Sunday, May 31, 2009

Double D and Double R

Double D: Del Dios x2! Dirty and Damp!

Saturday as usual was excited for a long ride. Unfortunately I had not been able to find anyone to ride with. The usual suspects were either on an off day, injured or didn't want to ride long. I was looking to do a hilly ride; GWL would have been my preference but I'm not comfortable riding out there alone, so I decided the Del Dios loop would be the second best. When I was trying to figure out which way is better to go, I came up with the crazy idea that I should do it both ways and find out for myself.

Despite weather reports, it didn't look too wet out to me, so I headed out in the car into the May Gray. As I got further West the "rain" began to fall. Now I put rain in quotes because what was falling was what people from most parts of the country would call mist or heavy fog, but for this San Diego girl, it was the real deal. Had momentary thoughts of turning around and heading East, but convinced myself that if I rode East it would be dry. Let's just say I was wrong! About 20 minutes in I was soaked and my feet were squishing and swimming in my bike shoes. Very gross feeling! Decided that this ride was all about building character... or else I'm just crazy. I was thinking more the later when I realized that there were very few cyclists out on a road that is usually packed on a Saturday. Still convinced that the rain was going to stop and the sun would make an appearance.

Before I knew it I was heading into Harmony Grove. Super excited to see they had repaved the road; smooth ride! So nice to not be bouncing around. And not too many of those aggressive drivers in their huge trucks trying to run me off the road. The only problem was I would get all excited that the rain had stopped, and then it would start again.

Had a cold and wet descent out to the coast, rearranged my stuff and headed back the other way. Stopped for water at the little church and it was there that I realized I was filthy and my bike even more filthy! Looked like I had been mountain biking!

In the end, I still have no idea which way is better; both have merits. Highlights of the ride were trying a new gel product and finally finding something that I think I may be able to tolerate after years of trying everything out there... Honey Stingers! Also remembering that solo rides are actually quite fun!

Double R: Rock and Roll! Running Relay!
The Rock and Roll Marathon had a relay this year, and when one of my colleagues heard about it, he not only convinced a bunch of us to form a team, but also he got the company to pay for it and buy us (very ugly!) team shirts. As I'm trying to keep my running miles down this season due to a nagging leg injury, this was a great opportunity for me. A training run with aid, cheering crowds, bands and 18000 running partners... what could be better? All the fun of a marathon without all the pain!

Luckily my relay leg turned out to be the third, which meant I could sleep in! Actually watched the start on TV while drinking coffee. Took the trolley to Fashion Valley and headed up to cheer on the runners. The plan was for me to pick-up Jen and run her to my transition spot as a warm-up. She told me she would be running with the 3:40 pace group and there she was, right behind the guy with the sign. Unfortunately there were a million other people in the pack, so I had to push and shove my way to get to Jen. She looked great and was running strong. I knew at that point she was on her way to a Boston qualifying time!

All too quickly I was at my transition and had to send Jen on her way. Luckily not too far behind was my relay partner. He handed off the baton, an annoying wooden drumstick, and I was off. I took it out fast and felt bad as I passed tons of people. It brought me back to Wildflower and how irritated I was by the relay runners passing me. I decided at WF that the relay runners were cheaters and now I was being a BIG cheater myself. Felt bad taking aid and having people cheer me on. Had to just focus on my pace goals and keep the heart rate under control.

My leg was only 8 miles, which was shorter than what was on the plan for the day. So once I passed off the baton to my teammate, I ripped off the timing chip and kept on going. Didn't want to get my team DQ'ed by getting timed for two legs. Ended up being able to finish the run and through the finish chute. In the end it made for a nice long training run.

Afterwards I met up with my teammates, who were all smiles. It was awesome seeing how excited they were. They kept talking about next year and how they were going to train harder. I just love what endorphins do to people.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'm Really Fast?

Or so says the pint glass that I won at the Encinitas Tri this weekend. I'm not so sure....

This tri holds a special place in my heart as it was my first official triathlon back in 2007. This is also the first race I remember racing with Jen and where I met Tim for the first time. The best part was I was aging-up that year to 30-34, but knowing very little about the sport I raced as a 29 year-old. Went off ten minutes early and my time was all messed up. Ended up with results in the pro field until I informed them of the mistake. Ah... memories.

I decided to do this race on a whim about a week and a half ago. Wanted to do it, but was not sure what shape my body would be in after Wildflower. As soon as I realized I was actually feeling pretty good, I paid the way too high race entry fee, and had another race to look forward to. Coach didn't try to stop me, so I figured I'd be OK.

By Saturday I was not so sure it was the best idea to be racing for the third straight weekend, especially after a hard week of training. Saturday I did a mellow ride with the tri club and the ladies. Felt like I was asleep the entire time! I was totally napping in the aerobars. Never really woke-up all of Saturday. Did try to nap at home, but failed! Luckily I am getting used to the packing part of triathlon, so I was able to throw a transition bag together without too much problem.

Sunday was up at 4:30 and trying to get down a PB&J, coffee and Chocolate Soymilk. Stomach really not interested in food, but I figured I could get away with less food for a sprint.

Got to transition pretty early and set-up in a good spot. Learned from WF that it is better to be close to the Bike Out, esp since we were not allowed to start with our shoes on the bike. Jen still had not shown up, so I decided to go out for a little warm-up run. The weather was really foggy, but I was actually hot on my run. Felt good to stretch the legs and remind myself where the run would take us. By the time I got back, Jen and Elizabeth were cruising into transition. Social time! Jen and I did another little run and then on with the wetsuits and down to the water.

The water is actually starting to feel a bit warmer to me. Did a quick little warm-up and then hopped out before I could tire myself out. The waves were bigger than I would have liked, and I have not been practicing surf entry, so I was a bit nervous.

Time to line up for our start. Everyone was hanging back from the front of the start, so I made a move up front and center, hoping that I could pull off a good entry if I had a clear shot in. The gun sounded and I took it out hard. One... two... splat was how my entry went. Hit a hole in the sand about two feet in and fell flat on my face! Felt like I was lying there forever trying to figure out what to do. Up I got and ran another few feet and fell again! At this point I decided to start swimming so I grabbed the sand, launched myself forward and off I went.

I really don't remember that much of the swim. Think I had to duck one wave and then was trying to find the yellow buoy. Hard to see around all the swim buddies and lifeguards, plus it was still really gray out and I had the super tinted goggles on. Saw the orange buoy which I knew was directly in front of our yellow turn-around buoy so headed for that. Not sure how I got so far south... Also saw in front of me the lead pack of girls. How I wanted to be up with them, but really too far away. Would have to make up time on the bike and run.

Hit the yellow buoy and started in. Wanted to sight off the swim exit flags, but could not find them, so I just followed the pack in, hoping they were on course. Kept looking for waves to come, but nothing but a few swells passed me. No breakers to ride. Finally got sick of swimming so I stood up and ran in.

Hopped out of the water and got the wetsuit off. I like to get it off as soon as I can because I think running in it tires my legs. I knew we had a steep run to transition, so in this race it had to be off ASAP. Once it was off, I set off up the hill. I knew I could make up time on those lead swimmers. This was going to be a "quadrathon" for me... swim-run-bike-run. Smoked T1!

Jumped on my bike and out of T1. Had to make sure I really kept my head in it however, as the road was really wet and there were a bunch of people already out on the course. This is a great ride for me, as I do it as part of my coast ride so often. Knowing where the ups and downs are is a huge advantage. Just tucked into aero and tried to drop as many people as possible. Had no idea at his point where I was in my AG. All the while I am just waiting for Jen. She is super fast on the bike and was rolling her disc, so I knew I would see her any moment.

Lots of twists and turns through the city part of Encinitas made it a bit dicey, but managed not to crash. Quads were burning pretty much the entire time, and I kept thinking I should save some for the run, but then I just kept pushing. By the second out turn around I saw Jen was only a few seconds back... I knew I was toast! She flew by looking fabulous as always. I decided then the name of the game was to keep her in my sights... no matter how small she got. Follow the pink bike! Right after Jen passed me, I passed a guy on a fancy Felt. He yells out "What's with you girls?" All I could do was smile.

Wove back through Encinitas and to the Bike In. Right as I'm going to dismount the guy in front of me stops dead and asks where the turn around for the second loop is... Dude you missed it and I need to get in to T2.

Another super speedy transition and I follow Jen out on the run. Really excited to see what the legs will do as I have been working on running a lot lately. I had a plan and was ready to execute.
Spent the first few minutes just getting the legs used to the idea of running, then I was able to open it up. The run turn around was a steep, short hill. I made my first surge there. Up and around. Used some new downhill running skills too. All the while I have that little Scottish voice in my head.

Pretty uneventful run. Skipped all aid in favor of just getting it done... 3.1 miles is just not that far. My favorite part was seeing a guy running along and then someone runs out into the street and squeezes honey into his mouth. Brilliant! I have never been able to do Gu or stuff like that, but I love honey. I am so getting packets to try it out!

Surged the hill again and took it strong on the way back. I knew it was a left and then a right and then the finish would be in sight. After the left I picked it up. Once I made the right I put everything I had left into making it to the finish. Legs felt great!

Grabbed some water and went back to cheer on Jen as she finished. We had a plan to run after the race as we both had on our schedules to get in another hour or so of running. On the way to clean up our stuff, we ran into Marit. I had never met her before, but I know her name through some other friends and as I admitted to her, I am her blog stalker. I love reading her blog and seeing what she is up to. It is funny how cyberspace can make you feel like you know someone before you even really meet them... Scary too! She was super down to earth in person and told us that she fell on the swim entry as well. She had an awesome race placing third overall woman. Gotta get out and ride with that one.

Then Jen, Elizabeth and I headed out for a chill run and chat of course. Elizabeth turned around early as she was starving. We made a plan to meet back at the race awards. Elizabeth knew she won her AG. She is super fast and one of the nicest people I know.

When Jen and I made it back to the expo, we decided to look up our race results. At first I could not find mine, but then realized there was another area. Scanned for my name and found it. All I saw was a 1 by my name. Jen looks over and say "You won our Age Group!" So happy I forgot to even look at my time. And that is how I won a pint glass that say "I'm Really Fast!"

Thanks to Jen and Elizabeth for a really fun morning! And thanks to all the TRULY fast girls for being in another Age Group and thouse in my AG for not showing up!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Energizer Bunny?

No... I'm not talking about that Energizer Bunny that I saw 3/4 of the way up Nasty Grade at Wildflower; I'm talking about me and the fact that I seem to keep going and going. I'm not too sure when I am going to need a rest. I was thinking after WF I would be exhausted and want some time off, but I came off it feeling great. Jumped back into training.

This weekend was another crazy but great one. Started off on Friday night with a Mother's Day dinner. Mark and Renee were going to be gone for the weekend, so we decided to do Mother's Day on Friday night. I got a bit stressed when making dinner was pretty much dropped in my lap. Not feeling too creative. But I pulled off a great dinner and Renee's dessert was spectacular, if not really rich as always.

Saturday was up early for the club race. We were headed back to Gloretta Bay, and I was ready to see if the legs remembered how to sprint. There is so much that I love about these races; I know the course, my friends are there and the food afterward is always great!

I made a plan for the race to see what I was capable of. Hard but steady on the swim until the second turn then power it in, strong and effecient on the bike, and strong on the run with negative split the way back. I was pretty much able to hit all these goals except for the run. Had an awesome run, but felt like I was running out of gas towards the end. Next time I need to remember to eat a bit before the race instead of talking so much!
After the race we ate and chatted and then Jen and I headed out for 2.5 hour ride. It was nice to ride flat, although there was a nasty headwind which did not seem to get better when we turned around. I was feeling kind of bonky the entire time.

Saturday night was Lynne and JT's engagement party at Moment. Nice to see people I have not seen in such a long time. Caught up, ate and headed home early for a big day on Sunday. I'm pretty sure everyone thinks I am totally lame for heading home so early, but it's for the best for me.

Sunday was up early again. This time to try to run all five peaks in Mission Trails. Leanne and Nikos had set up this run and I promised to be there; not that I minded. There were about 15 of us crazy people who set out to tackle the peaks. Within the first 10 minutes I was already off course as I followed some dumb guy who thought he knew the way and then dropped me. Luckily I know the park so well that I knew where I wanted to go, just not how to get there. Picked up Edgar and we ran together for the rest of the day. Hit North and then South Fortuna no problem. Descended S. Fortuna and down to the Visitor's Center. Picked up Zach and ran out to the trailhead of Cowles Mountain where Gino had a much needed aide station. Cowles was a bit slower due to tons of people on the trail and legs that were getting sore. On from there to Pyles Peak. Then it got interesting. There is no true trail off the back of Pyles Peak, so we trail blazed all the way down looking for Niko's pink arrows to follow. I think this is where I did real damage to the quads, as it was really steep down. Once we finished this, it was a group decision to skip the fifth peak. It was getting hot and late.

Headed home, but first a stop for ice and sushi. Was finally able to sit for a few minutes, if not in a bath of ice. I'm actually getting pretty used to this, and kind of like it. Unfortunately not too much rest for the weary... as if was off to the parents to spend some time with them and my grandfather. Nice to chill in the backyard and eat some good food.

Weekend came to an end too fast. Now back to work... time for some rest!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Victory! Wildflower Race Report

Coming into this race things had been up and down for me. On the positive side my training was going great and I was finally sleeping again. Unfortunately work had been kicking my ass, and my confidence in my training had been shaken a bit by others who felt the need to comment unsolicited on what the plan was. I was told that I should not be running so long after my long rides and that I did not have a long enough taper. Now I say "Ha! What do you know... The plan works!" I made the decision to view Wildflower as an "experience" not a race. I think this went a very long way in helping me mentally focus on what I needed to do and keep a really positive attitude.

I had been feeling crappy all taper week; tired, achy and tight. Kind of had me worried. I decided on Thursday am since I had no training to do and the am off work, I would take the chance and get a massage. Paid off! Felt much better.

Friday Mike and I headed out for Lake San Antonio. Had a nice drive with no traffic and a great chat. I'm so lucky to have such a good friend and tri buddy. As we were approaching Paso Robles, Mike points out the fact that the cows are laying down and informs me that it means rain is coming. Yikes! I am not a fan of racing in the rain, so I got a little stressed. Luckily the rain fell on Friday night only and we had great race conditions.

Was nice to get to the campsite and have everything set-up and people ready to hang-out. I did get in a little run, but no swim (lake was nasty and did not want to get wetsuit wet) and no bike due to the rain. Down to pick-up the race stuff and visit the most awesome expo I have ever been to. Had an early light dinner and off to sleep.

Race Morning:
I really like the fact that this race starts a bit later. Not that I mind getting up early, but it saves me from trying to choke down food at 4am. Was able to get in a good breakfast, then it was off to set-up transition.

Transition was a huge, scary jungle of bikes and people. I pretty much got my stuff set-up as fast as possible to get away from an annoying rack-mate, and then went to hang out with Jen. Just being around friends really helps me to stay calm. We chatted and joked, found secret Port-a-Potties with no lines and before I knew it, time to go swim.

This is the part that had me the most worrried out, in light of what happened at O'side 70.3. Luckily in this race they let us get in and warm-up. Had a nice little 10min warm-up with a few surges and was ready to go. Lined-up right in the middle of the field as the start funnels you out between two docks, so there was not going to be any finding open water at the start anyhow. I realized how much I prefer running starts to floating starts. Just works better for me.

Got out past the docks and went looking for clear water, but it was packed, so I instead tried drafting. Think I actually did it for a bit, but then I decided to pass the girl. Was able to chill out my breathing after about the first 1/4 of the swim and then just let my arms do the work. OK on the sighting but need to work on it a bit more. Pretty much was swimming over and into people the entire way out and part of the way back. That got annoying! On the way back I think I got a little off course, but then was able to correct my line. Just kept looking for the dock to cut over and in. Couldn't see the dock, but then I saw a group of people who appeared to be standing on the water... the dock! Once I knew the end was near I picked up the pace. Cut in and was happy to see the swim exit!

T1: It was a long run up a concrete ramp to T1. No wonder my feet hurt now! Had a little trouble getting my wetsuit off my arms. Heard others had the same problem; maybe it was all the algae making it stick? I had cut the legs of my wetsuit shorter since O'side and it came off the bottom much easier than before; Good move!

In transition I saw Nikee who looked like she was already showered and changed. She's a super fast swimmer (23:24! I need to learn from her!) and wasn't doing the rest of the race due to injury. I did notice that most bikes were still in T1... that put a smile on my face. Had a pretty fast transition, but really took care to make sure I was ready to go before unracking the bike. Hopped on and off I went!

Now it was time to rock! With all of the awesome training rides I had been on in the past month, I knew the legs were ready. We had driven up "Nasty Grade" and knew it was nothing compared to the climbing I had under my belt. Like a friend told me, "Training is like making deposits to your bank account. And race day is the time to make a huge withdrawal!" I was ready to cash in!

The course begins with a pretty steep climb out of the park. I put it in an easier gear and mellowed out as I spun it up to the top. No need to blow-up early. I was already dropping boys, which added fuel to my fire. I had to remind myself constantly that it was going to be a long day, so chill out! The next 30ish miles were rollers, nothing too bad. I did loose one of my CO2's but was able not to freak once I realized I still had one left. Did a little begging of the tires not to flat as I passed at least 15 people changing flats on the road.

All in all I just kept my riding efficient and steady. Was really able to keep my head in the game and work the ups as well as the downs. It was beautiful out on the course with farms, vineyards and rolling hills. Every mile was marked which I loved. The strange thing for me was riding with almost all guys. I usually use other women, especially those in my age group, to try to motivate me to pass them or at least to keep up the pace. A lady did come up from behind me and tried to tell me I was in the lead for my age group. I was pretty sure she was wrong, and really did not want to go there mentally. She and I worked together from about mile 30-50... Don't tell USAT!

Before I knew it Nasty Grade was rising in front of me. I had already decided that was where I was going to really work it. Right as it started I came upon a girl in my AG; finally someone to push against. We went back and forth a few times, but I was able to drop her in the end. Unfortunately I dropped that super famous Challenged Athlete, Rudy Garcia, too. Felt bad for a few minutes. Made it to the top quickly and painlessly.

The nice part of the course is the fact that for all of the climbing, you get some good descending too, and it comes at the end. I was taking the downhills like a pro. Everyone was talking about how fast they took the descents... I have no idea how fast I was going and I really don't want to know. I just kept praying I would not have to be taken off the course in one of the three ambulances that were on the side of the steep hill.

A few more rollers and a steep descent on Lynch Hill and I was back in transition. I had been working on getting off the bike with my shoes still on the pedals, so I went for it! Made running into transition a lot easier.

T2: Bike stuff off, run stuff on. As I was running out of T2 a group of people started cheering me on. Clearly TCSD members, but why were they just standing around?

Run: Amazed at how good my legs felt coming off the bike. OK, good is a relative term, but I think the BH Bricks are doing the trick! They did try to cramp, but I took a few salt tabs, although I am not convinced that was the problem.

The first part was rolling which I used to get my legs into it. Then I hit the hills. This is where it got really mental for me. Legs just plain hurt and running on very uneven ground uphill was not making them feel any better. I was able to find some crazy inner strength and really push through it. I just kept thinking of all of the training I had been doing and picked out some key workouts to help me remember how well my legs know how to run. I am pretty sure I looked really gimpy at times, and the people behind me were probably laughing, but at least I kept running. I think 75% of people were walking at that time!

Just when I thought the hills would never end and I was cursing under my breath (or was that out loud?) a huge downhill appeared and I was on to flatter terrain. The steep downhill was a bit tricky to navigate as my legs felt like two wet noodles attached to my body and I could no longer feel my feet. It's amazing I didn't fall flat on my face!

Cruised through the campgrounds which helped pass the time seeing and hearing everyone cheering. It then began to get really hot, especially since we were on asphalt. I got the good idea to have the aid-station volunteers dump cups of water on me, which help to cool me off. I continued this through the rest of the run. Luckily no one decided to dump Gatorade on me...

The out-and-back was another good mental challenge as I was running out all downhill and trying not to focus on the fact that I would have to run back up the hill. This is also where I realized something was really wrong with the course marking. I saw the mile 11 marker but knew we had a lot more than 2 miles left. Couldn't really figure it out due to race induced stupidity. Someone told me later that they accidentally put mile marker 8 at mile 7 and it was all messed up from there.

The course ended with a huge downhill and then flat into the chute. I took it pretty hard down the hill, still trying not to trip and then sprinted the chute to VICTORY! I could barely believe it when I saw the clock and realized I had PR'ed in a big way! I got all choked up.

Hung-out at the finish to see Jen cross and then we went straight for the food. I was super happy not to be in Medical this time. Once we fueled up, it was down to the lake for a post-race float/ice bath. Think this really helped with the recovery! Then off to the TCSD BBQ and party. I'm really lucky to be part of such a supportive group!

Breakfast: Banana, PB&J, a cup of coffee with milk and a bottle of water with 1 scoop CarboPro and 1 MotorTab.
Pre-Swim: 1/2 Bag Sport Beans
Bike: Aero Bottle (32oz) with 2Motor Tabs and 2 Scoops Carbo Pro, Concentrate Bottle (24oz) 2 Motor Tabs and 3 Scoops CarboPro, 4 Shot Blocks, 1 Bonk Breaker, 8 salt tabs and as much water as I could get in. Total 1135 cals. Ate BB mile 5-30 which worked better than later in race. Run: 1 package Shot Blocks, 4 Sport Beans, 6 Salt Tabs and as much water as I could handle.
A little less cals then before, but I think I am really getting the nutrition dialed in. Really just depends on what my stomach will accept on that day.

I really did not know what to expect of this race as I had heard it was such a tough course. I went into it with the attitude that I was going to have fun above anything else. This went a long way in helping me keep my focus for the entire race. It was the complete opposite of O'side. I felt in control of my race the entire time. Not only has all of the training paid off physically, but I really think it is paying off mentally as well. My body felt strong the entire race, despite the pain the course was trying to inflict. Mentally I was super focused. I was able to recall key training days, ie Palomar climb, Hill repeats, and remember how I just kept going. I'm pretty sure luck was on my side too! I'll be back next year!