Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Whim Vacationing

Theming this month. I started this post on my way back from a great vacation that happened very last minute. I realize that my last post may have made people jealous or angry having done well with minimal training. However, I trained hard all winter. Got up on those dark cold mornings. And put in the time. My base had proved to be enough to carry me through for a month. Don't worry. It won't last forever.

Back to vacation. [don't be jealous! I work hard]

I had asked for last weekend off for a wedding. Luckily it was granted. We booked the hotel on Thursday. Frank and Karen headed out Friday morning and Chris and I were leaving after I got done with work around 7:00pm Friday night.

I quickly looked at the schedule for next week and noticed I had Monday and Tuesday off. What? Four day weekend unplanned?!

What to do. Complain about it or embrace the freedom. Came home and asked Chris if he wanted to head up to Mammoth after the wedding festivities on Sunday and ski/board Mon/Tues and head back Tuesday night. A big storm was rolling in and weather looked amazing with a ton of snow forecasted.

Sweet Chris was in. Call cousin Dana and they were glad to have us. Lodging "booked."

Epic vacation commenced. Packed up all the ski crap on top of bikes and wedding stuff and headed for Santa Barbara.

Got in late and took the bikes in after their bath [it rained a bit on the way up]. Saturday morning woke up and headed out for some tasty eats at Beachbreak Cafe. Then it was off for some pre-wedding wine tasting in downtown Santa Barbara. Yum. I have to admit I'd never been before. And it was a glorious idea. So many random adventures. Meeting Santa Clause on the street had to be the highlight. Frank spotted him across the street. In a wheelchair. He made us cross and of course made some off hand comment. The lady walking along said well he IS Santa. So we asked for our picture. And why he was wearing a cast with a bag on his foot. Apparently Rudolf stepped on his foot and broke it. Seriously we met Santa in Santa Barbara.

Off to the wedding at the beautiful very old and nicely refurbished court house. It's a very open aired hallways old Spanish feeling building with huge ceilings, ornate wall murals and amazing details.

Quick ceremony, yet personal and then we were off to dinner (amazing!) and drinks. Chris and I left the party and headed back to the hotel so we had a chance of waking up for the Sunday morning ride. Which was windy!! A slow 40 miles, shower, breakfast with the hungover wedding guests who I'm sure thought we were crazy and then we were off to Mammoth!

Got into town around 8:00 and Dana made us dinner. Woke up to a beautiful sunny day. With absolutely no wind. Such a great day on the mountain. Monday night a couple friends Ryan and Av came drove up and joined us for our Tuesday adventures.

Mid-week boarding is awesome. Monday was $5 Mai tais. Tuesday was $5 margaritas. And yeah the [lack of] lift lines aint bad either.

The last run of the day was ridiculous. Too much sun and no wind turns the snow to slush puppies. Super slow and catchy. Made it down and had some beers in the hot tub. For our 2nd time. Ate dinner and it was 8:30 before we knew it. 2:30am arrival time was not awesome. Especially with 2 swim lessons Wednesday morning.

Ryan and Av continued their adventure north with a stop at Bachelor in Oregon and then all the way to Canada for their Revelstoke trip. Backcountry for a week. Soo jealous.

Now I'm back and still trying to recover from an extended weekend lacking sleep. Today is day 6 in a row of working. Need to peel myself out of bed and do something. Bike racing this weekend on a local course I've never done. Should be interesting.

Thanks to Chris for all the driving and Dana and Adam [newly engaged!] for the lodging and lift tickets!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Whim Racing

I seem to be mastering the art of racing on a whim. The whole train train train prep work and build up lead up to just ONE race doesn't work for me anymore. As a swimmer I've done that my entire life. 4 months of work here, 9 months there, with little rest and a focus on the end of the season "big meet" and taper time. Countless races in between but we were always smashed. All for the hope that one day [or four] would turn out to be our best.

This winter I trained for Panama. I won't call it hard training. But I made a effort towards a goal and a race and had a plan. Plan gets thrown out when heat hills and wind destroy me.

A week after the race I got back on my [road] bike. I rode hard and I rode a bunch. The following week I raced a criterium. My first of the season and ponied up and rode with the big girls of cat 1-3. Stayed in the mix, won a prime, brought back some breaks. Avoided a major crash where girl was upside down flying through air right next to me. Feet above my head. I held my line and kept moving. Yikes that was close. Ended up first for the cat 3s and 7th OA. Cool. I remember how to race cookie monster.

After the race I had the worst ass cramps I've ever experienced. Actually they were the worst muscle cramps, period. I mean serious cessation of every muscle in both ass cheeks. Couldn't bend over. Couldn't even touch my knees. I stayed up in Ontario to watch our men race a couple races and tried to massage it out. Yes I was that girl digging my hand into my butt cheeks. Ouch.

Rode GWL that week for my first ride back on Kermit with Jake and took it easy as to not disturb and have a relapse. Rode fiesta with Noko on that Friday hoping for the same. Got a much needed 90min massage to get all that Panama crap out of my legs and calves.

Decided to sign up for the Desert International Tri. Didn't run, not even once, in between Panama on Feb 12 and race day on March 4. Whim racing?! I got this.

Swim: 1st AG 1st Amateur 17:07
First off I started this race on a bad foot. 2 min before I realized I didn't take my obligatory vanilla GU 15 min before like I ALWAYS do! F'it. Doesn't matter. Race. Okay go. Ran directly in water as instructed to do since it is a SWIM not a run. See a girl run down the beach at cut in the water like 30 yards down. So now I'm swimming pissed off. Sprint to catch her and immediately pass her and there may have been some contact. Now I'm just swimming with anger. See another girl cut the course. The 1st buoy is FAR away. And directly into the sun. Oh well. Turn at buoy and head back in. Passing peeps as usual as I was in the 4th wave. Ps water was cold.

Bike 1:01:28 1st AG, 2nd Amateur 4OA
Not a bad day. Got on the bike. Felt good. Sat in. Drank some water and wanted to eat [since I hadn't yet] but held back till 20 min in. Was alone on the bike until, well, I wasn't. It was a very packed course. Major packs. I'd go only to be passed by a group. I'd drop back. Try and get into a legal position. Only to catch back up to group. I finally resorted that this is going to be it and I should just stop fighting. Riding angry after an angry swim isn't any fun! The course is a 2 loop square course with 4 corners. At one point people were 3 wide going into a corner. Uh, are we racing a crit?! No, and omg I do not trust triathlete handling skills. I blazed to the front and took the corner like I wanted to. Alone. Towards the end, one girl went off the front. The other girl who was actually working like me said "looks like someone finally decided to stick her nose in the wind!" as we both laughed it off and hammered back into T2.

Not sure if I took a conservative approach or if I rode to hard. Legs didn't really know what was going on. Okay, we'll see how this run thing goes. Whim racing!

Run: 45:04 6th AG 40th OA
Got on the dirt path, took a swig of water and some salt tabs and had no idea what pace my legs were holding. Looked at garmin. 7:30, okay I can do this. [as I'm laughing at myself because I have no idea if I'm going to blow up or not]. Hear the race director telling me the lead racer is just behind me. And it's a girl. "Heather Jackson?" I ask and of course she comes storming by me. Like I'm on a Sunday jog. Except I don't jog on Sundays. It was ridiculous. I look down and I'm going 7:15. Okay that's not okay. She was a good motivator, but not that good. I still have over 4 miles left.

Keith then passed and I yelled at him that a girl was kicking his ass. Tool more salt. Ran more. Finished first loop. Felt okay. Kept on truckin. Finished. Run was like 5.8 miles or something.

2nd AG. 2:06.50 felt solid.

Last year was a lot of the same. This year I'm not sure where I want to go with my racing. I like being able to jump into a race with some sort if confidence. Which takes some sort of fitness. I'm not usually one to half ass something, but it's been going okay. I have some ideas but I just need to sign up and get the plan. Or not.

San Diego Intl is already paid for so end of June is the next official non whim race, although I've never properly trained for that race in all my years of racing it, so no guarantees there. And who knows when the hubby gets back. And then, all bets are off. Looking forward to a couple of local crits coming up, but since I never know my schedule until a week ahead of time or less, those are very whim-esk.

Writing this on a very long car ride from Santa Barbara to Mammoth. Whim Vacation continues!!

Pictures: camping before the race. [worked till 5:30 sat night, drove out with Steve, set up camp, woke up to race at event site!]
Post Race Festivities [wrona invited us to his hotel for pool time recovery. Amazing time with fun peeps]
Sunrise before the race in the desert
Crit racing! Working hard on the front.

Monday, March 5, 2012


I had an amazing time in Panama and I'm so thankful for the people who made it happen. Thanks to husband deployed unit who is "seeing the world" with the Navy, so I can see the world with triathlon. Mucho gracious to my "Panamanian" friend Brendan who told me about the race last year and who hosted me for a week! I had a great trip thanks to him. And thanks again to my coach Brian [triathlon lifestyle coaching] and ART guru Matt [CRAC San Diego] for getting me to the start line. The rest was up to me and getting to that finish line proved to be harder than I thought.

Congrats to [pro triathlete] Haley for a great race in almost all borrowed gear! Her bike made the trip, but her bag ended up lost [and found in San Jose, after the trip of course.] Brian also coaches her, and we hadn't met till Panama!

After the race I took a tour with Brendan's guide friend and 6 very unique tourists. We took the Panama Canal Train from the Pacific [southern, weird I know] side to the northern, Atlantic side. The train was gorgeous [albeit Freezing with AC blasting] and it weaved through the canal, lakes and jungle. We arrived and our tour guide Kevin picked us up in the van and we headed out into what was the increasingly common crazy Panamanian drivers and traffic.
pretty painting on the inside of the train
Arrived at our breakfast location.

And headed out for a snorkeling adventure. Sadness is the broken underwater camera. Greatness is the warm Atlantic waters and private beach and some beautiful fish and coral.

 Pictures from Portobelo.

2 cannons were stolen the week before we came. a) who steals a rusty old cannon? b) for what use? c) how did they manage to lift it out of this area?

Returned for another delicious meal and we were off to the old Spanish fort town Portobelo for our history lesson and black Jesus viewing. Growing up in Northern Minnesota, I've only ever thought of Jesus as the pale white guy on the cross. That is until my high school bf's dad designed and crafted the amazing "Living Christ" crucifix out of his medium of choice, Bronze. [see below] Back to Panama, every October 21st, people journey to this town. They take black Jesus out of his case, dress him in this amazing gown that one of the towns ladies works on the entire year [we saw her sewing when we were there; in Feb.] and crawl on their hands and knees and return black Jesus to his tomb in the church.
the living Christ, St. Joseph's Church, Grand Rapids, MN
El Cristo Negro
Saw some kids playing in the streets. Apparently practicing for Carnival. Really they were just whipping each other.

Saw a monkey on a chain too. At the mayer's house. I don't think it liked me taking the video. [as I run away from a chained monkey, lol]

After the tour we headed back down to the city. My fellow tourists were a very eclectic mix of people and made the trip much more enjoyable.  The following day Brendan took me to the old part of Panama which I'll save for another post.