Saturday, September 23, 2023

Santa Cruz 70.3 2023

 I raced in the Santa Cruz 70.3 Triathlon on Sunday, September 10, 2023. Life has been so busy since school began that this A race now seems like a blip on the radar. In retrospect, it was a tiny oasis of respite where I could relish all the gains from my hard work. This race went as smoothly as I could have hoped. The course was beautiful, the race was well-organized, and I was well-prepared. 

It had been 5 years since I had done a long-distance triathlon. During the pandemic, I let myself go. I thought the world was ending, and eating and drinking took priority over working out. I gained 20 pounds. I'm also getting older and the changes associated bring about new challenges, as everyone in my boat is all too familiar with. Despite my hard, consistent efforts to prepare for this race, I was still nervous. I think this is a good thing. It also meant I was excited.

Race day started in the 50s with a few clouds and ended in the 70s with blue skies. The ocean was 60 degrees, and I was glad I had done a short swim the day before to acclimate. I felt calm, but excited in the chute. I placed myself towards the front with the faster swimmers so as to get into the water sooner. This was a brilliant strategy; it still took 40 minutes to get in. Next year, I will seed myself even closer to the front. 

There was a harbor seal close to the beach as we ran into the water, curiously watching all 2000 of us weird humans plunge into the water. That was a good omen. I had the fastest swim of my life, benefitting from the pull of a crowd of fast swimmers around me. I swam way faster than in my practice and became quickly hypoxic, gasping for air. I changed my breathing technique to accommodate, breathing every other  stroke instead of every three. I then would switch sides every 10 strokes. I was definitely more crooked, and  I am still going to practice switching every third since bilateral swimming is more efficient. I guess anything goes on race day. Regardless, the swim was a blast, and I felt hyped the entire time. 

I donned my bike jersey in transition, stuffed with food and hopped onto the bike. Spectators chuckled as I stuffed a PB&J into my mouth. I was hungry. The bike went north along the coast to Pigeon Point with spectacular views of the Pacific the entire time. The road was flat to rolling, and luckily, the winds were unusually calm that day with a small but blissful tailwind on the return. I relaxed, ate, drank (peed-on the bike) and enjoyed myself, averaging 17 mph. I had a great bike and didn't feel sore or taxed at all. I think the Marin Century a few weeks prior really helped.

The half marathon was also a beautiful course. This was definitely the hardest part, as my legs were tired but I love running. I had to focus on my breathing and picking my legs up to try to maintain a steady 10 minute mile. The 2 miles of trail in Wilder halfway through was challenging, but I love trails. I was a little frustrated that I felt so taxed but I maintained a steady pace throughout and was able to meet all my goals.

My goals were to be healthy and safe, have fun, and break 7 hours. I finished in 6:20. It was a great race, and I can't wait for my next one!

Venkat from Silicon Valley Triathlon Club cheering me on at their Barbie-themed aid station at mile 12. It was great to see so many friends on the course! I'm so glad I joined SVTC.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Sandman Triathlon, 2023

I raced the Sandman Triathlon this past Sunday, in gorgeous Aptos, California. Aptos is a small, coastal town, south of Santa Cruz. I love this grass-roots, no frills, down-to-earth atmosphere of the Sandman. This was my fourth year, and as expected, the race did not disappoint. 

The ocean was a 0.75 mile ocean swim around the cement ship at Seacliff Beach. Typically, water is in the 50s (Farenheit) but Hurricane Hilary had brought an upwelling of warm water, increasing the temp to a balmy 63. The water was actually inviting when I waded in, bracing for the usual shock of the icy water. I can't believe I thought 63 degrees was was warm! Guess those open water swims with the Water Dogs at Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz has been paying off! I started fast and then settled in after 500 yds. The morning fog made it difficult to sight but I used the cement ship to sight and was pleased with nailing straight lines. I shaved :20/100 yds off my base pace compared to my last race. Maybe all this swimming and practicing drills is finally paying off! 

The bike was 13 scenic miles through the neighborhoods of Los Aptos, paralleling the coast. This year, due to construction, the route had been changed to a coastal out-and-back. In previous years, the route curved inward through farms, vineyards and beautiful vistas. The previous route was also very curvy and more hilly. I needed my road bike for previous years but this year's course had several opportunities for aero bars. I regretted not having Torch for this ride. I enjoyed the bike course, nonetheless, and found the several up-and-downs fun and challenging. The only thing that would have made it better are some volunteers at the turn-around. I missed it and biked a few extra miles before realizing I needed to turn around. Bonus miles!

The 4 mile run course is entirely on the sand of the beach between Seacliff and New Brighton beaches (out-and-back). It's challenging but fun. I pretend it's a trail obstacle course, slow down, and enjoy a great workout. I was happy the run course this year offered plenty of hard-packed sand, unlike last year, where weather conditions temporarily replaced the sand with rocks (the "Rockman"). I navigated piles of sea weed, rocks, driftwood, and people, which was actually pretty fun. My mind was occupied with where to place my feet so the time flew. In addition, the stunning Pacific Ocean was marvelous to watch. Seals popped their head out of the water from time-to-time, sea birds hovered and dove to catch fish, and the rhythmic moving of the water was hypnotizing. I love the Sandman, but my absolute favorite part of the race is the run, which of course is the namesake of this race. 

I had a fantastic time, got a great workout, and shaved 10 minutes off last year's time. Maybe all this working out is paying off!

Sunday, August 20, 2023

First Week of School and Well-Timed Recovery Week

 I can't believe another year has passed. August always feels like the beginning of a new year for me since I'm a teacher. What a difference! I love the fitness I've built but the first week of school really got me, even though I've been doing it for 11 years. I was exhausted. Luckily, it was a recovery week, but I hadn't planned on 3 rest days in a row. It happens. My watch indicated that I walk 3-5 miles a day on campus! No wonder my lower back and feet hurt (I'm also standing all day). Anyway, I'm not proud of my crash and burn but I needed the rest.

Today, I felt much better after sleeping all day Saturday. I took the rode bike (Pandora) up King's for a 23 mile ride (2,000 feet of climbing), and I felt fantastic. Great workout. I'm feeling like myself again. I can't believe Santa Cruz 70.3 is in 3 weeks! I'm feeling good. I have a 3-week taper left. This week, I will do all the regular workouts but shorten the distance a bit and focus on speed. I have a sprint triathlon on Sunday (Sandman Tri in Aptos) that I'm super excited about. Should be fun.

Training Tips for Me to Remember:

  • Rest days and recovery weeks are important too.
  • Swim: 3 times a week really lets me see gains. Keep it up!
  • Bike: Focus on pulling up with the hamstrings, as well as pushing down. Pedaling in circles makes a huge difference!
  • Run: 3 times a week is necessary to maintain. Track workouts once a week are amazing for strength. Strength workouts 2x a week prevent injury. Trails are amazing. Note: Don't run barefoot, even on sand. I don't have the biomechanics for it!

Highlights from my Summer:

So many and most are exercising outdoors. In addition to joining the Silicon Valley Tri Club, Redwood Half Marathon in Oakland Hills, Marin Century with Alan, and swimming in Santa Cruz, I've posted some pics of Juneau and I at Fort Funston during our final week of summer. We did a mellow 4-mile run (she did more), and I picked up trash and collected some feathers. We went on a week day so very few people and not much traffic. It was heaven!

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Redwood Trail Half-Marathon

On Saturday (8/12/23), I ran the Redwood Trail Half Marathon, hosted by Coastal Trail Runs, in the redwoods of Oakland Hills. It was a wonderful experience. Although it is August, the weather was perfect, sunny and 70s. The trails were cooly shaded by redwoods, oaks and eucalyptus. I rarely get to explore trails in the East Bay so it was a real treat to run on interesting, new trails. We shared the trail with other hikers, dogs, and mountain bikers, but everyone was relaxed and polite. In addition, the trails were not that crowded, even though we started at the late-ish hour of 8 am (did I just say that?). Having both a dog and a mountain bike, I made a mental note to return more often. 

I had been worried about my left ankle. I think I've developed some tendonitis from rolling it on trails too many times. After a beach run with Juneau, the pain was flaring up again. My A race this year is coming up on September 10 (Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz). The goal of this half marathon was to build endurance and strength for my upcoming race. My training has been heavy lately, as I push through this final "build" period of my training before tapering. My legs were still tired as a result of the Mt. Tam Century last weekend. Of course, that was kind of the point since running on tired legs will simulate my race conditions. 

The start of the race was crowded but informal and relaxed. Many were running much longer distances than me (up to 50k). My goals were to a) not get injured, b) have a positive experience, and c) get a good workout. I started slowly, walking briskly on the crowded trail. The crowd thinned out quickly, and I began jogging, carefully darting around those with a slower pace. The race started with significant downhill for the first several miles, so I was much slower than others as I carefully negotiated roots, rocks, and washouts. Listening to my body, I took it slow for about the first two miles, until I could warm up. I enjoyed some of the short uphills that appeared (those Tri Club run workouts with hill repeats are paying off!). When the trail leveled out for several miles in the middle, I settled into a comfortable base pace and enjoyed the views. 

Unfortunately, what goes down must go up when you are running in a loop. The last several miles were uphill with the steepest one about mile 8. I was forced to walk and bend forward, swinging my arms to pull myself up the hill. Eventually, the grade of the hill eased, and I could jog again. I felt strong and steady as I pushed myself to run up the final hills. The end came all too quickly. I was not fast, but I felt fresh and strong, and I maintained a steady pace the entire time. 

Bonus: I saw the biggest garter snake I've ever seen cross the path just before me at mile 10! It was at least 3 feet long, fat and happily slithering across the trail with a bright yellow stripe running down its side. 

I also saw an osprey sitting on top of a post by the 92 Bridge, overlooking the Bay. (Large raptor with black back and wings and a white breast.

Sunday, August 06, 2023

Mt. Tam Marin Century

 I rode the Mt. Tam Marin Century Saturday (Aug. 5). I didn't think I could do it. It had been 5 years since I had ridden my bike that far. And it was almost 9,000 feet of climbing. My longest ride had only been 68 miles with 5,000 feet of climbing. Was I ready? I knew I had done these before, but that was a long time ago. The only memories I retained was how much pain and suffering was involved. But I had decided if I could do a century, I could do the Santa Cruz 70.3 bike portion more confidently. 

We started before 7 am. Anxiety made it easy to rise early, eat, and ride in silence for 90 minutes to Novato. What had I signed up for? It was cold at the beginning and everything was covered in a dense, wet blanket of tule fog. I started off with a full jersey of electrolytes and food, donning a thin windbreaker, arm warmers, and headband, only to remove them fifteen minutes later. Even though the temperature started at 54 degrees, it quickly rose. Soon the fog rolled away and the sun heated exposed sections of Mt. Tam to mid 70s. 

The first 8 miles were the worst for me. I felt sluggish, and everyone and their grandma was zipping by me. I'm not a speedy person, and I take a long time to warm-up. I'm also a slow climber, and the bulk of the climbing arrived immediately. Having a riding partner was immensely helpful. We focused on the first aid station, about 30 miles in, which seemed to take forever to reach. We stopped, and I ate excitedly-I was hungry! I immediately felt better, and by the time we reached the next aid station at mile 42, I was finally feeling warmed up.

We formed a mini paceline  along the windy flats on Highway 1; there was a mild southbound headwind. I enjoyed our tour of Marin County as we wound around Mt. Tam,  Nicasio Reservoir, Stinson Beach, Olema, Marshall and Point Reyes. I couldn't believe how much I was enjoying myself. I had worried about a lot more pain and suffering. The final 3-mile climb up Marshall was my favorite because I still felt good, and I just settled into my well-practiced base pace. I was not fast, but I got a great workout, and I enjoyed myself as well. 

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask "What if I fall?"
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson

-Stafford Lake Park (Novato. Start/finish).

-Nicasio Reservoir (I loved the bagpipes!)

-morning tule fog moving west around Mt. Tam

-We did it! Time to eat!

More Pics!

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Working out at a lower intensity

I somehow nailed a perfect week despite 2, much-needed rest days. That's 2 weights and 3 of all the sports: run, bike, and swim. I didn't think I would be able to do it. I've been logging some big miles and feeling it. Then I heard a podcast (maybe more than 1) where pros do 80% of their training at base pace or easier and most age groupers spend too much time training too intensely. Then, you can't recover in time for the next work out. In addition, getting out the door is always the hardest. Sometimes, I put too much pressure on the workout to go fast or long. What about just making it fun? Take pictures? Explore a new area? 

I had a big training weekend. I swam 1 mile around the Santa Cruz pier to preview the 70.3 course with some buddies from Silicon Valley Tri Club. (I think I've shaved 5 minutes off my mile time! Yay masters swimming!). Then, we rode the 56-mile course, riding out to Pigeon Point and back. Fantastic race day prep. I tried out my clothes, nutrition, bike, pace, etc. There was a brutal headwind on the way out, which played mind tricks on me. I focused on staying at base pace, hydrating, eating and staying mentally positive. I rode in the back of the group, determined to stay in a 2-3 RPE (rate of perceived effort on a scale of 1-10). At the turn-around, since I had taken good care of myself, I felt fantastic and doubled my speed on the return, thanks to a rewarding tail wind. There are definitely a lot of rolling hills on the course but the unpredictable head winds were definitely the worst, in my opinion. However, now I know what to expect on race day so I'm mentally prepared. I will ride using the same strategy. Don't look at my pace, just focus on effort and breathing. Don't go out too hard. Eat and hydrate. Save it for the run. I made some new friends, and we had a yummy lunch at the Picnic Basket afterwards. 

Sunday, I met some new friends from SVTC on the Los Gatos Creek Trail. We ran 9 miles at a conversational pace. The miles flew by as my new buddy, and I chatted up a storm. Now, that's the way to do a long run!

After a long nap, I felt very tired but as I woke up, I realized I could sneak in 1 last, recovery bike and nail the 3rd bike workout for the week. Using this new strategy of "going easy" that I've been hearing about from buddies and podcasts, I took my mountain bike for a spin at Baywell Bedfront Park, which is about 2 miles from me. It was such a treat to just get on my mountain bike and go exploring!

Time to stretch...

-At the beginning of the ride with Silicon Valley Tri Club in Santa Cruz. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

The Redemption Ride

 Yesterday, I rode 70 miles with 6,338 feet of climbing, which I call the Pescadero Ride. About a month ago, I tried to do this ride in the afternoon without enough nutrition or daylight and bonked at the Bike Hut, having to shiver in the dark for 2+ hours to wait for my partner to ride home and drive back to retrieve me. Severely humbled with a big chunk taken out of my ego, I decided to use it as a learning experience, prepare and try again. Since then, I've been preparing to redo this ride. 

Step 1-More training. I wasn't mentally or physically prepared. It had been years since I last did this ride. The last few weekends, I've been riding smaller chunks of the same ride to prepare.

Step 2-Leave earlier in the day. Seems obvious but I forgot that this ride takes me 6+ hours with stops. Unless I'm prepared to ride home in the dark, I need to leave in the morning.

Step 3-Electrolytes & carbs. I've been listening to a few podcasts, and they made me realize I was severely dehydrated and under-fueled. I've been tackling this with a multi-pronged approach in the event that my stomach (famously sensitive) decided to refuse one of my fuels. I've been using salt pills (Thermolyte) and 1 bottle of water. 2nd bottle has 1 scoop of Heed (electrolytes + maltodextrin). I stop to refill as needed. I brought a baggie with more Heed for the refill. I also supplemented with some Cliff Bloks (strawberry-no caffeine and orange-caffeine). Caffeine is great for later in the ride but too much gives me stomach cramps so I can alternate as needed. I also had a taco, Coke, and Milky Way at lunch. However, the solid food takes about 45 minutes to digest. 

I rocked the ride! Nutrition was a HUGE part of it, and I feel like I'm rediscovering something I've forgotten. Proper hydration and fueling actually does make a huge difference.

Other notes: I brought a windbreaker and arm warmers for the lunch stop since it's always cool and windy in Pescadero. I also am always armed with my id, credit card, phone and cash on long rides. 

I will need Chamois Butter next time. I had serious chafing and swelling afterwards.

It was 95 degrees on Page Mill (57 on the coast side). WTF?! Page Mill is the hardest part of the ride but it comes early. 

I practiced drafting off my partner. Wow, what a difference! That was fun. 

Stage Rd. is always grueling. I think the fatigue sets in, the hills are long and endless, and the calories from lunch haven't digested yet.

Only 2 banana slugs on Tunitas. Sad noises.

My rim tape blew at the bottom of King's, and Alan used a dollar bill to patch it for the remaining 10 miles home. I lost all my momentum after that, realizing how tired I was. Flats suck!

For a link to the Pescadero ride, click here.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

The Importance of Rest Days

 I don't have a coach but I do follow a loose training plan. My "A" race is in early September (Santa Cruz 70.3) so I worked backwards from there. I have a good base so I'm working on some speed right now before I do a final build and then taper. This week is supposed to be an "Active Recovery" week. 

I hate recovery weeks. I'm an all-or-nothing person. Usually my recovery weeks consist of crashing and burning on the couch for 7 days, feeling fat and depressed. This leaves me lethargic and sluggish the following week. Lately, I've been experimenting with still doing workouts but less. What a concept. I've also been incorporating some fun, slow workouts into these recovery weeks like drills in open-water, a casual mountain bike ride with friends or easy jog with my dog around the neighborhood. 

I took a rest day yesterday. No workouts. Mostly napped. I think my recent vaccinations made me tired as well, but I clearly had forgotten how important rest days are. I don't like to take rest days because they can turn into rest weeks. I'm terrified of losing commitment and fitness. But I was so tired. Rest days help me recover. I walked the dog. Did some Yoga. That helped. 

I still felt sluggish today until this afternoon. I had just enough time for a quick bike ride before my massage. I took Torch for 18 miles by Arastredero Preserve. I felt speedy and great! I also saw a coyote, casually ambling down the trail. It was so cool!

I'm trying really hard not to beat myself up about an "imperfect" week, especially during a Recovery week, which is supposed to be less by design. (A perfect week for me is when I nail all my workouts. Right now that is 2x weights and 3x swim, bike, run each). I need to learn to let things go and not obsess so much over volume. I'm a perfectionist. It's hard for me. But I love how I feel when I balance training and recovery. 

Rest on!

Sunday, July 16, 2023

11-mile Wunderlich Trail Run

 I will be racing in the Santa Cruz 70.3 Triathlon on September 10th. This is my A-race of the year. I have some key training events/races to help me prepare: Marin Century (Aug. 5th) and the Redwood Trail Run (Half Marathon, Aug. 12). 

My big run this week was an 11-mile trail run in Wunderlich Park, a shady but hilly run that begins in Portola Valley, winds up to Skyline Blvd and back down again. These long, solo trail runs are some of my favorite of the week. I love the meditative quality of long, slow runs in the woods, away from the harsh smog and pavement of urban runs. The challenge was the heat-it was scheduled to reach the low 90s on Sunday. Exhausted from daily, challenging workouts from Friday (56-mile out-and-back ride to where Hwy 9 meets Skyline Blvd. and home in Menlo Park. HOT!-90s) and Saturday (1.2 mile Santa Cruz pier swim with Water Dogs and Zone 1 bike-15 miles), I slept in until 8 am. By the time I reached the parking lot, it was full with cars waiting and 72 degrees. I was nervous about the heat so I drove down Portola Valley Road until I could find a place to park (almost a mile away). Then, I ran to Wunderlich to warm-up, stopped at the loo and began my run:

~3 miles to the Crossroads-turn right (Alambique Trail)

1st 3 miles: hilly and hot. most difficult part of the run. steady incline with a few steep sections. beautiful views and shady trees make it doable. 

~2 miles to Skyline Trail-turn left 

miles 4-5: gentle, scenic ascent to Skyline. My favorite part because challenged by uphill slope but more long than steep, which is my jam. Lots of shade, redwoods, vistas, wildlife. 

around mile 5.5, turn left on Skyline Trail. Enjoy a gentle, long descent back down to Alambique Trail. Turn left at intersection to return to the Meadows. Potentially a fast trail, I always take my time due to multiple obstacles waiting to catch a toe (holes, roots, rocks, pinecones, lots and lots of pinecones). Fun to practice technical skills. 

miles 6-7: return down Alambique until trail that veers left to the Meadows appears. Last little climb up. Very hot but less than a mile before 3-mile shady descent to parking lot along Bear Gulch Trail. Watch for hikers and equestrians. 

I had a fantastic run! It was hot (mid to upper 80s) but the shade helped and the first part was the worst, allowing me to get the hot part out of the way early. I nailed my salt, hydration and nutrition, allowing me to have a great run despite the heat. I had a great time and felt awesome all the way through. Could have definitely run 2x as far. 

As I was descending, I stopped and snapped a picture of the view. The entire run was very scenic and shady.

Wildlife seen 

(Pics shown below are to help with identification. They are not my photos):

2 turkeys

2 spotted towhees

1 blue-tailed skink

1 cottontail rabbit

4 western fence lizards 

1 Nuttall's Woodpecker

Several butterflies (1 Western Tiger Swallowtail, 1 cabbage white, and 1 orange sulphur butterfly each)

several California Sister butterflies (my favorite!)

several small, electric-blue narrow-winged damselflies (Vivid Dancers)

several dark-eyed juncos

amazing reference: Wunderlich 

lots of flora too: eucalyptus, oak, bay, redwood trees, manzanita, ferns, monkeyflower, Western vervain, purple thistle.

2 groups of equestrians. several clusters of hikers below the Meadows. 2 other trail runners (1 on each side above the Meadows). 

Friday, July 14, 2023

Enjoying the Ride

 As I prepare for today's long ride in the heat, I am reminded to stop and smell the roses. I see so many beautiful things on my workouts. Here are some of my favorites from the past few months:

Biking up Page Mill this spring, a coyote just calmly meandering by the road (near Palo Alto Foothills Park). And deer in the distance!

Mustard grass on the side of the road (same bike ride).

Below are pics from an 8-9 mile run at Windy Hill Preserve in Portola Valley (spring).

Thursday, July 13, 2023

So much to say... (Tri for Fun-Rancho Seco, Cal Tri Sonoma, Woodside Ramble)

  I feel like time is flying. The workouts keep coming. I'm on cloud nine but haven't had much time to post. My days are composed of wake up, eat, workout, eat, sleep, workout, sleep, repeat. I love having summers off. I've been doing 3 swims, runs, bikes and 2 weights weekly with daily stretching and naps. I feel great and am in good shape. I work hard mentally not to beat myself up or compare myself to where I was 10 years ago. I'm doing this for health and happiness. My goals are consistency and sustainability. My big finale this year will be Santa Cruz 70.3 (Sept. 10th). I'm ready. I'm excited. During my workouts, I try to slow down and enjoy the experience. Running on trails is my happy place. Below are some of my favorite photos of workouts and races from the past 6 months. 

I won my age group! Sometimes, getting older has it rewards. This was the Olympic Triathlon in Rancho Seco near Sacramento (Tri for Fun) in June, 2023. I had a great time.

Getting out of the water (left, red-and-white jersey) at Cal Tri Sonoma (Guerneville) in late June. The swim was in the Russian River (Johnson's Beach). I did the Olympic. Bike takes you to Windsor (point-to-point) and is very scenic, winding through farms and wine country. I had a  blast. 

Half marathon in Huddart Park (Woodside Ramble) put on by Inside Trail Racing (awesome events)this winter. I love running here and do so often. It's peaceful and in the mystic redwoods. It's only 20 minutes from my home. I did several (about 3) trail half marathons this season (so far). They are always wicked hard with lots of climbing (at least 2,000 feet). They always kick my ass, but I love the trails and the experience.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Kicking Butt and Feeling Good

I have been nailing my workouts lately and feeling strong. I feel like I've hit a sweet spot of gaining fitness and enjoying the process. Here's a recap of what I've been doing lately:

Sunday, July 9
Bike Hut Challenge with Alan. We parked at the top of Skyline and descended 9 miles to the Bike Hut and then timed to see how fast we could go to the top. I had a blast! I had never done this climb (2000 feet) on fresh legs before. It was chilly and misty, and I maintained a sustainable race pace the whole way, coming in at about 1:01. I counted 89 banana slugs.

Saturday, July 8
0.9 mile swim around the pier in Santa Cruz at Cowell's Beach by the Boardwalk. I met with the SVTC and Water Dogs for the first time. I'm trying to form some workout buddies to keep myself motivated. Such a friendly, inviting group of people. Water temp was 58 degrees, but I adapted after a few minutes, thanks to my wetsuit. I swam a little too close to the end of the pier, causing sea lion to drop in the water and come after me barking. This definitely made me practice my race pace! I also got a little sting from a jellyfish (probably a sea nettle) on my right wrist. I proudly showed all who would listen the little beaded welts in the shape of a tentacle on my wrist all afternoon. Good times. Definitely will do again.

Pier at Cowell's Beach, Santa Cruz
Water Dogs just before our swim.

One week ago, my dad and his friend took me mountain biking in south San Jose around Calero Reservoir. Fun and challenging (about 14 miles). We've really been lucking out with nice weather! Lots of little butterflies and a few lizards. My dad can still kick my ass on the mountain bike!

Saturday, July 08, 2023

Still Going Strong!

 I realize it's been about a year since I posted, but this time is different. I've worked out almost every day since the last time I posted, gained a ton of fitness, and shed 20 pounds! I've been racing successfully and feeling very healthy and fit. I recently joined the Silicon Valley Tri Club and am excited to be making new workout friends!

This morning, I met up with the "Water Dogs" at Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz. It was early, which means almost no traffic. The water was calm and a balmy 58 degrees. My wetsuit and ear plugs protected me from the brunt of the cold, and I quickly warmed up and found a comfortable pace as we made our way around the pier. I soon found myself in the back, as expected, but I didn't mind. I'm used to swimming by myself. At the end of the pier, I paused to take in the view. It was serene as the morning sun reflected off the glassy water and the fog in the distance began to lift. Too close to the sea lions in the pier, one barked at me and jumped into the water, headed in my direction. Warning heeded, I quickly continued swimming. The group was waiting for me on the beach by the Boardwalk when I exited the water. It was a lovely, must-be-repeated experience.

Yesterday, I enjoyed an 8-mile run through the Redwoods in Huddart Park. I was worried since it had been awhile since I had run that far. Surprisingly, I settled into an easy pace, bracing myself for the grueling 4 mile slog up the switchbacks towards Skyline. It was hard, but not too hard. My feet felt like springs, and I focused on keeping the momentum, bouncing from foot to foot as I trotted short strides up the steep hills. The wind began to sing through the trees, and I noticed a thick mist up ahead. Soon, it began to rain big fat droplets, pinging off the branches around me. Surprisingly, I did not get wet. I saw a large banana slug outstretched on the wet path beside me, antennae curiously outstretched, probing. "Hello, friend!" I called out. I rarely see banana slugs on the east side of Skyline so I took it as a good omen. Soon, I was cavorting down the final 3 mile downhill stretch back to the car, my favorite part. I took my time, wishing it was longer. What an incredible run!

Keep on, keeping on. Lots more to post, including:

Bonking and redemption Pescadero Coast Loop Ride

Lots of races!--Stanford Treeathlon, Tri for Fun Olympic in Rancho Seco, and Sonoma Olympic (Guerneville) as well as some fun trail half marathons--China Camp (several times--the ankle grabber) and Woodside Ramble.

Stanford Treeathlon (March 2023)

Redwood Shores. Very cold (air temp 50 (maybe) and water (52). Swim was cancelled as a result. Bike flat and fast but boring (several out-and-backs). flat and fast 5k run. Long wait time between transition closing (7 am) and my race wave start (10 am).


Santa Cruz Olympic Tri (September, 2023)

I love this race--consistently professional, well-organized, fun and fast. 

Swim: about a mile from the Boardwalk to the Pier. 

Somewhat of a run from swim exit to transition area (1/2 mile?) but I do it barefoot. Some wear shoes, strategically placed at the swim exit. 

Bike: 40k along Hwy 1 and very scenic with gorgeous views of the Pacific to the west. Course is rolling hills. Weather is usually very pleasant (60s-70s). 

Run: Flat and fast 10k with scenic views of the ocean. 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

New Year, New Me

The 2021-22 school year was tough. Really tough. In some ways, tougher than the year before, which surprised me. I didn't think anything could be tougher than distance learning. I let myself go, stopped taking care of myself, and devoted myself 100% to teaching. It was not sustainable.

This summer, I've had a chance to heal, rest, recover, and reflect. As I've gotten older, I've realized taking care of myself and being healthy is more important than ever. I gain weight more easily. Sleeping well is more difficult. Alcohol and caffeine have more negative impacts. I needed to actively reestablish healthy routines.

After 7 weeks of hard work, I'm proud to say I'm on a much healthier path. I've been choosing moderation over completely eliminating things from my diet, which has worked well. I've been counting calories and exercising. I've lost 9 pounds (I have about 11 more to go). I've gained muscle. I have more energy and feel more productive. I've been doing Yoga to work on stress relief and  recovery for my muscles. I feel stronger. Not every day is easy, and it's hard work, really hard work, but I'm proud of myself. 

As the school year approaches (next week), I'm nervous. Will I be able to maintain my healthy habits this year? What will make this year different from previous ones? I'm not sure, but I'm motivated and am not giving up. I'm planning on exercising every day and preparing by setting up workouts as appointments. I'm going to bring my workout clothes to school so I do it before I get home. I know not every day will be perfect, but I'm going to do the best I can. I'm not giving up.

I've signed up for the Sandman Triathlon (August 21). This will be my 3rd (4th?) time doing it. I'm not fast, but I'm excited about this fun, challenging race. I feel ready for it. If it goes well, I will sign up for more races. 

Keeping on, keeping on. 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Sandman Triathlon (August, 2021)

 I'm about to start Week 4 of school. School is exhausting. I had forgotten. It seems I can workout most mornings before school but after school is a crap shoot. I've never been able to get up early before. All of a sudden, I'm an early bird? I'll go with it. I've also lost 17 pounds and am maintaining it so far. 3 more to go to reach my goal! Feeling strong, feeling proud. 

Week 13: Training Continues

Monday (8/23)-weights in the am. swam about 2300 yds at Burgess after school. Did a descending ladder starting at 500.

Tuesday (8/24)-ran about 5 miles with Juneau before school

Wednesday (8/25)-swam with my friend at the M-A pool early in the am. She said I looked faster! Made me so happy. Did about 2300 yds. Main set was 3x200 and 4x100s at race pace with 20 seconds rest. I was so tired after school, I went home and went to bed at 4pm!

Thursday (8/26)-rest day. Tired and felt out of sorts. 

Friday (8/27)-ran 6 miles with Juneau. Pooped my pants. It happens. Had a massage after work and went home and went straight to bed. I've been TIRED lately. 

Saturday (8/28)-rest day. bad air quality and really hot (95 degrees). I could have done weights. I did lots of school work. And napped. Feel much more rested.

Sunday (8/29)-ran at least 13 miles at China Camp to preview the course for next weekend. I got very lost and kept running in circles. It was like the Bermuda Triangle. I'm very glad the course will be marked for next weekend. I still had a great time and am glad I have a bit more knowledge about the course. I was out on the trail for 4 hours!

(EDIT: got sick just in time for this race and decided to bail to race again another day. Unfortunately, I did not resume working out after being sick for the rest of the school year and gained back 12 pounds. Ugh. Frustrating.)

Week 12: Sandman Triathlon

The second week of school kicked my butt even more than the first. I still got my runs and weights in but that was about it. However, it worked out since I had the Sandman Triathlon on Sunday. It ended up being the perfect taper. I had a great race too! Very chilly (54 degrees) ocean swim with some nauseating swells (750 yards). I was surprisingly slow. Maybe because I was against the current? Anyway, it took me over 20 minutes! The bike was only 13 miles but very hilly. I took my road bike and ended up just riding my regular wheels, which was definitely slower. However, it rained, making the roads very slippery. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise. The bike took me 53 minutes. The run was 4 miles in sand. Lots of holes and seaweed to dodge. My shoes got soaking wet. I felt strong but definitely not fast. I think the trail running helped. Overall, I came in just under 2 hours. It was a fun workout. I had a great time and will definitely do that again. 

Water was cold (60 degrees). 3/4 mile swim-long for a sprint but fun!
Bike is only 12 or 13 miles but very hilly with lots of short, steep climbs and fun but windy descents through the beautiful hills of Aptos. The ride is beautiful and very scenic. 
This 4-mile run is always a big challenge since it is on the sand. This year, much of the sand had been recently washed away, leaving a steep and unpredictable slope down to the surf. This meant that I was running with one hip slightly below the other when I ran close to the waves, where the sand is usually the most compact (easier to run on). In order to run in more flat sand, I would have to leap up to deep sand. In addition, the beach isn't closed, meaning the entire course becomes a technical obstacle course. I have to keep my eyes peeled constantly for darting children, frisbees and dogs, fishermen and their lines, seaweed, logs, numerous holes, and other fun surprises. For some reason, I actually really enjoy this part of the Sandman. I have no expectations for going fast and find my mind completely occupied with where to put my feet. The miles fly by as I am challenged both cardiovascularly and mentally. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Still Going Strong. No excuses!

 Despite the first week of school kicking my butt, I still managed to do all my workouts! It wasn't easy but I'm very proud. The trick was not to focus on distance or speed but just doing a workout. I told myself if I didn't feel good after 5 minutes, I could quit. I never did! Plus, I managed to lose 2 more pounds!

Here's how the rest of Week 11 panned out:

Wednesday, August 11, 2021: First Day of School!

I woke up early and did weights! Who is this person? School was hectic and exhausting but so great. I'm so glad we are back in person. After school I was exhausted. By the time I got on the bike, it was 5:30. But the key was that I got on the bike. After a slow warm-up, I felt peppy and killed it for 20 miles on the trip bike! I even included some little hills with Alpine and Arastradero before coming back on Foothill, where I was going 18-20 mph. Smokin'!

Thursday, August 12: I took a nap. I didn't think I was going to work out. Around 8:30, I put on my headlamp, got Juneau and went out for a 5-mile run. It was so much fun! I love night runs!

Friday, August 13: After school, I went to the pool for a swim before my massage. Knowing I was getting a massage right after was great motivation. I did a back-free-breast warm-up, then a 500 free, followed by 3x200, 3x100,  and 4x50 to try to work on speed. I'm definitely not faster but felt strong and managed 2100 yds. 

Saturday, August 14: Let the hard training weekends begin! I ran in Huddart Park again but this time did 10.4 miles. It was HILLY (1800 feet--all in the first 6 miles) but the return descent was heaven. It was hot too! I drank my entire Camelback, plus 2 salt tabs and 5 orange Cliff Blocks. I think I'm training for a half marathon! The ice bath was heaven. 

Sunday, August 15: We did the Coast Loop (51 miles, 4,000 feet of climbing, up to Skyline twice). I basically did the same ride as last weekend but with more added to the middle. I killed it on Tunitas! I'm so proud of myself right now. Just very sore. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

School Starts Tomorrow!

 I am all ready for year 9! Everything is prepped and ready to go. I'm very excited, after a year-and-a-half of distance learning. I'm also motivated to keep up with exercise and healthy eating. I've loaded my classroom with healthy lunches and snacks and am going to bring my workout clothes with me to school and exercise immediately afterwards, instead of going home first.

Here's how the week has been going:

Sunday, 8/8/21:

After my very challenging Huddart Park run, we rode a 40 mile out-and-back ride to Half Moon Bay. The Bike Hut was our midway point. I was nervous. This is a very challenging, 4,000 foot ride with two trips up to the top of Skyline. Yes, my legs were tired. And, yes, I nailed it. I was enormously proud of myself. I felt strong (slow, but strong) the whole way and could have even gone farther! Link to Bike Hut Ride.

Monday, 8/9/21:

This was my first day back, and the endless meetings usually do me in. I forced myself to swim at Burgess and was so happy I did. The warm up sucked. My body was tired and sore. I put no pressure on myself and just kept swimming. Then, my body loosened up, and I found a good solid pace. I ended up swimming about 2300 yds. After a 450 warm-up (free-breast-back), I did a descending ladder (500-400-300-200-100). I ended with some 50s and a cool-down.

Tuesday, 8/10/21:

I was going to take a rest day, but I'm worried about skipping a day. I was exhausted after school so I took a nap. Juneau got me up and convince me to run. We did 4.75 miles around the neighborhood. I actually felt peppy!

Saturday, August 07, 2021

End of Summer, Finishing Strong

 I've had some great workouts this week. When I look back at where I was 10 weeks ago, I'm very proud of myself. My heart rate is 55, and I've lost fat and gained muscle. I feel stronger when I swim, bike, and run. I've also begun increasing the weights during my weight routine. School starts next week. I know I won't be able to work out at the same intensity that I am right now, but my goal is maintain consistency of workouts. Over the summer, I've been working out once or twice a day most days. I really enjoy it. During the school year, my goal is to maintain 5 workouts a week. In the past, I dive into school and abandon everything else in my life. I'd like to be more balanced this year. 

Here's how the rest of Week 10 panned out:

Friday, August 6

6-mile neighborhood run with Juneau

I ran with Juneau to school. I left the GPS at home. After my last run, I began beating myself up for being slower than normal. It sucked all the fun out of that run. I'm doing these workouts for fun and my health. I decided if focusing on speed wasn't making me happy, I'd just focus on enjoying the run instead. It was a bit more hot and humid than normal. I allowed myself to find any pace that was comfortable. And Juneau always helpful on runs. She is always so happy and eager to run; she helps me keep a consistent pace and motivates me to pick up the speed. If I'm hurting on the run, I just look down at her and see her smiling face and light, rhythmic gait, and I can't help but feel good. She's the best running partner.

At school, Juneau followed me around the classroom as a rearranged desks, climbed ladders to replace old ladders with new ones, and organized drawers. I scrubbed down the desks and wiped down the counters. I even tested out the new SmartBoard. When I sat down at the computer to print out masters, Juneau laid down beside me. Travis used to do that. Afterwards, Juneau and ran home. It was short and fast. We both felt sprightly after our active break at school. In total, I ran 6 miles. 

Fun Gull Park Swim

I then decided to jump in the inlet at Gull Park in Foster City and do a relaxing mile. The water felt silky and cool against my skin, refreshing after a hot run. The cool temperature (about 65-68 degrees F) soothed the joints and muscles in my legs. It was the perfect recovery. My stroke felt easy and rhythmic, allowing my mind to drift. I swam out to the bridge, against a mild current due to the afternoon wind coming off the San Francisco Bay. There was no one else in the water. I had the entire inlet to myself. The bubbles from my breathing and the sound of my hands slipping through the water was calming. On the return, the current picked up, pushing me forward, like a tailwind. The waves picked up; sometimes I would turn my head and discover no pocket of air and have to skip a breath. At times, it felt a bit like bodysurfing. It was actually quite fun. 

Saturday, August 7:

9-mile hilly Huddart Park run

I have a trail half marathon coming up in a month. I use Trailstompers to help plan my runs (this run is linked in the Title). It's been an amazing resource for me. Last week, I ran the shorter, 6-mile run (1100 feet) in Huddart to begin training. It went well so this week, I decided to do the entire 8.7-mile loop (1600 feet) feet this week. It was very hot and humid at the bottom; at least more than I'm used to. It was a long, slow run, so my goal was to run at any pace that felt comfortable. One rule: just keep running. 

There was a lot of climbing in this run. The first half is uphill and pretty steep at times, especially at the beginning on Richards and Skyline, which surprised me. Those hills came late and were super steep. I somehow kept my knees and feet bouncing me up the hill, even if my steps didn't take me far. I know I could walk them, but I wanted to practice running them because I know it will help me get up those hills more easily in the future. So I pushed myself. I wore a Camelback packed with some orange Cliff Blocks. I had only eaten a light breakfast; I was glad I had brought something with me to keep me from bonking. I sipped on my water every few minutes, especially at the beginning, where it was hot and I was already climbing. Somehow, I made it to the top. I was glad I had done the shorter version the previous weekend; that one had been tough too but at least I knew what to expect. 

The new section to get to the top of Skyline was just as much uphill with some really steep stuff on the top. I felt like someone was playing a prank on me. C'mon, really? Another hill? Finally, finally the trail that would begin the descent back into the park appeared. I had maintained my pace and run up the entire hill. The downhill would be my reward. I found renewed energy as my feet flew down the single-track trail and around the switchbacks. I focused on keeping my feet under me and landing light on my toes. I use my quads to pick up my knees and keep a high cadence. This is where the cycling helps. It really protects my knees and allows me to be a decent downhill runner. I had an awesome runner's high for the last 3 miles as I zipped downhill. I felt like the old me again. 

At the end, my legs were pretty tired and my muscles (especially my lower back!) were also fairly sore. I know we want to do a challenging bike ride tomorrow so I decided to take a 15 minute ice bath to help recover. Hope it helps!

Post note: I saw 5 lizards and 30 hikers. It was pretty busy. On the way home, I saw a doe with two fawns, grazing in a grassy field along the side of the road.