How to Fix a Flat Tire

Look, I look like I know what I’m doing.

This weekend, I did a small clinic at Princeton Sports on what to do when you are out riding and you get a flat tire.  Given the number of people who showed up at the ride who admitted to not being able to fix a flat, I had hoped more would stay for the clinic, but I think that those who did learned a lot and hopefully feel more comfortable about dealing with a flat tire.

First off, flat tires aren’t terribly common.  I’ve gotten exactly one flat tire since I started riding.  Of course, that one flat tire was during my first olympic distance triathlon.  Thankfully, I knew what to do.  I wasn’t particularly skilled at handling a flat tire, but I had practiced at home.  I wasn’t going to let one pesky issue destroy my entire race.

I have heard a number of cyclists say that if they get a flat tire, their race is over.  And if you’re racing to land on the podium, maybe that’s true.  But for the vast majority of us, there’s no need to stop if our tire goes flat.  And besides, what are you going to do if you get a flat during a training ride?

And what’s the best way to learn?  Practice.  Lots and lots of practice.  If you have a clinic or a class available to you, go.  If there is a hands-on option, participate.  Learn to take your wheel off, get the tire off and change the tube.

If you don’t have a class available, you can learn thanks to the internet.  The internet is an amazing place.  I actually learned to change a tire by watching a video on YouTube.  I no longer remember which video I used, but I’ve included a good one at the bottom of this post.

Don’t just practice once.  Repeat the process over and over again.  Remove the tire, pull out the tube, replace the tube, replace the tire, inflate your tire.  You don’t have to use a CO2 inflator every time, use your regular bike pump.  Sit in front of the tv and have something entertaining playing in the background as you repeat the process over and over.  It will get easier.  And if you’re struggling, walk away for a few minutes, calm yourself, and come back.  You can do this, and then if you do get a flat on a training ride or during a race, you’ll know what to do.

 

Does Cheating Expose a Deeper Problem?

tswedensky / Pixabay

I’m not going to lie – I love Marathon Investigation.  This started as a way to track down people who cheated to get into Boston.  And it was amazing to see just how many people cheated, and the incredibly inventive way that they cheated.  The site then began to profile other cheaters, mostly people who cheated to get on the podium, but they also occasionally point out people who simply cheat so they can claim they finished.  They also pointed out people who bandited races, either by copying someone else’s bib or running with an old bib (or without a bib at all).

Don’t get me wrong – cheating is always wrong.  I have seen course cutting so many times at Disney races and it makes me mad every time, even though those cheaters would argue that by cutting the course, they didn’t hurt anyone.  I can understand this argument.  They didn’t push someone else off the podium or take a Boston spot or take aid on the course that they didn’t pay for.

But by cutting the course, by lying about their finish, they are harming the sport.  They are saying that it is okay to lie so that you can get a finisher’s medal and proudly proclaim that you finished the race.  I don’t understand this at all.  Why would you want to lie about your accomplishments?  What do you really gain?  And the fact that this doesn’t make sense to me says that there is probably something wrong in how we look at racing.

This week, a teammate of mine got called out by Marathon Investigation for cutting a race course.  She had previously been disqualified by that race.  I admit that I didn’t know her well, and I haven’t talked to her since the piece was published.  I don’t know what happened, but the evidence does not look good for her.  She is no longer on our team, but that doesn’t mean that she is being shunned by the group.  Instead, the leadership has opted to reach out to her and offer assistance.

[W]e have reached out to the athlete and offered to find any resources that will be helpful to her in dealing with this. While it is right and mandatory to speak out against cheating and doping ALWAYS, we also recognize this is a human with feelings. We can all shame her mercilessly on social media and drive her deeper into a hole, or we can try to help her resolve any issues so they no longer hurt her or anyone else around her in the future.

I can understand being in the middle of a race and wanting to quit.  (And sometimes, quitting is the smart thing if you’re sick or injured.)  I have definitely been in races where I’ve thought “Hey, I could just cut the course there and be done!”  Of course, it wasn’t a serious thought.  I It was about as serious as thinking “I could just grow wings and fly through the rest of the race.”

I also know that there have been races that I have been determined to finish because I didn’t want to tell people that I didn’t.  The fear of failure is honestly often my training motivation when I’m just not feeling it.  I don’t want to not finish a race and have to share that.  Not with my friends and family – they don’t care.  But since I do put all of my training out on the internet, it is scary to think that I might have to also share that I failed.

But you know what?  A DNF isn’t failure.  Things happen.  Injuries, illnesses, weather, heck some days you’re just not feeling great for whatever reason.  A DNF says “I tried, and it wasn’t my day.”

We need to remember to be supportive of people no matter what happens at their races.  We need to remember that we are all in this for fun (with the exception of the pros, who I hope are partly in it for fun), and that it will be more fun if we support each other.  Who knows what drives people to cheat.  But rather than point and laugh, we should offer help and be ready to listen when they want to talk.  Sure, some people may not want help. But simply by supporting others when they are successful and when they may be less successful, maybe we can reduce the number of people who think that they have to cut a course or lie about their finish times.

In sum, be nice to people.  It’s a simple rule.

Race Report – 2017 Rev3 Williamsburg Olympic

Rev 3 Williamsburg Race MedalRev3 Williamsburg was incredible.  Absolutely incredible.  Rev3 puts on wonderful races, and I cannot think of a single thing I would change about this day.

This was my second year for this Rev3 Williamsburg Olympic course.  (I did the race in 2015 as well, when it was taken over by Challenge, but the course was very different and really can’t be compared.)  So of course, I had goals.  Well, one goal.  Do better than last year.

I knew this was going to be a challenge though.  Last year’s race was incredibly fast partly due to some extreme currents in the water, so I figured this year’s swim would be slower.  Also, just in general, it’s July.  If the day ended up being extremely hot, all bets were off.  But I still had goals.  Last year, I raced an amazing 3:33:33 (best race time ever), so my goal was something around or under 3:30.

The great thing about this race is that it’s a big race with that big race feel, but because it’s only about 2.5 hours away, it also feels very local.  I knew so many people racing this weekend, people both from Mid-Maryland Tri Club and the Coeur team.  It’s always fun to see friendly faces on the course.  This year, they also added a sprint on Saturday (as well as a kids race) which made for extra cheering fun.

Saturday morning, I got up bright and early (well, it wasn’t bright yet) and headed out to cheer on the sprint race.  We got there in time for the swim start, and watched the swimmers enter and then finish.  I’m definitely glad I got to watch.  Not only was it awesome to cheer on friends and strangers, but it also gave me a look into what I was facing the next day.  The water was clearly incredibly shallow, as people were able to stand fairly far out (of course, that’s not the best race plan, as you expend way too much energy walking through water).  Once the swimmers were close to the shore and stood up, it was clear the mud was ridiculous.  The water was also incredibly dirty, and by the time the last swimmers got out, it looked like they were swimming in chocolate milk.  Yum.  So we stayed and cheered and celebrated with our friends as they finished, and it was awesome.

Rev 3 Williamsburg Race Morning Race morning, I followed my normal plan of getting to the race site stupid early.  I like to get there as transition opens.  Do I need to be there that early?  Nope.  Setting up transition takes maybe 10 minutes if I’m not moving particularly fast.  But I like to be there and get mentally ready and also hang out with people.  When people register for this race and list their tri club affiliation, if enough people from the club register, they rack you together, so you are near people you know.  This is also nice because you can assume your teammates are friendly and won’t just throw their stuff down on your transition spot.

Finally, it was time for race start.  We watched the 70.3 racers start, then it was our turn.  There were two men’s waves and two women’s waves.  I was in the first wave of women.  I walked into the water with a friend and sort of slipped as the concrete dropped off.  But since I was in the water, it wasn’t a big deal.  Also, the water was warm. Disgustingly warm.  The official temperature was over 85 degrees.  So gross.  It definitely felt like bath water.  And unfortunately, while there was a current, it was nothing like the previous year.

The horn blew and I was off.  I was generally pleased with how this swim went.  Occasionally, I found myself in packs, but didn’t struggle too much to get around them.  I also did a really good job sighting and felt like I swam a pretty straight path.  The water was super warm though, and I definitely felt myself getting hot.  And though I did my best to try to not get the water in my mouth, I definitely could feel the grit between my teeth.  Disgusting.  Also, my foot was starting to sting.  That wasn’t a good sign.

The water was so shallow that I understood why people were walking.  I wasn’t to the final turn and my hands were hitting the ground – and I don’t have long arms!  So I did my best to keep moving forward without walking and risking sinking in the mud, and finally, I was out.  And I was dirty.  My poor beautiful Coeur kit.  I hope it recovers.

Swim: 29:41 (2016: 25:47)

I glanced at my watch on the run in and knew that I was slower than last year, but thought I could pick up time on the bike.  Of course, now my foot hurt.  When I got to my bike, I paused and took a look at my foot. There was a chunk missing from the ball of my foot about a centimeter long.  That’s good.  But it wasn’t bleeding profus

ely, and since I knew it couldn’t be stitched, I just rinsed it out with water from the bottle I always bring to transition for rinsing my feet, and put my socks on and hoped for the best.

T1: 3:04 (2016: 3:03 – clearly I’m getting better, since this year I stopped to check my foot and wasn’t really slower.)

On to the bike.  This is a fast and flat course.  I was trying to do race math and figure out just how fast I could get off the bike and how much time I could leave myself for the run.  I’m not great at math on a good day, so trying to do race math while biking… well, it keeps me occupied.  This course is a bit long – 27.2 miles on the bike.  I hadn’t actually looked at my splits from last year, since I knew the swim wouldn’t be comparable, so I didn’t have a set goal, but figured something under 1:40 would be good.  My foot definitely hurt when I first started pedaling, but it sort of settled into a low ache, and I could mostly ignore it.

I do most of my training on hills, so I’m not really sure what a good flat course pace would be for me, so I just pushed.  I was aiming for around 17mph or more.  My plan was really to kill myself on the bike because I’m not a great runner, so this is where I can find the most improvement.

The course itself was awesome.  Some of the roads were smoother than others, which makes for an interesting ride.  For the most part, the other racers were friendly – most people calling out as they passed and encouraging each other, calling out friendly words, etc.  This wasn’t a closed course (bike courses rarely are), and for the most part, cars were friendly, though there were definitely a few buzzing racers.  I found out later that one cyclist even got hit, though I heard he or she was going to be okay.

I have my watch set to alert me at 5 mile intervals, and I kept ticking off the miles ahead of my goal pace, so I started to really think a PR was possible.  I wanted to leave myself at least 1:20 on the run if not 1:30.

One thing I noticed on the bike was that my heart rate was pretty steady and I wasn’t pushing into too high of a zone.  This tells me that I have room for improvement in my legs – and this is an awesome thing to discover.  I know that when it comes to running, I might have a little bit of improvement left, but I’m near that sweet spot where my HR and my pace are pretty maxed, considering my HR issues.  But on the bike, there’s room for so much more.

Bike: 1:34:16, 17.31mph (2016: 1:37:59, so I didn’t pick up as much time as I wanted, but still pretty darn good.)

In to T2 to check out my foot.  It wasn’t too painful, and I hoped my sock wasn’t just completely bloody.  Shoes off and my sock just had a little bit of blood showing.  Of course, it’s important to note that I was wearing hot pink socks, so as I realized later, it might not show much at all.  I didn’t take off my sock to check out my awesome wound though and just kept going.

T2: 1:52 (2016: 3:41.  Clearly I got lost or something)

Time to run!  My first steps while running were not awesome.  The wound on my foot had been in my nice flat bike shoes and not forced to bend at all.  Now, it hand to bend with every step.  It didn’t feel great, but I hoped it would fade.

My goal was just to hold a sub-13 pace and try to move as fast as I could while the day was still cool.  My first mile was comfortably 12:43, so I hoped things would hold.  This course is an out and back on a paved trail, and I love that sort of course when I know people racing because it’s awesome to get to see my friends and also to cheer for strangers.  I started leapfrogging with a couple of people and it was fun to chat with people.

I managed to keep my heart rate down while still managing to really power walk the walk intervals.  I think that’s one huge reason my pace has improved so much – I’m really pushing my walk intervals.  I also kept dumping water on me and packing my top with ice.  It wasn’t terribly hot, but that sun does beat down on you.

I hit the halfway point and knew that things were looking great for a PR.  As I ticked off the miles, I mentally calculated how much time I had left, and at one point, I had around a mile left and 20 minutes to do it in, and that was a great feeling.

Run: 1:17:38, 12:32 pace (2016: 1:23:02)

Rev3 Williamsburg Race Results

BOOM!

Total time: 3:26:32, a PR of 7:01

I was SO so so pleased with my finish.  I felt awesome and even with the slower swim, I still nailed it.

After the race, I walked over to medical to have them take a look at my foot, just to see.  My foot didn’t hurt, but I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t going to fall off or anything.  I took off my sock and they irrigated the wound, poked at it a bit, and put some ointment and a bandage on it and told me I would probably live.  Thankfully, my tetanus shot is up to date.  While I was sitting there with my sock in my hand, I mindlessly squeezed the water out of it (from all the water I poured on myself) and well.. it wasn’t just water.  So apparently that pink sock doesn’t show blood.  Good to know.  So gross.  Stacey was lovely and waited for me at the finish and got to witness this all first hand.  I have such great teammates!

Foot inspected, we headed to watch other racers and eat some delicious BBQ.  I also met Mariah from InsideTracker who is as lovely as she seems online.  It’s always awesome to put a face to a name.

This race remains one of my favorites.  I had the best time and I really can’t think of a single thing that I would recommend the race change.  (Except maybe clean up the water somehow.)  I’m not sure what races I’m doing next year, but this one will absolutely be on the list.  I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a great July race.  And there’s all sorts of touristy things for your family to do as well.

Is Fatlogic Holding You Back?

A couple of years ago, I learned about “fatlogic,” and I fell in love with the idea.  Fatlogic has a lot of different definitions (it’s a fake word made up by the internet, what do you expect?), but the one that really resonates with me is that fatlogic is when you use weight or size to justify something.

“I’m fat, so it doesn’t matter how I dress, I’ll never look good.”

“I can’t run because I’m fat.”

“I’m too fat to ever fit in with that group.”

I feel like I’ve been seeing it more and more, and idiots on the internet definitely don’t help.  And yes, there are times when your size can be a reason you can’t do something (theme park rides with small seats, some sort of activity with a weight limit, etc), you can’t let your weight or size become an excuse.

I have seen time and time again where people (men and women alike) say that they can’t ride a bike because they’re too fat.  While I suppose there is a size where you can’t ride a bike, I think most of these people are using it as an excuse.  Maybe they are too scared to ride.  Maybe they don’t want to be seen in public riding. Maybe they think they’re going to fall.  Maybe they just don’t want to be the fat person on the bike.  But that doesn’t mean they can’t do it.

escape the cape bike

Go to a bike shop.  Find a bike that fits you and your body.  Go ride.  There are plenty of friendly people out there of all sizes who are out riding.  (And besides, the heavier you are, the faster you go downhill, which is super fun.  Thank you, gravity.)

I know that I have definitely felt like I’m too big to be riding my tri bike.  I refused to get aero bars for my road bike because I thought I would look like an idiot with my belly all in the way.  And no, I’m certainly not the most aero rider, but that has to do both with my size and my general lack of flexibility.  And yet there I am, riding a tri bike.  And I’m getting faster on it too.

Maybe you just want to go to the pool, but are afraid to be the fat person at the pool.  Go to the pool.  Just show up.  If you go during lap swim hours, you will see your super fit swimmers there, but you will also see people of all shapes and sizes.  (If you go to my pool, I believe the average age of the swimmers is approximately 68, and that’s including when the high school swim team is there.)  No one actually cares what you look like because they’re not looking at you.  I’m not going to avoid sharing a lap lane with someone because of their size (unless it’s super tall butterfly guy, and that’s just because he doesn’t understand that he can’t swim butterfly while splitting a lane without hitting me EVERY SINGLE LENGTH.  Ahem.).

You weight isn’t a reason to not do something.  And if you’re not happy with your weight, do something to change it.  But don’t let your weight hold you back, and certainly don’t say “Oh, I won’t do that until I’ve lost a bit more weight.”  You don’t know what you’re missing out on.