Monday, September 14, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Or run into the Queen of Canada herself, Lisa Bentley, over by the Ensure section, as I was fortunate to do.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but I also feel ready. Ready to “get ‘er done”, as the Canadians say. Prep for this one has gone smoothly—fitness wise, I’ve been feeling great on the bike, ok on the run, and have even seen a few glimmers of hope in the water. I have lots of rock star training partners as of late to thank for this challenging, yet highly entertaining training block—thanks to all of you who have made even the big training miles slide by easily. I'll do my best to put it to work tomorrow.
With a challenging course, a well stacked field, and race day temps expected to top out over 90 degrees, it's going to be a tough day out there no matter how you slice it. Fortunately, IM Canada has the reputation for being one of the most beautiful courses on the circuit. In just a few short hours, I'll be out there with a few thousand friends doing what I love best.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
For now, just a super quick bleet (blog/tweet) from the SD airport. Between training, wedding planning, family visits, thesis writing, etc. life has been busy, but great! I'm healthy and feeling excited about this weekends race. I promise to check in soon (really, I mean it this time!) with more details!
Friday, August 7, 2009
Solid race--4:32 and 7th overall in a strong field, qualified for Clearwater. Swam well, ran fairly well, biked. . .meh, ok. If that's enough info for you, skip to the bottom for the pictures from the post race trip to Chicago. Otherwise, keep reading: )
Before I get too deep into the actual race reporting, I would like to comment on a notable change in my preparation for the race. I still did all the usual swim/bike/run training, but I decided to make one very important pre-game change. My hair. (Those of you with short hair can tune out now). I would describe the normal pre race hair ritual as non-existant. I yank it into a ponytail, and don't give it a second thought. Not until after the race, that is, when I usually spend on the order of 45 minutes combing it out of the most incredible tangle imaginable.
Thanks to Katie, my incredible "mom for the weekend", the problem was solved. Double braids are definitely the way to go. Took me back to my gymnastics days as a kid.
On to the race. The lake had some decent wind chop going race morning. Combined with the 6-12 inch visibility, I knew drafting was going to be tough. The pro women's wave included several incredible swimmers, so no opportunities for mistakes if I wanted to be in a swim pack. As soon as we heard the gun, I went HARD, managing to get to the first buoy in the lead (from my vantage point, anyway). That didn't last long. BUT, I did manage to settle in with a group of 3 girls, and exited the water in 30 minutes and change, my fastest ever swim time!
I am quite accustomed to biking my way back into the mix. This time, I was actually much closer to the action than usual coming out of the water, but my legs seemed to have stage fright. The first 15 miles of my bike ride weren't great. I spent the first few miles questioning whether or not I had a mechanical. After searching for a few excuses--brake rubbing? Nope. flat? Nope.--and coming up empty handed, I decided it was time to suck it up and get to work. I seemed to pull things together for the later part of the ride, and moved up 6 or 7 places before running out of real estate.
Nothing too remarkable happened on the run. I found a good rhythm, but more or less held position. Sub 1:30 on a course with some hills. I've run faster, but given the Ironman racing and training bookending this race, I'll take it! Overall, I felt really good about the day --good prep for IM Canada and nice to see that the extra swimming is (fingers crossed) finally paying off.
I finished the weekend off with a trip to Chicago (I love Saturday races. . .more time to play before the end of the weekend!) My friends Paige and Jack were excellent windy city tour guides--wake surfing on the lake, dancing with Lady Gaga, and checking out the downtown sites were a few of the highlights.
Obviously not the real Lady Gaga. . .the question is, was (s)he a lady at all? We were really not sure.
It was a fun weekend of racing & playing before heading back to San Diego for IM Canada prep!
Friday, July 31, 2009
Yesterday was a second swim in the lake, followed by a preview ride of the course. The bike course is absolutely spectacular--gently rolling country roads spotted with apple orchards, pick it yourself blueberry farms, and vegetable stands every few miles. I briefly considered dumping my water bottles and having a try at the berry picking, but restrained myself.
This sign, posted outside of a one room schoolhouse sort of confused me. Not as much as the French speedo one, but confusing nonetheless. Are they just trying to prevent general loitering? Does the kid's jewlry they find go a long ways towards the school budget? Thoughts?
Monday, July 27, 2009
This weekend was the illustrious Solana Beach Triathlon. Since my legs needed a reminder that it IS possible to move faster than an ironman shuffle, and because it was within 5 miles of my house, I decided to jump in. Nothing better than having a few (1,500 or so) good training partners for a speed workout. All in all, it was a good day, err 53 minutes, that is. . .my cool down run was actually longer, but it was fun nonetheless. Kate Major smoked it, and I held on for 2nd overall female.
There was a little extra excitement for the swim race morning, as the biggest swell of the summer had arrived just in time. Not long ago, the sight of these waves would have terrified me, but a few weeks of ocean swims with the surf livesavers over in Oz last year recentered my classification system for waves. Other than a face full of whitewash after one poorly timed dolphin dive on the way out, the swim seemed to go not half bad. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that I was down just 30 seconds as I ran up the ramp.
I wouldn't say I was exactly fresh and tapered for this, but the bike and the run actually felt great. I managed to hold position on the bike--all 9 miles of it, and hopped off hoping I still had legs to run. It was my first taste of speed in quite awhile, so I really had no idea how it was going to feel. As it turned out, the run felt so great that I decided to treat myself to an extra 400m or so. Oops. Lesson learned. Know the course--or, if you are going to follow that guy in front of you, at least make sure he is in the same race and not the duathlon that started 5' before you!
Ah, well. A good confidence booster workout, nonetheless.
Races are always a lot of fun, but local races are even better. Loved seeing so many of my friends and training partners out there. It was especially exciting to see some friends tackle their first triathlon. Special shout out to my friend Jeff, who had an awesome race and is gonna be a poppa in just a few short weeks.
Way to go, Jefe.
Here's a pic from the other race of the weekend, the horse races at the Del Mar racetrack. As previously mentioned, this type of race is nice because it's far less strenuous. A nice way to relax on a sunny summer afternoon.
A full day of training ahead before leaving for Michigan tomorrow. Have a happy Tuesday!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Kate & I procrastinating at B&L pre-ride
Mostly I spent the morning drooling over myself. No, I haven't morphed into a total egomaniac. I mean literally drooling all over myself. At the dentist's office. I had to have a cap replaced on the front tooth I chipped when I was 11. Ironically, it was the result of my first real bike wreck--a total faceplant performed while racing my brother, Cliff, on the brand new bmx bikes we'd just gotten for Christmas that year.
I can still remember watching him edge a little bit ahead, then digging in for my first taste of speed on two wheels--standing up out of the saddle, absolutely cranking, handlebars rocking back and forth, and then that split second of time standing still before hitting the pavement. Let's just say that he walked away with the glory that day. I walked away looking like one big scab. Who knew that so many years later I would be rushing out of the dentists' office to get back on one of those dangerous contraptions! Since these days he keeps himself busy with the minor task of med school, we haven't gotten around to a re-match. Lucky for me.
In other news, less than a week to go before I leave for Steelhead 70.3 in Michigan. Starting to feel somewhat recovered, so I'm looking forward to it as a good training day for Canada!
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Wish granted. This week's training plan has me jumping right back in with both feet. Group rides, 2 hour runs, etc. 3 sessions a day most days, capping it off with a sprint tri on the weekend. . . and I practically had to pull out an exercise physiology textbook to reacquaint myself with some of the terms. Tempo run?? What does that mean, again?
Right off the bat, I was reminded of the unfortunate truth that the difficulty ratio of a swim workout in a long course meters pool, as compared to the same one in short course yards is approximately infinity to one. I don't care what the actual distance conversion is.
(If you look closely, you can probably see me almost drowning 3rd lane from the right)
But, for all of my mock complaining, I am more than happy to be back in a routine. I absolutely love my j-o-b (it feels ridiculous to call what I do work). Besides, without heavy training to occupy all of my free time, I was starting to make some poor decisions. For one thing, I signed up for twitter. . .as if this blog doesn't provide enough excessive information, I will now be polluting the information highways with even more frequent updates.
Even worse, I managed to convince myself that do-it-yourself wedding invitations were a good idea. Seriously? Do you even know the last time I completed an arts and crafts project? I don't either, but I think it was sometime around 2nd grade when we made those Thanksgiving turkey's, which only require the ability to trace your hand.
I'm not one to shy away from a challenge, but I may have gotten in over my head on this one.
Friday, July 17, 2009
It took multiple stops to reshuffle, but I made it. Barely.
In an additonal attempt to be more green friendly, I've also been bike commuting to the pool. I seem to be very good at being environmentally conscious in the summer when the weather is perfect. It's hard to stay off the road right now, and I occasionally have to remind myself that this week is still about recovery. Here's a pic from one of my favorite rides, part of the "long cut" I took en route to the pool yesterday:
It was a very relaxing ride, other than an annoying rattling sound I kept hearing. I checked all of the things that someone with my limited mechanical skills knows how to check. Nothing. So, I did what any triathlete in the San Diego area would do and took it to the guys at B&L. I've come to them for all my bike issues over the years (trust me, there have been many), and they always sort things out. You're more or less guaranteed a few laughs while you're there, as well.
It took a bit, but we (and by "we", I mean Matt and Gordon) finally deduced that I had managed to drop a screw into the top tube when I reassembled it. Oopsies. It kept getting stuck, and required some serious skill to remove, but they once again sorted things out and sent me on my way. Thanks, guys!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The nice thing about these track sessions is that I don't have to do any of the work; )
The horse races at the Del Mar race track are sort of synonymous with carefree summer days. They bring an incredibly energy that shakes up the mellow San Diego vibe for 6 weeks every summer. It's a fun afternoon activity to get dressed up (or not), meet up with friends, and place a few bets (mine are usually the $2 kind) on the ponies--only after completely wearing myself out with a long workout of my own, of course.
Opening day is not till next week, which is good because I could use a little down time from all this fun, and I'm more than ready to get back into the training routine. I've had two weeks of unstructured workouts, which fits well with my hard wired "just wing it" tendencies. I know it 's time to get back on a program, though, since yesterday I even found myself missing Training Peaks--the online system which Coach essentially has to guilt me into using on a regular basis to log out my workouts.
Off to rebuild/reacquaint myself with my bike, followed by a little splash at the pool!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Considering that I arrived here via the South of France, I suppose this trip can really only be described as that elusive often mentioned, but rarely experienced "vacation from a vacation". Yes, I feel darn lucky.
No, that's not your imagination. 8 out of the 10 guys in this picture do have a mustache. Grown especially for the trip.
This is a picture of Kristina and Maggie on our biking adventure to Bartlett Farms, where you can buy fresh local produce. We felt so old school.
Of course, if 3 of you are attempting to buy fresh local produce for 16 people, the trip home can be a bit cumbersome, as we discovered. Especially if your bungee cords are too short and the road is full of large potholes and larger puddles. But, we managed. . .barely!
In a classic demonstration of "old meets new", this is Maggie using the GPS app on her iPhone to guide our quaint little procession.
One of my best friends is getting married on Saturday (congrats, Ellie and Mike!!), so I have a few more days on the East coast before heading back to San Diego. As much fun as vacation(s) can be, I am already very much looking forward to getting back to the training groove!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
My mantra for this race, as provided by Coach Paul was "keep your shit together". I realize this isn't your typical inspirational message, but in many ways it was rather reassuring because it emphasized that I had done the training I needed to do and that if I avoided mistakes, I would have a good day.
As it turned out, I didn't need to wait long on race day to put my mantra to use. A few hundred yards into the swim, I looked up and realized I was waa-aay off course. In fact, the alternate title for this post was IM France 140.8; ) In my defense, I was in pretty good company. As I found out later, about half of the field had followed a kayak that led us towards the wrong buoy. Which is no excuse, but what can I say, sense of direction has never been my strong suit.
I typically love the mass start because with 2,400 other friends or so, it is virtually guaranteed that even I will have someone to swim with. Halfway through this swim, however, I was re-evaluating our relationship and cursing my "friends" who were still absolutely pummeling me with every stroke. It felt like a bar fight.
(Sorry for the pirated photos, but,well. . .I'm cheap; )
The bike ride was spectacularly beautiful and pleasingly uneventful. Not easy,mind you, just no surprises. This was my third time at this race, so things that might have otherwise shocked me--like the 16% wall at 20 km and the climb that seems to last the entire first half of the ride--were now routine. I enjoyed the spectators' cheers of "allez, allez, allez" and entertained myself by checking out the names on the rider's race numbers and trying to guess their nationality as I passed. Franz, Jean-Claude, and Jesus were all in attendance.
The run was fairly challenging from the get-go. I've felt better starting runs, but I have been working a lot on shortening my stride and increasing my turnover for a more economical running style. I don't want to jinx myself, but I think it may be working. In spite of not feeling spectacular, I managed to hang on for a sub 3:20 marathon, and a 9:58 overall time, which is a new PR.
Next up is a week of R& R, before ramping back up for Ironman Canada in August!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Similarly, no photo evidence of this morning's gorgeous ride, which saddens me because the riding here absolutely has some of the most spectacular scenery you will ever experience. I did remember my camera, even made our little pod of riders stop for what was to be a perfect photo op, then discovered I'd left the media card in my computer. Oopsies.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Really?! Free flowers? I love flowers! I pulled into the parking lot, expecting to find some fine print on the back of the sign--a "Buy one bouquet, get the second one free" type of deal, perhaps. But, no! They were really and truly free.
Yup, a huge frozen yogurt. My biggest weakness, in case you haven't been paying attention. But, according to the nutritional info, it only contains 38 calories & zero grams of fat per half cup--that's practically like eating chocolate and peanut butter flavored lettuce! I'm waiting for the news report exposing this as a total sham, but until then, I'm going to keep telling myself it's true!!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Greg is an awesome cyclist, who spent years racing professionally. I'd always see him at the group rides--well, the start of the group rides, anyway, before he and a few other guys dropped the rest of us. Fortunately for me, he decided at some point to take me on as a "project". For the last few years, Greg would do virtually all of my rides with me. Long rides, intervals, whatever I had on the program, I could almost always count on him to come along. Though I still have a very long way to go, I credit him with pretty much any cycling skills I now possess.
Not that it was always easy. . .for one thing, he would often neglect to include the "Katya factor" when planning our riding routes--i.e. rides that took 4 hours at male pro cylist pace did not necessarily take 4 hours at my pace. So, that occassionaly made for some nice surprises at the end of a ride--or what I expected to be the end. Then, there was the time that he compared his rides with me to the absolute recovery technique that another famous rider would use when he would sit in a chair in between his intervals. Sort of like "sitting in an arm chair" is the metaphor I believe he used only somewhat jokingly at times to describe the training benefit he derived from our rides.
Yesterday, I had a bike workout to do--10 x 4' of "best average" (Paul's euphamism for max effort, friggin' hard) intervals with one minute recovery. I'll be honest, I didn't want to do it. I'm a long distance girl through and through. 6 hour ride? No problem, 4 minute all out effort? Scary. But, then I thought about Greg. I realized how much he would want to be on this ride--on any ride, for that matter. I thought about how, for an athlete, no pain that you feel in a workout can come close to the pain of not being able to do what you love. Then, I put my head down and went as hard as I could, hurt as much as I could, and made it count.
Friday, June 12, 2009
The day's ocean swims--yes, plural--were nice. I wouldn't say that I exactly have a natural affinity for the water, but I'm learning. Or, I'm trying to learn, anyway. To tell you the truth, even after all the swimming I've done, I still get a little nervous at the start of every open water swim. A few minutes into it, I'm good, but unless the water is roughly bath temperature and there are colorful fish to distract me--this picture is from the Caribbean in November--you're not getting any smiles from me right away.
This morning, the swim was a little more training focused and the only fish around were the ones I was keen on NOT seeing. But it was a beautiful day and I had good company, since for Swim # 1, I scored an invitation to what is officially known (by the founding members) as "the World's Greatest Swim Club". Using the words "swim" and "greatest" together would normally illicit some cynical retort from me, but like I said, the water and I are practicing getting along. The beachside hot tub and post swim bagels did go along way towards making up for the cold water. Also, 6 am is prime feeding time for big fish with big teeth; since we didn't see any of those, I am willing to count this one as a success.
Swim # 2 was with my friend Ben Sanson, aka "the Fish" on the triathlon circuit. He was the one that won the swim preem in Hawaii this year. In other words, when I say that Ben and I "swam together", I am referring to the fact that we shared the same square mile of ocean.
I considered utilizing my favorite present from Aquasphere--my fins. I chuck these guys on whenever I want to practice smoothing out my stroke, or I'm attempting to keep up with faster people. Then, I got real and decided there was no keeping up with him, fins or no fins, so I just swam back and forth between two buoys while he swam circles around me. Literally. I was feeling a little guilty for slowing him down, until the truth came out, which was that he was using it as cold water acclimatization for Escape from Alcatraz. Glad I could be helpful; )
Just for extra credit, I finished the day with one final trip back to the beach. No swimming this time, but Andy was going surfing so I went along just to soak the legs. If you're paying the coastal San Diego cost of living, you might as well take advantage of it!