Next Up – Venus de Miles

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I’m super excited about this weekend.  I recently registered for the Venus de Miles, 61 mile, all ladies ride.  I saw it come thru on an Active Swaggle Deal of the Day.  Normally, I’m not a big “biker”.  I ride to TRI.  Period.  I’d like to think that I have improved my biking during the time that I have not been able to run been rehabbing my injury but I’m still not a “biker”.  I’m a runner and triathlete.  I swim to TRI.  I bike to TRI.  I hope that I continue to improve my riding after I finish the Great Illini 70.3 on September 1st but let’s not jump too far ahead, right?

I wouldn’t have signed up for Venus de Miles had I not been injured and not able to do run races & TRIs it not come thru on the Swaggle.    I believe with the Swaggle, plus my Active Advantage Membership, I paid $47.  The ride is in Lake Forest, IL and I have no idea where that is other than “up north”.  I know they have lots of big expensive fancy house up there because my J.O.B is appealing property taxes. 

I have ridden in a non-triathlon group atmosphere exactly twice.  Let’s just say neither experience went well.  The first time, circa spring 2007, I took my shiny new road bike to a local bike club for a Sunday group ride.  Everyone was warm and welcoming and they immediately handed me a map for the days route.  Huh?  A map?  Can’t I just follow somebody?  How can I read a map and ride my bike at the same time?  Then they asked my pace.  What?  Pace?  “Um, I don’t know, I just bought this bike yesterday and I never had a computer on my Walmart Special mountain bike.”   I believe they frowned.

The ride options, if I remember correctly, cause trust me I’ve tried to suppress the memories for YEARS, were 26, 40 something, then it jumped to 60 something.  I was going to “try” the 26 mile option but was a bit nervous as my longest previous ride was 11 miles on my Walmart Special.  So the 60 mile group who planned to average 18-22 mph took off like they were being chased.  The 26 mile group included a lot of older men, one on a recumbent bike and let’s just say the pace was very “relaxed”.  So I was tooling along with them and just REALLY wanted to ride my new bike to see what it would do.  Well, two older men blazed past us, which was not difficult at our relaxed pace, and I made the stupid split second decision to go with them.  I recognized them from the parking lot so just went.  They were riding a decent pace and I was having fun.  I was amazed at how quickly the miles were ticking off and loved watching them accumulate on my new computer.  The men were very nice and didn’t seem to mind my following them.  Then the miles really started to climb and I was wondering when we were going to turn back toward our start location.  We didn’t turn.  We kept riding AWAY from my car.  I was getting distressed because by that point I had no idea how to get back by myself so I kept following.  Then they got lost.  Awesome.   Then we ran out of water.  Awesome.  At some point during this fiasco, we had to stop and look at the map, which was now crumpled, folded and sweaty from riding against my person.  This was when I learned that they were attempting to follow riding the 60 mile route.  Awesome.

Somehow, I we managed to hit the half way point and stopped to refill our water.  The fasties original 60 mile crew had already had breakfast and were preparing to leave.  I was frantically thinking about how I should proceed.  This was a point in time before every cyclist and runner carried a cell phone on their person.  So when everyone left the half way point, I left too and continued following.  I didn’t have much left and I definitely could NOT go another 30+ miles.  I was all done.  I rode to the point where we hit a busy road which I recognized, just south of a town not too far from my house.  They stopped at the stop sign;  I rolled thru the ditch and into somebody’s front yard.  The bike crew asked what I was doing.  I said, “I’m all done”.  The response, “Come on, we are planning to stop right up here at a gas station”.  I said, “No, I’m stopping right here.  I’m finished”.  They rode away.  I just sat there.  In fact, the people from the house eventually came out and asked if I was okay.  What to say?  Hell, NO I’m not okay!  I just rode 40+ f’ing miles.  My ass hurts.  My legs are jello.  I’m so dehydrated, I can’t even cry!  I think I said I was fine and managed to stand up.  I was about a 1/4 of a mile from a bar.  I walked my bike to the bar.  I can’t remember it well but I must have had $ for a beer, or else hubby paid for it later, because I remember drinking a Corona and a ton of water.  I called hubby on the bar’s phone.  That was my first and last ride with that group.

The second attempt at a group ride went “better”.  I joined the Folks On Spokes Easter Ride.  I rode solo, got to pick my distance, the ride was supported and well marked but I didn’t finish.  They pulled the route too close to my house so instead of making a turn, I just rode home….. with a few people following me.  Oooops, sorry about that.   Thankfully my house was only 2 miles from the “missed” turn so they didn’t have too far to back track.  🙂

So Venus, you are my redemption.  I will ride. I will finish.  I will have my cell on my person.  If by chance you live on the Venus route and see me laying motionless in your yard, please hand me a Corona Light and the phone. 

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Anyone else riding Venus de Miles on Sunday? 

Have you ever ridden a group ride or large cycling event like Venus?  How did it go for YOU?

** Happy Riding ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

Deal Days….

I think it’s safe to assume that everyone loves a good deal.   I recently snagged some good ones and wanted share with you savvy shoppers.  Please note that if you purchase anything that I like, I don’t get compensated, I just tell you about them so that you can be as informed as possible when you are shopping around.

First, due to my schedule with the kids, work and running life, I don’t have a lot of time to shop.  So I rely heavily on the net for most of my shopping.  If I stumble onto a deal at a store, it’s mostly likely because I had to stop in for something for one of the kids.  I got lucky on Friday when I had to hit Old Navy for Michael.  I have tried several of the Old Navy active wear pieces and really like them for running and lounging.  On Friday, they had a deal on their sport bras and GoDry shirts for $10.  I have a couple of an older model, panel sport bra from Old Navy and I love those but have resisted purchasing the new model due to adjustable straps which have plastic pieces.  I was concerned the adjustable pieces would chafe. However between the $10 price tag and the GREEN color, which is my favorite, I couldn’t resist.  Huge thumbs up for this product.  It didn’t chafe with the adjustable pieces or anywhere else.  It fit like a glove but wasn’t too tight.  It also separates “the girls”, which isn’t an issue for me but I know that others have problems with their “girls” when they aren’t separated.  Win!  I even wore it to bed one night and still loved it in the morning.

The GoDry Tee was also a win in my opinion.  It fit well, runs true to size, is seemless, soft and comfortable.  Although, I normally don’t run in tees, this will be a good lounge top for me.  In fact, I wore it most of the weekend when I wasn’t running.

I also recently picked up a bargain thru the  Active Swaggle.  If you aren’t familiar with Active Swaggle and are an athlete, go to that link above in green and sign up NOW!  The Active Swaggle is a deal system which emails you a group of deals on almost a daily basis.  This includes everything from VERY discounted races, to super sales on sport/running/TRI clothes and gear.  This is the “Groupon” for active people.  Join.  There is currently an active deal for the Wisconsin Dells Half Marathon for $40.  A couple weeks ago, I took advantage of the deal on Pro Compression socks for $25 a pair (50% discount – now expired).  I have tried a couple of brands of compression socks, the CEP Sleeves, which I love for running, the RunLove RunningSkirts.com socks which I bought off a Swaggle around Christmas and now these. 

These socks work really well for me.  They are unisex so come in different sizes but I followed the size chart and ordered accordingly.  They are longer than the other compression socks that I have and come all the way up to my knees, plus they have a roomier foot bed so my toes don’t get crunched.  LOVE these!  I purchased the yellow above so I could possibly wear them with my RMHC (Ronald McDonald House Charity still has a marathon spot available for YOU) shirt & red Aspaeris Pivot Shorts (use my 25% discount code:  PC2012)  for the 2012 Chicago Marathon.  I also purchased…..wait for it…..the GREEN!  I ran in these yesterday and they are really nice compression socks.  They are not too tight, I never even notice them while running or lounging.  I am hoping they will put them on the Swaggle again!

I have picked up RunningSkirts.com merchandise on super discount off the Swaggle, Mission Skin Care products, and various race entries. The Swaggle sign-up is free and definitley one of the best deals around to be “in the know” in regards to deals across the country. 

I still think the best deal on the web is the Tough Chik irun tank.  All Tough Chik products are handmade by a local seamstress in California.  The fit is perfect for those of us who have a six-pack UNDER the layer of mommy flab and it is soft, silky and super cute. For $30, you don’t need a sale to grab one of these.  In fact, you can grab the green and the pink and still be under what you would pay for a normal performance top.  And don’t worry, if you have a real six-pack, you’ll still look like a goddess in this top!

Last but not least, if you are a chick, you should also sign up for the email updates from  SkirtSports.com.  They have killer deals that they only publicize thru Facebook and those email updates.  I normally don’t order anything unless it hits the sale rack and I have gotten several shirts on temporary discount for $12-$15.  I have also picked up some of the pricier items for 50% off, like the Happy Hour V-Neck tops that I have worn all winter.   I grabbed a pink & black for $26 each off of one of those email specials around Thanksgiving, see pic below.

Try hard not to impulse buy but instead make good choices for good products based upon the price.  There are deals to be had but not if you want them now at whichever store your shopping.  You have to wait for the deals to come to you then spread the word and share with the rest of us!!

Happy Running,                                                                                                            Amanda – TooTallFritz