top 20 in the elite field. Sigh. I suppose I could ask for a downgrade or race with the masters women, but probably I should just HTFU and keep my TFA rating intact.

Who wants to do some intervals?

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Oh yeah, gonna get some CX on this season

But, not today. Today will be spent being badass in front of a laptop, preparing for different type of performance Monday. But, to all my SHECLISMO teamies and women CX'ers everywhere this Saturday, rock that $h!+!

4ème Manche de CDM cyclo-cross from Petitesreines on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

7ish minutes of awesomeness

With this many kids, you could be trapped with them in the SUV where you'd need to sedate them, or grumpily pedaling off irritation together while accruing fitness and a host of other positive qualities.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Not about bike stuff, but intriguing nonetheless

Brain Hacking:
Geeta Dayal flags new research on subjects wearing brainwave headsets:
A team of security researchers from Oxford, UC Berkeley, and the University of Geneva say that they were able to deduce digits of PIN numbers, birth months, areas of residence and other personal information by presenting 30 headset-wearing subjects with images of ATM machines, debit cards, maps, people, and random numbers in a series of experiments. The paper, titled “On the Feasibility of Side-Channel Attacks with Brain Computer Interfaces,” represents the first major attempt to uncover potential security risks in the use of the headsets.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

False reporting - (from The Director's Desk)

False reporting: False reporting is a huge story in Lincoln right now, but I would like to discuss the issue generally, rather than the specifics of the case that is gathering all the attention. 

False crime reports are a very small percentage of all reported crime, but any experienced police officer has dealt with some of these cases. It is very important for officers not to become jaded by these cases, so that they do not look askance at an unusual crime report, and to keep an open mind at all times.  A critical mistake in any criminal investigation is to fall prey to tunnel vision, and only interpret evidence that tends to confirm your initial hypothesis. 

People report crime falsely for many reasons: to get even with an enemy, to seek financial gain, to seek attention or sympathy, to explain their own bad behavior, to reap financial gain, and due to mental illness or emotional disturbances.  The point is this: despite the fact that these false reports may stand out in your memory, they really are rather rare, and you must not allow them to negatively affect your interaction with crime victims or the the quality of your investigation. 

Of all the false reports, those that concern me the most are child abuse cases.  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard an experienced police investigator or child protective services worker minimize a report of abuse or neglect with these words: “It’s a custody dispute….”  This comment is not merely descriptive, it carries a subtle meaning. The unspoken remainder of the sentence is, “…it’s probably a false report.”

It is a sad fact that sometimes parents will make up or exaggerate claims of abuse. Think, however, about the multitude of factors that may underlie a contentious divorce: financial stress, infidelity, anger, domestic violence, drug abuse, alcoholism, abusive gambling, addiction, obsessive control issues, rages, jealousies, criminality, emotional detachment, narcissism, paranoia, and so forth.  Do not all of these also increase the risk to the children in the family?

And consider this: if two parents are so self-absorbed that one or both would use their children as a weapon to falsely accuse the other of abuse or neglect, do you think that is pretty good evidence that the children are in a situation that is placing their emotional, if not physical, well-being in jeopardy?

So, whenever you hear a police officer or CPS worker say, “It’s a custody dispute,” I want you to complete the sentence, “…so we should be particularly concerned about the safety of the children.” Never marginalize a child abuse report that is wrapped inside an ugly custody dispute, and never assume that it is a false report.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thoughts of four legged friends

A Poem For Saturday

I've experienced quite a few thrills, but none have yet measured up to thundering across the ground, delicately balanced and sans saddle atop a fast horse running full bore.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Issues of gender & sex

Check out the second part of this post. Apparently, in 2011, women who set world marathon or half marathon records while running in a race where men ran as well were stripped of the their achievements, but men who set a record in a mixed field were not. Can you believe that? Apparently, having men to pace you or something is considered an unfair advantage. Now, as someone who has witnessed just how far men will go to not get "girled", how is it that men get to retain their records? I suppose the argument is that record setting men are so far ahead that it doesn't matter, but I don't know, smells a bit like BS to me. I guess the most surprising thing is that this was last year and I didn't hear about it. Was I oblivious to running magazine covers? Or, did it just not matter that much to female runners and fans?

edit
Give this a read:
http://elizabethmcclung.blogspot.com/2012/07/olympics-gender-policing-of-females-by.html?m=1

Friday, July 27, 2012

Husker Olympians

Independent Study High School student to compete in Olympics | Announce | University of Nebraska-Lincoln

My department, The Office of Online & Dstance Education,runs the independent study high school, a fully accredited and diploma based alternative to the traditional classroom.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Fourth of July Fun

I've mostly been riding solo and am finally getting a little fitness, so it was fun to roll out with the guys Wednesday morning for a holiday ride. It ended up being a party of eight and Kosark picked a great route for us. 

KB chillin as Rokke & McWilliams approach the bench.

Carbon comparisons. Specialized crew chiefs Jeff, Kosark and the Dixonator.

Nearly home. Of course, this is an appropriate beverage.

I'd forgotten how much fun it was to ride with these guys.

We did ~85 miles on the DeWitt Loop.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

One Party Is Unhinged (From the Daily Dish)

One Party Is Unhinged:
Or, rather, it is living in an alternative reality. 63 percent of Republicans in a new poll believe that Saddam Hussein had WMDs when we invaded in 2003, despite even George W. Bush's acknowledgment that he didn't. 64 percent also believe that Barack Obama was born in a foreign country, even though we have the long-form birth certificate from Hawaii. This alternate reality is sustained by a 24 hour propaganda network, and hermetically sealed off from any external intervention.
We are reaching a democratic crisis of some sorts. One major political party refuses to accept empirical truths. It has become a hall of ideological mirrors.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Marine Recruits for Father's Day

My sons Erik and Nick flanking my dad, Carl Brown.
The big day finally came yesterday. The boys are off to boot camp. Over a year ago, they decided to join the Marine Corps together. Their first act was to download the requirements they had to meet and then they surfed up a training plan.  The provided each other with mutual support (read taunts and cajoling) and achieved top marks across the board. We're all so proud of their determination to achieve this first major life goal.

A huge thanks to my dad for teaching me the value of hard work, perseverance and dreaming big, so I could do my best to pass it on.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

It takes focus

The Danger Of Distraction
If you want to maximize your abilities in any area, it takes focus.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Omaha Women's Triathlon - Sprint length

Laura, Me, and Molly. Omaha Women's Triathlon 2012
700 m swim - 12 mile bike - 3.1 mile run
8th overall

First in age group, but only because the overall winner came from my age group or I'd have been second. In fact, the top three women came from the age groups 35-39, 40-44, and 45-49.  The time breakouts are so informative...though I don't recall it, I must have taken a nap during the transitions.  The top three were a minute or less in all their transitions. So much room for improvement.
http://truetimeracing.com/results.php?id=3097&t=order

The Omaha Women's Triathlon 2012 had 200+ women from 11 different states come out and subject their bodies and minds to a swim-bike-run combo. Average age was 34, but there were all ages, shapes and sizes, and that's what I think is best about the triathlons. It's just such a more welcoming and supportive environment compared to bike racing.  After doing a couple of these things, I can see there are plenty of women willing to step out and give difficult athletic events a go, but some consideration will have to go into the nature of the experience.

Saturday, Molly, Laura and I took our bikes up to the venue and checked them into the transition area. Tri's are a marvel of logistics. They were guarded all night and no one enters or leaves with a bike without verifying it matches their race number. We then inspected the water weeds and the swim course followed by a partial drive of the bike course.

Sunday, we arrived at the venue at 6:30, arranged our transition points,which consists of laying out all your things so you can change quickly, then took a few photos and then started in three waves, each 3 minutes apart. Laura was in wave 1, I was in 2 and Molly in 3. Our super-swimmer Molly passed oodles of women to come out of the water 14th.  I was 124th out of the water. Nonetheless, the swim went infinitely better than two weeks ago. I was able to keep my wits about me even though I was in the middle of the wave. It turns out the frothing mass of bodies and water doesn't bother me as much as the temperature change. My muscles just went anaerobic and I got so cold. At that point, I paused, rolled over on my back and got my focus back. Breath and count strokes, breath and count strokes. Progress was good until I caught a wave right in the face and inhaled what felt like a gallon of water. Pause again. Resume. Finally got back into rhythm and the rest of the swim went pretty well.

I had some trouble with my helmet so the transition to the bike was slow, but once aboard I started making up time and ended up with the fastest bike leg overall. The transition to the run was relatively quick and I was 12th in that leg.  Both the bike and run courses had plenty of longish climbs.

I will tell you one other thing...tri tops and shorts make me feel like a stuffed sausage. From the photos, it appears my significantly increased amount of time in front of the computer is paying dividends in more ways than mere career advancement.  I've got 10 lbs to shed. I think that'll improve those bike and running legs.

Oh, and another thing....apparently it's dudes that trash porta-potties. I couldn't believe it...probably over 300 women at the venue once support and racers were counted and the porta-potties I sampled were not nasty. Not even one.



Saturday, June 02, 2012

Water weeds & cobbles

So...I was unable to keep my mouth shut and got myself involved in the Omaha Women's Tri. Fortunately, it's just a sprint length, but with work keeping me from workouts for the last two weeks I'm feeling fresh, but not so fit. Oh well, I think it's going to be fun.  Sheclismas Molly and Laura will be participating as well and that's the best part.

The worst parts will be the overgrown water weeds and nasty looking brick section for the bikes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

TRI-Curious? Be careful what you get yourself into.

So.... this last Sunday I did the Bluff Creek Triathlon - my first tri. I ended up second in my age group and 14th out of all the women who did the age-group Olympic length (1.5 km swim, 40 km bike, 10 km run).

The race started shortly after 8 am after we'd been standing in the cold for about 35 minutes. I was freezing and hadn't been able to force myself into the water to do a warm-up despite my sleeveless borrowed wetsuit. The Olympic distance women were the last wave to go off.

The starter blew the whistle and everyone ran as far into the water as they could and then began to swim and arms, legs, backs, elbows and feet were everywhere.

Then panic hit. I felt like I couldn't breath at all -- like I was choking and the water just kept hitting my face. I pulled at the throat of the wetsuit, but it didn't yield. I stretched toes for the bottom, but it was too deep already, and the observer in my head noted that this must be how people drown. I rolled to my back and took a few deep breaths and considered my options. I could quit or I could make some adjustments and see if I could finish. I opted for the latter as a canoe pulled near. I held the side for a moment then quickly stripped off the wetsuit and tossed it in the boat. Immediately, I felt better and told them to stay close for a while because I was going to try again. By this time, the pack (school?) was mostly out of view and my new objective had nothing to do with placing and everything to do with simply getting through the swim. 

I went into freestyle mode and in less than 10 strokes was so motion sick that I had to stop, tread water and keep my eyes on the bank. I was extremely disoriented. If you've ever been driving in a whiteout snowstorm or heavy fog you might have a sense of what it felt like. I believe the technical name might be the coriolus effect, where motion is seen and felt, but they don't correspond.

At that point, I knew it was going to be a long swim and with a combination of side and backstroke along with periodic blocks of freestyle during the latter third, I finally made it to the end of the course -- second to last out of the water, but I felt just fine about it. I'd beat fear and although seriously hampered by the motion sickness, I could tell that I could conquer it in time and with practice.

The bike went fine and it simply felt wonderful to power up my TT bike and hear that Zipp disc making its whoomp whoomp sound. As fun as it was, I played it conservative. Nonetheless, the bike finished way too soon and it was with some reluctance that I parked the bike and reached for my running shoes.

The run was fine, especially since I'd taken time to stretch my hamstring and put on some extra body glide under the arms and my HR monitor. Yes, I know a proper tri-geek would be appalled at a 3 min+ transition time, but after all I'd been through I wasn't going to crown it with chafing.

Finally, I reached the last turn and I heard my name. I looked up and Grindcore, Berly, Laura and Rafal were shouting. What a fantastic surprise. I'm sure I grinned ear to ear. Shortly thereafter Megan and Jen finished as well. It was pretty cool and the atmosphere was so welcoming.

I love the mult-sport training and have a plan to address this open-water issue. Next up...I hope to get a "you finished!" medal or t-shirt at the Lawrence half-ironman. ;)

If your TRI-curious, send me a note and consider coming to the Midtown Trek Store this Friday (5/25) at 6pm. There's a wine & cheese women's meet & greet along with product discounts.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

Strange as fiction

So, my friend Matt works at the State Historical Society and has a gift for sleuthing and appreciation for the odd. Here's a sample. I think he should pen a book or five.

Monday, April 16, 2012

No athletics this weekend, but great new iPad app!

I pushed a little hard the last couple weeks athletically and at work which - sure enough I came down sick. You'd think I'd get the balance right, but I run it pretty close to the edge.

In any case, since I spent the weekend nursing my cold and typing a research paper, I thought I'd share a couple iPad apps I'm keen on. The full post is on UNL Geeks.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

TRI training proceeding well

First part of February, I announced the TRI pursuit. Now, to be fair, I tentatively started down the path in November,  and when that proceeded well enough that I thought I could actually do the running portion, I committed to the pursuit in late February, signing on with Zoom Performance and beginning to work with JJ Bailey. I also took a swimming and stroke refinement class through the YMCA with local tri expert, Gary Bredehoft, which was enormously helpful, especially the video taping. Several others, including Kevin Burke, Tom Woods and Jay Thomas have generously shared their knowledge and I'm feeling pretty good about it all here at 9 weeks out from the "A" race.

For those of you who don't track your training, this is what's happening when you follow a solid plan. (click to see enlarged version)

The pink line represents the training stress imposed. You can see how mountainous it looks. In response to increased training stress (load), my body gets fatigued and torn up. That experience is represented by the dropping yellow line (TSB-training stress balance). The lower it goes the more fatigued I am and I know from tracking data for the last 5 years that -40 is about as low as I dare in terms of TSB. More than that and I usually feel pretty fragile. The blue line represents fitness. You can see it's on a steady rise. The training load followed by rest increases fitness. When the lines intersect, that's a good time to race. There's a slight drop in fitness, but that's willingly sacrificed for the gain in freshness.

I use TrainingPeaks to track my data and the system is testing algorithms incorporating a heartrate based "training stress score" (TSS) for running and a pace-based TSS for the swims. Of course, you have to set some baselines for each of these for "Performance Manager Chart" (PMC) to be a good guide.

I know for many, this sort of thing might seem to take the "fun" out of riding, but I love having a visual like this to see my progress and thx to the HR algorithms, it's pretty easy to work fun with friends into the training plan as schedule allows.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The price of oil....

<<When in December 2008, 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahlasked Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi how much it cost Saudi Arabia to produce one barrel of oil, he didn't blink: "Probably less than $2 to produce a barrel." If it costs only $2 to produce a barrel of oil, then why do we pay over $105 a barrel? >>


Read the rest: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/04/02/149684373/the-real-reason-gas-costs-4-a-gallon



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Podium Cafe and Podium Insight

My two favorite cycling news sites are Podium Cafe and Podium Insight. The first focuses on the European scene with a wonderfully flippant style and the latter seems to bring a more intimate view of the domestic scene. Both strive to give equal coverage to women. In fact, Podium Cafe even has fantasy cycling teams entirely managed online for both the men and women's peletons. Can you think of a better way to get to know the racers? Or, become more emotionally invested in race outcomes? I think not. Next year I'm going to do it. This year I've other things to obsess over. http://www.podiumcafe.com/2012/2/28/2830434/gp-le-samyn-preview-why-should-we-watch-it

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Time to get B@d @$$

90 MIN TRAINER SESSION
Mondays & Wednesdays, 6pm
Hour Lounge - 14th & O
Lincoln, NE
Questions? 
sydney.e.brown@gmail.com

(View all the pix of this glorious tri suit on TriRig.com)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Baby strokes: small dividends of persistence

Pic lifted from Fun Stuff Cafe
So, I consider myself a "newbie" in this discipline. Lots of the tri folks seem to be former HS or college swimmers. Me, I had good instruction at home, time to play in the water and have applied myself a wee bit in recent years during the winter months. Therefore, it was with trepidation that I viewed the 1.2 mile swim for the half-Ironman.

That sounded really long to me; probably akin to what an 80 mile road ride sounds like to a city trail cyclist. I mean, seriously, just two and a half months ago I was having to rest about every 25-50 meters because my arms and shoulders felt dead.

Sometime in early December I made it 800 meters. Mind you, that's not 800 meters of solid swimming, that's 50 here, a 100 there, rest on the wall, another 100, maybe a lap of backstroke - you know, that sort of thing. 800 meters of swimming total. It felt like the first time I rode 50 miles on my bike. No time was kept, just distance and I was proud.

Week by week, I've worked to swim more laps before I took break. Mid-January I began to do 5 minute intervals and worked my way up to 3x10s. Then, my friend, Molly, showed me how to do flip-turns, and though most of the time they could have been described as an attempt to drown myself, increasingly there were instances of smooth and quick. Thus, I figured it was time to test myself. I set a goal of 45 minutes of non-stop freestyle using flip-turns Saturday. Not really knowing if I could even swim 45 solid minutes, I chose to use a lower level endurance pace so I could put my mental focus on form. Back and forth, back and forth, crap, that turn didn't go so good. But, it turns out there's no reason to stop even if you do accidentally suck a bunch of water up your nose. You can swim and cough or snort or whatever and then get back into your rhythm. The minutes flew by. Pretty soon there was only 10 minutes left. I started checking my lap times. Then 8. And, then, "I got this! I could probably do an hour!" But, I didn't. Instead, I decided to embrace the personal win and then just play a little -- see if the last couple of weeks of form focus and drills made going fast feel any different.

Boy-oh-boy did they. I didn't start with a sprint, I increased over the first 25 m, flipped, and then just went as hard as I could. Egads! It felt AWESOME. The muscular development, which recently relegated a cute pink dress shirt to the giveaway pile, pulled me so smoothly through the water. It felt fast. Strong. Exciting - like those moments on the bike when it feels like flying. You know what I mean. In any case, it was a wonderful pay-off for the time invested. If I hadn't been out of air at the wall, I might have giggled.

Much appreciation to Viktor, Jen, Molly, Eric and the collegiate swimmers who have generously answered my questions and patiently critiqued my form.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Open water swimming tips from John Walker and Dave Scott

Image lifted from Dashalife
This is a wonderfully detailed article on open water swimming. As I make progress in the pool, I continue to wonder what the open water swim will be like. Walker has some great tips for practicing and until the snow melts and the water warms a bit, I'll have to make do with visualization.

hulaman.com: "In my many years in this sport, I have never seen any reasonably complete article in the magazines dealing with open water swimming (they seem to rehash the same basic stuff every few years). A lot of them talk about how to draft, or tell you to look up every few strokes to stay on course, but very few seem to deal with the subject in much detail.

So last summer, I started to gather my thoughts and experiences on the subject. I finally got back to it just now. Rather than deal just with racing in open water, I have tried to deal with both swimming for fun and racing."

'via Blog this'

A few more tips from Dave Scott:

Thursday, February 09, 2012

And now for something completely different...



Maybe not completely different, after all there will be a bike portion.

I've been toying with doing a triathlon for a while, but had always ruled it out because of the way running made my knees hurt, the hours of training I perceived it would consume and the thought I would end up mediocre at three events instead of exceptional at one. However, as a former runner and a cyclist who enjoys swimming in the off-season, the thought of doing one kept bouncing around in the back of my mind. Last year, it bounced around so much that I began what I called "exploratory secret training" in November. I figured if I could bring the running online and work up to the 1.2 mile swim distance, I MIGHT give serious consideration to doing one.

As it turned out, it seems the problem were the shoes as well as the lack of discipline in SLOWLY introducing running to my body.  In November I began a "Couch to 5K" training program. Yeah, I know  but,  I always overdid it in previous attempts, so I figured following a beginner running plan might be the ticket -- that and a new pair of shoes from The Running Company. Sure enough, three months later and I'm able to run a hour with no soreness in knees or legs. Speed is picking up as well. I'm quite happy about this as running was always my first love. 
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12

November also found me heading to the pool. I knew the first few weeks would be difficult because I had so little muscular endurance in my upper body and I found myself needing to rest about every 25-50 meters. But, I discovered I had some friends with a lot of competitive swim knowledge and they generously helped me improve my form. In fact, form is all I worked on at the start. I know from other sporting endeavors that speed can always be added, but lay in bad muscular habits and it's difficult to eradicate them. At this point, I'm still working on form, but beginning to integrate drills for improving speed. My practice is to do the speed work, but if my form begins to falter, I slow down. When fatigue rattles my focus, I slow or take a break, because I'm still very much having to think about several things while I swim. Where are my hips in the water? Am I kicking from the hips or letting my knees bend too much? How close are my feet together? What is my stroke like? Etc. It takes time to gain automaticity and I want to train my body and mind correctly.


The bike portion? I'm not concerned about that with the exception of getting crashed at the transition. I've seen (and giggled) at several YouTube tri transition videos, but I know my legs feel wobbly just getting out of the pool, so I may soon be laughing with and not at. ;)



Finally, last month a friend said, "You should just do one. You might surprise yourself." It tipped the balance and a little voice in my own head replied, "I think I will," and I committed to a tri training plan on TrainingPeaks.com. 18 weeks to showtime. So much to learn.  

It's exciting though. It's nice to do something new. I like the mix of workouts and my body is feeling more well-balanced already. I'm planning to do a sprint tri in April, to see what it's like, and I've not handed over my money for the entry yet, but March 1 will fix that. 


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Evidence-Based Fitness: Burn the boats: Why you're going to fail. Or not.

Evidence-Based Fitness: Burn the boats: Why you're going to fail. Or not.: "I think that the reason why most people fail at their goals is because it's really not that painful to fail. "

'via Blog this'

In paragraph 3 there's a good rationale for qualitative inquiry.