Friday, August 31, 2007

August Club Aquathlon

(Sunset at the Shores after the race. Thanks Paul for the pic!)

I learned the best way to get over a slump is to go and do a great workout. So after all my whining, I had some extra coffee and a Snickers and headed down to the Shores. I got there around 5:30 and got rock-star parking. Since the Aquathlon didn't start until 6:30, I figured I could get in some extra swim time.

Since my wetsuit is being repaired, and I'm trying to toughen up for winter, I "braved" it without a wetsuit. Normally, this wouldn't have been a problem since the water has been in the mid-70s. However, it had dropped yesterday to a chilly 67. I felt the bite on my feet as I slowly submerged myself into the water. Shuffling my feet to avoid sting rays, I dove in. Suddenly, I was no longer cold. I could feel the current pulling gently against me but there were no waves, it was low tide, and the water was calm and glassy. It couldn't have been more perfect.
I looked down and saw swarms of leopard sharks below me in the shallow water. They're brown and black spots glistened in the light. They were so beautiful. Leopard sharks are harmless and they congregate to the Shores every fall for breeding season. Sigh. Another sign that fall is here. I couldn't believe how many they were! They liked the shallow water too. I felt like I was swimming on top of them. As the water deepened a little, the leopard sharks disappeared, and I was surrounded by tiny schools of fish.

(benign leopard sharks; they get pretty big though!)

I swam for about 20 minutes before getting out and chatting with friends. It was so nice to see people! The club is really like a big family. I glanced over and saw a cute, petite woman that looked really familiar. It dawned on me that it was legend, Kate Major. I got all twitterpated but finally drummed up the courage to go over and introduce myself as we were walking over to the start. She was very nice.
I was still chatting (no, me?) when the race started. I hung out in the back, allowing all the speedy people to run out ahead. I followed behind, comfortably finding my spot midst all the thrashing elbows and kicking feet. It was weird but I felt very comfortable in the pack. I had someone to draft off of the whole time. Even though I was working for the 1000 m, there was always someone to draft off of, and we were going with the current.
Got out, glanced at my watch. 17 minutes. Not bad...for me. I did have a current, however. Threw down my cap and goggles and took off barefoot on the sand. I love swimming without a wetsuit and running without shoes but I hardly ever run barefoot. I figured since it was only 3 miles and on sand, I could manage it.
I felt so free and liberated. So light on my feet. Lightning quick. I was It dawned on me that this was why I do these things. As I hit the 1.5 mile turn-around, I was feeling quite happy that I had convinced myself to come to the workout.
On the 2nd loop, my feet started complaining. I had figured it would be my arches or calves that would go first. (Although my Achilles are cramping something awful today). No, it was the skin on my big toes. I seriously thought I had gotten a piece of shell lodged in each toe. It felt like I was running on broken glass. I dodged over to the water to try and soothe the burning, searing pain. Then, I tried to block it out. Just focus on form. Since I felt so fast and light (and the run was pretty short), the adrenaline had really kicked in, and I ignored the pain until it was all over.
This morning, however, I could barely walk. I have a pair of nicely-matching blood blisters--like thumb prints--on both big toes. Now, I'm just trying to figure out how to block out the pain for my long run on Sunday. Novacaine shots? Suggestions?
(after the race with Tri Club friend, Elizabeth; Thanks, Paul for the pic!)

After the race, we noshed on really good food the Club always provides, and I chatted with friends. I saw other San Diego tri bloggers, James and Paul, which was really cool. Finally got to talk to James at a standstill, as opposed to when he's blasting by in a race. That was a first. We all watched the sunset. It was very nice.
(Kate winning IM-AZ).
The absolute highlight, however, was chatting to Kate Major. I got up the nerve to ask her to autograph my visor. She did...and even added her signature "curly head"!
(Kate's signature logo--the curly head)
Then, we started talking about triathlon. She was so open and friendly and humble. A true role model in my eyes. I asked her about Ironman Japan--during which she had gotten sick from the water and ended up doing the whole race with GI upset and hallucinations. She still got 2nd (but still seemed disappointed; she's an animal!). Yes, she finished the Ironman even though her stomach hurt and she was hallucinating. And still got 2nd! Unbelievable.
Then, I told her I was training for IM-AZ, which would be my first. She freely offered training advice and Ironman racing tips for the next 10-15 minutes! I hung on every word.
She said eventually your body just gets used to the longer distances and naturally learns how to pace itself. That the first one is always the hardest because of that. She also advised me not to make the mistake of thinking Arizona would be easy because it's relatively flat. She advised me to still do hill training and lots of aerobar training and hill training in my aerobars. She told me to do Torrey Pines repeats (a local 1 mile hill in our area) until I could go up comfortably in my aeros. Phew! I'm just glad I can do it at all! Once! She also gave recommendations on other good hills in the area--Poway to Ramona 67, Lake Hodges, Del Dios--I know of these and have done these so at least I'm on the right track!
Since it was getting dark, and she was getting ready to leave, I tried not to ask too many questions; however, she seemed really talkative. I could tell that she really loves the sport. It was just awesome.
Feeling great since last night. Even did a Masters Swim this morning! Guess the best way to get out of a slump is to go and do a great workout! I'm ready for a kick-ass weekend. Bring it!
For even more details about the Aquathlon last night, here's a great link
Apparently, Normann Stadler was there too, and I didn't even know it! Jeez.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Chronically Overtrained Age-Grouper

I'm still trying to find my rhythm. Thinking of changing my blog title to "Chronically Overtrained Age-Grouper." Find the volume that will build me up without tearing me down in the process. It's not even the weekend, and I already feel spent. How did that happen? I would like to try and get through this week and then back off a little next week. Allow myself to miss a swim or a bike or a run and give myself an extra rest day so I feel extra fresh on the weekend. What would that feel like? To feel fresh for a long ride or run? I don't even know!

It all started Tuesday evening. The morning swim really took it out of me but I didn't realize it. I cranked out a solid 20 miles on the coast on Torch. I didn't feel like I went too hard. It felt perfect. I've even been wearing my G*#&m! heart-rate monitor (my ball-and-chain) to make sure my heart-rate doesn't go too high. Started out just cruising heart rate around 130. Hit some small hills and felt my afternoon snack(s) (I was hungry, ok?) slosh around in my stomach. Yuck. Glanced at my heart-rate. 160. Crested the hill, got aero and found "the zone". I caught myself breathing a deep sigh of relief. Glanced at heart rate. 143. My 140-145 zone on the bike is now my "official" aerobic, base-training zone. 160 and above is anaerobic b/c that's when I feel pukey. Brilliant! Who needs LT testing? Ha!

On the return home, I really felt good. I even pushed it a bit, enjoying the small surge of power I felt at the downward portion of each pedal stroke. Where had that come from? By the time I got home, stretched, showered and changed, I was a different person entirely. Suddenly, that awesome ride I'd had suddenly left me wiped. I declared that I would be skipping dinner in favor of lying down. I was so tired. When Jason put dinner in front of me anyway, I scarfed it down within 10 minutes without even realizing it. He just looked at me with this astonished look on his face. Then, I promptly went to bed. It was 8:30 pm. I slept through the entire night, no problem. Guess I bonked. But how? On a little training ride? I am a weak, weak girl right now.

Wednesday, I ate ravenously all day. Anything I could get my hands on. I was starving all day. Nothing I ate satiated me. It was really irritating. That evening, I joined my friends for a little beach run. I went an easy 4 miles just to get it done. It was very hot and humid--something that doesn't help the overtrained athlete. Felt fine otherwise. Actually had some very nice moments where I found my rhythm and settled in. At one point, I was running over a stretch of sand, wet with a gloss from a recent wave. It looked like I was running on glass. Little specks of water and sand flicked up on my calves as I ran. I noticed when I was running smoothly and in good form, I almost felt like I was running in place. On the way back, when I tried to push a bit, I didn't feel so good. I realized I could slow down to ease up on the intensity, and it was like an epiphany. Slow down? Oh, right. What a concept! Ate a really healthy dinner of fruit, salad, sushi, and iced tea.

Thursday morning, I dragged myself out of bed and onto the trainer. Didn't want to do it but knew I should at least try. First 20 minutes sucked as Coach Troy went through a base training session. Wore the stupid heart rate monitor again. I could only get it around 130--don't know if it's b/c I hate the trainer (boring) or b/c I'm overtrained. I hope it's the former. After 60 minutes, I had enough.

I really want to do the club Aquathlon tonight. We'll see. I've been slogging all day. This sucks! Why can't I keep up with my workouts? Why are they so hard all of a sudden? This is ridiculous!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What a difference a workout makes!

I feel SO much better. I lifted weights yesterday. Guess I've been slacking on those. When did dips become so hard? Plus, I swam in my masters class this morning. My shoulders are sore but it felt so good to get in the pool!

Monday, August 27, 2007

I Hate Recovery Weeks!

I'm terribly ashamed of my slacker week but this is a full-disclosure blog. Maybe if I embarrass myself enough, I won't do it again! Last week was a well-earned recovery week. Unfortunately, because I had pushed it so hard the previous 3 weeks, I ended up feeling overtrained and borderline sick going into it. No problem, right? It's a recovery week!

Problem. Recovery weeks are supposed to be reduced volume and intensity (about 50% less), not total time off! This isn't the off-season, folks! However, by the time Monday rolled around, I had a persistent sore throat and headache. I thought for sure I was doomed for a nasty cold.

I had felt kind of run-down in my training week but had slogged right on through. I kept thinking, "I can rest during my recovery week." Ugh. I should have listened to my body and backed off when it told me to. In addition, I had been skipping stretching, good nutrition and NAPS!!! Bad, bad, bad.

Okay, so Day 1 of recovery week--Monday--well-earned rest day. No guilt. Day 2 (Tuesday)--I skipped my morning swim and opted to sleep in instead. Still, no guilt. I was still sore and tired from the weekend. Day 3 (Wednesday)--still had the sore throat and headache and ended up sleeping all day. Thursday? same thing. This was getting ridiculous. Friday--the sore throat and headache were worse. Skipped workouts. Saturday--1st day I finally felt better. Plus, I was tired--but in a good way. For some reason, I needed to sleep a lot more but was finally feeling well-rested when I woke up.

Oh, and did I mention my diet was atrocious all week? Pizza, bagels, donuts, ice cream, Big Macs, french fries, milk shakes, cheeseburgers, onion rings. It was ridiculous. I can always tell when I've pushed too hard when my body craves crap-food.

By the time Sunday rolled around, I was cranky and depressed. Not working out makes me one grumpy gal! I had forgotten the mood-lifting effects of exercising. Sheesh! Luckily, I did a lot of watercolor painting in my down-time, which was very therapeutic.
Sunday, I dragged my sorry ass to my group long run. I held back while everyone else ran 10 miles. I knew that was ridiculous on a recovery week when I had felt like ass all week and this was my first workout in a solid week! It was SO hard to hold back. I hated it. People kept asking me if I was hurt, what was wrong, if I hadn't been training in awhile. I felt fine! I totally could have pushed harder but I wanted to stick to the workout I needed. I am vowing to be more disciplined about following the purpose of my workouts! Hard means hard and easy means easy!
I let everyone go at the 3 mile point and walked. I watched the surfers to the west while a very entertaining thunderstorm duked it out to my east. I smiled to other walkers and enjoyed just being outdoors. After a half mile up, I turned and walked a half mile back, at which point, the faster runners had caught me again. I ran the final 3 miles back for a total of 6 miles running with an extra 1 mile walk in the middle. I felt fantastic on the way back. First 3 miles never count anyway, right?
So my sore throat is gone, and I'm ready to start back into my training week. However, I'd like to prevent myself from burning out again by the next recovery week. It'd be much better to pace myself and reduce 50% instead of having to take an entire week off! There are a couple of options.
#1) Do 2 on and 1 off instead of 3 on and 1 off.
#2) Build more slowly for the 3 on.
I'm kind of leaning towards #2. After my terrible spring sinus infection, I was able to handle 6-8 hours/week without much of a problem (see graph at top). It wasn't until this last base training phase where I was going 12+ hours/week that I felt really blown-up. Also, I need to dial-down the intensity a notch to make sure I truly am base training. My weekend long bike and long run are the most important workouts. Everything should revolve around that. After that, is my masters swimming since it is helping me so much. Plus, the swimming doesn't take it out of me as much as the biking and running. Finally, I need to focus more on diet, sleep, stretching and recovery. So I'm back in! With a more disciplined approach.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Looking back--Part II

I remember training for my 1st half-marathon. It was in October, and I was doing my long training runs around Forest Park during Indian summer in St. Louis. Of course, I refused to wake up early back then so most of my runs took place mid-day, during peak heat and humidity. I was stubborn. (No! you say. You? Stubborn? Never!)

My first 12 mile run (2 loops around the park), I was still running without hydration. I didn't know any better. I got so thirsty, I began hallucinating drinking fountains halfway around my second lap. Seriously. I remember seeing a drinking fountain and running off the path to quench my thirst, only to stand in horror and disbelief when it disappeared right in front of me. Like some sort of cruel joke.

Next weekend, I had my brand-spankin' new Fuel Belt, which only held 2 bottles. Still not enough, I know, but I didn't want to be weighed down. I had filled 1 with Propel and the other with good ole' H2O, and off I went. I couldn't believe how much better I felt. I flew through the 2 laps like it was nothing. 3/4 through the 2nd lap, I let myself go, striding out with 2 miles to go. I flat out sprinted the last 1/2 mile, even though my right abductor felt a little weird.

When I woke up from my recovery nap afterwards, I realized I couldn't lie on my right side. My right hip was on fire. Something was wrong. I had pulled a hip abductor. I still ran the half marathon 2 weeks later, and my abductor was still healing. But I got through it. Somehow.

Actually, it was one of my best times ever. But all I was doing back then was running. (It's hard to keep improving 1 sport when you train for 3.) I've learned that proper hydration and nutrition is important. I've sinced graduated to a 4-bottle Fuel Belt that looks suspiciously like a dorky fanny belt. I fill it with water spiked with Elete electrolytes and take along salt tablets and Cliff Blocks. I empty all 4 bottles during a hot 13 miles. I've also discovered sunblock, a visor and a good pair of cheap sunglasses.

And I also learned that when you feel really good in a training run, you sometimes still need to hold back. It was like fueling the tank with rocket fuel but still in the frame of an old VW beetle. My frame simply wasn't ready for it. Not only that, but looking back to this weekend, I've realized it does get easier. 13.1 miles used to be so overwhelming to me. Now, it's no big deal. When did that happen? I have to keep remembering that as I begin to train for Ironman Arizona. It will get easier. I will adapt. At least, maybe it will make it seem easier if I keep telling myself that. And, really, what's the difference?
finishing the final mile of the Silicon Valley 1/2 marathon 10/31/2004.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Looking back

Looking back, it seems I've come a long way. I remember when running a half-marathon was a big deal. Now, I still try to get in a long bike the day before, run the 13.1 miles and jump in the ocean afterwards for a 1 mile "recovery" swim. Since when was any workout a recovery? I remember when I couldn't wrap my head around running 13.1 miles.

When I was about 13 years old and in Pony Club, I did a tetrathlon. We had to swim, shoot, run and jump our horses over a stadium course. The jumping I had no problem with, and I could always run. The shooting (air pistol) was very hard. My toothpick arms had a hard time holding the gun steady as I aimed at the target. I thought the swim would be cake since I had practiced swimming laps in our backyard pool. I hadn't anticipated competing against future Olympic medalists training for hours a day with their swim team. The gun went off, and I started off doing what I thought was freestyle. The other girls zipped back and forth, lapping me as if I was standing still. My arms were so sore and tired, I thought they were going to fall off. My dad caught the whole thing on video tape. It's quite comical. As the other girls fly through the waters like lithe dolphins, my long, noodle arms flop out of the water and back in, like lazy crooked propeller blades.

Maybe I should have remembered this when committing to triathlon. But I figured there were lots of other triathletes out there who didn't come from a swimming background. I would muscle through. Only thing is...I didn't and have never had much muscle despite protein shakes and weight training. After my first triathlon, I realized my swimming needed help. I could do freestyle comfortably but worked hard to go nowhere. I found a Total Immersion coach and learned proper technique. I started doing masters swim workouts. Slowly, I got better.

Just when I got an ounce of confidence, I moved to San Diego where locals cut their teeth in the swimming pool and the ocean. I was quickly put in my place after my first sprint triathlon when I placed in the bottom of my age group. In St. Louis, I had been on the podium several times. Now, I was swimming with the sharks instead of the ducks. But I was still a duck--getting eaten!

It's been a year now since I moved here. I'm still taking lessons, going to swim clinics and diligently going to my masters' swim workouts. I'm still in the slow lane. It's been an agonizingly slow process but I have been steadily improving.

It first hit me how much I had improved when I took a solid 8 weeks off to recover from a chronic sinus infection. Upon returning to the pool, I had lost 30 seconds from my 100 meter time. I was fatigued after swimming 40 meters. I couldn't believe how hard swimming was all of a sudden. That's when it hit me. Oh. All the work I had put into my swimming before had been paying off. I had no idea until I stopped swimming. Sometimes you need to regress before you realize how far you've come.

It only took 6 weeks to return to where I was before my swimming hiatus. Not bad. Not bad at all. I'll take it. I've been working doggedly. But my stroke feels smoother. The water is more slippery. Plus, my shoulders and neck don't hurt after I swim. All of a sudden, I can swim 2500 meters in my class and feel refreshed afterwards. Before, I would feel completely spent after each workout.

I did an easy mile in La Jolla Cove on Sunday. I didn't feel like it since I had just run a half marathon but I promised myself I could quit if I got in the water and still wanted to turn back. As soon as I dove in, I saw glittering schools of fish and bright orange Garibaldi, glowing against the soft velvety green seaweed background. The thought of quitting was washed instantly from my mind. The refreshing saltwater quieted my tired mind and soothed my aching body. I quickly found a rhythm with my breathing and my stroke and was moving away from shore. I heard clicking and whistling under the water at one point. Looking up, I caught a glimpse of a shiny gray dorsal fin to the east. Dolphins. In that moment, all was right with the world.

The group I had gone out with had a kayak to support them. Since I was the slowest swimmer, he stayed with me until my turn-around point. The rest were going 3 miles so he hurried to catch up to them. He gave me a worried look but I waved him on. I had no fear even though I was half a mile from shore in the middle of the ocean. The water was calm and blue and warm. I didn't even have my wetsuit. I could see other swimmers and kayakers about. After reassuring him, I calmly swam back to shore. I focused on reproducing the slippery feeling I get in the pool when my technique is spot on. Pretty soon, I had the right feel, which elated me. I picked up speed and happily soared back into the cove. I spent a few minutes swimming around, gazing at all the fish before heading up to the lawn.

From the lawn, I could see where I had been swimming. It was hard to believe I had been out there by myself. A dot in the vast emptiness of the ocean. But I had never felt alone. Quite the contrary. I had felt completely at peace. I may not be a fast swimmer. But I've been getting better. And I'm good enough now that I can enjoy the ride.

Monday, August 20, 2007

20 things that triathlon has taught me about life

A friend e-mailed this to me so I thought I would share (plus my 2 cents):

> 1. There are good days and there are bad days and sometimes you can't
> tell the difference until you start.
--totally true. sometimes I feel like crap until 4 miles into a run.

> 2. Contrary to popular belief, sleep is not overrated. Not in the
> slightest. --I'm sold. I'm a napper and an 9 hour-a-night sleeper. It should be the 4th sport.

> 3. Don't forget to breathe. --Breathing is rhythm. Rhythm carries you through the tough moments.

> 4. Be Positive at least.
--Negative thoughts area the beginning of your undoing.

> 5. Nobody ever said it was easy. --True. But I didn't think it would be this hard!

> 6. Pain is temporary. Pride lasts a lifetime. Sometimes even two. --And then there's that moment after pain, called relief. Pure bliss. And it feels so good it almost makes the pain worth it. That moment, when you realize you love the pain b/c you're living for the moment after--you know you're a masochist--and a true triathlete.

> 7. Create a plan and stick to it. It may not always work, but if you
> stay focused and relaxed, it'll all end up just fine.
--It's not rocket science, folks.

> 8. You've got to try. No matter what happens, in the end you'll have
> bigger regrets from not ever trying. --The thought of how bad I'll feel if I don't do it is sometimes what gets me out of bed and into the pool in the a.m. And it's always worth it afterwards.

> 9. Strength and courage blossom from the sands of adversity. --What doesn't kill you...well, you get the picture.

> 10. Sometimes it's the little things that make the big differences. --Every little step...

> 11. Getting to the starting line is usually a lot harder than getting
to the finish.
--Ugh. No kidding. I always feel like sh*t at 4:00 am.

> 12. Listen to your body and listen to your mind. And make sure you
know when they're lying to you.
--Hmm. Still don't know the difference. Maybe that's why I'm always overtrained?

> 13. You can't change the past and you won't alter the future. Enjoy
> right now, right now. --It's all about the moment.

> 14. Smile. It does a body good. --Ugh. Takes too much effort!

> 15. Be supportive of others. We're all in this together. --Good one. Helping others will help you get through the tough times.

> 16. It's OK to cry.
--better to laugh though. (also ok to puke?)

> 17. Don't forget to eat. Especially breakfast -- that's a really
> important one. --even if it's just a power bar and juice.

> 18. Listen to your Coach.
--or your training plan. Don't forget off days and recovery weeks!

> 19. Taper Week doesn't mean Recovery Week.
--It doesn't? I can't watch Simpsons and eat burgers? Damn!

> 20. Always Have Fun.
--Otherwise, what's the point?

--this just cracked me up...

Club Race, Saturday Ride & AFC Half-Marathon Race Report

I am a bit stuffed from the weekend. Felt a sore throat coming on but didn't listen. We'll see what happens. Knowing this week was a recovery week, I kind of pushed it.

Saturday, I volunteered for my club's race in Coronado ( It was an Olympic distance and I manned the bike-turn around at the end of the Silver Strand bike path--the 7.5 mile point (2 loops for 30 miles). I had to work hard to keep cyclists and pedestrians and roller bladers away from the turn-around. It was an open course but I didn't want anyone getting killed as crazy tri guys on their TT bikes with disc wheels and aero helmets came flying out.

The roller bladers were really interesting--Euro guys decked out in helmets and bike jerseys, zipping along in a paceline. They were clustered in the patch of shade where I had set Torch, making me nervous. I don't like strangers hovering around my bike. Maybe I need a bike alarm that hoots and whistles with a voice that says, "Back away from the Kuota!" in a very aggressive manner.

Afterwards, I started out on my bike ride. I had no takers that wanted to join me. Few wanted to come all the way to Coronado. Plus, since it was an 11:00 am start, few wanted to ride in the heat. It was crazy hot too. I didn't feel great and decided to count the 15 easy miles I had already ridden on the strand for the club race and just do an easy, flat 40-miler. Since I had the AFC half-marathon the next day, I rode on the Strand up the Bayshore Bikeway through Imperial Beach and Chula Vista to the Convention Center in downtown San Diego to pick up my race-packet for an even 20 miles out (and 20 miles back).

The ride was not pretty. Imperial Beach is sort of a dive town and I hurried through. When the bike path started again, it was surrounded by industries, factories, salt mines, and manufacturing plants. Once I crossed the Sweetwater River and headed north on Harbor Drive towards downtown, the pavement was rough and broken. I had to cross a million train tracks, which was really rough on Torch. There was a ton of glass and debris in the road.

Feeling pretty beat up in the mid-day heat and rough pavement, I was relieved to rest a bit at the air-conditioned Expo. Picked up my race packet, visited the bathroom (took Torch in with me--no way was I going to risk getting him stolen!), and stuffed myself with free samples at the Cliff station. I got lots of compliments on my bike and my jersey since I was donning my brand new UW-Madison Bucky Badger bike jersey. Plus, since the jersey is red, white and black, I matched Torch--Style Man would be proud.

I guess all the compliments jinxed me. I headed back towards Coronado feeling pretty good. About 1 mile down the road, I hit something that felt like an explosion--a grenade came to mind--especially since I was passing the military base and the pavement was so rough--maybe I was passing through a minefield? Anyway, I heard and felt this loud "Pop!" as shattered glass trinkled across the road. Wtf? This was immediately followed by a loud, "Psssssssssssssssh!" I knew instantly I had a blow-out and was already trying to stop as I felt the rear wheel wobble and the awful grinding sound of rim hitting pavement for a second before I stopped. Luckily, the rim was okay. Poor Torch! Our first flat.

Bluebell must have put a curse on us! She had 3 flats in a row on that front tire before I finally figured out the rim tape needed to be replaced. I had figured this out and fixed her up literally the night before. However, I had only ridden her on the trainer while I had taken Torch on my "big" weekend ride today. Last 2 weekends, I took her. I didn't realize she was the jealous type......ah, the saga of my bike drama continues.

Damn! I hate flats. Especially when I'm on my own. No worries. I had a complete flat kit. Plus, I had put the nice spare pump on Torch before heading out, just in case so I wouldn't have to blow through one of my CO2 cartridges. I proceeded to change the tube. I didn't even bother to pull out the patch kit. I knew the hole was huge before I even saw it. Yup, a huge diagonal tear like a saber-toothed tiger's fang had taken a chunk out of it. Then, I glanced at the tire. I stared for a moment, agape with shock. The rip in the tire was about twice as bad as the rip in the tube. Totally shredded. Slashed. Brand new tire ruined.

How was I going to get home? A new tube would poke right out of the tire and last about 5 seconds before popping. I remembered reading about patching up a hole in a tire with some duct tape (which fixes everything) or a dollar bill or even a Gu wrapper. Of course, I had none of these. I had my credit card and driver's license. Oh, and I had forgotten my cell phone.

Before the heat had really started to get to me (I was standing there racking my scientist brain, trying to play MacGyver), a car drove up. I realized I had just seen him at the Expo. He was one of my friend's boyfriends. The tri club sticker on the trunk confirmed this. I couldn't believe my luck. He tried to help me with the tire for a few minutes. When I told him I still had 20 miles to go, he offered me a ride. I took it. When I got back, I was invited to a tri club guy's house in Coronado for an afternoon BBQ. Much better than suffering on a slashed tire in the heat for 20 miles.

Maybe an easy 35 miles instead of 55 the day before a half marathon with a sore throat and headache in blazing heat was a blessing in disguise. I'd like to believe so. Plus, after the BBQ, I got to take Torch for a fix-up at my favorite bike shop--B&L. The guys who work there are all so nice and hot! I feel like a princess every time I leave.

Okay, half-marathon report:

Woke up Sunday at 4:00 am. Hadn't slept well the night before and had a hard time getting breakfast down. Still had a sore throat but didn't feel too terrible. Carpooled with some buds to the race. The start of the race is very chaotic. It was the 30th anniversary so it was sold out. The traffic was backed up on the highway and we had to get there by 5:30, even though the race started at 7, because we had to take a shuttle to the start at Cabrillo National Monument. That means you have to plan food, water, toilet and sunblock for that in-between time. We managed to make one of the last shuttles to the start. I really needed a toilet. San Diego doesn't have many bushes either (I'm really getting sick of finding a rock or dumpster to pee behind on my long runs and bikes)!

Made it to the start, stood in line for a Port-a-Potty for eternity and got to the toilet as the race was starting. Luckily, it was chip-timed. Crossed the timing mats with streams of the other 7,000 entrants about 8 minutes after the start.

It was hot. I had known rumors of a weekend cool-off were bullshit after Saturday's ride from hell hot ride. However, when the sun rose at 5:45 in the parking lot, I could see there would be no marine layer this morning. We would have nothing. Luckily, I had my fuel belt--all 4 bottles full, salt tablets, copious amounts of sunblock, a visor, sunglasses, a sports bra and running shorts. I felt pretty naked in nothing but a sports bra and tiny shorts but it was hot so whatever.

The first mile was rolling. Luckily my running buddy had reminded me b/c on the map, it looked like it was just straight downhill. I took it easy up the rollers and focused on keeping my breathing calm and low. There was enough shade that the heat wasn't too much of a bother.

Miles 2-5 were the best. Straight downhill through beautiful residential areas with a gorgeous view of the bay. Plus, lots of trees and shade. I loved it. I took off. Why hold back? Downhill is free speed. My knees felt good. Hey! I bike. I have quads, right? (I paid for it this morning. My quads are killing me! So are my knees...). Running downhill is fun.

Miles 5-9 took forever. We started to head into downtown but we had to run past the airport and around Harbor Island. Mentally, it was tough because it was excruciatingly boring. Planes, cars, building, the rental car parking lot. Ugh. Plus, there was no protection from the sun. It was bearing down and sweat was dripping off me. I'm not a huge sweater. I just kept drinking my fuel belt bottles. Lucky I brought them because the aid stations were few and far between--horrible on a hot day. They were ill-equipped for the vast number of participants. I tried to get cups of water at the stations to pour on my head. It was hard to fight for a cup, and the volunteers looked confused and overwhelmed. I managed to get my cups of water and poured them over my head, giving me 1/4 mile of bliss at every station (since there were only about 5 stations and I really didn't need the first 2--I was really hurting b/tw those 3 after the halfway point).

Miles 9-11--we started to head back downtown. I was worried it would be even hotter but luckily the shade offered by the giant concrete skyscrapers gave considerable relief. I started to perk up, anticipating the final massive hill ahead. After mile 10, I knew I could do it.

Miles 11-12--We started going up a little hill and one of my running buds asked if this was the hill. Since I had volunteered the year before and had biked the course while leading the handicapped athletes in the wheelchair division, I remembered the course with amazing detail. "Not yet, not yet", I said. "Wait until we turn left." She groaned because we were definitely already going up a hill. Knowing it would get much worse, I slowed up and took it easy. At mile 11.5, we turned left. An ambulance and medics were attending to a girl on the side. I tried not to look, not wanting to psych myself out. People were dropping like flies. Many were walking. I knew I felt well enough to push. I drank the last of my last Fuel belt bottle and turned left.

The mile hill stretched upward before me. "I can do this", I thought. "No problem." Then, Christina Aguilera's song, Fighter, came on, and it was an omen. I can totallly do this. I found my rhythm, settled in and pushed. People dropped behind me as I jogged up the hill. As I crested the hill, I began to pick up speed, my confidence snowballing. I turned right into Balboa Park and saw the bridge. I began striding. I couldn't help it. I thought the finish line was just up ahead. Once I crossed the bridge, I had to turn right again. I realized I had 1/4 mile still left to go. Crap! However, other people began to pick it up and from somewhere deep inside me, I found the strength to push even more. My pace picked up again. I could see the finish now, and I began to sprint. I was cooking! One guy tried to overtake me at the last minute, and I glanced at him, thinking, "Bring it." Then, I dropped him. Victory! (the photographers got him in the pic below, trying to sneak by).

I crossed the finish line and slowed to a walk. 2:05:30. 9:35 min/miles. Not bad. Not bad at all for a girl with a sore throat on a hot day and no taper. I'll take it. I tried to keep walking to keep the pukey feeling down as my pulse slowed. A volunteer asked if I wanted to sit down. "No!" I vehemently replied. The heat was starting to get to me. After a few minutes, I settled down. My stomach wasn't happy but it was nothing a few liters of water couldn't fix.

Aftewards, I headed to the Cove for a mile swim. We saw dolphins. I thought I would be exhausted but the swim was very refreshing and rejuvenating.

I'm beat. Thank God it's a recovery week!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sexist Comment on Ironman Talk Irks Amateur Tri Girl

Anyone else listen to Ironman Talk? Anyone else catch the outrageously sexist comment in Episode 72? It sure bothered me! James discusses how he's trying out different coaching tactics for some of his his female clients. My ears perked up at this. Huh? Bevan asks, "Like what? Like they're more delicate?" James replies, "Yeah."

I realize this was probably a slip of the tongue but the statment really got under my skin! It's hard enough for us females out there in a male-dominated sport. What if a well-respected coach like Paul Newby-Fraser was to say she had to simplify things more for her male athletes because they were denser than females?

We are not delicate flowers! In fact, with childbirth and all, you could argue we're much better at handling guts and pain than guys. These guys are role models in the tri community, and I just thought they should edit their thoughts more before letting it stream from their mouths. Dammit! I was a big fan of Ironman Talk but I've really been let down.

Workouts, workouts, workouts and tough weekend ahead--when's my recovery week?

I've been feeling pretty tired. I have a hard weekend ahead with a long bike tomorrow and AFC half-marathon on Sunday (plus hopefully ocean swim in the afternoon). Thankfully, I have a recovery week next week. I may be dropping some serious miles for some serious recovery after annihilating myself for 3 weeks.

Yesterday, I felt a little off but still managed to perk up and go down to the gym in the evening for a great weights session and treadmill run (see below for the run workout). I noticed I have more muscle in the mirror at the gym. I hadn't been to the gym in a long time. It was good for my confidence. Treadmill running still sucks. I thought I was going to die until 2 miles in. I've found it takes me 2-4 miles before I feel good on a run.

It was fun watching people come in for a half-hearted workout and leave. Entertaining. I only did 30 minutes of weights and about 50 minutes on the treadmill, people! It wasn't like I was climbing Mt. Everest. Guys would come in and lift weights for 10-15 minutes but spend most of the time chatting. They would lift weights far too heavy for them, display horrible form, grunt and groan for 2 reps and quit. Some would get on the treadmill next to me and run for 10 minutes all out until I thought their lungs would burst. Hasn't anyone ever heard of pacing? Weird. But entertaining.

This morning, I somehow dragged myself to the pool for a master's workout. I felt like crap until halfway through. It was all mental. It seems to take me 500-800 m before I feel good in a swim.

It takes me a good 20 minutes on the bike before I feel good. Is this what happens with half and full IM training? I take longer and longer in the warm-ups? Anyone else noticed this? Strange.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Racing to Beat the Sunset

I normally play it safe on my bike rides, especially as of late. Too many times, I've been caught in the middle of nowhere with mechanical problems or gotten lost or been stuck somewhere in the dark. Too many times, I've ended up on a narrow, busy road or on a road that dumps onto a highway or ended up doing too many killer hills on a recovery ride, or set out to do 40 and end up doing 75 and just trashing myself. One time, I ended up in a bad part of town and was harrassed by a gang of teens.

When I lived in St. Louis, I went exporing all the time. For a 40 mile ride, I would never plan ahead. I would head west 15 miles, go south for 5, east for 15 and north for 5. That's it. A new road every time. All of them flat and oriented in a grid-like pattern. Nothing to it.

After moving to San Diego, I quickly suffered the mistake of riding out without a plan or map. I'll just ride for awhile and then turn east, then south and go home. Not so simple. Turning east, I soon learned, gave you a route full of hurt, as I deliriously suffered up endless "hills", which in St. Louis, we would call mountains. A road starting out south would suddenly veer hopelessly east. I would search in vain for a street to turn right and thus south on only to be staring into a vast canyon that stretched endlessly into the distance dotted at the bottom with cacti. Usually, by this point, I'd reached the point of no return where to go back on my tracks would be double the distance I had planned. I would either have to stop at a gas station to ask directions or make the call of shame for a pick-up. Jason began to dread when I headed out and dreaded accompanying me on my nightmarish rides even more. Very quickly, I learned my lesson.

Lately, I've been doing lots of out-and-back rides for my mid-week routes. They're safe. However, inevitably, boredom sets in. Recently, I realized that with all the daylight offered by summer hours, I could try inviting new routes again. I quickly pushed the thought from my mind.

After creating my own weekend bike ride, I've gotten the itch to explore again. I've been studying maps and reading other clubs' in the county route slips. I chickened out last week, my legs still annihilated from the weekend's ride and ended up doing a very pleasant out-and-back (albeit on new terrain).

Yesterday, I decided to tough it up and do something new. After much research, I printed out my own route slip and map and set out, cell phone, cliff blocks, water bottle and flat kit in tow (still forget lights--shoot).

I took off on Torch north down the Torrey Pines hill. For some reason, I felt apprehensive. Maybe b/c I was riding alone, doing a new route, when I have had bad experiences in the past. I checked my watch. 5:30. Okay--2 hours until sunset. Enough to go 33 miles? I knew it would be cutting it close. Still, I had been bitten by the adventure bug.

Turned right on Carmel Valley and sucked it up through the traffic along El Camino Real (played it safe and took the pedestrian crosswalk through the intersection). After passing through a business park, I reached a little area of farmland and horse stables. I breathed in deeply, smelling the faint aroma of sweat, manure and fly spray. All of the barns were immaculate. Not a single fly in sight. To the left, I passed a big field of people waiting for a sunset hot air balloon right. Giant colors of canvas began inflating from the ground as the balloons were prepared for flight.

Turned right again on San Dieguito Rd. and enjoyed miles and miles of stable after stable, making might heart ache with longing for the sport I used to be so actively involved in. I glanced at the horses who peered strangely at me and Torch. Glancing down at Torch, I had to agree. As sleek as he might be, he will never be as sleek as one of those fine equines.

Left on El Apajo, I began snaking my way through Rancho Santa Fe. The pavement was really rough from construction and despite the carbon frame, the constant bumpiness was really jarring over the next several miles. However, I still enjoyed the lush gardens, citrus groves, private mansions, and of course, more immaculately groomed stables.

Up and down and around and around--that's what Rancho Santa Fe was like. I was relieved I had my detailed map. I was constantly turning this way and that. Nodded to a few cyclists out for their evening workout, which made me relax--feel not so alone. By the time I finally reached Encinitas and had hooked up with San Elijo Rd., I was chasing the sun, trying to beat the sunset.

I reached the coast and all my apprehension melted away. I suddenly realized how silly it was to worry and how much energy I had wasted. Couples walked on the beach in the sunset. Surfers caught their final waves. Kayakers enjoyed the view from the ocean. Small groups of people sat on beach chairs from their summer condos, out to see the sunset show.

The setting sun was so breathtaking, I could finally relax. I knew my way home now and knew I would make it. It felt silly to be worried about trying to make it back by a certain time. I would get back when I would get back. I made it to the top of the Torrey Pines hill as dusk settled, tired, relieved and exhilarated. It was a great ride. Next time though, I'll probably plan a shorter route instead of racing to beat the sunset.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hard Recovery

  • Train hard, recover hard, that's the key. I slept most of Sunday afternoon after my boogie boarding adventures. Monday, I got a much-needed massage. Ouch!

    Woke up this morning ready to swim. Wha? That never happens. Told myself I could sleep in but then I was awake and ready to go at 6:30 am. No excuses! Swam 2400 yards like it was nothing. What, what, what? When did this happen? I actually wanted more!

    I've been tagged by Chad so here goes:

Job's I've Held:
Groundskeeper for pharmaceutical manufacturing company (summer job) Stable hand (mucking stalls)
Lab assistantPerpetual student
(Will I ever grow up and get a real job?)

Movies I can Watch Over & Over:
Office Space
Ice Age
Monsters Inc.
Whale Rider

Guilty Pleasures:
Anything with chocolate in it, especially fudge brownie sundaes

Places I Have Lived:
Saratoga, CA
Abingdon, VA
Asheville, NC
Bristol, TN
Madison, WI
St. Louis, MO
San Diego, CA

Shows I Enjoy:
The Office
Law & Order
30 Rock
Family Guy

Vacation Spots:
I don't vacation but dream of scuba diving cruises in the Caribbean and biking vacations in Napa and Tuscany.

Favorite Foods:
Sushi. Period.

Websites I Visit Daily:
All of the tri blogs listed on my sidebar. I know. I'm a Tri Geek.

Body Parts I have Injured:
I've been very lucky.
Worst thing I've done is crush my upper maxilla and lose 3 front permanent teeth (playground accident 2nd grade).
Other injuries are--fractured pinky toe (klutzy accident), bruised ribs (twice--bucked off a horse and fell out of a kayak) and some soft tissue things (torn hip abductor from running).

Awards I've Won
The Jeanine Merrill Award 1992 (for high scores in a dressage show--I used to ride horses competitively)
CDS (California Dressage Society) Junior Dressage Champion Reserve 1992 (it was a good year)
many other little ribbons and trophies from hunter/jumper, eventing and dressage shows as well as Pony Club rallies.
1991 Science Award Redwood Middle School
1996 English Award Asheville School
2004 2nd place 25-29 F Hillsboro Duathlon (Hillsboro, IL)
2005 1st place 25-29 F Stoneman Sprint Tri (Springfield, IL)
(I know they're just measly AG awards at tiny little races but they're my only ones, okay?)

Nicknames I've Been Called:
Ra Ra (pronounced "Ray Ray" b/c my little sister couldn't pronounce the "Ch" in Rachel)
Pumpkin (by my mom)
IronGirl (by my awesome running group)

Pick 5 Other Bloggers:

Monday, August 13, 2007

Weekend Warrior Update

Kicked my own ass again this weekend. It wasn't the bike or the run that finally did me was the 2 hours of boogie boarding I did following all this on Sunday afternoon!

Met a group of people interested in the ride I organized for 45 miles of scenic hills. I couldn't believe it! About a dozen people showed up! I had printed out route slips and maps with my cell phone number on it. One thing I learned on this ride--don't try to answer the cell while riding. My phone went flying and hit the pavement, forcing me to go back and retrieve it. Still worked!
We headed east through Rancho Santa Fe, up Del Dios Hwy past Lake Hodges and then headed west again in Escondido. Surprisingly the marine layer hung around, even that far east, all morning so it wasn't too hot. Made a huge difference in that I felt pretty good on the whole ride (my butt was still sore from lateral lunges on Thursday though).
I was the "sweeper", which everyone thought was so kind until they realized it's because I just ride that slowly. The group waited for me at the regroup and we headed west through Harmony Grove and Elfin Forest, a beautiful, hidden stretch of countryside in north San Diego county.
Tons of cycling groups rode by in both directions. I had picked a very popular route. I loved seeing the other cyclists. Made me feel like part of a huge, conglomerate group. Several pelotons whizzed by in the opposite direction, and I recognized each group by the jerseys they wore: Swami's, Celo, SDBC.
We stopped again in San Marcos for a snack and bathroom break. Done with all the big hills, all we had left were some rollers until we hit the coast in Carlsbad. I enjoyed the scenic view of the ocean all the way back, gazing at the lines of surfers waiting for the perfect wave.
It was such a nice ride. We had a fantastic brunch at the Naked Cafe after. I think I'm going to make this a regular Saturday ordeal!

Met my running group at 6:30 am (ugh) for a 10 mile run in Carlsbad through Batiquitos Lagoon. I had dead legs and felt like crap until the turn-around. Then I felt fine. Weird. I'm ready for the half-marathon next weekend (AFC)! We saw egrets and great blue herons. Beautiful. We then had a great brunch at Swami's in Encinitas.

I then headed over to Moonlight Beach down the street (one of my favorites) for some boogie boarding. The waves were huge and the water was warm! I lost my contacts in a wave first thing and decided I minize well hang out since there was nothing I could do about being blind anyway. I had so much fun, I didn't even realize I was burning and chafing and exhausted until I had been out there for 2 hours. I had slathered on the sunblock before heading out (waterproof my ass!) but my back still got very red. The waves were about 4-6 feet, and I caught several. Everytime I would tell myself, just 1 more wave, I would ride in and head immediately back out.
I learned how to stretch out at the beginning to catch one and then crawl forward to gain speed. I learned how to turn one way or another or even sideways to avoid running into people and that if a big wave comes down on you sideways, you wipe out pretty badly. I also got caught in the funnel part of the wave several times--that little pocket between where the water is breaking over the top and the body of the wave underneath; it was like being under a waterfall. I can't believe how much fun I had! Now, I just need to learn to surf.
One thing to note, don't wear a bikini with decorative crap in the middle. Mine had a rope thingy on my chest, and I chafed so badly, I had to put on bandaids just to put a bra on today! I also have a pretty bad rash on my stomach.
Afterwards, delirious with fatigue, I somehow made it home sans contacts and crawled into bed for a 4 hour nap, only waking up to eat dinner before going back to bed. It was quite a weekend!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Solana Beach Tri Pics!

Finally! Here they are!

Coming out of the swim in my pack. No wetsuit! Aren't tri outfits unflattering?

Staying aero despite the small hill with my "Grr" face on. Go, Torch, go!

Giving it my all on the run. Look, Ma! I have quad muscles! Where'd those come from?

Sore but Fresh--my week's workouts, complete with stories: heckling kids, racing for last, and trying to catch the peloton.

Week 1 of Base training almost kicked my ass. Here I am at the end of Week 2, and I'm still getting my ass kicked but....I feel pretty good! I'm recovering from my workouts quickly and excited about my next one. I'm definitely on the up-swing. I feel my fitness returning and I have lots of energy. This is the best part of tri training...when you start to feel good as you gain fitness (before the fatigue sets in).

Monday: my off day. I got a well-earned massage. I've been learning going to be early (like 9 pm) is key to recovering as well. Also, did you know if you go to bed early, it's easier to get up early? Amazing! Stretching is very important too. I've been stretching for 20 minutes before bed every day, minimum. Also, I've been eating lots. Important! Smoothies, sushi, chicken, ice cream sundaes--lots of good food.

Tuesday: tough day. Start the week off right with my toughest workouts. Masters swim in the a.m. and bike in the p.m. The workouts themselves aren't tough. It's just the swim and bike I need the most work on and the ones I tend to drop. So get them done early in the week, I say!
Had a fantastic swim workout: (
Evening bike:
Felt pretty stuffed that evening so ended up doing a nice recovery ride on Torch--20 miles out and back on the 56 bike path with a nice climb up Torrey Pines at the end ( I felt refreshed afterwards.

Wednesday: had to be a bit easier b/c of the tough Tuesday. I skipped Wednesday a.m.'s workout (supposed to be weights--ack! totally slacking) to sleep in.
Awesome run:
Wednesday pm went for a run with my fast tempo group. We go 6 miles and always do hilly trails at a hard pace. Fun.
We ran down to La Jolla Shores from the Glider Port...and back--very steep climb on the way back. On the way down, I gingerly descended as everyone else flew ahead. I don't know how these guys do it; they're all much older than I. They must have strong knees.
Down at the Shores, I gawked at the surfers. It was high tide. I wanted to dive in. Some h.s. kids eating hot dogs heckled us as we ran past. "Runners! Go runners! You can do it!" they sneered, sarcastically. I raised my arms high above my head and let out a loud, "Whooo! Yea! Go us!" ("Keep eating your hot dogs you fat #*@!s", I thought).
After the turn-around, I tried to mentally prepare for the horrendous climb ahead of us. Knowing I'd be last and running alone, I whipped out my headphones and set myself up with some motivating music. I guess I psyched myself out. It was a lot easier to maintain a rhythm than I had anticipated. I refused to walk. I focused on keeping a slow pace I could maintain. Bounce, bounce, breathe, breathe.
Then, we turned and went straight up this dirt trail that kept curving up and around and was littered with thorns. To my disbelief, the grade got even steeper. Sweat dripped off my forehead and tiny little thorns embedded themselves deep into my socks and bit like itchy little mosquitoes. I didn't care. I had to keep going. At this point, I was gasping, and I had to walk to recover although I did so as briskly as I could. I about died.
At the top, I forced myself into a gimpy, pathetic jog still rasping for air. At this point, I knew I was only a mile or so from the finish. I knew I could make it. I just tried to find an easy rhythm.
All of sudden, as we turned onto Torrey Pines, I started to feel good. I recovered, felt my breath return to normal, and my cadence picked up. I couldn't believe how quickly I recovered! I good song came on, and all of a sudden, I was going at a 5K pace. I decided to go with it and realized I was catching up to the runner ahead of me. He was kind enough to wait for me at the turns earlier; however, I was sick of always finishing dead last.
He had been running at a relaxed pace after the hills unaware of my increased tempo behind him. After hearing the pitter-patter of my feet behind him, he glanced back furtively, and our eyes locked...just for a milli-second. I had half a devilish grin on my face; the look I get when I'm having a good run, I feel good and I'm about to run someone down. I caught a momentary "hunted" look in his eye, and he picked up his pace. The gap between us increased. Damn! I picked up my pace again and although I couldn't close the gap, I was able to hold it and match his pace the rest of the way in. At the end, he admitted, "I couldn't finish last!" So I came in at the end again. But, I gave him a good run for it! I had a blast! Plus, we all went out for pizza afterwards.

Thursday (live like a pro for half-a-day):
This was a great day b/c I took a "work at home" day. I decided to pretend I was pro. I started the day with a big breakfast--eggs on toast and coffee.
Followed this up with a killer weight session (first 1 in weeks; yes, I'm totally sore today). After another snack, I took off for the pool with my workout scribbled down on a piece of paper.
Had a fantastic swim (2 for 2!). I'm definitely getting faster. Basically, I'm back to where I was before I got sick--so if anyone's wondering, after an 8-9 week absence from the pool, it only took me about 8 weeks to get back to where I was. Not bad, not bad at all. Swam 2300 m in about an hour (, grabbed a coffee and a smoothie on the way home and took a quick, little nap.
Got up, had another snack and took off on Torch down the Rose Canyon Bike Path to Fiesta Island. This is one of my favorite rides to lay down the hammer. It's pretty much all flat (one of the only places in SD that is) and lots of good stretches for TT practice. Plus, Fiesta Island has a 4 mile, uninterrupted loop that you can do laps around (although it's often windy). I felt gooood. Fiesta Island is SO much better on a tri bike. The winds were nothing to me!
As I was heading around on my first lap, a scooter zipped past me, closely trailed by about 60 cyclists, all decked out on their carbon Cervelo's and Orbeas in their SDBC (San Diego Bike Club) jerseys. A bona fide peloton! I stared in wide-eyed wonder as if I was observing the rare blue-footed booby of the Galapagos Islands. They zipped by me as if I were standing still. On the 2nd lap, they passed me again--this time, the pack was a bit thinner and had separated into 2 groups. The first was still behind the scooter but the 2nd, slightly slower pack of about 30 cyclists had to go it sans motor vehicle to draft off of. Hmmm. Could I? Maybe? I picked up my speed. One thing about Torch--he's very responsive. When I get ancy and decide to pick it up a notch, he's always much obliged to obey. All of a sudden, I was clocking at 23 mph and holding! All right! Maybe now, I could catch a draft off this nifty, dandy, super-speedy cyclists! Then I would be cool!
Nope. Not a prayer. At 23 mph, even the slowest cyclist of the slow group whizzed by although I did imagine that it took them a bit longer to escape me this time than the first time around.
I decided that was enough excitement for the day and headed home, logging a solid 25 miles.

Felt surprisingly fresh this morning, although definitely sore.
Made it to the pool for my 3rd solid swim of the week! Yipee! I didn't have the best swim as I was sore and not on my game. Plus, there was too much butterfly. Ick! Still, I managed to log 2300 m. Got it done.
Planning on a recovery run this afternoon. And getting to bed early before a big weekend of riding and running.

Have a good one!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Swim, Bike and Run Pages

I figured a swim page would not be complete without biking and running pages too. So I made these as well. All my swim workouts will be posted on my swim page, biking routes in San Diego (and trainer workouts) on my bike page, and running track workouts and routes on my run page. I will use my main tri page (the one you're on now) for my regular stuff. When I put something really interesting on my other pages, I'll post an alert on my main page. Anyway, thought it might be helpful for those looking for a swim, trainer, or track workout or if you're in the area and need a place to run or ride.

Here are the links:

Also, these pages can be easily found on my sidebar under "Training Info".

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Swim Info

For future swim info, check out my new blog:

Today's swim workout from my master's group is:
Broken Distances

It was great! My hypothesis looks like it's correct: if you swim more, you will get better. Groundbreaking.

I've organized all my swim workouts, swim tips, and swim links onto this other page for organizational reasons. Hope it helps!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Killer Weekend

"If you build it, they will come."
Field of Dreams

First off, I crammed my workouts in this week, duly following my "Base, week 1" phase for Soma HIM training.
Monday was an off day.
Tuesday am was Master's swimming. I bailed on my workout Tuesday night.
Wednesday am was a bike workout on the trainer to a Spinervals DVD "Aero Base Training II". Pm workout was a quick, get-it-done, 4-mile run.
Thursday am was Master's swimming. 2300 meters, Baby! Oh, yeah. Pm was a 5-mile run.
Friday afternoon was an easy 17-mile ride up and back on the coast.

Okay, everyone's caught up to my weekend:

Friday night (Cove swim, jellyfish and female problems):
I then kicked off my weekend with a nice 1-mile swim in the Cove. Even though I left at 5:00 to drive a few miles down the coast to La Jolla, it took me 40 minutes to park!!!! Ack! I was so irritated by the time I found a spot, 1-mile away, after circling 4X that it almost ruined everything. I had decided not to wear my wetsuit and bring the minimal amount of stuff since I had to walk a mile. Of course, right when I change into my suit at the Cove, I get my period. Suck it up, guys; you can take it. So then, I'm trying to ask all the girls around for a tampon. But of course, since triathlon is a male-dominated sport, there are more guys to gals and around each girl is at least 2 guys. By the time I found someone with the necessary item, everyone knew of my predicament. And of course, on the day I decide to forgo the wetsuit.

The water was very nice. About 73 degrees. And I found a very nice swim buddy, kind enough to wait for my slow ass at the buoys. About 1/4 mile out, she stops me, frantically waving her arms. Her and this other fellow point to this murky spot directly in front of me (the visibility was horrendous) and yell, "There's a giant, red jellyfish directly in front of you! You're going to swim into it!" And of course, I wasn't wearing my wetsuit. You can just call me Murphy. Apparently, there are lots more stinging jellyfish (black nettles, ick) in San Diego waters right now. Warmer weather, winds, global warming, Armageddon, who knows. Luckily, I had swim buddies to prevent me from having a very unfun moment. KNBC Jellyfish News Story
San Diego Union Tribune Jellyfish Story

Black Sea Nettle photographed off Coronado Island (south of San Diego). Boy, do they get big!

Luckily, the rest of my swim was pretty uneventful. There was some pretty good chop, as usual, coming back in but I felt really good. A bit tired. My time was the same as with my wetsuit but I definitely had to work harder.

I finished off the evening with a nice, relaxing dinner at a nearby restaurant with tri buddies, including several signed up for the Soma half. I'll be bringing a group of San Diego triathletes to Tempe for sure! San Diego will be representin'! One of the fellows had been stung in the face by one of the sea nettles, poor guy. Amazingly, he didn't look too bad.

Saturday (Inaugural Soma Training Bike Ride, Organized by Mui e.g. I Kicked my own Ass):
I have been searching for a Saturday morning ride around here that goes my speed and pace and isn't too serious. The problem is, groups that go my pace (slow) don't go as far as I would like. And several of the roadie clubs are into the peloton stuff that, although I need to learn at some point, am not interested in right now. After all, you can't draft in a tri. I decided to build my own group ride (hence the quote at the top) for self-serving interests--I wouldn't have to ride alone. Using the tri club's group e-mail, I found a bunch of people interested in riding with me and set up the time and place.

About 7 people showed up to ride a hot and hilly course Saturday morning! Although Soma may be hot, it won't be hilly but that wasn't the point. I was sick of riding the coast (the only flat area in San Diego) and didn't want to get up at the crack of dawn to avoid the heat (inland is desert) so we started at 8:00 am.

The group that showed up was very nice. Lots of gals too. I think b/c tri is so male-dominated, and guys are faster than gals, we gals get discouraged by some of the aggressive group rides. It was neat having other gals to ride with, even though I was still the slowest in the group. Everyone was very friendly too. No competitiveness. Just camaraderie.

We started in Poway and headed east on Scripps Poway Pkwy. Once we hit 67, we turned North and began the long climb up. Cars wizzed by on the left. Deep desert canyons fell off to my right, below the guardrail. Large, bald rocks starlky lined the landscape like something out of a Dr. Seuss tale. The heat rose in waves off the pavement. I was sweating and working hard. I noticed my breath was steady and even; it was my legs that were burning. Ah ha! I lack muscular endurance. Not a suprise. I found my zone and stayed there in my happy place, dreaming of air conditioners, ice and refrigerators and turning the pedals over in a slow but steady rhythm as beads of sweat dripped off my forehead. The strongest cyclist in our group, who had come with his fiance and had been way out in front, suddenly passed me with encouraging words, "Keep it up, Rachel. You're almost there!"
"Where did you come from?" I replied, bewildered.
"Oh, I went up, came down and am going up again."
"Wow, you're pretty sick."
"Yeah, I get that."
So his nickname can be "Masochist" from now on (after we were done, he rode home). Show-off (actually, he turned out to be a really nice guy--helped change my flat down the road).

By the time we reached the little gas station rest stop at mile 20, in the middle of farmland, somewhere in Ramona, I was done. I couldn't believe how hot it was! Stopping seemed worse than moving because there was no breeze. After a bathroom break and water refill, I urged us onwards, already stiffening from the break. At that moment, I noticed my front tire was flat. I've been struggling with this tire ever since the tube died after 5 years. I guess Bluebell (yup, took the road bike for the hills) is jealous of Torch. After I changed the tube, I had been in a rush to inflate it (tired after Friday's cove swim and eager to get to bed) and ended up getting a pinch flat (slow leak). Don't know why it took 20 miles to go but there you go. Luckily, one of the benefits of riding in a group, is that there are always people to help you change it. Even though I'm pretty proficient at changing tires, I allowed the guys to help me so we could get going a little faster. I certainly didn't mind!

Soon, we were on our way again with me, tailing at the end. I could say I was riding back there to make sure no one got left behind but truth be told, I was knackered. I just couldn't go any faster. After 20 miles of heat and hills, I was just done. The next 8 miles kind of sucked but then we started going down. After we turned west on Highland Valley Rd., there were several long wicked descents with switchbacks. I sat back and stretched, enjoying the 35 mph ride and refreshing wind.

The group waited for me at the turn South on Pomerado Rd. They were so sweet. We all rode back together. I noticed some of the other riders looked tired too. Good. I wasn't the only one dying. I love how I kicked my own ass on my own ride.

Back at the start, I was happy I had made it. I had drank both my water bottles and taken in 640 calories. Felt about right. Immediately after, a few of us refueled with sandwiches and water, which I downed eagerly, at Brueger's Bagels.

Everyone asked me if I'd be organizing more rides. You betcha! I'm going to make a Saturday morning thing of it.
Here's the Gmap link if anyone's interested:

Sunday 12-Mile Run:
We met at 6:30 am for the 12-miler. I felt pretty stuffed after the toll of the week's workouts. AFC's half marathon ( is in 2 weeks though, so this was my last chance for solid, long run. However, at least it was cool in the early morning under the marine layer. Starting in Solana Beach, we ran through San Elijo Canyon, which I always love because of the beautiful birds. I saw lots of egrets and a group of quail. We ran up to San Dieguito Park before heading back. At about mile 10, I started to falter. I had to focus on maintaining my form and pace. My right hip complained every time I walked. It seemed to take forever to make it back to the start. I went very slowly but I did it.

After a big breakfast, I slept the rest of the day. I'm stuffed!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Swim Workout of the Day

Great swim workout today. By Coach Sickie at UCSD Master's:

Hard 200s

Warm-Up (long today):

2x100 free (easy--form focus)

for each free set, first 25m of each 100m is drill (2 strokes right arm; 2 strokes left arm), 75m free; repeat to finish set

100 free

50 stroke

200 free

50 stroke

300 free

50 stroke

400 free

50 stroke



1. base

2. base +5 sec

3. base + 10 sec

4. base + 15 sec


100 kick

Total Distance: 2300 m