Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Quick pics

A few shots from Vineman Showdown last weekend.

The always oh-so-flattering wetsuit shot.

Yes, I do amuse myself....even when my cold, numb foot doesn't want to get into it's shoe.

This must've been on an uphill....otherwise I have *no* explanation for that forward lean.

Happy to be finished!  And fun that they held up the banner for little 'ol me.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The first tri of the year is now in the books.  There was some good.  Some bad.  And some ugly.

T and I drove up mid-day and we made it there *plenty* early.  Probably too early, as we had a ton of time to sit around, wander about, check things out, and generally get bored.   But it was nice to be able to get set up, check out the transition ins/outs, eat some lunch, and especially people watch.  It just amazes me how super fit the majority of triathletes are, even at a small, local race.  And it still intimidates me.  I guess I just don't consider myself an athlete, even after all these years of participating in running events and tris.  Oh, and we had to go thru body marking, of course.  Where I was disappointed that they weren't marking ages on the calves.  Partly because it's both humorous and inspiring when the 60+ folks fly by me, but  this would have been my first "40".  Ah well, maybe the next one.

Some ugly:  we knew that there was a 'hill' out of transition that in previous years you had to ride up.  This year you were going to have to run up, either with bike shoes on, or with bare feet, pushing your bike.  We made sure to walk the hill just to see what it was like.  Uh, yeah.  About 1/4 mile long, a steeper almost 'hairpin' at the bottom and then gradually up, up, up to the mount/dismount line.  And literally about 8 feet wide.  For traffic going two ways.  Now I see why there were some issues with people riding up/down.  The up would be slow enough you could literally fall over, especially if some people were walking their bikes, and the down would be a screamer.  And not a nicely paved path either.  Yes, it was paved.  About a 100 years ago.  Very rough, some tree roots pushing parts up, some pot holes.  Awesome.  Oh, and how about a few flights of stairs out of T2?  Not a fan.

Eventually the time crept closer and we listened to the instructions at the athlete's meeting, suited up, and headed to the beach for our warm up swim. 

Some good:  It was announced that the water was 68 degrees!  Fabulous.  I had been so worried about the cold, cold water.  My plan had been to wear my full wetsuit, get in a good warm up, and hope for the best.  Of course, I'm almost positive that they were lying about the 68.  I did a quick practice swim at the small lake by my house the previous day and the underwater thermometer there had read about 63.  And it felt a lot warmer than the water at the event. But at least it wasn't 55 like they had projected.

We did a nice warm up swim, where I was reminded again that salt water swimming is not my favorite thing.  And before we knew it, we were heading back up the beach to line up.  Yep, a beach start.  It seemed like no one wanted to be at the front.  We thought we were front-middle, but very few people were in front of us.  I will admit there was a little fear of getting plowed under.  And then.....with a countdown from 10, we were off.  Run, run, dive, swim.  The swim went by both much faster than I expected and at the same time seemed to take forever.  I tend to have a very hard time catching my breath during a sprint swim. So I was breathing every stroke for quite a while, not finding any rhythm.  And there was more contact at this race than any other race I've done, including Ironman.  I had someone bumping me on both sides for almost the entire swim.  And often someone grabbing at my feet with feet right in front of me.  But the buoys were going by quite quickly and before I knew it I was heading for shore.  I swam until my hands brushed the bottom and then popped up and started running to T1.  I finished up the swim in a little over 6 minutes, which is much faster than I had anticipated.  I'm thinking the course may have been short, because I am just *not* that fast.

Up into transition, strip off the wet suit, sunglasses and helmet mashed onto my head.  I had decided to leave my shoes on my bike and I grabbed Ruby and took off running up the hill.  And then I was jogging up the hill. And then I was trotting.  And I finally made it to the top.  I think it's a good thing my feet were still numbed up from the cold water.  Or the adrenaline.  Or both.  I didn't feel the awful surface of the path too much.  I did have a bit of a hard time shoving my wet, numb feet into the shoes once on the bike.  But I eventually got them in there.

The one thing T and I realized (after the fact) was that we should have taken some of that spare time to drive the bike course.  Then we would have had some idea what to expect.  It wasn't bad really, just constantly rolling.  And a bit windy.  And as usual, I got passed by everyone and their great grandmother on the bike (only a *very* slight exaggeration).  I have come to the conclusion that I may be the anti-bicyclist.  Maybe I just don't have cycling muscles.  Maybe I just need to pipe down and work a little harder.  Probably the latter.

Some bad:  I'm unsure how hard is HARD when it comes to the bike.  I see women up out of the saddle for some hills, and wonder how they do it.  I try, then plop back down into the saddle.  I still have a long way to go with the bike. Participate, learn, train some more.

The bike was over, not quite as quickly as I'd have liked.  I didn't make my internal goal. With about a half mile left to go, I was trying to figure out when to slide out of my shoes so I could run down the hill, leaving my shoes on the bike.  Unfortunately, here again is where it would have been good to have scoped out the course.  Down a hill, into a sweeping left hand turn, and then....uphill to the dismount line.  Damnit.  There is no sliding out of shoes on an uphill, at least for me.  So I had to go into the dismount line with my shoes still on my feet.  I started to run down the hill with my shoes still on and sucked.  So I pulled to the side and pulled of my shoes as quickly as I could and started running down that damn hill again.  I could feel my feet a little more this time and it wasn't so nice.  But I could see people struggling to keep from slipping and sliding in their cycling shoes, so I'm not sure what the better choice really was.

I made it into transition and despite heading down the wrong aisle, I was able to get in and out pretty quickly.  Sat down to slide on my socks and running shoes, plop down my helmet and put a hat on my head.  I grabbed my race belt and took off running, fastening it as I went.  And then...the stairs.  &*$&*#* stairs!  I have to admit, midway up I slowed to a trot.  Maybe even a walk.  Okay, yes a walk.  But as soon as I got up to the top, I pushed off and started working on getting my legs back.  I had a side stitch for about half the run, but getting to the turn around was a turning point.  Figuratively and literally.  I knew I only had a mile and a half to go and I tried to pick up the pace.  It wasn't what I had hoped for, but was probably my best run in a sprint to date.  I won't complain too much.  Oh, except about that hill...again....coming in to the the final 3/4 mile.  Uphill....but then a nice downhill to a flat finish line.

I realized (again) after the race that sprints are hard.  I feel like I can't catch my breath for the entire race.  It starts on the swim, with me gasping on every stroke.  Then just when I feel like I can find a small groove, it's time to pop up and run into transition.  Just when I feel my bike legs coming the bike and run again.  Then just warm up the run legs, and it's time to stop.  Everything is HARD effort, which I guess is the definition of "sprint".   But then afterward, the high kicks in and I'm ready so sign up for another one. Go figure.

Now it's time to get back at the training.  And Coach Liz says we have plenty of time to find the bike HURT before the next race.  Joy.

Swim: 6:06
T1:     1:14
Bike: 36:55 (yes, this includes running both up/down that blasted hill)
T2:      1:25
Run:  27:28

More good:  4th in my AG (and not out of 4 like I suspected, but out of 20! woot!) and some of the fastest transitions out there (*the* fastest T1 thankyouverymuch). Too bad they don't give awards for transitions...I'd be golden. 

Lastly....more bad:  The bottoms of my feet are totally bruised from that stupid path. Ouch.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Uncertainty and clarification

This weekend is my first tri of the year.  .25 mile swim, 9 mile bike, 3 mile run.  My first sprint in almost a year. 

I have my game plan from coach, which is basically something like....1/2 a swim test followed immediately by a bike test followed immediately by a run test.  Ouch.  There may or may not have been a mention of 'red line' effort.

I have learned in the last few months that I can push myself on the run more than I ever thought possible.  I'm *this* close to dropping my 5k time under 8 min/mile.  I know, not fast for a lot of folks, but pretty damn zippy for me.  My swim is middle of the pack, I'd say.  And I've realized that it will take time and technique refinement to push me further up the line.  Luckily the swim, as you may have noticed, is short.  A mere 440.  I *should* be able to hang with the pack for that long.  And I'm ever *so* excited about that 55 degree water.  Yikes.

The biggest uncertainty is the bike.  I have been working hard to increase bike fitness so far this year.  My bike tests have shown that I'm making progress, with an increase in speed and watts.  But I'm not sure I've had a 'break through' yet on the bike.  I'm not sure I've learned how to really push myself on the bike.  I head out on a ride and think "wow, this hill/this speed/this effort level feels easier than it used to" but then some jack rabbit on a bike will still blow by me like I'm standing still.  And not even be breathing hard.  I know, I know, I shouldn't even be comparing myself to anyone else.  But still.

I have been visualizing my race for the last few nights as I've been drifting off to sleep. I am setting a positive mental picture.  Hokey?  Maybe.  But this weekend, I am going to do my very best to channel my inner Lance and hammer out an impressive (for me) bike split.

Now for a brief clarification.  I may have misled my (two or three) readers into thinking that my body fat percentage is exceptionally low.  Not so.  It's just that from where I started, it's a vast improvement.  And I'm now in the 'athletic' range, instead of the normal range, for a *ahem* practically 40 yr woman.  I still have spots (hello rear end) that I obsessively believe could stand further reduction, but other spots (goodbye bust) that are already smaller than I'd like.  So I'm at a healthy weight, a healthy body fat percentage, and I'm just going to have to figure out how to accept the bits the way they are.  

And my last topic to wrap up the week....what is UP with these coldlettes I've been having?!?!  Now, I'm not complaining too much.  If I have to be sick, than a teeny, tiny, 48-ish hour cold is not too terrible.  However this is the second a row....and I'm hoping that three is *not* a charm.

Here's to a fabulous weekend and some fleet feet. Cheers.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Blame it on the rain

A couple of weeks ago I saw a trail run posted on my schedule and I pinged Jo Lynn about taking me out to a new trail.  I had to twist her arm pretty hard, but she penciled me in.

Well, yesterday was the day!  I woke up, pulled the blinds open expecting to see some sunshine, and saw the trees waving back and forth.  And a gray sky.  Hm, not exactly what I had in mind, but maybe it would clear up by the time Jo Lynn got off work.  No such luck.  In fact there were even sprinkles coming down.  Never fear!  We didn't let a little thing like rain and wind stop *us*.  No sir.  But it didn't hurt that she sent me a message that we'd be protected pretty well the whole time. 

We drove up to Oakland and the five of us (me and Jo, plus her friend Lori, plus two dogs, Boomer and Mikey) hit the trails.  Bam would have loved it, and if we were hiking she would have come along for sure.  Poor old girl just can't run much any more.  And if I try to run her, she ends up limping and stiffened up for the rest of the day. So she stayed home and would get her exercise as soon as I got back from mine.

Protected trails.  Yep, they sure were. By the likes of this!  (Photos blatantly stolen from JoLynn's blog.  And you'll notice I did *not* steal the one taken from behind of me running up the hill.  No one needs to see that.)

There were a *few* muddy spots, but for the most part the trail was in great shape.  Very beautiful run and so peaceful.  Well, except for the three of us yakking away. :)   I rolled my ankle once, but it seemed to bounce right back and just reminded me to watch where I was going.  I do tend to be slightly less than graceful. I can tell I'm in no kind of trail running shape though, as my ankles feel like they've been stretched in ways they aren't used to.  The uneven terrain just takes some getting used to.  The legs feel decent tho, despite the sometimes steep hills.

On Sunday, I was *supposed* to have had my cupcake decorating class.  But earlier in the week we received an invitation from a friend to head up to Infineon Raceway, and of course couldn't pass that up.  So I called and postponed my cupcake class while it was still early enough to not forfeit my entry fee.  Then on Sunday, in typical Murphy's Law fashion, just as we were driving off to head up there I got a message from my friend that the event was being canceled due to the rain storm. So, no track time and no cupcakes.   Damn rain.

Since I still needed to find a dress for my cousins wedding next month, we hit the mall to grab some lunch and shop.  First stop, Cheesecake Factory.  Where there was an *amazing* looking limited edition cake staring at me from the case.  A red velvet cheesecake.  Layers of red velvet, layers of cheesecake, cream cheese frosting.  Oh.Man.  I do love me some red velvet.  Luckily, or sadly, depending on how you look at it, they now post the calorie content of pretty much everything.  And while I knew it had to be bad, I was shocked to see that the cake had 1500+ calories.  No.  Not the *whole* cake.  A slice of the cake.  I had to pass it up.  After all, I have a sprint race coming up and I can't be weighed down by that cake!  After the race is another story.

Next stop....Apple store to ogle and paw the iPad.  The worst part is that I think we're going to have to buy two.  Jeff says he wants to have one for books and I know us well enough to realize that sharing won't really be an option.  No iPad yet though, as the store was sold out.  We did eventually make it to buy my dress.  It needs some slight alteration, but should work out just fine.  Maybe I should wait for the tailoring until after the next trip to The Cheesecake Factory.  You know.  Just in case.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Bike and bug

As I wrapped up last week I was feeling pretty fatigued.  A run after work on Friday in the wind and rain probably didn't help.  And wouldn't you know that if I had started just a half hour later I could've avoided the rain.  The sun came out about half way thru my run and a nice rainbow was my scenery as I headed back towards the car.

After roughly 11 hours of sleep Friday night, I felt better and like I'd be okay for my 2 hour ride with hill repeats.  I was tempted to hop on the trainer, but as the afternoon wore on and the sun came out, I hauled Ruby outside and we took off for the hill nearest the house, Palomares.  The road getting there, Niles Canyon, is a popular bike route, but also a little dicey.  There's a lot of traffic, especially later in the day, and at points the bike lane is non-existant.  But if you have to do hill repeats, why not enjoy this while you're doing them:

Up and down the hill I went three times.  Sweating it out on the way up, and taking my time heading down as to not get too chilled.  I let off the brakes a bit on the last time down and headed home.  A good ride with some great scenery.  I'm glad I hit the road instead of staring at the TV!

After the ride was some recovery, a bath for the filthy dog (much to her disgust), and some good Mexican food.  I felt pretty good and went to bed early again.  And then.....I woke up about 5:30 Sunday morning with a stuffy, stuffy nose, a scratchy throat, a headache, and very thirsty.  Oh no.  No.  No, I will *not* be sick.  I got up and downed some juice and headed back to bed.  Eventually got up and headed to breakfast, but was just feeling really fatigued.  Vitamins, infusions of tangerine juice, orange juice, anything to try and drown the bug into submission.  I had wanted to head to the mall to try and find a dress for my cousin's wedding, but was amazed to find that the mall was closed.  Seriously?!?! Since when does the mall *close* on Easter?!?  Maybe I just haven't been paying attention.  It's probably a good thing anyway, as we just headed home and I crashed and did nothing for the rest of the day.

Oh!  At breakfast there were two people in the waiting area with iPads.  I definitely *need* one.  Okay, maybe not need...want.  iLike.  iWant.   "Hi, my name is Kris and I'm an Apple addict."  Well, it kind of comes with the territory when the husband works there and brings toys home.  I'm waiting to see if an iPad shows up, but have been told not to hold my breath.  Guess this is one toy I may have to buy.'s worth it.  It can take the place of the Kindle I'd been eyeing.  

So, it comes to Monday evening and I'm feeling mostly back to normal. Some strange little bug that luckily departed almost as quickly as it showed up. I'll take that bit of luck, thankyouverymuch.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Out like a lamb

March is all wrapped up.  Seriously?!?! Already?!?!  I guess time really does go by faster the older you get.  Truthfully there are days where I have *no* idea where the hours went.

Let's see...what do we have coming up......oh, definitely some fun stuff in April.

On the 11th, I'm taking a cupcake decorating class with the authors of:

I have the first book, Hello Cupcake, and am looking forward to getting some pointers on decorating.  No baking required for this class, so we can get right to the eating......err, decorating.  That's my kind of class.

Of course, on the 17th is Vineman Showdown sprint tri.  With water temps projected to be.....55.  Brrrrr.  Would it be wrong to wear *both* of my wetsuits?  Hmm, I wonder if that's even legal.  Sadly, I doubt they'd fit over the top of each other anyway.  Guess I'll just have to suck it up for the time it will take to traverse the .25 mile swim course.

And so far the last biggie on my calendar for April is on the 24th.  Bike handling skills 101.  The description is:

This 4-hour clinic is the foundation of everything else you'll learn on the bike. This is the clinic where we teach the old dogs new tricks and the newbies the fundamentals. You'll learn about balance and weight distribution and how that affects your ability to ride your bike safely and confidently. We'll learn skills like riding with no hands, emergency stops, and how to look behind you while holding your line, how to steer, and counter-steer. After just four hours, we guarantee you'll be a better bike handler and have much more fun on the bike.

The "riding with no hands" has me worried.  I seriously hope they don't expect me to be clipped in while learning that.  It could get *very* ugly *very* fast.  Coordination is not my strong suit (but slightly higher on the scale than patience).

And that will take me to the end of the month.  But that's getting *way* ahead of myself.

March hours all tallied up:

swim:   11.08
bike:      9.68
run:        8.29
strength: 8 
brick:     3
grand total: 40.05