Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hook me up, Scotty...

I’ve never been a three-bra-hook kind of gal, except of course for when I was nursing, but then when I was nursing, my boobs took on a life of their own.  After my mastectomies, I was no-bra-hook kind of gal for a while.  When I began running again post-mastectomies, I had to get used to the sensation of nothing moving.  Seriously, nothing moved since my skin had adhered to the muscle that was now directly under the surface of my skin.  The loose saggy skin left behind in the aftermath of nursing three kids had been cut away along with the cancer.  It was the weirdest sensation to go running and have no chest movement after thirty years of bounce and yet, it was somewhat freeing.  So this is what it feels like for guys to run.  Interesting, as Jamie would say.  Too bad I still had to wear a shirt.    

Then came reconstruction.  I technically didn’t have to wear a bra anymore to keep things in their proper place; the implants were more than happy to stay perky in the pockets that Dr. C created just for them.  That is, I didn’t while I was just going about my daily business, the mundane stuff anyway – Cinderella chores, taking the kiddos to and fro, PTO stuff, work. 

My daily business though as you all know also includes some form of training.   I discovered early on after my reconstruction that the new “girls” liked to move around when I exercised.  Movement?  Huh?  After many months of no movement, this new movement was a bit disconcerting.  Not wanting to wreak havoc on Dr. C’s handiwork, I decided that I needed to invest in some better quality sports bras than the Target specials that I’d been getting away with for years.  Besides going from a not-even-an-A-cup to a busty B-cup, the Target specials were a bit tight and not at all supportive.  The girls needed to know who was boss!

No, this is not me modeling the bra.
Being an Athleta-sponsored athlete, (shameless plug here) Athleta asks that we, when possible, do product testing and provide feedback, good or bad about their products.  So, needing some good strap-‘em down, lock and load kind of bras, I went to the Athleta website, looked at some reviews, and made my selection – the VaVa Sports Bra  It was rated for high impact sports, something an age-group triathlete/runner like me needs, had mostly good reviews, and last, but definitely the most enticing reason, on sale.  

DANG!  Who knew good bras were so expensive!  These suckers should be made with saffron and silk for the prices you bigger busted gals have to shell out to avoid making a scene when you head out for a simple little workout!!!  But back to the bra… The two biggest complaints noted were that the bra didn’t provide enough support for bigger busted girls (not a problem for me) and that it was a bit of a doozy to get into.  Come on.  Seriously?  How hard could it be to get into a sports bra?!

The bra, when it arrived, looked rather formidable.  It was definitely a “full-coverage” bra in the front that lifted and separated the girls, and for me anyway, strapped them down tightly.  Joe assessment of this bra was more colorful.  He said it “…straps them down so that there is no molecular movement.”  The back was a keyhole back with three hook and eyes to cinch it down.  I can do this I thought.  No problem.  Heck, I’ve been wearing a bra for thirty years what could really be so difficult about getting into this bra?  It didn’t come with a manual for cryin’ out loud.

Not only is it supportive in front,
it's supportive in the back as well.
Unlike a regular bra with hooks and eyes, you can’t just slip the straps down, swivel it around, do up the hooks, turn it around again and pull the straps back up.  Sorry, but I never mastered the hooking of the bra with the straps on my shoulders technique.  Not quite sure why, but I never had, but that little trick has eluded me since the beginning of my bra-wearing career.  Once you get this bra on like a regular sports bra (over your head) you can’t just slip the straps off to do the above-described method of hooking it up.  You must actually hook it up while completely wearing the bra.  Do you now have a great mental picture of me in my bathroom attempting to hook up my bra?  I have actually managed to do it by myself a grand total of twice. 

This morning, I was getting ready for a fifty-mile bike ride w/two of my cycling buddies and had laid out my “lock and load” bra as I affectionately refer to it.  I was soooo close to getting all the hooks done by myself, but perhaps my coffee hadn’t kicked in yet as the task, yet again, eluded me.  Thankfully, as I was wrestling with the monkey on my back known as the VaVa sports bra, Joe entered the bathroom.  Hooray!  Hook me up, Scotty! 

Typically, Joe would much rather be unhooking my bra than hooking it, but he knew I had to get this ride in, so hook it up he did, and off I went.  We are racing Racine 70.3 together in four weeks and I’m trying to fit in as much mileage as possible.  I’m hoping to better my time from 2010, the last and only time I did this race, and when I was still able to wear my Target specials. 

The weather today was perfect for a long bike ride – sunny and in the low sixties.  The company was good as well, two fellow Crazy Joes - Blake and Curtis.  As much as I’d love to ride with Joe, I can’t.  It’s just not fair to him.  A tough ride for me is just a easy little “recovery” ride for him so I ride with friends.  Thankfully, I’m not lacking in friends that will ride with me. :-)  Blake’s wife, Jane, is one of my BC buddies and he and I have raced together for the past couple of years.  Curtis was doing his first long ride after a bad spill a few weeks back.  The three of us ride well together so I was looking forward to a good ride.

The ride was new to me but not to them.  Blake had warned me that it was hilly, but that’s what I wanted.  Racine’s bike course is pretty flat, well, really flat actually, but hill work builds bike endurance and that, in turn, transfers well to run fitness.  So, despite my frequent sarcastic remarks about the hills, I was glad that we did them.   There were some really pretty parts, not much traffic and only two dogs.  “GET OFF OF THE COUCH” to the rescue.

It’s funny, but the hills that are tough for some aren’t nearly as hard for others.  We have one hill that we ride regularly that regularly kicks my butt, while Stef just toodles on up it.  As I curse my gears for not having more choices, she passes me, usually smiling, but not in a ha-ha, I just passed you kind of way; Stef’s just a generally happy person.  Well, she toodles up it when she’s not seven months pregnant like she currently is.  Now she has to work a little harder and I don’t see her pass me much anymore.  I’m sure that will go back to status quo in a few months.

Today, Blake warned me about a particular hill late in our ride.  Greeeeat, I thought.  When the hill showed up, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be.  Surprise, surprise.  Did I fly up said hill?  Come on!  It’s me.  That would be a big fat no!  Still, it was a lot easier than one of the hills earlier in the ride.  Perhaps though, as Blake and Curtis were quick to snicker and point out (Honestly, it’s like riding with two brothers sometimes!), it was because I was in the correct chain ring, unlike earlier in the ride when I wasn’t and only discovered it when I reached the top of the hill.  I'm claiming chemo brain for that one!

After our ride, I was feeling pretty good, in spite of the hills.  I felt like I could have run afterwards, but I didn’t have time.  I had to get home and shower so that we could head off on the next adventure of the day.  Thankfully, that one didn’t require a lock and load bra, or any bra for that matter, just a nice simple tank top, thank you very much.

You’re probably wondering if after my ride, I had trouble getting out of my lock and load ‘em bra.  Surprisingly, no, unhooking the VaVa sports bra is a cinch, but alas, I can’t do “the girl trick” that Joe loves so much.  Would I recommend the three-hook VaVa sport bra?  Not unless you’re better at hooking your bra than I am or you like a little wrestling workout before your normal one.  ;0)

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