Friday, July 31, 2009

Almost time

All's good here in Michigan. I arrived Wednesday for the Whirlpool Steelhead race, just in time for an 8:30pm swim with the local tri group--it's not dark till nearly 10pm here! Better still, before I even hit the sack, my bike was already assembled by my awesome hosts who are not only race volunteers, but also own the town bike shop. Talk about connections.

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?

Ah, well. I'll have 70.3 miles tomorrow to ponder it. Happy weekend training and racing, everyone!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A weekend at the Races

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

I'm Drooling

I spent the better part of the morning drooling. Not over the beautiful day, though it was beautiful. Not over my riding partner's strength on the bike, though Kate Major is one of the best athletes in the sport and a total badass on the bike. (Ok, maybe I was drooling over her, just a liiitle). Not even over the hilly 3.5 hour afternoon ride we had planned, though I was totally stoked to spend a little quality time in the saddle and get reacquainted with my Orbea TT bike.

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

Both feet

Yesterday I got the get-back-to-work phone call from Coach. Actually, to be honest, I initiated the call. It's been a nice break, but I am more than ready to get back at it.

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


Nothing too exciting to report here, just getting back into the routine. Whoever coined the term "perfectly normal" had it exactly right. This week has been full of pretty normal daily living tasks, mixed in with a bit of light training. . .Sometimes, I even find ways to combine the two.

For example, yesterday's impromptu strength training routine, which involved a trip to the grocery store to restock the bare fridge and pantry. The store is about an 8-10 minute walk. . .far enough that it's faster to drive, close enough that you feel supremely guilty for doing so if you only need a few things. After being gone for a month, any sane person would have either A) realized they would need to buy more than usual and drive or B) limit themselves to a few immediately necessary items. Not me, though. I staggered up to the checkoutline with an overflowing basket so heavy/cumbersome that the checkout boy asked me three times if I needed help out to my car. Didn't help that only the 24 pack of Diet Coke (numero uno on the shopping list) was on sale. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was walking home. A snapshot of the goods:

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

Dorthy was right. . .

It's true, there is no place like home. I arrived home yesterday after almost a month away. While my travels were amazing, full of unforgettable experiences--racing in the South of France, bachelorette partying in Nantucket and NYC, and topping it off with a good friend's fabulous wedding in CT--it is, nonetheless, great to be back.

No matter where I go in the world, I always look forward to coming back to San Diego. That's when you know you're in the right place, I guess. It doesn't hurt that we are in the midst of the summer sweet spot--the foggy mornings known as "June Gloom" and the Del Mar fair, which brings 2 weeks worth of heavy traffic, are behind us. (That fair comment probably makes me sound like a fun hater, but the rides aren't that good. Unless you like deep fried twinkies and petting farm animals, there really aren't too many reedemable qualities).

Meanwhile, the warmest weather of the year is here, the ocean is calm, the days are long--ideal for training. Plus, race track season is right around the corner.

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

Vacation from a Vacation

I've spent the past week relaxing in Nantucket, an island off the coast of Massachusetts. Think Tommy Hilfiger ads. A little posh for my usual liking, but my family has been coming here since before my mother was born, and before it morphed from a quiet and somewhat seedy beach getaway to the epicenter of blue blazers, khakis, large yachts, and tennis whites that it is today. So, there is a great deal of sentimental attachment.

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.

I arrived last Wednesday, a bit jet lagged and travel weary, legs that still felt like lead from the race, not to mention feet that very nearly resembled ground chuck. After a week of beaching, tennis, BBQ-ing, bike riding (but only if it has a basket and no more than 3 gears), and relaxing with the best group of friends a girl could ask for, I am feeling better than new.

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

Ironman France Recap

Overall, I have to admit that I was quite happy with the day. This is not something I say often, so you may want to take note; ) As there always are with a race this long, there were a few mistakes , but I also managed to check off a few goals, namely cracking the 10 hour barrier and having my best ever Ironman run.

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!