Sunday, March 30, 2008

No Joke Ride

I've been exhausted recovering this week but it was such an awesome weekend (3/22/08). I can't just let it go.

Here's a more detailed re-cap of my epic "Final Push" weekend: (also explains why I've been so beat this week during Taper 1).

5000 m open water swim
I had yet to swim 4,000 meters (continuous or broken), and this was freaking me out. I figured if I could swim 4,000 in the ocean, swimming that far in a lake would be cake. I wasn't sure if I would have anyone to swim with me the whole way since the water has been really cold but I found 1 sucker to go with me, which was really nice. My plan was to swim 40 minutes out from La Jolla Cove towards Scripps Pier and then back.

The water was surprisingly warm--about 61 degrees, and the conditions were flat and calm. Purrrrfect. I headed out and quickly settled into a rhythm. I felt so good. I found the usual northbound current and let it pull me. I looked at my watch at the 40 minute mark. Then I looked at the pier. It was only 5 minutes away. I hadn't come all this way not to reach the pier! My swim buddy and I agreed, and we kept going. I was elated when I reached the pier.

On the return, I searched for the southbound current, a few hundreds meters west of the northbound current. Suddenly, my arm felt slippery in the water, and I was being pulled along. Bingo! Favorable current both ways! A group of sea lions followed me for a bit. I stopped but they didn't seem like they wanted to play. They sort of glared at me as if to say, "Hey! You! You're in our hood! I saw you take that fish!" I decided to put my head down, do my best to ignore them, and swim away. I'm sure they were all thinking, "Look at that silly human with the deformed flippers trying to swim!" I've heard sea lions can be kind of aggressive, and was a little unnerved that this group kept popping up beside me. Luckily, they must have decided I was not a threat and let me pass.

I breathed towards my right side a lot, even though I'm normally bilateral but the sun was setting, and it was so pretty. I was mesmerized. I gazed at its hypnotizing beauty. And let the westward current pull me further and further into the open ocean, completely unaware. Completely relaxed and at peace. I switched to my left and realized the stairs to the Cove were waaaay over to the east. I was missing the entrance to the Cove! My swim buddy had warned me about this but I had poo-pooed him. Afterall, the mouth of the cove is sooo wide, and I'm not a freight ship! Miss the Cove? That's ridiculous. Well, I guess I AM a freight ship or something because I almost missed the entrance! At the last minute, I made a sharp 60 degree turn to my left and dove into the entrance.

I reached shore and popped out of the water feeling refreshed and exhilarated. Like I could bike 112 miles and do a marathon after? Maybe. We'll see. I did discover to my horror that my wetsuit had chaffed terribly under my arms and around my neck. Bad enough to leave some scars for a few months! Not enough Body Glide and a shitty wetsuit. I upgraded my wetsuit to a Zoot Synergy, which I like A TON better to fix the problem.

No Joke Ride (64 mile bike from Kit Carson Park in Escondido by Lake Wohlford up Palomar Mountain for 5500+ feet of climbing)

1st half of No Joke Ride up to Palomar Summit

Since I had just brought home my awesome new road bike (Look 585 Elle--her name is Pandora), I had been itching to climb. She told me she wanted to do Palomar so I joined a bunch of hard-core hammerheads for my first attempt at Palomar Mountain, the highest peak in the San Diego County at 5500 feet.
my new baby--Pandora is out of the box!

We started climbing right out of Kit Carson Park in Escondido. Temps were already in the 70s; it was going to be a warm day. We were all in pretty good spirits, and I settled into a nice rhythm. Suddenly the grade steepened, and I was working. Dean reminded me that this was the "speed bump" on the elevation map. Whoa. What had I gotten myself into?

We regrouped briefly at the bottom of Palomar and then began some serious climbing. I felt good. The scenery was beautiful, I had an awesome new bike, and she was climbing like a dream.

going up Palomar

We turned up the south grade for the final 7 mile ascent to the peak. I sat back and spun on my new 18-lb bike with compact cranks and a 25-rear cassette. Switchback after switchback, we wound our way up the mountain. 2,000 feet, then 3,000 feet, an eternity until 4,000 feet. We were still climbing. Finally 5,000 feet appeared, and I knew we were close.

near the top

At the summit, I took some pics. I didn't want to stop but sometimes you have to smell the roses.

view from the summit

We regrouped at a little deli at the summit. I devoured some hot vegetable soup and an enormous blueberry muffin. It was delicious!

Palomar riding buds: Rick, Preston, Adam, Dean, and Jodi (l to r; b to f)

We wound our way back down the mountain at breakneck speeds. I hunkered down in the drops and leaned Pandora into the switchbacks. She loves cornering! I had been obviously impressed by her climbing abilities but I was equally impressed at her descending abilities. The altitude signs flew past: 5,000, 4,000, 3,000, 2,000. Each one had taken 10 minutes to reach going up. Going down, it only took a couple of minutes to descend 1,000 feet. My ears popped. At the bottom, I looked up. I couldn't believe we had just been up there.

view from the bottom--where we've been

The temps were now in the mid-80s, and I was hot. Good thing it was all downhill from here, right? DOH! We still had a major climb back up to Lake Wohlford. I was cursing and grumpy the whole way back up the cursed "speed bump."

by Lake Wohlford--are we there yet?

Don't get me wrong; I absolutely love Pandora but it's true what they say: no matter how nice the bike, you still have to pedal it. By mile 50, I was done pedaling. Where's the SAG wagon? We stuck with it, and pretty soon, we reached the start. Whoo-hoo! That heat really got to me! Good thing I'm doing IMAZ in a few weeks. Ha ha.

Last long run before taper--20 miles
I met a running bud for our final long run up the coast. It was gorgeous, sunny, and hot. I felt good too, surprisingly after my epic weekend. I also got to experiment with the heat a little. It was only 78 when we finished but my sensitive hide felt like it was 90! I got pretty grumpy at mile 17 and made a quick pit stop to guzzle some water. I had been sipping on my sports drink and hadn't been getting enough down. After drinking pure and simple H2O, I felt awesome. I took off for the final 3 miles, feeling almost disappointed when I reached mile 20. H2O--the amazing new sports endurance drink. Heard of it? This was a good way to end my "final push" weekend. My feet were too swollen to put into shoes the next day but at least, mentally, I felt confident.


jessie said...

You're hardcore! What a fantastic last push. Do what you can to enjoy your taper and get some rest. I look forward to hearing about your journey!

BTW. I would love to get out riding in 80 degrees right now. alas, we're in the middle of a blizzard around these parts :(

Cliff said...

I didn't even run 20 miles for my long run :). Good job. Popping the ears on a bike ride. I envy you ;).

U will feel super strong during ur taper..don't's normal.

TriGirl Thea said...

Fantastic! What a week! I am totally in awe of what you have accomplished. I struggle on the merest gradient. Cycling up a mountain is crazy! (in a good way onviously!)

All that and sea lions to boot.

If youre tapering now, that must mean that the Ironman(?) is just around the corner. All the the very best with it. I hope you aceive what you want from the race.

Wes said...

First off, I can't believe you are out there swimming in the ocean practically by yo self. That's just crazy :-D Ok. I love it. But still crazy!!

Second, Pandora is purty, purty! I want a road bike :-) But you are right, no matter what they are made of or how good they look, they don't pedal themselves. Incredible ride! You got me wantign to head up to the mountains of north Georgia now!!

Way to cap it off with a killer run! You are a rock star, girl!! IM AZ is has nothin on ya!! Rest up. Almost time to rock-n-roll...

Sherry said...

I just adore reading your posts, Rachel. They inspire the heck out of me! To my newbie tri brain, it sounds like you are good and ready for IMAZ. Enjoy the remainder of your taper. :o)

As always, your landscape pictures are gorgeous. I'm suffering with you in this heat. It's in the mid-80's here now... with no relief in site until November/December.

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

Epic, indeed! If you can still walk after that week, you are more than ready for IMAZ. Enjoy your taper. You are ready!!

Sara said...

Wow - well your final push looks like the perfect final push before recovery and IMAZ!! Sea Lions, Mtns, crazy long runs - what a read!!

I hear ya about sports drinks - they just don't cut it for me thirst wise, usually they make me more thirsty.