July 29, 2008

Test Drive

The big highlight of my training today was trying out my new bike saddle. Since I'm not sure it will work and they are technically not returnable, the sales guy told me to tape the rails and ride very carefully a couple times on it. So I taped it up, put it on and took it for a spin.

I don't think any seat is ever 100% comfortable, so you end up settling for the lesser of evils. When you're riding for hours at a time, what more can you expect? My former seat was old, but I also wanted to replace it due to a change in preference. It was a typical female-specific seat so it was wider to accommodate the female hips. Only I'm not really built with curvy hips so I think it was too wide for my bone structure. But it was kind of comfy and it was really soft and padded so I kept riding on it. But it started to cause discomfort and it chafed a bit, which no one wants to hear about. Then it caused the dreaded saddle sore, which no one REALLY wants to hear about. So it was time to go.

I bought the Terry Damselfly, a narrower "performance" saddle that gets very mixed reviews. Some women sing its praises and others say it feels like it's made from wood. It's definitely firm, but the squishiness of my old seat wasn't working too well either so I figured I'd give it a try. I love the streamlined shape of it and it is thinner and lighter as well. It also has the obligatory female cutout which is supposed to make it more comfortable. For the first 8 miles or so I was really happy with it. It seemed to be exactly the shape I needed and I wasn't experiencing any discomfort. Then slowly over the next few miles the happiness faded away. The description says this saddle is for "racers and those that don't want to lose the feel of the road." Well, that's accurate for sure! I felt every bit of the road for the last 10 miles.

So the jury is still out on whether or not this is the saddle for me. I'm not giving up just yet because I didn't have any lingering pain or discomfort, which is usually a good sign. I might just need to put in a few rides to get used to it.

I did another evening swim tonight. While I find myself less motivated to swim at night, I'm always glad I did. The pool is virtually empty or has one swimmer per lane tops. I did my usual warm-up and cool down with 3 main sets of 400 yards. I tried really hard to speed it up since I continue to be slow in the water. Amazingly enough, I was able to do each set in about 8 minutes. While this isn't a massive improvement, it's better than where I usually am so I was happy. Every little bit counts for me. I couldn't help but think about the 2.4 mile Ironman swim during my laps. It's a distance I can't quite fathom at this point, but know by next year I will be comfortable with it. I'll still be slow, but I'm ok with that. I can always make up for it on the bike and run.

Distance - 20.3 miles
Time - 1:16:09

Distance - 1600 yards (.91 miles)
Time - 34:00

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