Thursday, September 27, 2007

Traveling for the Health-Conscious Athlete

Well, folks, I head out for Tennessee manana. It's the crazy 24-hour countdown where you try to get as much as you can done without going to pieces before getting on the plane.

Since we spoke last, I've gotten in a great 6-mile run, a weight session and a swim session. Doing pretty well, eh? If I can only hop on the trainer tonight and then in the pool 1 last time for a 6:00 am workout before getting on the plane, I will be set up for a perfect week.

I thought I would use this opportunity to discuss traveling tips for the overworked, health-conscious athlete:

1. Plan ahead. You will be extra-busy and have less flexibility. Fill out your schedule to figure out how to get everything done the week before. Stick to it. Now is not the time to procrastinate. Don't forget details. Do you need a pet sitter? Schedule in advance. A cab to the airport? Reserve one the night before. Don't leave anything last minute.

2. Be realistic. Do not expect to complete your 2-year long "To Do" list. Delegate some items to after your return.

3. Reschedule workouts to fit them all in. My off day is normally Monday but since I'm traveling on Friday, I switched my off day to Friday this week.

4. Schedule workouts while you're away. Many hotels have gyms and some even have lap pools. Do a little research on-line before you go. If your hotel doesn't have a pool, look up local lap pools that charge a daily-use fee or drop-in masters programs. Swimmer's Guide is indispensable for this. Call ahead to confirm that what you find on-line is actually available in reality. In addition, you can run anywhere--all you need is a pair of running shoes. Research routes ahead of time or just use your watch and do a timed out-and-back from your hotel. USATF has a great resource for this. Traveling is a great opportunity to try new scenic runs and get to know the area your visiting from a different perspective. The only thing that is really hard to do when you're away is biking so plan ahead. You may be able to find a few spinning classes or access to some spinning bikes. Also, research the bike stores in the area. Some may provide rentals. And don't forget, you can always do crunches, push-ups, and stretching right in your hotel room!

5. Use travel time as down-time. Airports can be hectic and stressful. I like to use this time to relax. When else can I read trashy novels and smut magazines? I listen to music, tune out the hustle-bustle and enjoy the time I have to wait for the plane.

6. Walk and stretch before boarding. You will be sitting for a long time, which is really hard on your already sore body. Make sure your carry-on is light so you can walk around the terminal and stretch your legs. Find a quiet place and really stretch out your legs before you sit down. Do it again when you land. Your body will thank you later.

7. Drink LOTS of water.

8. Eat healthy. This can be challenging when eating out but be disciplined. Go for salads, sandwiches and smoothies. Always choose baked or grilled over fried. Less sauce means fewer calories. Try to eat as many veggies and fruits as you can. Along these same lines, don't eat anything weird. I have ruined more than a few trips with food poisoning.

9. Get lots of sleep. Traveling through many time zones can leave you feeling jet-lagged. Depending on the length of your stay, you can either a) change your schedule to the new time zone (not recommended but can't be helped if you are staying for a week or more) or b) stick to your home time zone (best for shorter stays). Try to avoid naps when you arrive and go to bed early instead. This will help the following morning.

10. Wash your hands. Don't forget to take your multi. You are being exposed to many new germs, and the change is a shock to your immune system. Avoid getting a cold by being OCD about hygiene.

With just a little planning and discipline, traveling can take a lot less out of you than it needs to. Happy Training!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Manic Busy

I finally feel recovered after my late night out in the Gaslamp. Phew! I'm going out of town for a wedding in Tenessee this weekend, and this is one of the final Build weeks before I begin to taper for Soma so the crunch is on. I may feel like I'm going crazy but I always do best under pressure so I'm getting an exorbitant amount of stuff done. Here's what I've done so far, mixed with what I'm planning to do:

Erin headed back to Davis in the am (sniff, sniff).
After work, squeezed in a 4 mile run
Just made it for my much-needed massage (after all that dancing!)
Went home and lifted weights (not very sensible after lifting weights but oh well).

swam in my masters swim class--is it just me, or is it getting harder to wake up in the morning?
Here's the workout (aptly named "Too Many 100s):
Made it just in time for lab meeting. Work's been crazy too!
Snuck out to go to B&L (my favorite bike store) for some adjustments to Torch--new bike seat and shortened handlebars
Quickie ride on the coast
Intended to go to Yoga but too wiped--went home and went to bed by 9:00 pm instead (I was toast!)

Rushed Oscar to the vet this morning to drop him off for surgery. His teeth are bothering him (again) and his abcess may be coming back. I hate leaving him!

I have to try and get as much done at lab before rushing back to pick up Oscar. Plus, I have to show the pet sitter how to give Oscar his meds.
Tonight--planning a 6-mile Rose Canyon run, followed by weights and 20-30 minutes of stretching.

Master's swim in the am
Work my ass off in lab
Get in a solid 20 mile tempo ride
Do a little grocery shopping for the buns, clean up the apt, and pack!

Cove swim 6 am, bright and early
Be home, showered and ready to go 7:30 am to the airport for our 9:00 am flight
Arrive in Bristol, TN 7:30 EST (yuck!)

The one little slice of heaven all week--a fantastic 10-mile run Sat am along the VA Creeper Trail in Abingdon.
5 pm wedding

6 am flight back to SD (at least I get back early)
1:30 pm 60 mile ride

Then, I can crash.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Amateur Tri Girl Rages in the Gaslamp

My sister departed for UC-Davis this morning, leaving me sapped of my inner life source. I just can't keep up with the 21-year olds anymore!

We shopped for club clothes (since I didn't own any) on Saturday, spending the day in PB (Pacific Beach). Afterwards, we spent some time on the beach. The water was chilly, the current was pulling north very strongly, and the waves were breaking very close together, making it difficult to dive under. I swam out, got pulled to the pier and had to walk back. My sister was laying out with a "should I be worried?" look on her face.

We went home, thinking we had plenty of time to get ready but 2 hours flew by. All glammed up, we went out to dinner, where we hooked up with a bunch of friends. We ate at Su Casa, this really neat Mexican joint in La Jolla where the margaritas are strong and they make the guacomole from scratch at your table. We had a great dinner, although none of us could finish our dinners. Could it be the enormous portion sizes or the excitement buzzing in the air? After a quick fix-up in the bathroom and comparing our slutty club tops (I wore dark skinny jeans, little black pumps, and a black glitter backless top that actually "buckled" on--in full costume), we all headed downtown.

Since I have absolutely 0 alcohol tolerance, I got a buzz almost instantly from about 1/3 of the maragarita. Woo hoo! Cheap date! Afterwards, we headed down to the Gaslamp, one of the San Diego hotspots for nightlife. My friend got us all into On Broadway for free (one of the big, upscale dance clubs in the Gaslamp). Sweet! Since we got there pretty early (about 9:30), we got a nice little tour of the club--it used to be a bank so it's an enormous venue--5 dance floors complete with different DJ's, bars, sushi bar and restaurant. The club started filling up around 10:30 pm, and pretty soon it was packed. The DJs started mixing their stuff, and when the go-go dancers came out on their little table-top stages aroudn 11:00, everything was going full swing. It was fun to stay the whole night and get different points of views.

My friends liked the 80s dance floor a lot. The Latin dance floor in The Vault with all the Regaton music was pretty cool, although I don't know how to dance all that well so I felt pretty sheepish doing my "bump 'n grind" in there. Personally, I enjoyed the 2 hip-hop floors the best. Reminds me of the good 'ole days in St. Louis. The main floor was the most packed (and entertaining with punker wannabes complete with the pink spiked mohawk), and the DJs there were great--lots of electronica and techno.

I nursed my 2 screwdrivers for the whole night, interspersed with lots of water. With all the pounding and strobe lights (anyone prone to seizures?), I preferred to maintain a nice, steady buzz the whole night and enjoy the dancing. I kept it pretty tame. Sorry to disappoint--my hardcore drunken animal days were used up in college (UW-Madison). My 21-year old sister, on the other hand, still in college (UC-Davis) took the opposite approach and got pretty hammered. However, all of us had a blast.

About half-an-hour before the club closed, we rounded everyone up and Jason, our trusty DD, drove everyone home. That's how we roll. By the time I actually turned out the lights, the clock read 3:30 am. Phew! Sunday morning, it was actually refreshing to sleep in with Jason and skip my early morning run. I can't remember the last time I did that! Hey! It's my recovery week, afterall. Plus, after all the dancing I did, that has to count for something! (Apparently, a 130 lb female burns about 270 calories/hour on ).

We woke up and went to breakfast around 9ish. Yes, sleeping in 'til 8:30 is sleeping in. Erin continued sleeping. We had tentatively planned on a trip to the Wild Animal Park but seeing as we were all a bit exhausted (and some of us, ahem, a bit hung over), we decided to take it easy instead. Napping on Sunday afternoon while Jason and Erin watched football turned out to be a much better option. She was like, "I raged too hard last night."

That evening, we grilled hamburgers by the apartment pool and took a post-dinner soak in the hot tub. Nice. I can't believe how sore my ass is from dancing! I feel like I did 100 squats. Oh, wait. I guess I did.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fall in San Diego

Feeling better...2 days of bed rest, lots of tea and Zicam seem to have done the trick. I'm now in the "draining" phase. Went for a little run and did weights last night. Had a terrific masters swim this morning (swam 2950 meters!). Looks like I'll be able to salvage the week. Plus, my sis is here, and I'm ready take her out and paint the town red!

Fall is officially here in San Diego. No, we may not get the beautiful fall leaves like the rest of the country but, since I grew up in NorCal, I'm used to the lack of seasons so I don't mind. Who can complain about extra sunshine? However, I can tell it's fall:
1. It's getting dark earlier.
2. The heat and humidity have broken. (Yipee! This is why I was feeling so sick about a month ago--not recovering well from the heat.)
3. The water temp in the ocean has dropped from a steamy 73 to a chilling 63 with 58-degree cold spots--omens of winter.
4. The weather reports keep predicting rain, which we never see--but the fact that there COULD be--that's the point.
5. Football season has started.
6. Season premieres are beginning.
7. The kids are back in school.
8. The tourists have left, and the beaches are empty again (yea!).
9. The leopard sharks are breeding.
10. The honeybees are dying.

Feels like fall to me. I don't need anything more.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sick Again?!

I don't know how this always happens to me but I'm sick again. Woke up Tuesday morning with a sore throat and have been in bed, sleeping ever since (except to wake up to drink fluids and take Zicam). I had been feeling great! WTF?


Maybe it was the 60 mile bike ride on Saturday. Or the 12 mile run on Sunday? How about the 1 mile ocean swim in 63-degree water (with 58-degree cold spots) sans wetsuit (yes, last bikini swim of the season--too cold!)? The guy who sneezed in my hair at the BBQ on Saturday? BINGO! Argh! I realize it was an accident but didn't he know I'm borderline overtrained and therefore immunosuppressed and can't fight off his virus-laden boogers? I'm feeling murderous!

All I know--I felt great this weekend. Went to Yoga class Sunday evening--went home and slept like a baby. Felt okay Monday too--even had a massage. Aren't I pampered? After that, I started feeling not so great. Woke up Tuesday--BAM!

I'm hoping--okay, even praying--that one more day of bed rest is all I need. I will wake up tomorrow feeling right as rain. My little sister is coming for her annual visit tomorrow! First time I've seen her since she turned 21. And we have a big dance party night planned Saturday night! Ya' know, important stuff!

Thank God it's a recovery week, at least...

Monday, September 17, 2007

2 Left Shoes...what to do?

I have a ton to talk about from the weekend but to avoid an epic-long post (yes, even longer than usual), I am breaking it up so you guys don't have to suffer as much.

Friday, Jason met me for a run. Yes, you heard me right. He's been feeling much better and recovering well. This is the 2nd run he's joined me on. It was low tide, and I work 1/4 of a mile from the Glider Port (hangliders), which has a really neat trail down the cliff (we call it the "Goat Trail" b/c you basically have to be a mountain goat to get down and up) and onto Black's Beach.

Black's is known for being a nudist beach in San Diego. It's secluded and obscured from view by many eroding cliffs. It's difficult to access so it's very private, making it perfect for, well, nudity. It's not as exciting as you think. Mostly, a bunch of out-of-shape men going through a mid-life crisis hang out there sans clothing. I'm always amazed at how much they do w/o clothes--volleyball, running, hiking, surfing, etc. However, I love running there because it's a great beach, and it's always pretty deserted (the nudists help with that too--I think).

I was pretty excited about our run. A nice Friday evening sunset beach run with Jason. What could be better? As I changed in the bathroom, I noticed my shoes felt really weird. Like I was putting them on the wrong feet. But even when I switched, they still felt like that. I took a closer look. Turns out, I had pulled 2 left shoes from my closet. That certainly wasn't going to work. What do do, what to do. Relentlessly, I refused to give up. It's a beach run, right? I decided to go Black's Beach style. Well, feet-wise at least. I went with naked feet--barefoot that is.

Traversing the goat trail was difficult but once I reached the sand, it felt great. I ran where the water skimmed the sand. It was firm yet soft. When a wave lazily lolled around my feet, I practiced high knees, splashing through the water. It was fabulous fun. Plus, I felt so free and light. I feel like I run so fast without shoes! Since I've been running barefoot more and more on the beach for short runs, it's been hurting my calves less and less. I can't wait to do it again!

Afterwards, we slowly climbed the goat trail, pausing at the top to watch the sun sink into the sea. A beautiful finish.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Brilliant Torrey Pines Run

Had a crap swim this morning. Must be b/c of my stellar swim on Tuesday. I think I'm just too sore from weights. I've definitely been spending too much time playing and not enough working! Very excited about the upcoming weekend. Lots of fun biking, running, and swimming planned. Next week is a recovery week! Yipee!

I lifted weights yesterday morning even though I was sore from surfing (and have a nice purple bruise on my hip to show for it--goody). It felt so good to just do weights without anything else. I'm super sore this morning! How do people do it? Lift while training? I hate lacking the core, gluteal, and upper body strength I get from weight training but I feel like I can't recover. Any secrets? Anyway, I will only manage to get 1 weight session in this week. I was going to lift again this evening but I'm sore from yesterday and need to rest up for my mega-weekend.

Yesterday afternoon, I snuck in a 5-mile run. I hit Torrey Pines and ran my favorite 1-mile loop trail. I felt good the second my feet hit the road. Ever have runs like this? My feet felt like springs. All my worries lifted away. My mind was clear of thoughts, and it was like being rocked to sleep by the rhythm of my feet. Total meditation while running.

I got excited when I hit the trail at the 2-mile mark because it offers specatacular views of the ocean. I gasped when I saw the water. Yes, it still amazes me and fills me with awe. The sun was hitting it, causing yellow and gold flickers of light to dance and sparkle on top of the blazing blue water. The tide was extremely low, and the froth from the waves lazily churned far from the beach as if someone were sucking the water away with a straw. I stoped and gaped for a brief moment. I was filled with excitement. "I can't believe I get to live here!" I thought. I think it's great I still think that. Sorrowful is the day that I take this place for granted.

I started the uphill trek back towards lab. Surprisingly, I was able to find a rhythm up the steep grade and maintain for the short stint up. Recovering at the top, I found my cruise control and easily turned my brain off again.

A half mile down the path, I heard footsteps. A minute later, a guy in an orange shirt passed me. No! Why do I get so competitive. I picked up the pace. A loud voice in my head yelled, "Let him go!" Controlling myself, I settled back down to my cruise pace.

Another quarter mile up the road, I realized I was gaining on him. He had slowed down. I had a chance. I began accelerating. I couldn't stop myself. It felt so good. We passed people at a bus stop as they gazed curiously at us--orange shirt guy blissfully unaware and me striding closely behind with my serious, intense, "it's on" face. The prey was in my sight, and I was a lionness, moving in for the kill. Seconds later, I passed him and finished out the final 100 meters with a good sprint, turning back down the street to lab, dripping with sweat. A minute later, he passed by my office. Turns out--orange-shirt runner guy works next door to me! How embarrassing! He probably thinks I'm some crazy girl! I feel kind of guilty for letting my competitive side come through but on the other hand, I had a great run, and it felt wonderful.

Aftewards, I went to our club meeting and saw Normann Stadler speak. Pretty cool. Looking forward to a nice, relaxing beach run tonight at low tide. Except for the yucky naked guys on Black's Beach--not so much.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tri Girl goes Surfing--Amateur Style

My friend left the country and was selling his barely used, 7'4" surfboard for $100. I live in San Diego and love the ocean. The purchase was a no-brainer.

I have no idea when I'm going to learn to surf. I bought the board and set it on the balcony for my "off-season cross-training" sport. Whenver that is. I have been so sore and tired lately, I couldn't even think about another sport. Afterall, poor Rocky (mountain bike) has been neglected in the 2nd bathroom for months.

A friend from work informed me Monday that we were going surfing on Wednesday. I weakly protested. I don't know how. I need lessons. I'm too busy. I'm too tired. But he asked, "You just got this new surfboard. Aren't you itching to get out there and try it? Or are you just going to let it sit on your balcony all winter?" He had a point. Deep down, I felt the itch. And I agreed. This was all happening way too fast for me! I needed time for this new relationship (with the surfboard) to develop! Can't we just slow down a little?

Wednesday afternoon, he points out I need a rashguard to prevent chafing. WTF? This is becoming complicated! We headed down to La Jolla Shores, and I stopped at a surf shop to pick one up. The guy at the store pointed out that the water temp was dropping fast, and they had a sale on wetsuits. Sigh. He had a point. I tried some on. The one that fit was $100. Again, a no-brainer. By the time I parked, I had a rashguard, a surfboard and a surfing wetsuit--and I hadn't even gotten in the water!

Having been warned about the precipitously dropping water temps, I dipped a toe in, expecting to run for my wetsuit. Surprisingly, it wasn't bad. We took our boards out and stayed in the baby waves. Luckily, my friend is a lousy surfer so I didn't feel totally intimidated.

It was an extreme low tide, the water was rough, and the waves were not breaking well. I had a really hard time getting the board over the waves, I couldn't stand up worth a damn, I swallowed a ton of water, and I wiped out a bunch of times. It didn't matter. It was wicked fun! What can I say? I'm a California girl. You can't keep me out of the ocean. I take a lickin', and I come back for more. I can't wait to go and try it again!

As we were heading back, we both noticed that we were stepping on slimy, squishy, moving things with every step. I religiously starting practicing the stingray shuffle but it didn't seem to help. Well, I kept stepping on squishy things anyhow. Everytime I did, I let out a squeal and tried to climb on my board. I really hate stepping on things I can't see! I figured they were some sort of fish. If they had been sting rays, I would have been stung by now, right? Afterall, I had stepped on 20 of them! My friend yelled, "Ouch. One bit me!" Seconds later, we realized it was a sting ray that had stung him, and all the squishy, slimy things were sting rays. The beach was covered with them. And they were frisky. Jason later called me the "sting ray whisperer" since I stepped on so many and didn't get stung. They're not aggressive. I think if you glance the side of them or shuffle into them, they just swim off (hence, the sting ray shuffle does work). However, if you step directly on one and pin it, Bam!

My friend hobbled over to the lifeguard station where 8 other victims were all sitting with their feet in buckets of scalding hot water, exchanging horror stories. It was actually pretty entertaining for me. Not so much for my friend. Luckily, he didn't get hit that badly since he's walking limp-free today. He's going to live.

Afterwards, I gorged myself with food and went to bed. Must have been the cold water but I couldn't believe how starving and exhausted I was. I slept like a baby. I have many strange bruises today from where I wiped out, I guess. Plus, I'm totally trashed! It was hard doing weights this morning. I can't believe how sore my biceps, chest and triceps are. Surfing is a really good workout! Can't wait to take the board out again. Now he/she just needs a name. Girl or boy? Suggestions?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A flip was switched.

Week 3 of Base 2 (confusing, eh?) is underway, and I feel good. I took Monday off and had a massage so good, I nearly fell asleep. I felt very disoriented afterwards and had to go to the grocery hair with my face all red and puffy and hair tousled. Hmmm. Need a cigarette?

I slept like a log on Monday night and was able to get up for my swim class on Tuesday. I hate when I sleep in and miss! I felt like crap and told Sickie the swim coach just that. 20 minutes in, something clicked. A flip was switched. I mean, a switch was flipped. Damn spoonerisms! Keep happening to me lately. Must be fatigue.

I'm not sure what happened but I may have changed my body position slightly. I think I moved my head up a little (I normally keep it too low so we've been working on bringing my head up and my legs down a little--backwards, huh?), and it was like, "Engage!" All of a sudden my core could bridge the power from my upper body to my lower body, and I was gliding through the water. I felt like I had moved higher in the water and was skimming the surface, almost as if I had been on a paddle board. I could use more of my back and lat muscles rather than just my arms, recruiting larger muscle groups. Everything was connected. I had been sore and groggy at the start, and I suddenly felt fresh and my soreness was completely gone. It felt fantastic. Plus, once I reached the "zone", I was able to maintain that feel of the water the entire time! I love this new feeling! Makes me want to swim more. 2600 meters--effortless. Sickie noticed my change in mood and stroke and asked me if I had some speical "juice" in my water bottle. Ha! I felt great the rest of the day. Amazing how a good swim in the morning sets the mood for the rest of the day.

Here's the workout I did:

Tuesday afternoon, I slipped into my bike clothes and grabbed Bluebell from the truck. The sun is setting earlier now, making these afternoon rides more of a "tempo" run to try and beat the sunset. I headed north on the coast from Torrey Pines.

I had planned on doing a recovery ride since I didn't feel so hot. However, about 10 minutes in, I felt a surge. I've been feeling a new sensation at the bottom of my pedal stroke recently--I think it's called--power? Anyway, it feels damn good. I got into the drops and focused on this new push I can get at the bottom of the stroke. I've always heard about trying to get that feeling like you're scraping mud off your shoes but it's one thing to hear it and quite another to suddenly feel it and integrate that feeling internally.

I could see the sun lowering in the horizon, bit by bit, like the sand emptying out of an hourglass. Surfers dotted the coastline, waiting for the perfect wave, like dozens of little seals, bobbing up and down. I turned around at Swami's at the 10-mile mark. I was elated that I would be able to get in an even 20. I had gone further than I planned but it felt good.

An old bat honked at me and almost clipped me as I soft-pedaled south in the bike line. WTF? I remained calm and ignored her. What is with drivers lately? Such malice! On our weekend rides, we've been heckled and yelled at and even had objects thrown at us. Last weekend, 2 vehicles at independent times threw objects at riders in our group while we passively struggled and toiled up the Scripps Poway Parkway grade. If they had hit one of us, it would most certainly have caused a nasty spill. This is beyond road rage. This is assault. I wish we had gotten the license plates but we were trying to avoid being hit instead. Anyway, be careful out there, guys, and ride defensively.

I coasted into the Torrey Pines Park 5 minutes before the gate closed. Yes! I love biking up the inside. It's steeper but there's no traffic and the views of the ocean are spectacular. Using Bluebell's new 27, I zipped up the grade. Another cyclist going down the grade almost collided with me as we were both enchanted by the setting sun and not paying attention to where we were going. We avoided a crash at the last moment and exchanged knowing smiles. At the top, I stopped by a woman watching the sunset. I had reached the top just in time. We both watched it sink into the horizon. It was spectacular and marked the end of a perfect ride.

Side Note on My Bike Drama:
Bluebell has recently forgiven me for bringing Torch into our relationship. At first, she kept getting flats and even jinxed Torch, slashing his tire on a ride. That was the low point. Soon after that, I upgraded her rear casette to a 27 and officially made her my "climbing" bike. I think that improved her mood a bit because she realized she had a purpose and could do something better than Torch. So we've patched things up. Anyway, I still love riding her! She fits me so well, and I've noticed I'm a little more upright than on the TT bike so it can be a little more comfy.

Random Note:
I can't believe it but I am out of CarboPro! When I bought that tub of powder, I thought I would have it forever. Apparently, it takes 6 months to consume it. Thought I'd share.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Weekend Update--Amazing Recovery

After my last very depressing post, I am happy to report that I am feeling much better. I had a rockin' weekend so I seem to have worked out of my rut. I took an extra off day on Friday and was able to literally soar through the weekend. Here's my weekend update:

60 mile training ride with hills--
Rachel Ride #4

This was the 4th ride I've hosted, and it was a blast. I prepared the map and route slip, which ended up being more complicated than I wanted with lots of turns to find the most scenic route. I was actually very nervous--had a hard time sleeping the night before--worried about bonking on my own ride or getting us lost or everyone having a miserable time and blaming me. I studied the map over and over again until I had it memorized.

We started from my apartment. Nice. All I had to do to show up was roll out of bed. One of the many perks of being ride director. A fantastic group of 15 riders showed up--all abilities--but all out for a good ride with good company. Sweeet. We headed out through Sorrento Valley, Rancho Penasquitos and then twisted around Lake Miramar and Scripps Ranch. Rolling hills, morning cloud cover, not too hot, not too cold. Just right. I really had to break out the leadership skills since no one was familiar with the ride, and the group was reluctant to break out the maps I had provided. My memorization skills were put to the test (I admit, I didn't really know where we were going either).

At mile 18, we began climbing up the grade at Scripps Poway Parkway. And climbing. And climbing. The rollers we had dealt with before seemed insignificant. Some of the stronger riders in our group new to the route saw the "mountain" in the distance, and their faces widened. "We're climbing that? Nice!"

Another rider asked, "Did you plan this climb?" I had, actually, but it had snuck up on me. I somehow had thought it was coming later and was devastated thinking this was an extra climb. As I was going up, I couldn't think straight. I didn't know what was going on. So my feeble reply was, "I don't know." What was worse--I didn't seem to remember the hill even though I had climbed it before so it took me by surprise and left me unprepared mentally. I began to get a little unraveled, thinking--"what if it gets even worse after this, and I can't do it?" I started just focusing on the climb I was doing at the moment instead of worrying what was up ahead. I just tried to focus on pedaling at my 6 mph pace in my lowest gear with sweat dripping off my face, my lungs and legs burning. Good suffering. I passed another suffering cyclist on the way up, and he said, "I'm a surfer, not a cyclist." My sardonic reply was, "Oh, yeah. This is much better than being out in the ocean, enjoying the cool waves." He laughed.

Finally, I recognized where I was and felt relief--at the top of the climb (mile 25)--after 1600 feet. I soared down the hill, ecstatic that I had made it, and we regrouped at the bottom. One rider said, "Now I know what the "M." in front of your name stands for--Masochistic!" That's right, folks--it's Masochistic Rachel to you.

After a short stint on Hwy 67, we turned west to go down the steep grade on Poway Rd. It was a bit dangerous since it was so windy and had no shoulder but it felt SO good to go downhill. I zipped and spiraled downwards, riding my rear brakes to slow to 38 mph. Tight. Torch's rear brakes had been squealing (apparently, the back was hitting the rim first so my options were a) wear them in or b) adjust them). At the bottom of Poway, I realized my brakes no longer squeaked. Problem solved!

As we weaved our way through Poway on Espola Rd and then Twin Peaks Rd, we had some very interesting conversations. That's the great thing about long group bike rides. You're out there for a Looong time. You have to keep yourself entertained. The subject of Normann Stadler came up. What a spectacular athlete he is, how he's in San Diego, how he's coming to all the (tri club) functions lately (he's the guest speaker at our club meeting this week!), how he won't swim in the ocean because he's afraid, etc., etc. I mentioned that I hadn't realized how cute he was until I had seen him at the Club Aquathlon but that I didn't care for his personality too much. I further mentioned that some duct tape and a pair of handcuffs might take care of that problem. Oops. I may have gone a little far on that one. Later, someone mentioned how you can use Vaseline on wetsuit-illegal cold swims as an extra layer for warmth (another fantastic use for Vaseline--there are so many). Someone else mentioned that the Vaseline might be a nice addition to the handcuffs and duct tape kit. It was a very fun ride.

After a brief rest stop at mile 33.5 (yes, 0.5), we headed out again, and I started to feel really good. A nice breeze was keeping me cool, and I had refilled my bottles and eaten 1/4 of a Twix. I am loving the Twix at the halfway points! Sometimes, it's hard to get the calories down and comfort food just hits the spot. I'm going to get a jersey that reads, "Powered by Twix" on the back.

At mile 40, one rider got a flat. The group stopped and we all assisted. By this point, we had decided to stay together as a group, which was really cool. Another rider got a flat at the same time. Both riders were riding the same exact bike. Weird!!! After we got going again, I felt sluggish and stiff. I had cooled off, and my body thought we were done. It took about 20 minutes to find a good rhythm again.

After we turned on the 56 bike path, my confidence was soaring. I knew where we were, I knew where the hills and turns were, and I hadn't lost anyone or gotten anyone lost. Bonus! Mile 47--a 3rd rider got a flat. WTF? Some rides are just like that. He told us to go on without him but I didn't want to leave him alone. I wouldn't have wanted to be left alone. I told everyone else how to get back and told them to ride ahead (the ride was beginning to take an eternity). The rest of the group refused, and we all stuck together. The camaraderie was just amazing.

We hit the coast (mile 50) and the sight of the Pacific was a sweet reward. The water was a brilliant turquoise blue and a cool ocean breeze revived me. We merged with other riders doing a century ride from Riverside as they struggled up the Torrey Pines hill. All of a sudden, mile 55, I felt a surge. This was my hill. My territory. I ride this hill on every ride, and I know it like the back of my hand. I normally just cruise up at 6-8 mph. Today was different. Even though it had been the longest ride ever, and I was tired, I could sense I was close to home. It was the horse smelling the hay back in the stable. I took off. The lead riders in our group were taken by surprise and stayed with me, encouraging me, "You are really moving!" It felt so good. We maintained a 10-11 mph speed, zipping by about 50 tired century riders the whole 1-1.5 miles up Torrey Pines. At the crest, I let out a huge sigh of relief. 3 miles from home--all downhill. I sat back and cruised.

Lesson Learned:
Several of us went for a late brunch afterwards--tired, exhausted, sore, hungry, and completely satisfied. Organizing group rides may take some work and be somewhat stressful at times, but the rewards are well worth it. There is nothing like good company and conversation when you're out there on the roads with a celebratory meal afterwards. It is awesome making new friends and meeting new training partners.

Sunday 9/9 (10 mile training run and La Jolla Rough Water Swim):

Still extremely tired from the epic Saturday ride, I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 am. I didn't want to run. No way. However, my running group had specifically planned the run to start and end at La Jolla Cove so that I would be able to do the 1 mile Rough Water Swim afterwards. I couldn't just bail. Neither could I skip the swim if that was the reason why we were starting from there. Mentally, I told myself to just show up. If I wanted to walk or cut the run short, I could.

Arriving at the cove at 7:00 am, I got rock star parking on Prospect. We headed south through Wind and Sea and Bird Rock, winding through the gorgeous neighborhoods by the coast. It was a new run for all of us, and I had mapped it out beforehand. I was the run host for the week. Boy! All the pressure! We reached the boardwalk at PB and ran to the Crystal Pier at the 5-mile point. Then, we turned around and headed back. I actually felt better on the way back than the way out. I surged from mile 5-7, mistakenly thinking I could hold a sub-9 min pace for 5 miles. I simply didn't have it in the tank. After mile 7, I returned to my slow base pace and finished the run. It was a good, solid effort. I had finished and still felt good.

Some of my running buddies stayed with me for a quick breakfast at a cafe up the street. I checked in at the Cove and the adrenaline began to surge. I was just doing the mile swim for a fun workout. With absolutely no taper, I had no expectations. However, I had never done a swim event before, and I am a slow swimmer. I had looked at the times from the previous year and knew I would be coming in at the very bottom of the pack. "That's okay,"
I told myself. "It will be a good experience."

Despite trying to talk myself down, I was extremely nervous. I couldn't eat anything, and I had to run to the bathroom several times. "What am I so nervous about?" I knew there was no rational reason. I swim the cove all the time. I know it well. It was just all the race energy--the people, the loudspeakers, the hustle and bustle--it was rubbing off on me and getting me all worked up. As I stood in line to register in my sweaty running clothes, I could feel everyone else's eyes burning holes in the back of my head. I felt completely out of place.

Finding a quiet spot on the lawn, I stretched and practiced deep breathing exercises. A large group from the tri club showed up and set up a tent. I hung out with them but it only seemed to increase my nervousness. Most of them were doing the 3 mile Gatorman swim after my wave went for the 1 mile Rough Water Swim. I felt small and insignificant. What was I even doing here? I felt out of place. "I don't belong here," I told myself. I was introduced to another woman doing the Rough Water Swim and was immediately intimidated. She swims an 18-minute mile and is currently training for the English Channel Open water swim (a 22 mile swim in 50 degree water--no wetsuits allowed). Sheepishly, I told her my mile time would be about 40 minutes. Unfazed, she tried valiantly to talk me up. She treated me like a little sister and gave me a ton of pointers.

We previewed the course, and I began to freak out. There were only 2 buoys. I was expecting buoys every 50 meters like I'm used to for triathlons. I had examined the course on-line. We swam northeast towards the Shores, turned west for 450 meters, and then back to the mouth of the cove in a large triangle. However, staring at the first buoy, waaaay off in the distance, I got a little unhinged. First of all, it was beyond the 1/2 mile buoy that I normally swim for the turn-around, meaning that if we were to swim another 450 meters west, that would be over 1 mile. I was not mentally prepared. My impromptu big sister/swim coach agreed that it was more like 2000 meters. Of course, she was happy with the distance; I was unable to share her joy. She was also hoping for a lot of chop; I was definitely NOT. Plus, the water temp had dropped and was hovering around 69 degrees. No wetsuits allowed! She told me to expect a current pulling me towards the Shores on the way out, to expect significant chop after turning west, and then if I hit the 2nd buoy wide, I could find a current to pull me in, if I angled just right. I was skeptical since I had always fought the current coming in but she told me it was because I was swimming too far to the inside (east). "I'll be lucky if I can just finish the damn thing, let alone have a strategy," I thought to myself.

Okay. Well, 2000 meters is perfect training for a half-ironman, I told myself. I can swim that, no problem. I'm just worried because it was not what I expected. I had a different picture in my head. Once I realized this, I swallowed, took a deep breath and resolved to do the course with the 2 buoys the 1+ mile, chop, cold water, no wetsuit, seaweed and all.

We lined up on the beach to start. I seeded myself towards the back. All of a sudden, I relaxed. I was ready. In familiar territory. It was just like the start of a triathlon. The gun went off and everyone ran into the water. I found a mellow place in the back and settled into my stroke. With so many other people in the water, I felt very comfortable in the draft for the first 600 meters or so. After that, I got pulled too far east by the current and found myself swimming alone. Damn! I kept having to angle myself west. Finally, I reached the first buoy at 800 meters and turned 90 degrees west. A freezing cold patch of water (about 58 degrees) hit me, and I gasped, pulling my head out of the water. "Just a cold spot," I thought. I fought my way through. Just like Heather had foreseen, there was significant swells and chops. I felt like I was swimming uphill. I was bobbing up and down a lot. Every time I would drop, my stomach would lurch. I swallowed a bit of salt water, and my stomach complained. Luckily, I had taken a pre-emptive Pepcid to buffer my stomach beforehand. I focused on the tree line to my east, and my stomach steadied.

I continued fighting my way through. I was still too far to the outside. I could see the waves behind my zipping ahead of me on the inside line. I was alone. The negative thoughts began to build. "What am I doing here? I don't belong. I suck at this. I am so slow. I'm such a loser. I should just quit now. Give up. I should quit triathlon altogether." I don't know if it was the extreme absurdity of the statements or the fact that giving up altogether would mean drowning but all of a sudden, a much louder, stronger voice in my head took over, "What are you doing? Now is not the time. We can deal with this later. Now! Swim!" Because I hadn't argued with the negative thoughts but told myself I could think about them later, it was like a switch had been flipped. I had completely disarmed the negativity. I began counting strokes and focusing on my form. I began to just swim. And I found my rhythm.

Finally, I hit the 2nd buoy and turned 90 degrees again, heading south towards the mouth of the cove. Final stretch. Because I had accidentally swam the entire distance wide, I had positioned myself perfectly, like Heather had advised. Normally, being out so far west by myself with everyone else in the race so far down to my east would have been really unnerving. Luckily, she had prepared me. I knew they would be fighting the current I normally fight. Let's see. If I angle myself slightly southeast like this...Bingo! I found the current! Suddenly I was being pulled forward. I was gliding through the water. I felt slippery. It was effortless. I had a rhythm, and I was moving. Not only that, but I could see that I was making up time and gaining on the other swimmers fighting the current.

Elated, I hit the beach and ran across the timing mat. 39:13. 1 minute off my mile swim, and considering I had swam even farther, this was quite good for me. I was satisfied. Spent the rest of the day eating, drinking and relaxing on the grass by the cove, enjoying the beautiful weather.

Hope everyone had a brilliant weekend. Time for my massage.

Friday, September 07, 2007

For want of a shoe...

You've heard this one, right?

"For want of a nail a shoe was lost / For want of a shoe a horse was lost / For want of a horse a rider was lost / For want of a rider a battle was lost / For want of a battle a kingdom was lost / ... and all for the want of a horseshoe nail."

That's how today has gone. I woke up late this morning and missed (yet another) swim class. For want of a shoe...the battle was lost. For want of a swim...the day was lost. Upon waking and realizing what had occurred, I decided the whole day was ruined.

Ever have one of these? Do you ever wake up and just feel emotionally depressed for no good reason? You hate your life, yourself, the world. No? Never? Okay, me neither.

What makes it worse is that you know you're bad mood is completely unwarranted, making you even more helpless to alter it. All efforts are futile. The only thing helping me through it is knowing it's just one of those days and like all other things, this too will come to pass.

Poor Jason. I didn't want to go to work; I didn't want to stay home. After draining myself of tears, he finally coaxed me out of bed. I proceeded to change litterboxes and vacuum, which made me feel better. Cleaning always does. So does Taz (aka Tazzer schmazzer mookie bear). Sensing my foul mood, he was extra cuddly this morning, bless his little soul.

(Cute 'n cuddly Taz. One of the few things in this world that can always cheer me up.)

This whole week has been a wash. It was supposed to be week 2, Base 2 of training. The whole week, I felt sick--sore throat, headache, stomach ache, fatigue. I kept hearing the drill sargeant in my head yelling, "This is NOT a recovery week! Let's GO!" But I just couldn't. I had nothing in the tank.

Monday was an intended recovery day but 4 hours of swallowing salt water in the ocean really did me in. I took Tuesday off, exhausted. Wednesday, I took the morning off and began to feel panicky. In a rush to "catch up", I did a brick that evening and after a bike (hill repeats) and 4 mile run, gave up trying to do weights because I had exhausted myself again. Thursday morning I slept in again. It seems my sleep requirements this week have jumped from 8-9 to 10-11. WTF? Thursday evening, I had a very nice 6 mile recovery run with a friend, which made me feel much better but I was still beating myself up over missed workouts (I know, I know. Spilt milk). However, when I got home, the sore throat and headache had returned.

This morning, I was supposed to attend my masters swim workout in the am. This was going to fix everything. Make the whole week okay. Passable. So when I slept in again, I woke up feeling that the whole day, whole week, was ruined and that I was a failure. I realize these thoughts are irrational. But it's a constant internal battle within myself.

I've read enough triathlon articles and books to know that I shouldn't be a slave to my training plan. I know I've been putting lots of solid time in and have plenty of time left before my taper. So I should know I can relax and pull back and pace myself a little, right? You'd think. What I know and what I feel are at odds with each other. Miss Know is trying to reason with Miss Feel. It's taking awhile.

I've resolved to take today off (from workouts). I know I'm overtrained and need rest. In addition, I have a mega-killer-annihilation weekend tomorrow and Sunday. I need all the rest I can get. I'm going to try and enjoy my day off guilt-free and try to recharge. I'm looking forward to my massage this evening. I'm just going to try and move forward.

Just to recap, let's look at some of the symptoms of overtraining (again):

1. Persistant fatigue (check, check.)
2. Susceptibility to infection (hmmm. sore throat, stomach ache. check.)
3. Persistant muscle soreness (you mean, my muscles aren't supposed to always be sore? check.)
4. Insomnia (check.)
5. Irritability and moodiness (triple check.)
6. Depression (check.)
7. Lack of motivation (half a check.)
8. Increased susceptibility to injury (not yet, thankfully.)
9. Decreased appetite (check, check.)
10. Decreased sexual performance (okay, let's not go there. Let's keep this PG-13, folks).
11. Headaches (triple check.)
12. Elevated resting pulse and/or inability to raise pulse during workouts (sometimes--half a check.)

Well, sounds like we have a diagnosis.

Here are some links about overtraining for all those other Type A triathletes out there:

Thursday, September 06, 2007

War Wounds

The Aftermath:

Luckily, Thomas had his camera handy to assess the damage.

My boo boo after falling on the run. Still raw.

My knee 48 hours later (Monday) with a very pretty bruise.

Remember the blood blister from the Aquathlon last week? It really ripened over the weekend.

Thanks for the pics, Thomas!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

What a weekend. Had an epic ride and brick run on Saturday and really tough long run on Sunday.

Long Ride:
Saturday, we met for the new "Rachel Ride" in Del Mar for 50 miles up the coast into Camp Pendleton and back. I was worried there wouldn't be a big turnout. Only a handful of people had e-mailed me, and there were a gazillion other rides taking place at the same time. I was ecstatic when I rode down the hill to meet about 15 other riders at 7:20! This has been a great way to meet new training partners. In addition, it has been fun to train with good friends, such as Thomas. One guy asked me how long I'd been riding with this group as we rolled out. It was cute. Some people have told me they come to my ride because of the low key, laid back atmosphere, which is exactly why I started it in the first place. This has been a very rewarding experience so far. Team name and jerseys next? Who knows? Candidates? Maybe--the Tortoise Riders ("we get it done") with a shell pattern on the jersey. The Bonks? Donut riders--we ride for food. Okay, okay, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Anyway, I'm glad the ride is being well received.

We rolled out, and I hung back, taking it easy. It was hot, damn-hot. I know, I know, it's SoCal, and I'm complaining about 85 degree weather with a little humidity. Wah-wah. What can I say? Living here has made me weak. Sigh. Anyway, I felt good. For the first time, I could hang with the group. The pace was definitely aerobic for me. I think it was partly because a) the ride was flat, b) I had brought Torch, and c) I had rested appropriately for the ride.

We headed into the base, and they scrutinized our id's before letting us enter. Experienced riders in our group warned us to follow all the rules of the road and ride single file so as not to get stopped by an MP. Secretly, I wanted to get stopped by a Marine (and maybe punished?). Okay, admittedly, maybe not so secretly because I told the whole group this fantasy. At the turn-around, we stopped at a market (with air-conditioning--aaaaaah), and I used the toilet and ate half a Twix bar, much to the shock of the rest of the group. Hee hee. The heat had been bothering my appetite a little, and I wasn't getting down the calories I wanted. Hence, the quick calories in the form of a Twix at the rest stop. And you know what? It did the trick.

Out of the base, the cool breeze from the coast revived me. Traffic had picked up considerably as tourists fought their way in droves to the beach. Riding south alongside the Oceanside boardwalk, a police SUV warned us through his speaker to "Ride single file. Single file." Yes, sir! (Was the cop going to get out and punish me? Ack! Okay, I'll stop. What is wrong with me?). One of our riders out front didn't see the cop and rolled right through a stop sign. He promptly got pulled over. Luckily, the cop just gave him a warning. A bunch of drivers yelled at us, vindicated, as they drove past our group and the cop, "Yeah! Cyclists! Get 'em!" What pricks. As we rolled through Carlsbad and more of the coastal communities, we continuously had to be on guard for crazy drivers, parked cars with carelessly opening doors, lazy pedestrians, and all sorts of other harrowing mishaps and close calls. The traffic this weekend has been unbelievable. Yes, the volume is up but the drivers are impatient and nasty! What is up? I can't wait until after this weekend when the tourists will leave San Diego to the residents until next year.

Calories consumed:
2 water bottles with 2 scoops Carbo Pro each (400 calories)
drank 1.5 bottles so 350 cals, actually
3 Cliff Blocks (180 calories)
1/2 Twix Bar (142 calories)
Total: 672
Total Mileage:
50 mile ride + 2 mile run (~3.5 hr ride +20 min ride so ~4 hrs total exercise)
They recommend about 150-200 calories an hour so I actually did this!!!
Total calories burned ( --brilliant website): 2261
Recommended to replace 30-40% of calories burned on long workouts, which is 680-900 cals. I think I'm right on target.

Most Brilliant Moment of the Year Award (Brick Run):
After the ride, we changed into our running shoes and headed out for a quickie run. My legs were dead-tired, and my Achilles were still screamingly tight from running barefoot at the Aquathlon on Thursday. This was definitely a get-it-done run. As we headed along the bike path on 101, against traffic, we recognized Darrell from the Tri Club, finishing up with the Saturday Del Mar ride. He held his hand out to give us a high-five as we passed. I held my hand out to meet his. At that moment, a root from a tree, buckling the pavement, came out of nowhere. My right foot tripped over the root, and I stumbled badly. For a moment, I thought I was going to regain my balance as I took 3 large, staggering steps. Then, I knew I couldn't hold it. I was too tired, and it suddenly seemed like falling was the best option. It happened in slow motion. With my hands already out in front, I raised them over my head and spread-eagled, did a face plant, belly flop onto the asphalt. Both arms were still out in front of me, as if I had tried to catch a long pass.

Mortified, Darrell wheeled around and was at my side in seconds. I was already at my feet, humiliated and laughing hysterically. My friend Thomas, whom I'd been running alongside, scolded Darrell, "You have to stop riding with your jersey unzipped. You're a hazard to the ladies!" I assured Darrell I was okay, who asked me 3 or 4 times. Finally, I convinced Darrell to finish his ride, and Thomas and I finished our run.

Afterwards, we examined my "wounds". I was covered in dirt and had a small scrape on my stomach and thigh. My left knee had received the worst of it and was scraped, raw and bleeding (which has since been flowering into a very pretty bruise with lots of splendid colors). However, it was just a surface wound, and I knew it was very minor. Actually, my tummy hurt the most since it had taken the brunt of the force. Considering dumping it on the pavement, I knew it could have been much, much worse. See what great form I had when I fell? I'm sure that's what saved my ass.

Post-workout Recovery:
Thomas and I promptly dove into the ocean at Powerhouse Park to rinse off and cool off. The air was hot and humid but the ocean temp was nice and chilly--about 69 degrees. It felt soooo good. I swear, the ocean has magical healing properties. The waves were big and funnel-like--perfect. The water was gorgeous--clear and a bright teal-aqua. We ducked under the waves and floated just past the breakers for 10 minutes. Then, we body surfed in. We both caught a wicked wave that blasted us all the way in. Sweet! Then, we dripped dry and made our way up for a big breakfast.

Long Run:
Sunday, I dragged myself to our weekly group long run at Mission Bay. We started at 6:20 am. Ugh. It was already in the upper 70s, humid and no cloud cover. My knee was black-and-blue but I had been fighting the swelling with ibuprofen and ice and have enough mobility to run. We started out, and my Achilles screamed out again. I kept it slow and even. After a few miles, I ran the pain right out of my Achilles and began to settle in. We were all dripping. I was drinking but I was very hungry. Even though I ate my usual pre-run breakfast (cereal and banana), I felt like I was starving. And, of course, I had neglected to bring along the Cliff Blocks. I guess I didn't properly replace my glycogen stores from Saturday's long workout. Oh, well. Once we hit the boardwalk between Pacific Beach and Mission Beach, we were enveloped by a refreshing, cool ocean breeze that revitalized us. The tide was even low enough to run back on the beach for a bit. By mile 7, I was dying. Hungry, tired, hot--I had nothing in my tank. I gutted it out the last 3 miles and was happy to get in my 10--even if I was slow as molasses.

Post-workout Recovery:
We had a huge breakfast, which I followed by a nice, long nap. My knee has ballooned up again--guess the long run probably didn't help. I'm continuing to ice it, and I'm confident it will be good as new by Tuesday.

Spent Monday on the beach body-surfing. Wicked waves! I swallowed a ton of water. Not much of a recovery day, huh?

Hope everyone had a fantastic holiday weekend!


Autographed visor from Kate Major--curly head included! I need a new hat now. Have to retire this one to preserve the signature.

Pic of blood blister on big toe from running Aquathlon barefoot. I have a matching one on the other toe. Unfortunately, the pic doesn't really do it justice. Babs insisted on getting her pic taken too!

The adoreable Tazzer-schmazzer-mookie bear (Taz), and the eldest of my buns (8 years).

Hummingbird at feeder through the blinds on our balcony.