Thursday, May 28, 2009

Splish Splash

There was a bit of rain on Tuesday...I think that about 1" was recorded which sounds like so little, but...

I had been sick over the weekend and didn't run for 3 days so by Tuesday, come hell or high water, we were going. Well, I got high water. When it is not also cold, it can be liberating to run in the drenching rain. You don't have to worry about leaping over puddles once you've already got water squishing between your toes. You don't worry about covering your head from the rain once you're already so wet that your fingers are shriveled up like raisins. Plus, it is good for mental toughness and for testing out socks.

It is important, however, to have the right equipment if you want to run in drenching rain. #1 = rain shield for the stroller. I can choose this for myself, but it would be unfair to soak the kids. At the end of the 50-minute run, I could wring myself out, but the boy's left leg was only slightly damp and the baby was dry. I would also recommend a hat to shield your eyes from the driving rain and lightweight shorts that don't absorb as much water as mine did.

Q&A Dreamer Design

Q: I need some stroller help! I just bought a new Dreamer Design Ditto Deluxe, 2007 model. It's the model with one-hand fold. Is anything on it likely to break? Anything I should know? I am worried since I can't get parts. If I need new wheels, can ANY bike store wheel work, or does it have to be a certain kind (no longer made)? Also, will this stroller turn? It's a fixed wheel, and I jog, but slowly. Actually I am walking now since baby #3 is due in 2 months.

A: I have the 2005 and 2006 Dreamer Design Ditto models, but not 2007 so I can't speak to the folding mechanism, specifically. I have a Kelty single stroller which has one-hand folding and the only problem I've had with that is that the handlebar padding getting a little torn and as it has aged, you have to make sure that it clicks into the locked position with the build-up of dirt, etc.

You probably will need to replace the tires every 1000-2000 miles, but your 16" stroller tires are just the same as a 16" children's bike, so they are easily found at a bicycle shop like Performance Bike or your local shop. Likewise, the innertubes (in case you get a flat) are easily found at a bike shop. With light-to-regular jogging on paved roads, I would not expect you to have a problem with the wheels or spokes themselves. I had to replace one of my wheels for becoming untrued (bent), but a bike mechanic can fix this if it is not too bad plus I take this stroller off-road and stuff so I'm sure that contributed to the problem. I did recently discover, however, that though they appear to be the same, the front tires from different brands are not necessarily interchangeable because of the quick release.

I have also replaced the brake cable and calipers (the parts that squeeze the wheel to make it stop) after about 2000 miles. They just got worn out and gunked up since I don't do a good job of cleaning off dirt, etc. after runs. When DD was in business, you could order the whole thing, but now you'll just have to get the parts at a bike shop. Just the same as a bicycle as well except that the cable is really long.

What IS likely to break on your Dreamer Design is the fabric. With each year, it seems like it becomes flimsier. Just check to make sure that all the nylon straps which support the seats are going around the frame so that the fabric is not supporting all the weight of the child.

This stroller turns GREAT! That is actually the #1 reason that I stuck with Dreamer Design despite the cons (such as going out of business). Because the back wheels are relatively far forward as compared to other strollers I've tried, it turns much easier than other fixed wheel strollers. You'll find it much easier to turn when you aren't pregnant anymore too. Though it can be annoying when you are walking, you would want to lock a swivel wheel into the fixed position for jogging anyway.

Two important cautions:
1. Also because of the back wheels being relatively forward, it is easy to tip over backwards if one of your kids stands up in his seat or if the stroller rolls backwards and hits a bump or even if you lean too hard on the handle while running uphill. Keep the kids buckled just in case.
2. You may experience this with 3 kids - the footrest looks like a really appealing seat for whichever kid doesn't get a real seat, but it will break the frame if you let the kid sit there because it is only welded together.

Good luck with #3...Third's a charm! I love having three.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How Running with a stroller is like doing a triathlon

This (belatedly) marks my return to "Multisport"!

On April 25/26, Roger and I did two duathlons as a relay team at the National Duathlon Championship in Richmond, VA. On Sat., he rode the mountain bike and I did the trail running segments. Then on Sun., he did the road runs and I biked. Other than being *&%#ing hot, it was great and we definitely held our own, though we did just miss placing on Sunday (we were 4th). I ran over some glass at the very end of the race, but luckily, the tire held air until it was all over. This is very very lucky since I did not realize until we were back home that I did not actually have all my tools and supplies for changing a tire.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to our friend Lily who traveled with us and watched the kids at the hotel while we raced. THAT is a good friend!

Running with kids in a stroller is, in many ways, like training for a triathlon. The running part should be obvious, but you are simultaneously worried about getting a flat. Pushing the stroller also requires significant arm strength.

I have also observed that triathletes tend to be an always-be-prepared sort of crowd. As an individual runner, it is easy to throw on some shorts and lace your shoes and that's about it. You can depend on water,etc. at a race. Just as a triathlon requires goggles, towels, water, helmet, bike,2 or more pairs of shoes, spare parts and tools, the list goes on and on... packing up for a jog with the kids in the stroller generally includes 2 or more water bottles, snacks, a towel and/or blankets, hats, first aid kit, keys, phone, tissues, and -oh yeah, right - the two kids!

Finally, at the very least, I'm just trying to keep my head above water both literally and figuratively. Today marks DAY 1 of 2009 triathlon training. Alas, this requires a babysitter since the local rec center won't let me tow the kids in a boat behind me as I swim (kidding). Anyway, 2000 m actually felt good. I'm not fast, but I held my own in the "Medium" lane. So, here we go!