Monday, February 22, 2010

suck it up

...and getting it done. So I was on facebook (not a surprise) on Friday night (yes I'm a loser), but what I saw was pretty funny. "Changing plans, let's ride on Sunday, looks like rain tomorrow" and "bagging bike plans, dreading treadmill run" and "YOU LIVE IN SAN DIEGO, SO SUCK IT UP!" Okay not really the last one, but that's what I felt like writing.

I'm a wuss at heart. I've been called a tough soldier, a fearless leader, a bad ass and crazy. Crazy is the only true descriptor. I am either freezing or burning up. I use a heater fan at work. I wear a down jacket when it's 50 degrees. I grew up in Minnesota but you'd never guess it (unless you hear me say MinnesoOOOta). I live in San Diego for a reason.

So signing up for an early season Ironman didn't really phase me. Training through winter? What's winter? And seasons? I have lived in San Diego for almost 2 years and I have forgotten what fall leaves look like, what real snow is, and what the warming of spring reminds me of. It's sunny and 70 for most of the year. Sometimes it rains. But it always ends up nice. At times I miss home, but when I know what's going on there now, I can't imagine setting up trainer sessions in the basement. YUCK!

The reason for the craziness? I don't have a choice. I don't have the luxury of switching my schedule, training or work, at the drop of a hat. When I lay out my week, it's pretty much set. If I miss a workout there's no room for error to make it up. I just have to suck it up. Which has been going pretty well. Thinking back:

102 mile kick off to IM training ride
Thanksgiving long run on a brisk 18 degree MN day
40 degree GWL+Descanso day
Frozen hilly Arizona Ride.
39 degree long ride and rainy long run
39 degree Joshua Tree long ride+guts
39 degree St. George 90 mile preview ride and my frozen toes:and last weekend.

I am sick of having epic workouts. Why can't it just be boring and uneventful? (and warm!) Again I have no choice but to suck it up.

Last week was all messed up. I went to bike fitting school at the start of the week and was also trying to recover from San Dieguito. I missed swim lessons, doctor appointments and a training run. But I gained so much more. A Fit Institute Slowtwitch Triathlon Fitter certification. And a "recover" 20 mile ride. Wednesday was a brutal GWL beating on tired legs. Thursday was hill repeats in the aerobars. Friday was a fast cove-shores-cove 2 mile swim with Jake. And Saturday was my day off work. I finally had a Saturday off to ride with the normal people, but everyone was bailing.

Chris and Jake were gracious enough to join me for what was sure to be a long ride with a few drops of rain. 10 min in Chris gets a flat. Through a pretty hilarious turn of events we were rolling again, thanks to a dude driving a van prepared with an apocalyptic outlook on life with a spare tube and pump. :) We made it to La Jolla and it started to rain. hard. All the way through the UCSD campus and down Torrey Pines. We got to Del Mar and it was bone dry. However, we looked like we cycled through the ocean. WTF? Suck it up.

Stopped at a shop for extra tubes/co2 and a power bar. Did the Elfin Forest, Del Dios loop and stopped again at the shop for chain lube. Got back to Torrey Pines and decided, hey why not add some repeats? And, I challenged myself to stay in my aerobars. I did it. On the third painful repeat we opted for the inside of Torrey. In aerobars. I did it.

One final challenge. Nautilus on Mt. Soledad. Why not? It's on the way home. Haha, you guessed it. In my aerobars.

Sunday was my long run. It was the longest run of my life (time and mileage). I'm into uncharted territory from now until Utah in that regard. It start out slow and with a low HR. My legs were feeling the effects of the sprint finish from Saturdays end of long ride Mission Bay Drive sprint TT dual with Jake. Did a random route around my house with a lot of hills. 1200ft of climbing over 14.75 miles. Somehow added in Hill St which was 300ft in 5 blocks. Yuck! Oh yeah, it rained too.

Two days of soppy feet. Yummy. Two days of sucking it up and getting it done. Maybe even with a little smirk.

In the thick of my build period again. Looking forward to sucking it up and racing on tired, non-rested legs for the Desert Tri in two weeks. But hey, I'm racing again. I can't wait to put my hard work to use!!

Is it here yet? 10 weeks.

This is what I look forward to every week now. I'm back, earning my hot chocolate, cove swimming on Friday mornings. Join me!

Friday, February 19, 2010

v is for valentine

loVe: Kyle. Kermit. Kove swims. Kompression socks.
Very much do Not loVe: Running. Hills. Pollen. Pain.

Last Sunday I "raced" my first real running race. A half marathon. Yes, that's right. I've never done a stand alone 5k. I've never done a fun run. (Who runs for fun?) I've never paid to run. Wow.

So San Dieguito Half Marathon was the obvious choice. Hilly of course. I could've done Carlsbad, but this aligned with the training plan a little better, and it has hills. Why am I such a glutton for punishment? 11 weeks. That's why.

Day started out with oatmeal. And pink compression... it was Valentines Day. Like Beth, I am not a fan of the look but am of the way they make me feel and help with the running and recovery... significantly. They work for me. CEP compression. Check it out. We also now sell them at the shop.

Carpooled with Ian, Noko, Steve and Erin (Thanks Ian!); Kyle was finishing his duty day and wouldn't get off until after the start of the race. Made it to the park after a long hike up hill, and then down a big hill to the start line where Noko and I made it with a minute to spare. Coach gave me a race plan: stick with 9:00min/miles no matter if it was up or down. Ready, go.

It was hard. The only "easy" mile was the first. It was downhill and I had to hold back to stick with the plan. Nothing too memorable. Just hills and hard. Tried to keep the cadence going, watch the heel striking and not waste any energy. I ran with a bottle which was also my GU storage. One at mile 3, 6, and 9. Kyle showed up just as my water was out, so I chucked the bottle at him. By this time I was at the top of the last climb (besides the last 1/2 mile to the finish). My HR was out of control, but I had to hang on. Only 3 miles left. I found someone short with a good pace and just stuck on her feet. Literally. I was stride for stride and just inches behind her. We hit an aid station and she stopped to take a drink. I looked back and said "Let's go! You were helping me!" I was chugging along for a bit, but she overtook me and we started blazing past racers. Orange shirt girl, you kept me going!

Eventually all good things end. i.e. my pace going downhill. It ended on the horrendous uphill finish. I was hitting a wall and I knew it. I was on pace and I knew I just had to hold on for a little longer. Finish! 1:57 something. Garmin had he at 8:59min/miles. Overachiever. Average HR...get ready. 194bpm. OMG that hurt. The last 3 miles it was over 202. I started sneezing immediately. Everything was cramping, besides my calves. Somehow I had to walk back up that hill through the park to get to the car. Not cool. Hey, at least that part wasn't in the race. Kyle got me some Girl Scout Cookies on the way out and spared me some walking by retrieving the car.

Shout out to all my fast friends: Steve, Jake, Evan, Erin, Noko, Beth and all those TCSD'ers representing. Seriously I don't understand it. (running that is). Headed to work for more sneezing and misery. After work us girls had something planned for our men. Noko hosted a Valentines Red Dinner. Red food. Red clothes. and a Pinata. :) I made sangria. Yummy. Erin, Steve, Erin and Evan hanging out after din din. The Pinata fun. Spinning, Swinging, and Sillyness. The climbing helmet was brought out. Great conversation, great food, great friends. I've said it before, but they are the best. Thanks to coach Brian for believing in me, and helping me along the journey. I'm happy that I can make his job look easy...because this is hard for me.

Share the loVe.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kermit in Vegas

After a successful course recon in St. George, Kyle and I headed back south and made a little stop in Vegas. My parents were in town for my mom's Tupperware convention. Yes, get your giggle out now, she is a Tupperware Lady. She has been for most of my life actually. I think her title is Executive Director. She's pretty BA> even has a car provided by them! Anyway, I digress. So we park and I decide that I'm not leaving my bike in the car in the self park section. So Kermit comes for the adventure. On an elevator, down an escalator, through Paris, past the slots and blackjack tables to hotel check in. Where we met my parents. Check out this for the lady's face near the end. Hilarious. Everyone was staring.

So after getting settled we met up with my grandma and grandpa and went to dinner at a yummy burger place in the Paris hotel. The next day we wandered around for quite some time and stopped at the fountains...that didn't start for another 4 hours! My grandpa won $1100 on the penny slots the night before, not kidding, so he bought us breakfast at buffalo bills. :)
Took a much needed nap and then awoke to this: Fat Elvis. He had an amazing voice that was spot on, but he was quite a bit larger than the real Elvis. Here's another one. Hmm. Apparently he has lost weight. He used to weigh twice the amount he is now. CRAZY!After his performance we went back to the room to get all dressed up for another performance. We went to dinner at a cool seafood place in the MGM. Kyle had his first raw oyster at the demands of my father. Hilarious, wish I had that on video.

The other performance was Cirque du Soleil KA. What an amazing show. The moving stage was unbelievable as were the many acts. I have been a huge Cirque fan after watching the many hours of Cirque week on Bravo TV back in college. I can't wait to go back to vegas to see another one!In Paris. Playing the giant slot I didn't win. :(
It was so great to be able to see my parents and grandparents for a quick trip. Walking was probably a good recovery from the work laid out in St. George. Although I think the heels were a bit much. :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Partly Cloudy, Mostly Crazy

St. George preview day two. Only partly cloudy, but sure to be another long day. Kyle and I headed to T1 to check out the swim. Thanks to the friendly lady at the gate, she let us in for free, since I just needed to unload my bike from the car, snap a few pictures, and roll out. The Sand Hollow Reservoir is awesome. It was very calm when we were there, so I can't imagine a race ever being canceled. And yes, I will be very grumpy if that happens in May. Anyway, the transition area will have a great setup. A short run up a boat ramp will lead you to a very large, flat (the only thing on the course that is flat, along with the water) parking lot and T1 area. The first couple miles are relatively flat as well. But I knew what was coming, as we had to drive down the course to reach the water...thus riding back up those hills to reach the loop area. Ugh. 3 major climbs, 7min, 3min, 12min, until you reach the interstate and the edge of town. A couple turns bring you to the turnaround portion of the run course, which you actually bike first. 24 miles. Mostly Up. Luckily the flat area is right out of transition which leaves enough time to settle the HR and get in some calories before the climbs start. Luckily. :)

So, heading to T2, the arm warmers came off, run clothes on, and Kyle joined me for and out and back preview of the run. A half marathon. A B*tch of a run. I'm serious. These Ironman peeps are mostly crazy for designing this course. Personally, I feel there are much better areas for the run, that are a wee bit more mellow. If you are running, you are either going up, or down. No flats. Not kidding. The course elevation chart isn't lying. That is the real time garmin chart for one out and back of the course. Well, it's 2x that for the real deal. Up, down, up, down. Twice. Each loop has this much elevation change:Which was mostly felt within the first 4ish miles. Out of transition isn't that bad. Diagonal Rd isn't too bad either, with a pretty low angle climb. Once you make the first right turn the course takes a turn for the worst. The little out and back "jut" from the main road isn't fun. The steep 10% grade also isn't fun. There really isn't much to bring a smile to your face, because once you are so sick of going up, you go down. And down is where it hurts. Where the jarring starts. Where, because your legs are already shredded from the prior events, it hurts. At the turnaround, you are then faced with what you just came down. Up. The run is bad but the practice day wasn't that bad. It was slow, with total acceptance for being slow. It was with a low heart rate. 154bpm average...and I won't divulge my San Dieguito average HR till that post...but I cannot believe how much higher it was while racing. I was glad to have Kyle as a distraction from the jarring. I was actually able to "run" at a chatty pace. Which is so not me. I was worn out from the previous days events and the bike beforehand, I don't think my body let me run fast, so essentially it let me not get injured, or really feel that sore. I managed to hop back on my bike for a quick 10 mile ride, just to get used to what it will feel like to have to keep going after that first loop. I think I recovered pretty well. I was very hungry:And set out camp in the T2 area next to the car. Parked myself down and ate some yummy pizza hut leftovers. :) Mostly crazy since it was the parking lot of the court house.

Thanks again to Kyle for a very successful training camp. I couldn't have done it without him. I am so glad I previewed the course and I keep running/riding it over and over in my head. Hopefully with some extra hills training it will come easier on race day.

I'm at F.I.S.T. school right now learning how to perform triathlon bike fits for Moment Cycle Sport. So much more to post: Vegas, Valentines, and my first half marathon.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cloudy with a chance of Crazy

This past weekend Kyle and I made the trek out to St. George, Utah to obtain a course preview for the upcoming adventure in my life. There has been a lot of hype surrounding this course that the Ironman folks set out and frankly I didn't want to get caught up in what other people were saying. I needed to see/ ride/ run/ experience it for myself. My posts usually follow a story, so this won't be the most comprehensive course report, nor will it be the most humorous, but this is me. And my adventures in St. George. Here it is: Day One.

We left mid-afternoon on Saturday and it rained for 95% of the drive. Pouring rain. Poor Kyle, really. After ditching our camping plans (late arrival, and me being a fair weather fan, and Kyle wanting to get to bed after a stressful drive) we checked in to the Quality Inn. Woke up to a continental breakfast and went in search of the start of the loops.

The IMSG (Ironman St. George) bike course is a 2 loop course with an additional 24 miles from T1 to the start of the loops. Day One of operation course recon consisted of looping out the course (90 miles). It started out like this:

And this: that intersection will be a popular spectator location as you'll see your athlete 3x on the bike and 4x on the run. So I hopped on Kermit for a sure chance of crazy. It was raining already; my shoes were soaked by mile 2. Alright, 6 hours left to suck it up. The beginning of the loop is pretty mellow, with a few ups and downs. It follows a random course through the town and residential areas (even past a road named "Rachel Drive" - which is sure to bring a smile to my face on race day). Finally made it onto Hwy 91 for a real treat...more rain and more hills. The whole "backside" of the loop is basically up. Not real steep, nothing too intense, but just a slow moving up. People are going to blow up. I road this day knowing I had to conserve for the 2nd loop, and the 2nd day. Also, my feet would not allow me to push any harder as they were becoming blocks of ice. Spinning up with my compact crank and 27 in the rear, Kermit and I were getting the job done. I'm sure my experience in May will look quite a bit different. After you reach the "top" which was after what others were calling a "significant climb"...maybe 1 mile, over 350 ft of elevation gain, and approx. 7 min to get up (with ice blocks on my feet). You'll know what I'm talking about when you come up upon a 170 degree turn...then the hill hits. Someone had mentioned they had to walk up the steep section...I'm sorry, and I don't mean any disrespect, but I was almost laughing at the thought. I wouldn't consider myself a sissy, but I ride with a compact crank and a 12-27, and 650cc wheels for a reason. Mashing will blow you up. I have learned to hold a higher cadence and keep my HR where it needs to be. I didn't even have to stand up at any portion of the course. Anyway, after that "steep" section it teeters off a bit but the elevation keeps increasing. As I made the turn onto the road back to town, I saw this:This is at the turn onto HWY 18. The road becomes smooth (or slushy in my case) and bends around one of the last up sections into a long descent. Again, nothing too steep, and fairly straight. In non-icy conditions, you will be able to stay aero the entire way down. Unfortunately that 17 miles ends way too quickly, and you end up back at the start of the second loop.Looking back up at this. I have to admit, it is gorgeous. And I'm sure by May, things may be a little more green and a little less white. Either way, Kermit will fit in. :)This was one of the small glimpses of blue sky we saw the entire day. The colors were vibrant! But alas, the gray was back. As were the moods when I had to dismount my bike 4 times per loop for this:Freaking cattle guards. Really? These aren't the nice painted ones from the great western. Or even the roll bar ones from north county. These are 1' wide holes with flat, slippery bars. Again, I ride 650s, and with one small turn of my wheel my bike would've been sucked in and me over the handlebars. They were even difficult to walk across. People will be pissed if Ironman doesn't cover them.

Shortly after this I flatted. A car came by and I asked them if they saw a red Xterra truck to kindly tell him to come back for his little fallen frozen solider. Don't start the "she's a girl and can't change a flat" remarks yet. Come on, I work at a bike shop and I've been around the block a couple times. Give me some credit. I changed my own flat, but I needed a new tire anyway, which was in the car, so I figured it be best to just do it all at once. So after the change of the new tube and tire and not wasting a CO2 expedition, I was off again.
Here's the "steep" climb. You can see the road below, which is where you come from, make that turn, and then head up. Outside of Torrey Pines-esk type of hill. Shorter. Yeah, hills done. Descend. Finish. 90 miles completed. 6 hours of frozen toes. Time for a hot bath. Who needs an ice bath when you are frozen already?Kyle, my favorite sherpa. He drove the entire 90+ miles (even took a wrong turn, and I thought I'd never see him again) without a peep. He changed my socks and warmed me up multiple times. He did bottle switches, drink mixes, gu exchanges as if he was a pro-tour team car. Photographer, encourager, and driver. He is my favorite, and I am indebted to him. (I see many hours of belaying/seconding him up the multiple Joshua Tree climbs he intends to conquer, after this ironman.)

Final thoughts. It's not that bad. It's not a PR course, but's my first Ironman, so a finish will be a PR. I spent a lot of time out of the aerobars and will have to think hard about which bike to bring. If it's raining, I'm bringing cookie monster (my road bike), no question. I'm not a great descender with Kermit when it's dry, so in wet conditions my nerves tend to build. and I don't relax, and I waste energy. So, we'll see come race week. 11 weeks away.

Next up, Day two. More bike course preview and yes, the h-e-double hockey sticks of a run. Nice job Ironman peeps. You have raised the bar to crazy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

new swim, bike, fun

Wee!! I got back in the ocean last Friday! Wow, I really miss the freedom of no walls, the chop of the cove and even that cold burn of my face. It was a quick jump back into a world I've neglected for quite some time. The Friday First Light swims used to be a staple for me last winter, but the focus this winter has switched to Ironman training. Yes, there is a swim during an Ironman, and yes, it's 2.4 miles, but during those first two base months, long ocean swims weren't the priority. Pool work has been mundane lately, non-inspiring, and just kinda Blah. The ocean brought life back into my stroke (as did the wetsuit and salt water!) but it wasn't perfect. Sighting is something I kind of forgot about. I wasn't going too off course, as there really isn't anything to swim towards anymore, but I'll have to add a weekly ocean swim to get consistent with sighting again. Good morning Friday. Good morning Cove. Good morning Mexican hot chocolate at Pannikin. Yes.
So I've been missing the cookie monster quite a bit lately. (My Parlee road bike). Kermit has been getting all the attention and has been enjoying his time in the light. I love my aerobars and my position, and just going...but sometimes those hills just bite back. I have a random week of training before my St. George preview this Sunday/Monday and I was able to take the monster out for some fun. I met the ladies of the MCS race team and had a blast pacelining around fiesta island. After strategy, leadouts, and sprinting I still had to get more miles in and headed up Soledad with a new friend from the team. What a beautiful morning out on a new-ish bike.New fun! CEP compression socks rep stopped by the shop...and I ended up with a new pair of hot pink socks. Perfect match with the new pretty shoes. :) Coincidentally, new running fun: I ran in the socks during my last long run. Same course, 45 sec/mile faster than last week. I won't credit the socks as being the only factor...but running is fun. shhh, don't tell anyone.

This weekend is shaping up to be one of the most epic training weekends ever. Cloudy with a chance of crazy.