Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I was so excited to get a borrowed bike up in NorCal; I rode that bike as much as I could. Why is it when I'm on vacation, I work out more? This was my week from Thursday on:
Thursday: hard, 6-mi track workout
45 minutes weights
fun 35-mile bike ride with rolling hills
1 hr stretching Yoga
Friday: very hard, 52-mile ride with 7,000 feet of climbing
Saturday: 17 mile run at goal marathon pace (negative split 2nd half of run)
Sunday: 4-mile road race @ 8 min/mi
I knew on Sunday, I shouldn't be running so hard. I knew I should be recovering. But I wanted to test myself. How fast could I run the day after a long run? It was like an experiment. Apparently, I can run pretty fast. But I paid the consequences later. As I boarded the plane to return home, I fell asleep in my seat instantly. I couldn't keep my head up. Exhaustion weighed on me like a clingy, baby elephant. That evening, despite massive amounts of sleep and food, I came down with a low-grade fever. Monday brought a minor cold with that nasty little fever still hanging on. I took a requisite rest day. Looking over my training plan, I realized I hadn't had a day off from training in 2 weeks.
Tuesday, I felt amazing. After a quick workout on the bike trainer, I ran down the 56-bike path for a run. I felt fantastic. Fatigue? Gone. Achiness? Nada. Effort? Easy. A complete 180. Rest days really do work! As I ran, I pondered, "Am I an addict?" I'm reading Drinking, A Love Story by Caroline Knapp, a memoir about how the author battled alcoholism. Sometimes, her description of her love and passion for alcohol sends shivers down my spine; it reminds me of how I feel about triathlon! Am I a "triathaholic"?
1. I can't bike 4x/week on the same weeks I'm running 4x/week. (Well, I can but I'll pay for it later). Since I'm training for a marathon right now, biking 3x a week (~100 miles/week) is plenty.
2. I DO need 1 complete rest day each week. Yes, swimming and weights count!
3. I have a recovery week next week (my 4th week) but I need to watch my fatigue levels. If I get too tired as training progresses, I may move my recovery weeks back to every 3rd week, instead.
Monday, April 27, 2009
The organizers of Bay to Breakers (http://www.ingbaytobreakers.com/) e-mailed me, offering readers a 5% discount on this awesome race. I don't normally do this but I love this race, and it's a great opportunity for anyone interested. I raced it in 2006, and it was the most entertaining race I've ever done. It was more like a parade. There's no other race like it.
Link to 2006 Race Report
Special Offer for the 98th Annual ING Bay to Breakers 12k : May 17th, 2009
- You can get an additional 5% off the early registration price for this year’s race.
- Visit www.ingbaytobreakers.com for details about the race
- Register online by midnight on April 30th, 2009 to receive the early registration price with an additional 5% discount http://tinyurl.com/cy3vkw
- Enter this coupon code 5DAAT09 (case sensitive) and click ‘redeem’ before completing your registration
- This offer is limited to the first 100 registrants, so make sure to register as soon as possible!
- Please direct any questions to email@example.com
The Fine Print:
- This is an online offer only
- Discount is valid only for the registration fee. It is not applied to optional purchases such as the MUNI pass or packet mailing fee
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Only 1 other guy, the group leader, showed up. Gulp. Maybe it was the rain in the forecast or the 3-miles of dirt paths we had to manuver on our road bikes, or the 7,000 feet of climbing. I just hoped I wasn't too naive to realize what I was getting into. On the other hand, I had my very own personal cycling tour guide!
I followed him onto the dirt trails on the road bike. I rode cautiously, thinking of my poor, dusty mountain bike hanging on the wall in my garage at home. I negotiated the particularly steep uphills by getting off and walking. My new cycling buddy patiently waited for me at the top of each one.
We finally hit the paved roads. And started climbing immediately. Not a gentle grade, either, but the grueling, gut-wrenching, stand up-out-of-the saddle, and grind-the-cranks-with-all-your-might kind of climb. It was steep. Sweat poured down my face. There was no room for chit-chat. My cycling friend mistakenly believed I was the quiet type. I was using every ounce of focus just to make sure I didn't take an embarrassing topple backwards off the bike. I began to worry. Could I do this? Was the whole ride going to be like this?
Just when my thoughts started to overwhelm me, we reached the top. I silently celebrated. We guzzled our sports drinks and slammed Cliff Bars. The view was spectacular. My ride leader put on his jacket, preparing for the 10-mile descent. I followed suit.
gorgeous view at the top of the first climb
We started zipping down, down, down. 10-miles is a long way. My fingers and toes were numb. Luckily, I had given my mom a pair of leg warmers and a cycling jacket for Xmas (she's getting into cycling). This was fortuitous since I had neglected to bring any of my cycling clothes. I've decided my mother needs full cycling gloves for Mother's Day. Just when my legs started cramping up, and I was chilled to the bone, thinking, "Is this downhill ever going to end?", it ended.
We went past a small, hippie town nestled midst the giant redwoods. 1 small organic grocery store, 1 family doctor, 1 coffee shop, and 1 massage therapist. It reminded me of Northern Exposure. Aching for quiet and relaxation, a part of me wanted to stay for 10 days right there and hole myself up in the woods. My tour guide showed me to a very hidden little park with a swimming hole, too cold to play in right now, but I imagined it, teeming with kids in the summer. A lone heron sat like a statue on a rock, searching for fish.
-the secret swimming hole
We turned onto Big Basin Way and began climbing again. The hills were shorter and less steep now. Just when my legs started to feel fatigued, a descent appeared, ready to save me. I enjoyed the rollers as we careened up, down, then up, then down again, winding our way through the massive redwood forests. The trees were so enormous, they had a mysterious aura about them. They are the largest trees in the world and can live for thousands of years. The forests were so dense, they blocked all sunlight. Moss and ferns thrived on the forest floor below, carpeting the ground in an emerald velvet. Mysterious wisps of fog and mist clung to the trees like dense cobwebs, giving the forest an enchanted feeling, and drenching me in a fine, rainless dew. A roaring sound filled my ears. Panic-striken, I turned my head, this way and that, frantically searching for the source of the noise. Is it a semi truck blasting bearing down on this tiny, narrow little road? Is there a freeway nearby? A roaring river down below? A chilling breeze pierced my thin jacket. Suddenly, I understood. It was the wind. The wind, ripping through the tops of the trees, so tall, I couldn't feel the strength of the wind, protected down below. The trees were roaring in unison. The redwoods were so massive, I felt a strange sort of reverence as I rode through.
standing at the base of a redwood in Big Basin Redwood State Park
the top of the same tree (the 2 pictures of the middle part of the tree is missing)
We regrouped at the state park, giggling at the bear-proof (and human-proof) garbage cans before continuing off. We had reached the halfway point and prepared to climb the 2nd big mountain of the ride. I had been warned that the climb, though not as steep, was long, about 7 miles. I hunkered down, found a rhythm, and focused on maintaining a steady cadence. However, without a computer on my bike, it was agonizing. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How much further? I had no idea. I zoned out, tried to ignore the aching pain in my lower back, in my calves, in my neck, shoulders, the numbness in my wrists, the hunger in my belly. I had eaten all I had brought with me, which wasn't much. Some Cliff Bloks, some nasty-ass Cytomax that I was having a hard time getting down, a tiny airline package of salted peanuts (yum!), some cinnamon graham crackers, and a piece of bread smothered in honey and butter (my parents didn't have peanut butter). That had been the best I could scrounge up from my parents kitchen that morning. I climbed and climbed and climbed. I began having doubts. I started feeling dull and sluggish. I knew my glycogen stores were being depleted; the endless climb after climb was scorching through my reserves. Could I do this? Somehow I reached the top. It was beautiful. My ride sherpa took one look at me and offered me a bar. It was an organic 250-calorie organic bar of nuts and honey and trail mix. I scarfed it down and felt instantly better.
breathtaking view from the top; it's all downhill from here
I started chatting away happily again. We started descending soon afterwards. Oh, sweet, wonderful, glorious downhills. I hunkered down in the drops, leaning into each turn aggressively. Going down never felt so good. We passed winery after hidden winery, nestled into the mountains. Suddenly, I recognized the turn for the barn where I had stabled my horse as a girl, the Japanese gardens where I had taken field trips with my school, the ice cream shop where I had ridden my horse, the streets where I used to go jogging, my elementary school; we were riding through the town where I had grown up.
We rode through Saratoga, and my ride leader turned up 6th. He gave me a malicious smirk. "One last hill just to see how fit you are", he said. It came as no surprise; I remembered this hill as a kid. It was very, very short, probably only 200 meters but damn steep. Like 13% steep. And I, after nearly 7,000 feet of climbing on a borrowed bike with standard cranks and a 21 cassette. However, I would not admit defeat. I charged the hill, standing up in the saddle and grinding on the cranks, giving it everything I got. I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins as I leaned forward, pushing my weight down and forward. Just when I thought my heart was going to explode out of my mouth, I crested. I had made it.
The final 4 miles back to Los Gatos was a rewarding, gentle downward slope. A wonderful cool-down. I had done it! I was ecstatic. Just before I slammed down a turkey melt and a piece of apple pie (a'la mode of course), falling into bed for a deep, coma nap afterwards.
Route and Map:
On Saturday, I rose early for my next training exercise on the docket: a 17-mile run. I won't get into too much detail, only that it went fabulously, and I was able to negative split the run and hit my target average pace for the run.
Hmmm. Why are my legs so tired?
Thursday, April 23, 2009
First, I squeezed in a track workout at the local high school, a half-mile from where my parents live. School is in session. The track was empty. Perfect. As I arrived, I noticed a huge banner on the school building that some kid had hung. It read, "Jessica, ?PROM? --Salazar" OMG! How cute! I'll go to prom with you, Salazar! I eked out my 3x1 mile repeats. I felt tired and sluggish but I was able to hit my target times. Actually, even better. I wanted to do ~8-8:30...something conservative. I cranked out 7:50 each time. I was kind of proud of myself, especially beause I purposely held back. On my warm-up and cool-down mile, I did some calisthenics: sideways running with legs crossing over each way, sideways skipping/hopping, high-stepping, running backwards. I ran home (up a 1/2 mile hill, btw) and finished up with weights. No wonder I'm tired!
Then, I put Al in the car and headed out to Chain Reaction Bicycles in Los Altos (http://www.chainreaction.com/). Got a cool jersey and picked up some supplies. Then, I headed out to try the infamous "Loop" (http://sdbikeroutes.blogspot.com/2009/04/loop.html). I heard about it so much; I had to try it. When I was describing it to my mom in Whole Foods, this guy came up and started asking questions:
"Where are you riding?"
"Oh, yes. Good one. Which direction?"
"Good. You'll love it."
I was salivating by the time I got on the bike. With a borrowed bike, helmet, and shoes, I headed out. I'll admit, I was a bit nervous. On some road I've never been on, atop a bike I didn't know. My worry was needless. Al took good care of me. The clouds rolled in, and a gusty wind began to blow but I didn't care. As soon as I turned onto Page Mill Road, the ride was so absolutely breathtaking, I forgot how hard I was working. A hill? Who cares! I have more time to see the horses! Wind? More time to gape at the backdrop of blue mountains, surrounded by fine mist.
I rode by a beautiful nature preserve, the Atascadero Land Preserve (http://www.supportalps.org/Welcome.html). Lots of trails and gorgeous, rolling hills. I rode past a horse and rider and breathed deeply the tantalizing aroma of sweat mixed with leather. Instead of the familiar sea gulls and roadrunners I'm accustomed to, robins and quail darted about. Leafy green oaks and tall, dark redwoods lined the road, offering generous portions of shade. Every now and then, a hidden vineyard would make a guest appearance.
I passed by several horse farms in Portola Valley, some of which I had ridden at when I was a kid. Suddenly, on Sand Hill Road, the Woodside Horse Park appeared on my left. I was overcome with emotion. I had ridden there, competed there, practically lived there as a kid. In a flash, I suddenly remembered every class that I had ribboned, every fence refused, and every fall I'd taken. The sparkle in my horse's eye when he stepped off the trailer and, upon recognizing the park, puffed up in excitement and anticipation about charging over the cross country fences. Endless hours of grooming every itch on his flank, brushing him until his soft, satiny coat gleamed. I remembered everything so intensely, so vividly; I ached. Distant memories, buried and sealed just under the surface, covered by a thin scar that could easily be scratched. A few miles later, I passed the Stanford Equestrian Center, where I had purchased my 2nd horse. I stared longingly at the horses in the arena, on the trails, and leaping over fences. I kept pedaling.
I rode through campus, passing by the nuclear particle accelerator where physicists release atoms at unfathomable speeds and then crash them to break them apart and analyze what new particles might form. I passed by a beautiful preserve with endless hiking and running trails, full of happy walkers and runners. A sign read, "The Dish". Why, the Dish? I looked it up. Stanford still uses this radiotelescope for research and educational purposes. But all I saw was a beautiful, ecological reserve. So many trails to explore!
Heading out of the Stanford campus, I passed a guy on an old, beat-up mountain bike with what appeared to be a lawnmower engine hooked up to the bike. He zipped away when the light turned green, clad in wrinkled slacks and polo. Most definitely an ecentric professor. Ah, college campuses. I love it.
Tomorrow's bike ride is a crazy, hilly (6800 feet), 50-mile loop up Bear Creek, Skyline, and Big Basin. Lots of climbing, lots of windy, narrow roads, and lots of gorgeous views (ah, redwoods). Can't wait.
Scenes from today's ride:
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
How do you balance family, career, and working out?
It's hard but so necessary. The harder I work on my career, the more I need to train simply for the stress relief. The harder I train, the more I need to recovery (sleep, eat, stretch, massage, etc). I am very organized. I have a lot of lists. I do a lot of planning for the next day at the end of each day. I also go to bed very early. I sacrifice a lot of wasted time, tv watching, and socializing. I get my social time in during workouts and sometimes even family time (my boyfriend and son often work out together--track workouts, anyone?). It's hard but I'm the happiest I've ever been and accomplishing so much more.
This morning, there were 7 people in my lane. I freaked out. No way I can keep up with them. We started swimming. I was in the middle of the pack. I swam as hard as I could to maintain an even pace with them. Afterall, that's what I'm used to doing when I swim in a pack that's not the slow lane. Only today was different. The people behind me weren't gaining on me. The swimmers in front weren't pulling away. All of a sudden, I felt bubbles. My fingers grazed the toes of the swimmer in front. I was catching up!
I swam consevatively the rest of the workout, afraid at some point, everyone would start racing ahead. Afterall, I need a good 1000 meters to warm up. It never happened. I got faster and faster, and everyone else got slower and slower. By the end, everyone else jumped up before the final set, and I finished the workout solo. Sickie said I should move up a lane next time. I feel fresh, my shoulders aren't sore, and I'm not tired. I feel incredible.
Monday, April 20, 2009
"Yeah, so did we." I realized "rough weekend" might have a double meaning depending on your age and environment. I cracked up and laughed with them, not bothering to correct them.
This evening, I hopped onto Torch for one of my favorite workouts: Racing the Sunset. Basically, you pick a target mileage to complete, say 20 or 30 miles, get on your bike with limited daylight to spare, and pedal as fast as you can in one direction until you reach half the distance. Then, glancing at the sinking fireball into the Pacific, you pedal home as fast as you can, half-panicked because you refuse to put lights on your bike. Also, put a nice, long hill between you and the end (Torrey Pines). It's a terrific workout! I went much faster than normally. Not a moment to spare! Motivation is a great thing.
P.S. I can't stop eating. I'm ravenous! It's ridiculous.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
As I drove to La Jolla Cove, I gulped. I was nervous. I had biked Palomar yesterday, and even though I wasn't sore, I knew my legs would be tired. 15 miles seemed like a long way. It had been a long time since I had run that far.
I met my running group, and we started off as the temps began to rise. I let the speedsters go ahead and chatted away with my good friend B., who I hadn't seen in awhile. We talked non-stop (I guess I should clarify: I talked non-stop while she listened). We talked about the economy, our jobs, training, self-confidence, life philosophies, and world peace. Well, okay, everything except for that last part. I glanced at my GPS and noticed I was going verrry slow. I didn't care. I wanted to start conservatively. I wanted to finish strong.
We regrouped at mile 5. I gave everyone a brief hug, and we parted ways. I felt like I was going on a long trip and wouldn't see them for a long time. They headed back and I plodded onwards. Afterall, I wasn't turning around until mile 7.5.
I struggled to transition into my new solo rhythm that first lonely mile. I was still going verrry slowly. This sucks, I thought to myself. I tried to speed up. Too fast. Then, too slow. I was having a hard time pacing myself. Was I going so slowly because that's what I was used to doing or because I really needed to? I decided to test myself. I forced myself to speed up to my goal marathon pace and hold it for half a mile. If it felt too strong, I would slow down. But, guess what? It didn't feel too fast! It felt rhythmic and easy. My breathing was still relaxed and calm. My feet felt peppy, snapping like rubber bands off the ground. I had found my stride.
I started taking in the scenery as I ran south along the Pacific Beach boardwalk. The cement path was crowded with dog walkers, strolling lovers walking hand-in-hand, other runners, surfers, moms with strollers, and lollygaggers on beach cruisers, weaving all over the path, as if they were still drunk from the previous night's festivities. It was too early for the party-goers. They wouldn't surface until noon, at the earliest. Plenty of time.
I hit the turn-around. I couldn't believe how fresh I felt. My legs had over 100 miles in them for the week but they felt springy and bouncy as a spring chicken. As I headed back, tantalizing aromas of breakfast burritos and omelettes from adjacent diners wafted through the air. I side-stepped a dried puddle of puke in front of neighboring bar, which quickly quelled the growling in my stomach. A distant fragment of an ancient memory tugged at me, reminscent of my college years, days long ago, lost and forgotten. Two young men, clad in black leather jackets and black jeans, with chains and hoops dangling from various holes in their skin, sauntered past menacingly. I smiled at them. Maybe I'm just too old to be intimidated anymore. Or maybe I am reminded of when I was young, tattooed, pierced, and a rebel without a cause. I avoided a used condom, discarded onto the boardwalk. Okay, that was just plain gross. Hence, I only run in PB 2 or 3 times a year, mostly for entertainment and amusement.
At this point, my stomach had started giving me some trouble. I needed a bathroom. Quick. I knew there was one at the Crystal Pier. Could I make it? I slowed, focused on relaxing, and used all my concentration to prevent discarding something disgusting of my own on the boardwalk. There were no bushes and no bathrooms in sight, and I didn't think the vacationers would appreciate me using their potted palm on the patio as a toilet. I didn't think I was going to make it. Finally, the bathroom came into view. I sighed a huge breath of relief. I did my business and continued on my way, lighter and SO much happier. I resumed my "speedy", marathon pace.
I headed back towards La Jolla. The roads became windy and very hilly. I high-stepped up all the steep hills and flew down the downhills. My legs felt fantastic. I picked up the pace. I zig-zagged around all the tourists flocking to see the seals at Children's Pool. I saw the park by the Cove up ahead. I was going to make it. I was going to do it! I imagined people lining the sidewalk as I sprinted, all cheering my name. A big grin spread across my face. I resisted the urge to throw my arms up into the air, shout "Whoo-hoo!", and run a victory lap around the park. I had run 15. As always, what seemed daunting at the start, became very doable once I started, one step at a time. Not only that, I felt fantastic, despite the killer week and weekend. In addition, I had pushed the pace and achieved my goal speed. Maybe I'm strong enough to work on speed at my long distances now!
After a latte and bagel and lox, I slipped into the Cove for a relaxing 1-mile swim with a group of friends. The ocean waters felt so soothing. It should have been called the "Seaweed Swim" instead of the Cove swim, however. I discovered it's much more efficient to slip in and out between the giant kelp beds, instead of trying to bulldoze my way through the middle. Who knew?
I type this in my compression tights, after some Yoga to stretch everything out, and a good, long ice bath. I will sleep well tonight!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Today, I climbed Palomar for the 2nd time. Over 5,000 feet of climbing, 60 miles, hot, windy, and good old-fashioned fun. I've decided I have to do this more. I did this ride 1 year ago, my final peak ride before my taper for IMAZ. Dean (may he rest in peace) rode with me the entire way. How time flies.
I reached the parking lot in Kit Carson Park and was greeted by about 20 other cyclists. It was awesome to reconnect with old friends and make new ones simultaneously. I could tell it was going to be a hot day. We headed out and were hit with a false flat almost immediately. Cars honked as they tried to get around (we were riding single file). This would be a common theme for the rest of the ride. Motorists out in the Escondido, Valley Center, Rincon area just 'aint too biker friendly. Sucks.
We climbed up to Lake Wohlford, the first "bump" on the route. It was nothing to sneeze out. The lake was vast and sparkling as the sun's rays played upon the surface. I resisted the urge to take a dip to cool off. We passed by several farms. I loved the goats, the llamas, the cows, the buffalo, but not so much the chickens. They stink! The baby donkey with his big long ears and furry head was by far and away absolutely the cutest thing I've EVER seen. He was very tiny, only a few weeks old, and totally adoreable.
We regrouped at the Taco Shop, at the base of the mountain. I was hungry so I gobbled down a Drumstick ice cream cone. Delicious, refreshing, scrumptious! We began working our way up the mountain. Everyone else hammered away. I maintained my conservative pace, keeping the long climb out of Rincon back up to Lake Wohlford at the end of the ride, in mind. A cool breeze relieved me as I climbed, like natural air conditioning. Gorgeous wildflowers lavishly bloomed in the valleys alongside the mountains: yellow daisies, golden California poppies, lavender lupine. The hillsides were covered in a lush, velvet, green grass. Climbing on Torch is no easy feat. I realize now that climbing on Pandora is cheating. But Torch will be my trusty steed in IM-Canada. So, I plunge into my climbs now on Torch.
We reached the 4,000 feet sign, and I rejoiced. Only 1,000 feet more to go. Of course, the last 1,000 feet is the steepest. And the hardest. And took the longest. I toiled to turn the pedals over around switchback after switchback. My knees were puffy and swollen from Thursday's fall and didn't enjoy the grinding of the gears so much. Especially standing climbs. Seated climbs, ok. Clipping in? Not so much. Ugh! I worry about tomorrow's long run. I spotted my friend, B., on the side of the road. He had flatted. I stopped to help. He was toiling away with his mini pump. I gave him a CO2 cartridge. I hate those damn pumps! He was very thankful but I was relieved for a little break. Little did he know....
We climbed back on and continued our struggle. He was grateful for the cartridge (and some water since he had run out), I was grateful for the company. We reached the 5,000 feet sign. Are we there yet, are we there yet? The climb is supposed to be 5,200 to the top but I the last couple hundred feet are always the worst. Some tourists, stopped at the top to enjoy the view, called out to us as we passed, "You guys are crazy!"
"Thank you!" It seemed like a compliment to me. Finally, we saw the crest, and I secretly rejoiced.
We regrouped at Mother's Kitchen, an awesome diner at the top of Palomar. My brood didn't look so good. They were laying down in a patch of grass by the diner.
"C'mon!" I urged. "Let's get lunch!" Reluctantly, they followed me inside. I bought an awesome club sandwich and a coke, splitting it with B. I gobbled down the food, satiating my grumbling tummies, which was now sloshing with sports drink and Cliff Blocks. After a long, restful break, we climbed back on our bikes and headed down.
11 miles, and 5,200 feet down. Sounds incredible. In actuality, it's a bit harrowing. My wrists ached from squeezing the brakes and my hands went numb. It was difficult to navigate the tri bike around the switchbacks. The road is narrow and motorcycles zoom up and down as fast as they can, leaning their "bikes" (not a real bike) over as far as they can until their knee almost scrapes the pavement. Seems stupid to me but I guess climbing up and flying down with nothing but 15 pounds of carbon between your legs probably seems stupid to them. I took in the view as I spiraled down whenever I could. I could see fog covering the tops of distant mountains, multiple cities far down below, and in the distant west, the Pacific. It was an incredible view. We reached the bottom, and I yawned several times, trying to get my ears to pop. I looked up and gasped. It always amazes me to see this giant mountain I just climbed up on my bike. It's always better to marvel at the mountain after I've climbed it though.
We began climbing up towards Lake Wohlford. The road was narrow, there was no shoulder or bike lane, and angry cars zipped inches from our knees. Not fun at all. Plus, I couldn't help but notice dried boquets of flowers placed on the guardrails around particularly nasty switchbacks. Doesn't exactly give me the greatest confidence biking on roads where I know someone tragically ended their life at that very same place. The temps had soared into the mid-80s, and I could feel my skin baking. I hydrated very well and actually needed to pee by mile 50. Only 10 more left to go, I told myself. I'm holding it. I felt cool internally, as if the hot sun's rays were bouncing off of me. I was immune. I had super-cooling powers. Yippee! We passed by a beautiful herd of horses grazing in a field. Their bellies were plump and their coats were shiny and sleek. A paint laid down in the grass, rolled vigorously to scratch an itch on his back, and laid on his side, grunting, as he closed his eyes to take a nap. He looked exactly how we felt. As we passed by Lake Wohlford, I rejoiced again. I knew the worst was over. We were going to make it.
63 miles and 6 bottles of water later, we made it back to the parking lot. It had been a hot and hilly ride. We all conquered Palomar. Even though I rode most conservatively, I think I felt the best at the end. I ate and hydrated well and kept a slow pace. I think my run tomorrow will go well. I do know that I will be climbing Palomar more frequently. I'm thinking every 2 weeks? Park at the taco shop and go up the South Grade. Now that daylight is getting longer, this is a doable mid-week workout. Awesome!
Friday, April 17, 2009
Brent was relying on me to lead the way. However, I hadn't run there since my race. Apparently, I don't think about where I am at all when I race. It was tough; I didn't recognize anything! The map I had printed didn't show all the alternative trails criss-crossing every which way. It was a fun, exploratory run. We ran down one way, then back-tracked. Finally found a tiny little sign that read "Trail". Maybe that's a clue? Headed down the for a bit, winding over a narrow dirt path littered with rocks. Turned down another wrong path and ran that way for a bit until the grass grew so long and thick, I felt like were bush-wacking our way in the outback. When I finally reached a dry creekbed, I knew we had gone the wrong way. Back again and finally spotted another "Trail" sign. It was like a treasure hunt!
We managed to stay on the designated trail after that. Up one hill, then down the next. I thought Black Mountain Park was supposed to be kind of flat? Nothing but! After 3 miles, we turned and headed back. I felt much more relaxed now that we knew where we were going. I chatted easily, huffing and puffing up yet another hill.
"You're kind of quiet," I commented to Brent.
"The trail. You have to be careful."
"But we're not going that fast!"
"Well, you also happen to talk a lot more than me." Ha ha. Touche! I have been known to talk to myself when no one is around. I can carry a conversation with myself. You could leave the room, and I wouldn't even take a breath (or realize you had left). But I diverge....
Brent headed up ahead. I knew the final turn towards the car was near; we were about a mile from the start. Like horses smelling the stable, we started to pick up the pace. Suddenly, Brent heard a kerbloop! I tripped on a rock, and in slow motion, realized I was going to fall. I stopped trying not to fall and began preparing to fall. I relaxed and dove forward, doing the Superman belly flop onto the trail. Of course, all of this complex planning happened in milliseconds. I groaned and rolled over to assess the damage. Although it was a dirt path, apparently there were a lot of rocks. I had scrapes all over my wrists, forearms, and left hip. Both knees were badly scratched and bloody. Luckily, my knees broke my fall.
I got up and brushed myself off. The urge was to keep running but Brent convinced me I should walk for a few minutes, at least, to make sure I was okay. I was a bit shaken, bruised, battered, and bloody, but otherwise okay. I had been lucky. My knees didn't feel too great when I ran. I guess I banged 'em pretty hard. Within 5 minutes, I was able to jog without any pain. I knew I hadn't done any major damage.
Once back at home, I cleaned up (after lifting weights first, of course) and took an ice bath to dampen any swelling. The knees look much better today but are a little sore and swollen. It hurts to kneel, making it very hard to pet the bunnies! Some ibuprofen and ice should make me right as rain. I usually take one fall a year (always from running; guess I'm kind of a klutz). I hope this was my one fall!
On that note, remember when we were kids? We used to fall down ALL THE TIME! It was never a big deal. We would get up like nothing happened and keep on playing. We never got HURT! Now, when we fall down, it hurts a lot more. What's up with that?
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I had a great little run on Wednesday. Felt great. Allowed myself to sprint, just a little. Why not? I got such a runner's high that I picked wildflowers from the side of the road as I ran and tucked them behind my hair, eliciting curious smiles from passing cyclists. I blasted back into our neighborhood and down the hill to our house. I saw our neighbor out front, playing with the kids. I waved and ran even faster.
"Look at me! I'm such a super-fast badass, huh?" I said to myself, showing off. Later, our neighbor asked Brent if I was injured. He thought I was favoring one side. Can it get any more embarrassing? That's what I get for showboating.
Saturday, Brent, his brother, and I all did the club race (www.triclubsandiego.org). Believe it or not, it was my first club race. His brother, Brook, had never done a triathlon (he's training for the Nation's Tri in D.C. in Sept. (an Olympic)). I don't think he realizes what he signed up for! I put him on my commuter bike (Specialized Sirrus) since it didn't require clipless pedals and was faster than a mountain bike. Then, I dug up a wetsuit from a friend, which he somehow squeezed into with great difficulty.
On race morning, we woke up in what should have been plenty of time.
"Aren't the club races at 7?" I asked Brent, sleepily. He insisted they were at 8. Well, he should know. He does them all the time, I thought. He decided to check the website, just in case.
"You're right! It IS at 7!" he exclaimed. We all scrambled to get to the start. Where's my helmet? Where are my tri shorts? Ack! I'm usually so prepared! I can't believe I didn't forget anything (or any of his brother's stuff). Poor Brook was scared enough already, and now we were rushed on top of it all.
I got to the transition area, Body Glided myself and Brook and helped him into his wetsuit. The, it was time to get into the water. Not a minute to spare! Brent swam with his brother the whole time. I guess I had a bunch of pent-up energy from the week's rest. CA 70.3 just didn't leave me feeling that fatigued. I decided to race. The horn blew and we plunged into the murky waters of Mission Bay. After the cold, Oceanside Harbor the week before, the Bay felt warm and comforting. I swam as hard as I could, quickly disorienting myself. Bam! Whack! Slam! I got pummeled in the face and jaw a couple of times by elbows, fists, and feet. I was seeing stars. Why are the club races always the most aggressive? Finally, I reached the turn-around and started heading back. 800 meters for a sprint? Sheesh! Game on!
I reached shore and hopped onto my bike. All I wore was a singlet and tri shorts. As I started my 5 laps around Fiesta Island (12 miles), it started to drizzle. I just hammered harder, trying to keep warm. It was fun to put the pedal to the metal for once. I was able to eke out ~19 mph average (with race wheels). Oddly enough, I wasn't cold at all, and the typical gusty winds felt very mild to me. I cheered on Brook as I finished up, slipped into my running shoes and took off running.
After 1/2 miles, my legs found their rhythm. I was huffing and puffing and a stitch in my side wouldn't quit bugging me. I had forgotten how hard sprints can be! But I felt so good! I ran harder. On the final 2-mile lap (4 miles total), my legs became springy and bouncy, and I settled into a 10K pace. The final 400 meters approached. I caught sight of a thin, fit older gentleman in CAF (Challenged Athlete's Foundation) garb. Bob Babbitt (founder of CAF and Competitor and the sport of triathlon itself, in my opinion; plus, he's just an all-around great guy)! Could I pass him? Poor guy, running along, enjoying himself. He didn't know he had a HUGE target painted on his back! I started sprinting. It was going to be tough. As the finish line emerged, I blew by, panting, "You're hard to catch!"
"Go get 'em, kid!" he yelled back. I blasted through the timing mats, exhilarated. Afterwards, I tried valiently not to puke from going all out (and succeeded). Thanks, Bob, for making me push so hard!
I cooled down with Brook and Brent for an easy-going 2 miles. Afterwards, we enjoyed the awesome food all the volunteers had brought. Brook did his first tri and thoroughly enjoyed himself. He also realized he has his work cut out for him in September!
On Monday, Brent and I hopped into the pool for a UCSD masters workout. I was feeling particularly stressed out from work. Then, Brent pissed me off by making some rude comment about some young college girl. I started swimming, H-A-R-D. We started doing sets of 500s (meters, long course), my favorite. Terri, seeded us, and I remained the last swimmer of the group. As we all took off, she looked at me and said, "Okay, now you can mow them all done." As if this were my assignment, I took her very seriously and pushed off from the wall. My goggles were leaking so I took the first 100 easy. Then, I began picking them off. Swim, swim, swim, bubbles....bubbles? Excitement began to build. Draft, draft, touch toes once, twice. Ooops. Sorry. At the wall, quickly go around. One swimmer down. Next length, 2nd swimmer down. Next length, oops she didn't want to let me go. I checked ahead, all clear. I swam hard to the left and went around, squeezing in between her and the final front swimmer. Touched his toes. Hit the wall, and quickly took the lead. The gap between me and everyone else widened. I finished the 500, exhilarated. Terri smiled at me, "You did it!" Everyone else looked a bit pissed because of my aggressive swimming. I quickly apologized, and they all forgave me, just as quickly. I lead the rest of the workout. The pressure was on, now. I had to maintain my lead. I couldn't slow down now. I had half a length between me and the next swimmer behind me for the other 500s. I had a great swim! Plus, I got all my negative emotions out. Swimming angry is the bomb!
Monday, April 06, 2009
Actually, I'm not that sore. But I do have strange, minor cuts and bruises. Probably from the rough swim. Afterall, I always like a good fight. I am, however, tired. Good thing it's a recovery week. But let me start from the beginning...
Race week went well except I could have used more sleep. My front tubular was flat and had been glued on 1 year ago for IMAZ. The desert heat must have created an industrial-strength bond because, try as we might, Brent and I could not get the damn thing off. I finally wedged a kitchen steak knife between the tire and rim and started sawing away at the bond. The knife suddenly slipped upward, cutting the tire from the bottom. So much for trying to use it as a spare. I swiftly cut the entire thing crosswise with a sturdy pair of scissors and peeled the whole thing off like a banana. There goes $100. However, I learned an important lesson: old tubulars will not come off. I now carry a pocket knife with me in my flat kit. Additionally, I will be freshly re-gluing my tubulars before IM-Canada, just in case. At least I got my flat issues over with before race day!
My poor tubular after I'd had my way with it.
We picked our packet up on Thursday to avoid the crowds. I spent waaaay too much money at the Expo, including an extravagant pair of Zoot recovery compression tights that makes me look like a superhero (Ginormica from Monsters vs Aliens, anyone?). A windy system started blowing through, bringing a worrying chill in the air. The forecasters promised perfect weather for Saturday, however.
Brent posing in front of the road closure sign on Thursday. So cute in his work clothes!
Luckily, the weather forecasters were accurate this time. Saturday morning broke with a peaceful silence, peppered by the beautiful voices of mating spring songbirds. I sipped on my coffee and slipped a pair of tights, sweats, thermal undershirt, sweatshirt, jacket, gloves, and ear muffs over my "racing silks" and we were off. I was prepared for the early morning chill (mid 40s). The transition area was teeming with activity. I had to wait to get to my rack similar to waiting to board a plane. How come it was so crowded? How come my rack was so full? My wave didn't leave for another 2 hours! Jeez, people! My friends spotted me in my heavy winter gear and a rumor quickly sprouted that I wasn't racing. I helped Brent zip up his wetsuit, and he was off (40 minutes before my wave). I felt calm and relaxed. A few butterflies but mostly just excited. I opted for my arm warmers under my wetsuit to save time in T1. Grabbing my 2 caps, goggles, and ear plugs, I lined up in the chute. I felt toasty because I had been clever enough (actually, it was Brent's idea) to wear "throw away" socks while waiting for our wave to start.
Suddenly, it was time for our wave to take the plunge and make our way to the start. The 60-degree water wasn't that bad. I had taken 2 practice swims in the Cove the last 2 weeks, and the 57-degree temps had more than prepared me for race day. I seeded myself in the middle of my pack. I felt strangely calm. Confident. The gun went off, and we started swimming. There was a lot of scuffling and scrambling as we all rallied for the best position. Wham! An elbow to the ribs. Bam! A fist in the eye. Slam! A kick in the back. WTF? I started kicking and pushing and hitting back. Thus, the cuts and bruises. But you should see the other guy. We started evening out, and I quickly found my rhythm. I felt so calm and relaxed. The chop hit me like a ton of bricks at the turn-around, where the ocean water fights against the harbor water, creating strange and fierce mini-currents and waves. I had to fight hard to ward off sea-sickness. I will not swallow water, I will not swallow water, I repeated over and over. Luckily, I had popped to pre-emptive Tums right before, just in case. I lurched and bobbed my way back towards the protective waters of the harbor. Suddenly, swimmers from the wave behind (Men, 20-25) tried aggressively to swim over me. I fought back viciously, and the perpetrators quickly retreated. You want some of me? You want some of this? All of a sudden, the swim was over. That's it? That's all there is? I couldn't believe it. I've never had a 1.2 mile swim go by so quickly. I glanced at my watch--40 minutes, right on target (and 10 min faster than 2 years ago!). I was happy.
I peeled off my wetsuit as I ran and felt the gentle warm sun on my arms. I wasn't cold at all. I wouldn't need my bike jacket! Yippee! All I needed was my sunglasses, helmet, race belt, and shoes. I ran to the mounting line with shoes in hand. Why run in my bike shoes? I slipped them on, mounted Torch, and we were off.
running out of T1, happy and in good spirits.
My goal was to pace myself well, hydrate and eat well. I immediately popped 2 Tums to settle my finicky stomach. It worked. I was ravenous. I ate and drank and drank and ate. The first half of the bike was flat and fast. I drank in the gorgeous ocean views along the way. The sun was out and temps were in the low 60s with almost no wind. I spun at a conservative effort, which ended up ~18 mph (thanks Torch, Zipps, and aero helmet!). About mile 30, the hills began. I saw the first and steepest climb, dotted with athletes struggling up the ascent like ants. Many were walking. I felt calm and relaxed. I focused on maintaining a steady effort up the hill, alternating comfortably between seated and standing the whole way up. At the top, I quickly geared up and enjoyed the screaming 38 mph descent on the other side. I didn't have to take one pedal stroke (and it was a good opportunity to pee--apparently, I had been drinking too much). The rolling hills in Camp Pendleton were a soft, velvety green. Cannon fire ricocheted from the nearby artillery fields. Songbirds were having singing duels with each other. It was too beautiful not to notice and was an especially nice distraction as I battled yet another hill. The race director had promised there would be 3 major hills but I knew from last time that was a lie. There were more like 5 or 6. I was so glad I was prepared. I didn't feel flustered or worried. I did catch myself talking to myself at one point, however, questioning my sanity.
"I think this is the final hill," I muttered.
"I think so too," I answered back.
Okay, fine, we all talk to ourselves. But do you answer back? Who the hell answered back?
I turned down Vandegrift for the final 10 miles, expecting a wicked headwind. I heard a whistling wind but my speed was still holding steady. Hmmmm. Must have lucked out and gotten a crosswind. On Torch with my wheels and aero helmet, I zipped easily past several other athletes. As I neared T2, I felt victorious. I had consumed 750 calories (my goal was 250/hr) and 72 ounces of water. I felt fresh. I could have gone another 56 miles. Hmmm. Maybe I didn't push hard enough?
However, when I rode into T2, my elation plummeted. Torch was one of the last bikes to return to the rack. I know it shouldn't have mattered but it did. I know I should have been happy about my personal improvement but it was tough. Very tough.
Overall my bike was 3:24 (16.5 mph) and 6 minutes faster than 2 years ago. Even if it was only faster due to my fancy equipment (helmet, bike, wheels), my perceived effort was much lower. I think my only mistake was not going hard enough. I went at my IM pace, not HIM pace.
I slipped on my shoes and socks, grabbed my visor, tampon and Fuel Belt (stowed in a cooler with ice packs) and ran off to the Port-a-Potty. It was disgusting but that's okay. I didn't have time to sit down anyway. I had to pee like a racehorse. I can't believe how much I overhydrated. WTF? Feeling much, much better afterwards, I trotted off to begin the run.
I had written my splits on my arm to prevent myself from running the first half too fast. My legs felt stiff and heavy and for some reason, it makes me run the first few at waaaay too fast a pace to sustain. Right off the bat, I had to battle the deep sand. 1/4 mile of deep sand at the beginning and end of each lap (1 mile total). I thought it would be horrible. Everyone was walking and griping. It actually wasn't too bad (thanks, trail running!). I focused on picking my feet up high to avoid getting sand in my shoes and maintaining a rhythm. I zipped in and out of people and was back on the concrete in no time. Yes, concrete. Ugh. That was by far the worst part about this race. 12 miles of pounding on concrete. Not even asphalt. My knees were not happy on Sunday. Reached mile 1 in 8:45. Too fast, too fast.
At the TCSD "Love Stop", Darrell ran with me a bit. He really pumped me up. Such a nice guy. It was soooo wonderful seeing all my friends out there on the course or cheering me on from the sidelines. At no point, did I feel lonely or unsupported. One of the perks of racing in your backyard. I was so busy looking around for all my friends, I didn't even realize I had to run! Great distraction. It really took my mind off the pain. The run was almost like a social hour for me (okay, 2 hours). Every time I spotted another athlete in a TCSD singlet, I cheered them on. This made it really fun. Mile 2 came and went. 9:00 on the money. I did a silent, internal victory dance.
--down the chute, happy to be nearing the end.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
--Duking it out on the hilly CA 70.3 bike course on Bluebell in '07