Sunday, August 29, 2010

No Spills on the Hills, but a Slight Quiver on the River


It's been quite a while since the Fitbird's hit the road for group training away from Baton Rouge, with the exception of Training Camp of course. This weekend we gathered on Saturday to ride the Starhill Loop in St. Francisville. It's a good 26 mile ride through some stunning scenery and fairly challenging hills. I'd forgotten how ridiculously beautiful it is compared to riding on River Road, and even though St. Francisville still has its share of crazy drivers, overall it is a much more "experiential" ride to partake in.  It was also a good chance for strength building, working on keeping a high cadence and pushing fast and hard up those hills.

We had nine Fitbird's make the ride, with no major catastrophes and only a few near misses. They say bad things happen in threes, and for this ride that seemed to hold true. I unfortunately was responsible for the first near miss within the first few miles of the ride when my jug of Gatorade bounced out of my water bottle cage into the line of bikes behind me. Luckily, Shell's managed to avoid the erratic rolling of the bottle, instead choosing to swerve towards an oncoming car. Her cat-like reactions pulled her back, out of the way of danger, and I learned my lesson: next time I forget my water bottle just go without one instead of risking the lives of my teammates by trying to force a Gatorade bottle into a cage it's not designed for and then riding the bumpy roads of Louisiana. Bummer though as it was my favorite flavor of a newly purchased Gatorade and I never even got a chance to open it. Hope you enjoy it raccoons.

The second near death experience came towards the end of our ride when Coach's sweet sweaty odor seemed to draw Cujo out of hiding in a heavily wooded yard. He tore after the lead bike and then systematically worked his way down the line creating mass panic and significant swerving. Luckily for the group he responded fairly well to "No!" and "Git back!" and retreated far enough away to allow us to escape. Whew.

After a long but enjoyable ride, we reached the last mile to find that the road was closed. Or should I say it had been "removed". Our choice? Turn around and ride a long way back...or practice off-road adventure racing tactics. Which would you choose?

The choices were "walk it through the dirt" or "walk it over a hole while balancing on a narrow cement beam." Hmmm.

I think this might be the first time Linda's bike has ever felt dirty...

We were rather disappointed when we returned to the Star Hill Fire Station to find that there were no gorgeous half dressed volunteer firemen to cool us off with their hoses. We did however meet some lovely older women who volunteered to take our picture with the firetruck. I guess that will have to suffice. For now.

Murphy was responsible for the third incident which actually occurred as we were driving away from the picturesque hills back to the main roads. A large tree spontaneously fell about three feet in front of McCall's vehicle as she led the caravan down the road. She was quick to respond and managed to come to an abrupt stop before her vehicle got demolished and our Coach got squished.

My question however is this: Why is it that there were seven Fitbirds available to help lift this huge tree from blocking the road, but instead they chose to gawk and take pictures of Linda (with a busted up knee), a complete stranger (who left her two small children in her vehicle unattended), and me... remove the thorn and poison ivy encrusted, ant filled, decomposing mess of a tree by ourselves? Um, hmmmm ~ the two Fitbird's who got the Big Girl Panties at Training Camp did all the work. I think I'll be going to the lingerie section of Walmart soon to make a Big Girl purchase for some friends...

"Let me show you proper lifting technique. Notice the bent knees..."

"Oh hello! Are you a complete stranger with kids in the car? Thanks for helping us! Linda, be careful with your bad knee!"
"Please, whatever you do, DO NOT HELP US!"
"Yes, it is VERY important to hydrate while you watch!"


As if we hadn't had enough of each other Saturday, we had another scheduled group training for open water practice on Sunday. Cherith, one of our newer Fitbird members, graciously offered the use of her parent's camp on False River as our jumping off point. It was one of many of our summer's open water practices for most of us, but we had two fresh birds with us who were taking their first dunk. They both hung in and did very well. The water was calm when we began our swim but did pick up a bit of a chop towards the end. There were no panic attacks, which for me was especially encouraging. I did find I was more anxious than I had been while swimming at the ocean during training camp, as ironic as that seems. I think it was partly due to not being as close to areas that were shallow enough to stand in, and also not having Coach as nearby as I like in case I have difficulty, as she was helping others in the group. I had to fight to keep my anxiety down around a 4 on my anxiety scale (see bottom of post). When the swim was through I was ready to get out, but overall I was still pleased that at least outwardly I didn't appear to melt down. That's progress!

There was talk prior to the trip that we should include "Grill and Chill" (i.e. the 3 M's...Margaritas, Meat, and Music) as part of our training day. Although that didn't exactly work out, we were surprised with a generous breakfast of fruit, smoothies, bacon, eggs, and biscuits by Cherith's family. Little do they know that they have now become the Dock of Choice for our training. Precedence has been set.

The thing about Fitbirds, in case you haven't figured out yet, is that we like to eat, drink, and well as train together. This is an integral part of what makes up our group. With that being said, our "second" breakfast occurred about an hour after our first one ended. We already had it in our minds to get beignets, and having missed our sno-cone fix from the day before, nothing was coming between us and our fried, powdered dough.

Many of life's problems were discussed and solved during this meal. We decided one option for increasing our running speed is to reduce our weight via various surgeries (ie hysterectomies, tonsillectomies, breast reductions)... all with the purpose of lightening the load. We also determined that even though Jr. High was a horrible and traumatic time for everyone, somehow we all survived it. Lizzard is going to write a book about powerful famous women who had horrible Jr. High experiences to show young girls that it does get better. We discussed how to make socio-economic change in the community by using Change Theory, a concept discussed in detail in the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard We also discussed raising our children and the hilarious things they do.

We won't comment on how many plates of these...
...we ate.

These topics are all very critical to forming healthy group dynamics and team building. In fact, I have proposed that ALL training be concluded with a combination of food, drinks, laughs, and deep discussions. I know it works for me.

My Open Water Anxiety Levels:

0 = I have conquered my fear!
1 = I could swim for days!
2 = Wow! This is actually enjoyable!
3 = I'm relaxed, have a strong stroke and a clear mind; no fear
4 = Bit anxious, but confident I can succeed
5 = Heart is racing, I'm tense, stiff in the water
6 = Negative thoughts, panicky, shallow breathing
7 = I've lost my stroke, can't put my face in the water, "Why the hell am I doing this?"
8 = "This sucks", crying/angry, asthmatic, oh so frustrated
9 = "Get me out!", frozen by fear, "You can't make me do it!"
10 = Physically ill, "I quit", full-blown panic

8/29/2010 False River Swim Practice:
Pre-Swim: 3
Warm-up: 4
Main Set: 4
Water Conditions: Mild - Moderate chop/current
Time: 7:15 - 8:45 am


  1. Sorry I missed the beignets and conversation, I will hope the next visit to sugarland is soon! I will work on my endurance, but only had one moment where I thought if Coach Canada does not let me have that kick board for 30 seconds I may just swim to the nearest dock and walk back:)

  2. To paraphrase Brittney Spears, "Oops, you did it again!" What a great blog post! I love your use of video - a cool way to transport me back to that fun breakfast! Which one? BOTH! I also love Coug's Open Water Swim-O-Meter. It's funny but more importantly, it's for real. I can see us referring to the scale and using it from here forward when we evaluate our open water swims! You are definitely on to something good! Just keep blogging, just keep blogging, blogging, blogging!

  3. Coug and Freebird, your bravery and strength do not surprise me. I agree the Big Girl Panties have been earned by others after that trip! I'm sad I couldn't ride, but thankful for my last swim for a while with y'all. Viva Coffe Call mornings with my favorite ladies!