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Once her water was broken, her temperature came down and the pitocin started to kick in to aid in her contractions, we felt like we were getting somewhere. The contractions were more cosistent and often. After a significant amount of laber, the time came to make a decision about receiving and epidural, and this time around, my wife opted for it. With how large of a head my daughter had, we decided this might help her move along easier and help her remember things better as well, not being in so much pain.
The epidural was put in, but it wasn't quite working right. The whole right side of her body went numb, as it should, however, her left side wasn't quite getting the drugs so her contractions were still hurting her quite a bit. The doctor came in AGAIN, and removed the epidural and gave her a fresh stick. Having already been numb, she was having trouble staying upright so I had to work on holding her up. It wasn't too tough, but kind of funny. Like taking care of a drunk child.
The eipdural started to work a bit better this time, but it still wasn't right. We were happ with where we were, so we just left it and moved forward. The contractions were coming more frequently and she had dilated enough to begin pushing. NOW FOR THE FUN!
Her legs up in the stirrup and pushing against herself, you will never see a woman work so hard when they are working at bringing their child into the world. It's a scary and awe-inspiring sight. You never want the person you love to be in so much pain, but the outcome is without a doubt worth it.
We spent about 40 minutes pushing and the doctor decided that we needed to help the baby break through the barrier of her pelvis and they brought out the vacccuum. Not something anyone really wants to hear, but our baby was having trouble recovering after each push, so we needed to help it along.
The vaccuum was attached and the doctors were able to grab a hold of the baby's head. It was difficult to watch as the cup at the end only holds a small portion of their scalp to aid in pulling the baby along. However, it was definitly worth it to help pull it out. It only took a couple more pushes and the baby was out.
When it came down to things going right with our birth plan, none of it was. But the one things my wife wanted was for me to tell her the sex of our child. Our nurse, one of her good friends and coworkers, was informed of this and she stopped the room, let everyone know it was my turn to tell everyone the sex. So I looked in as the doctor held the newborn in her hands and was able to whishper to my wife through some tears welling up that we now had a boy.
After learning that we were moving along and we needed to get to the hospital soon, I ran to my neighbors to let them know what was going on. Both my neighbors behind and to the side of us had volunteered their help to watch our daughter should we need to go to the hospital at the drop of a hat. Out neighbors to the side weren't home, so I ran to the back and found them hanging out in their back yard. Being retired, this was pretty typical. So I told them the situation and they happily came over to watch her. We had just put her down for a nap, so they just needed to hang out and watch TV while she rested.
On the way to the hospital, my wife was shivering pretty severly and I was getting nervous. This really never happened with our first, so I was nervous something was wrong. She felt very cold, which was somewhat atypical for her. She is generally a little bit colder than I, but it was 70 degrees and she was turning on the butt warmers in my car. Unusual.
We rushed into the parking ramps at the hospital and parked the car in emergency services and made our way to the Labor and Delivery Unit at the hospital. The same department where my wife works.
We wer escorted into a triage room where doctors can assess the situation and see whether they patient should be admitted for labor or sent home. My wife was hooked up to a monitor and was strapped across her belly so that the baby could be monitored as well.
After a couple minutes we became worried. Both my wife's and the baby's heart rates were a bit high and we weren't very happy with the looks of it. My wife was also running a fever over 100 degrees, which meant we needed to get things moving. Her water hadn't broken, but the doctor decided that due to the health concerns of her fever, it was best to induce labor and get the baby cared for. It wasn't going to be much, but we just needed everything to be monitored and checked since we came in hot.
Next we were moved from triage into an actual birth sweet. These rooms are cool. They are very big, with a couch, table and some chairs, as wel as a TV with lots of channels for the mother and her family members to wait out the labor and delivery which can take a long, long time.
We were moving along quickly by induction. Since my wife's water hadn't broken, the doctors had to do it for her. This sped things up as well. The Tylenol she was given was kicking in and she was starting to feel better, too.
Having been a dad for over 2 years with a daughter, my wife and I have been cooking a bun in the oven for a little over 8 months and finally we are prooud to announce the birth of our second born, Eli Matthew. He was born this past Saturday and is nice and healthy.
Through work and friends, we had all been taking polls and bets on when the new baby would be born and what sex the baby would be. It had been a fun time leading up to the birth, so I'll start with the beginning:
The day started as usual. My wife was working her typical night shift and had come home exhausted, being 8 months pregnant, that was expected. She fell asleep on the couch before we could get her into bed. After some time persuading her and getting everything ready but her being in it, she was finally in bed.
After we got her sorted out in bed, my daughter and I got some breakfast of our own and played for a little while before we headed over to the gym. It's nice to go to the gym with her since they give us free childcare and she loves the people who run it. She never wants to leave when we go to pick her up after we're done training.
After I was done doing my workout, I walked up to the playroom and picked up my daughter. We've made it pretty normal for us to head over to my bike shop (since it's only a block a way on the same building construct), and this day seemed like any other. We walked in, played with bikes and chatted with my co-workers. My manager had gotten a new bike so we were talking about that and my daughter loves to play with the bells and the girl that we work with, too. Especially now that she can pronounce her name.
After being there for about twenty minutes, I got a text message from my wife asking when we would be home. I responded that we were leaving then and there and we said our goodbyes and headed home. I was under the assumption she just wanted some water and/or food since she went to bed without anything to eat. I tried my best to have her eat something, but she wsa just too exhausted.
We got home, she told me to put a show on for our daughter and I found her bathing in the tub, not looking so good.
I asked how she was doing and she told me to tell her mom to start heading up this way. That meant only one thing, the baby was coming, and it was coming that day!
When I got my new bike, it came with some pretty nice components on it: Sram Red 10 speed. I was excited to get going on it and started to ride it as often as possible. It was a bit of a break from what I had been riding before, Shimano Tiagra and Sora. Quite an upgrade, but a completely new type of shifting. Overall I liked it, and didn't think I needed anything better.
I was wrong.
I decided to change my groupset over to Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 speed. It isn't as high-end as Sram Red, however, it is newer and is 11 speed. I wasn't completely sure that I was going to like it more than the Sram Red, but I was completely wrong. I was sold from the get-go.
From the first time I shifted the bike, I felt the buttery smooth shifting that Shimano is known for. It doesn't punch and fight for the next gear, it just slides like hot butter on a griddle.
The things I took into consideration when I was planning to upgrade were price, outcome and things like weight, longevity and of course, aesthetics.
Ultegra doesn't have the nicest look to it when it comes to looking good. But it performs. After having ridden on Dura Ace 9000 for a couple months, I would highly recommend Ultegra 6800 for those looking for quality components without the high-end price tag. From the Dura Ace to the Ultegra, I don't see much dropoff. The biggest thing I notice is in the front derailleur. The Ultegra shifts smooth, however, the Dura Ace really seems to move like water. It doesn't feel mechanical. And neither does the Ultegra.
Before switching to Ultegra, I was a bit hesitant after having ridden Dura Ace and if I would like it as much. The more and more I put miles on the bike, the more I love it. There is really only one thing I have noticed that is taking some time for me to adjust to, and that is the trim position on the front derailleur. With Sram Red, there is a solid click to lock it into the inner position on the outer ring. With Shimano products, it is a little more gingerly and not quite as pronounced. I'm not saying it's bad, it is just something to get used to.
I have had a few people contact me looking for bikes with high-end components such as Dura Ace or Sram Red. And now I am 100% one of those guys selling down to Ultegra, knowing how much power I can put out and how big of a guy I am. If you're not a pro-level racer who needs titanium bits everywhere and dual-layerd TPU hoods, Ultegra is the best deal out there. And for not much more than Shimano 105, it's worth the extra little bit of coin to get it. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
Ok, this will be my last post abour working at an Ironman event. There is just so much going on and so many things to talk about that I can't really contain it within one post.
After watching all of the athletes take off on their swim and head out into the water, we had filled up the tires that had flatted and were starting to relax. We all setup near the bike exit so should anyone encounter an issue with their bikes on the run out of transition, we would be there to aid them. For the most part there weren't any issues. A few people needed us just to hold their bikes while they adjusted a shoe here and there. I pumped up a couple tires that people thought were flat. None really were, but better to be safe than sorry for them.
The big mechanical came when a woman slipped on her shoes and fell onto her bike. She thought everything was ok, but she actually ended up ruining her wheel by bending the crap out of her spokes. Her wheel was done, and it looked like her race was, too. However, being unbiased support, one of our co-workers had his bike there and decided to lend his wheel to her for the race. I think she nearly broke down in tears when he gave it to her. But she got going quick and was on her way.
After about a quarter of the athletes were out of the water, our first two tech cars were already out on the road, fixing flats and mending broken bikes. We heard on our radio pretty quick about a couple athletes having gone down and another couple with flat tires on a section that was nearly impossible to get to by car. So they had to walk their bikes back to get support.
I was in the last car and my friend/tech and I left when there were only a couple bikes left up on the hooks and we took off slowly toward our section of the course. It was the finish all the way to the loop of the course. The loop is about 40 miles long and the athletes have to do it twice. There are some pretty tough hills and some tricky corners, so lots of things can go wrong out in that area.
Our section was pretty low key. It's called the stick. A pretty straight and flat 18 miles or so of road that has a few hills, but for the most part doesn't present much danger.
Driving this section was tough because the roads aren't closed completely and we have to move around athletes and other cars as we move on the course. And for the most part we didn't see much action for mechanical issues. There were a couple flats and a couple crashes, but everything went well otherwise. The first crash was due to a sliver in the road inside a feed zone. An athlete was leaning in to get water, gong much too fast to be under control of himself and he slipped into a small crank and went down hard. He got up quick, we checked his bike and he was back on his way with just some scrapes and a slightly bruised ego.
The other crash we saw was two athletes coming just off the loop to head back into transition for the run. Two guys were side by side, making a small climb. One of the guys cramped up and locked up completely, veering into the other and taking them both down. We heard the crash of carbon and we pulled over quickly to check on the riders. They both seemed ok, the bikes were good to go, too, once the brakes were realigned and gears sorted through. The cramping athlete was very apologetic to the other and they shook hands and were on their way agian.
From this point on, we were done. We made our way slowly back towards transition and were caught by some other tech cars headed in. The bike cutoff was in place and our bike support was ending. It was a long day, but we helped out so many people. We got lots of thanks in transition and out on the road as we drove by and as we helped people with their issues.
If you ever get a chance to volunteer, do it. It's a very rewarding experience. There are the downers who will yell at you and give you a hard time if you don't do exactly what they want, but you can't let that small piece of the day ruin it for you. Overall, all of the athletes are grateful for us all to be out there helping out.
So enough of the shop talk, now it was time for race day. After spending 2 full days inside working and selling stuff, it was time to get out on the course and actually help the athletes. There was a full crew of us out there ready to give the athletes the best bike support we could, and man did they need us. Having never done an Ironman support crew before, this was an experience.
All in all there were 10 of us working in 5 different cars. We had multiple bike techs from each one of our stores. One in each car to go along with a driver. The driver, like me, was needed for some tech help, but we couldn't just throw all of our tech crew on the course with both stores still being operational during the time of the event.
The morning started early. Up at 3am to get my breakfast going, car loaded and over the the Monona Terrace before the race started to ramp up. By the time I got there at 4:30am, there was already a pretty good crownd lining up to get going. With people coming from all over the world, many of them were on odd sleep patterns and to some, this was probably not too big an issue to be up so early in the morning. But for us Trek tech crew, it was an early morning for us all.
All of us had rolled in around 4:30 near our tech tent and got our positions on the bike course planned out. It was pretty hectic, but we made it work. We moved our cars after marking them with Ironman stickers noted with Tech Support on the windows and came back to start the greatest task of the day: pumping tires.
This is always a struggle for people in the biking industry. Many athletes don't take the time to understand what tire pressure actually is or does, so when people see a max PSI on the side of their tire, they generally assume that's how much they should run in order to maintain speed. That's another post, but it's wrong. Anyway, the vast majority of people coming through kept asking for 110-120 psi and we would all just roll our eyes and let them do it. After about 200 tires, pumping to that pressure gets a little tiresome. Every once in a while, though, we would get a person or two that would say 90 or 95 and we'd all give out a cheer and give them high-fives. It made for an interesting morning to see athletes confused over our adoration of their tire pressure choice.
That was it, the tires were set, everyone that needed them pumped up was ready to go. It was time to take a little break and start some more work soon. We ran inside the Monona Terrace to watch the pros start their swim then grabbed a coffee and got back to work. We begane searching for people who's tires were either not pumped up, or had flatted and they didn't know it. Going through some 2,000+ bikes is pretty tough, but with 10+ people working on it, it wasn't too bad. Some people had some nasty flats that would have ruined their days, and they may never know it, but we grabbed their wheels and fixed the flats for them. Just a little courtesy from your Madison Trek Stores.
Now comes the fun part...
One of the coolest things about the sport of triathlon is often times not racing, training or even the gear; it can be the actual event of volunteering. Just a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be utilized at the store to be a tech volunteer for Ironman Wisconsin in Madison, WI. It is a great event with some of the greatest spectators you will find, hands down, at any triathlon event. The swim is beautiful, the transition area is like no other, the bike course is tough but fan-packed and the run is non-stop cheering and beautiful.
The week leading up to the event, our shop runs an expo store down at the transition area in the Monona Terrace. We get to see just about every athlete come and go as they make their way through packet pickup and look for any last minute things they may have forgotten. Some people are local, and we see them on a weekly basis and just catch up. Others come from all over the world and we struggle with our conversation to get to what he or she may need. But most of them are from the US, from all over the country and have actually heard of our store. Which is pretty cool.
We got a lot of questions and did everything we could to answer them properly. Many of the athletes were psyched to have us there to aid in their problems. While still some, like always, were out to get us by trying to force blame on things we had control over. One guy in particular was furious that Trek's new Speed Concept Draft Box II doesn't fit on the previous model of Speed Concept. He wouldn't let go of the fact that this was a terrible design by Trek and that we should rethink our design. Weird.
Another lady had no idea what she was going to do for water on the bike. She was scared to death to grab water from volunteers as she rides by on her bike, although we tried to explain to her that it's almost more cost effective to stop and grab the water than to either be scared or fall. She was having none of that. All she wated to do was to carry enough water on her bike to last the 112 miles. A nearly impossible feat. And what my fellow Trek-employee and I tried to drive home was that the amount of weight she would be adding to the bike in water was so ineffiecient, it wasn't worth it. But no matter how hard we tried to NOT sell her more products, she wouldn't have any of it.
Beyond the scope of just volunteering at the store, we got to walk around and see so many people and products from other companies. Places like 2XU, Newton, TYR, AquaSphere and some other local places sponsoring the event as well. Like Endurance House. One of the best all-in-one tri shops in the area run by some pretty awesome dudes.
We had some massive sales on bikes and clothing and were able to get rid of muck of the gear we had been holding on to for way too long. The storefront experience at Ironman is fun. But it is nothing like running the tech support the bike course. Check that out in my next post.
I have never raced cross. I want to race cross. I think you should, too. Every race I have been to, to watch, I have been more and more inspired. Not only does it look like it hurts, but it looks like it's fun. The fandamonium atmosphere at so many of these is great. I can't explain it. It's like all these beareded, burley men come out to play and they slap on some lycra and get after it. Women, too.
Cyclocross has been exploding across the United States over the past few years, and you should join in on the fun. Even if you don't race, go check them out. It is quite the atmosphere.
When it comes to the bikes. There are plenty to choose from. I obviously have my allegiences with Trek, but that being said, plenty of bikes are out there for you to get on. From entry level to pro level, there is a great range of prices to get you on a bike.
Cyclocross bikes are very versatile. They can act like a road bike and a mountain bike (to an extent). They can be great for commuting or for just putzing around town. With a wide variety of tire choices from narrow road, to wide and nobby cross tires, you can conquer all sorts of terrain, all on one bike. You can go from limestone trails one day, to the smooth flats of the asphalt the next, followed by the roots and mud and rocks of the cross terrain.
Now that cross season is about to start, nobody will shut up about it. Especially around the Madison area and in the bike shops. It's like every other bike has been packed away and people are stopping shaving their legs and putting on their mountain bike shoes and mounting their nobbies.
You should, too.
The more and more I get into the cycling community, the more I begin to both love and hate it. I love how amped up people get when it comes to riding bikes, but there's a list of things that have deterred me from getting too involved with some people and even acknowledging their participation in the sport.
For example. Those who are merely concerned with having the best that money can buy, insist they need it, while never riding it. While these people are great to have coming into the shop and making money off of them, they drive me nuts. Watching people like this blow $10,000 on a bike that will see the road less than a dozen times a year seems like such a waste to me. They won't learn to appreciate the engineering and sophistication they have between their legs.
Then there are those that are so blinded by having the high-end brands and insist that anything less is below them or inferior. I mean, seriously? Are you that wrapped up in yourself that you need to profess your love for a brand as the end all be all? I think not. Cool, it's expensive. Neat, it fits well. But what does it REALLY serve you? If it's comfortable, great wear it. But Just because it's some Eurpoean niche company, doesn't mean it's going to make you a better rider or get you more Kudos on Strava. Shut up and ride your bike.
Finally, the relentless picture takers. The single-handed selfie extraordinaires. You know how you're not supposed to text and drive? I'm pretty sure texting or better yet, taking a picture, it a much more intrusive action than texting behind the wheel of a car. Oh, so you rode your bike today? Thanks for the ten pictures of your bike leaned up against shit. Shut up and ride your bike. Go race it. Get involved.
I see more and more in the cycling world in the US becoming a who can have the most neat shit in their garage and show it off as much as possible. Neat, you have this nice stuff collecting dust. Or you don't have a damn clue how to fix your own bike. Get with it and ride your bike.
I will admit I will take a picture here and there, so I can be a litle guilty of that from time to time. But I try to make them memorable or inspiring instead of just a 'look at me on my bike, ENVY ME!' The fair-weather riders. The ones who won't ride in the rain, who won't ride in winter, who won't get on the trainer to make themselves better. Get over yourself and ride your bike.