Sunday, May 27, 2007

Stick a Fork in Me

Cause I am done. The moment I landed yesterday it was right back down to run business. I don't know if others are like this but when I'm on vacation/away, I find it hard to run and stick to my training program. Being in a new place throws me off, add to that family, other people's schedules and it gets hectic quick. I didn't run as much as I wanted to but enough. Before I even finished unpacking my bags I was out the door, chasing what's left of the daylight. This morning I was up early for a 5.5 hour run, actually it was 5 hours running and half and hour shuffling and walking. I blew a gasket the last 3 miles:) I felt so terrible I couldn't stop laughing. It's a coping mechanism I'm sure and it should happen more often. To be fair it was hill repeats, was out on Hawk Hill. I like running there actually despite the asphalt road and all the tourists. It's a popular lookout point. However there is dirt and gravel on the side of the road for most of the way and the views are amazing. The tourists and cyclists also keep me honest. I ain't walking unless I'm really falling apart - they make for good motivation. This morning because of the foggy weather (no views) and early hours, it was just me and the cyclists. No views, everything was obscured by the fog. Eventually however it did clear up a little and more people came. I spent three hours there, up and down, up and down. And as it usually happens on hill repeats, one of my knees got real sore on the way back. The problem is not the joint itself but the IT band that runs alongside and past it on the outside. So I ended up jogging and walking the last 3 miles back to the casa. Mmm...this will hurt a little tonight and tomorrow. Right now I wish I was back with the family with my legs propped up, lounging on the couch and cursing at the useless channels on cable tv.

So what's going on? I kind of unplugged there for a week. Posted but didn't make my rounds. Time to go see what my fellow bloggers have been up to!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Greetings from Florida, where it feels warmer than it actually is...or maybe it's just me, doesn't seem to bother the other folks though. Good thing I'm only here 5 days, mom's cooking, a stocked fridge+pantry and an abundance of chain restaurants could do real damage on my diet. As it is I'll probably gain a couple, can't refuse mom's cooking.

It's been great hanging with the family and this time, with the help of my sister, I've been running on a multi-purpose trail instead of the neighborhood. It's asphalt but a lot better than concrete with fewer interruptions. I've been running in the early evening because I've been working during the day but tomorrow I think I will head out during lunch with layers on. Might as well get some heat training. This evening I was out with only 2 layers and it felt warm and humid. I'll try 3 layers tomorrow in the heat of the day or maybe that's too ambitious. We'll see, they've all been short runs, nothing more than an hour. The only hill was an overpass, like the kind Bob runs on. I get the joke now. If I lived here I'd pull a tire too.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Recovery Week

GoldenGate and San Francisco Triathlon clubs training together on the Sandladder.

Isn't it great that we have achieved a fitness level where we can do hard intense workouts and be able to continue through our day like nothing happened..." I was thinking this right before I had to go back up the hill from Union Square where I inadvertently blurted out in public, "MY LEGS ARE KILLING ME", complete with fist waving. I talk to myself all the time and once in awhile I'll forget that it's a private mental conversation. Definitely not in the condition I was last week where I recovered quickly from Wildflower, did Quicksilver and still had enough to hang with friends. I knew it though, my body told me so during the week. Did my workouts but cut my long run in half. I was thinking it would be a good and safe plan to back off this week on the mileage before finishing up the last bits of training and the Diablo 50k in preparation for Bighorn. So instead of a 6hr run I went about 3. I crossed the bridge and did 2 hill repeats of Hawk Hill. Everyone was out, many events going on and people and animals everywhere. Amazing day. Now my legs are shot. Perfect, I should sleep on the plane tonight. Catching a redeye for Orlando, FL for my sister's graduation.

The image above is from our Tuesday night track workout but instead of track we were at the beach training on the "Sandladder". The next big triathlon event is the "Escape from Alcatraz" triathlon. I ain't doing it but some members were itching to get some practice on the Sandladder before the big day on June 2. I never do this race but I'm always a volunteer. Anyway our rival club joined us which was really nice. We always bump into each other at track but never really say hello, now we can. Met their coaches, talked to some of their members. I ran the 6-miles to the workout but hung back to take pictures instead. I was going to torture my legs by hauling a backpack full of sand up and down the ladder. It was 4-6 repeats, alternating between having a pack and without. No thanks, I'll just be here spectating. Boy it was a blustery, cold afternoon too.

The other workouts went fine too but definitely my body was telling me to back off a bit. I'm not strong enough to run two races at 100% on back to back weekend and not suffer some type of slowdown, soreness or fatigue. I know there are athletes out there that can but it ain't me. Too bad I leave tonight, tomorrow would have been a good day for a swim and a short run. Last night I had the most fun time swimming all year. Ariane was the only one to show up for my club posted swim, again! So the two of us headed out. The wind was very strong and was blowing sideways across Aquatic Park. It created for some very choppy water. We swam to the opening with the wind driving behind our backs but when we got there it was craziness. Ran into Scotty, Amelia and Kirsten at the buoy, they had come from the opposite direction. All five of us swam back and this is where it really got fun. We had to cut across the park vertically to make it back to shore and the wind and water was moving horizontally, the chop was broadsiding us all the way down. Pure fun. Ariane and I went back out just to enjoy the ride all over again, much saltwater was drunk yesterday:)

So now I'm just getting ready to go. Sore everywhere but sa'll good. I'll be back before the next weekend is up.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Quickie at Quicksilver 50M


At the start of the run, happy to be back in an ultra running event.

What was it I said on my last post?
..."Very much looking forward to the Quicksilver 50-miler this Saturday. I don't intend it to be some spectacular PR run, just a simple 50-miler to get me back in the groove of ultra racing, fitness check and all that...

Right. Right. So I pr'd (personal record). My fastest 50-mile time ever. Beat my time last year at Firetrails 50-mile by 32 minutes and I personally think that Firetrails is an easier race; more tree cover, more soft single track and less elevation. I wasn't sandbagging when I said what I said, I was being realistic; first ultra of the year and coming off a great long course at Wildflower. What happened was when I got to the start I got very excited and pumped up. I met up with friends I haven't seen from last year and there were all these fast looking runners. It was also great to be back, to be back in the scene. By the time I made it across the parking lot to the registration tent I had decided to go all out. All week I had been feeling great and I had a feeling I could pull a great one out of me. Even then I surprised myself, I didn't realize it would turn out as great as it did.

Quicksilver 50M | 8530 Elevation Gain and Loss
13th Place with an 8:32

Body feels amazing today. They had masseuses from a local school massage school come over and provide free 20 min massages. Chris not only flushed out my legs but she also worked on my shoulders and my back. I was even out last night, dinner and a bar with some friends for more post Wildflower celebrating. At one point we set up a beer aid station and we ran through, one person handing out the plastic cups another to film and several folks for cheering. I don't think the people in the bar got it but that was for Coach Neil. Hahaha it was stupid fun and that's what you get when you have athletes who haven't been out in awhile due to training. I personally avoid being out on Friday or Saturday nights.

Today I feel good enough to run but I forced myself to stay home. Except for church I'm home cleaning, straightening up the apartment. Chores. Chores. Chores.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Wildflower the Novel

Sunday racers celebrating with Coach Neil (one w/baby). Competition and Camaraderie.

Our club has been attending Wildflower for many years now and they got their game plan down pat. Send people down early, on Weds/Thurs to secure a large camping site for the whole club. Collect and bring down tents early, set up for members to hold down camping spot. A solid plan and it worked well, unless you roll in at 11PM on a Friday night while people are already sleeping and have no idea where your tent is. Worse you've only used the tent once (bought in Berlin for a camping trip near the Baltic Sea in former East Germany) and had no memory of what it looks like or who the maker is. Kristin, who was my ride, got us lost on the way up but I was just as culpable since I was suppose to help.

Saturday was an early rise. Getting in late and waking up early doesn't bother me much since I don't sleep much the night before races anyway but sleeping on hard ground was a bit of a pain. Was up by 6AM and down at the start by 7AM. I didn't get my morning coffee but race day excitement took care of that. I still had to register but that thankfully was painless. Race was officially off at 8AM, my wave however wasn't scheduled to start until 8:45. The ladies had to wait even longer, they started after 9. I was very relaxed and spent the time cruisin around, shot pictures of friends, etc. I was feeling great and knew I had it in me to hammer a good race. My goal was simple, come in under 6 hours. My fastest time in the long course distance was 5:36 but it was on a different easier course. All I asked for Wildflower an under 6h finish since none of my previous long course finishes have been over 6h.

Hanging with the competition, Richard from the San Franciso Tri-Club. He's using this race as a tune up for Ironman Brazil. Nice huh, vacation and a race.

Boy did it feel good, I felt smooth and the water felt great. It was uncharacteristically choppy but I adjusted fine. I'm used to choppy water. I kept telling myself, "this will be the most refreshed you'll feel all day so enjoy it while it lasts". Halfway through I started laughing underwater, I remembered the time I almost drowned in a river when I was 10 years old. Didn't know how to swim but wanted to hangout with a girl. Girls.#$%& I think about that moment often when I'm swimming, just to remind myself how far I've come. It always makes me laugh because I can't believe I'm in Triathlon now. 45 mins later I was running up the ramp. That's right 45 minutes, slow as molasses but expected. For reference the pros got it done in the low 20's, most of my friends in the low 30's. Came out feeling strong amid the cowbells and yells of support from the crowd on both sides of the chute.

Got on the bike feeling pretty mighty. The transition area is surrounded by spectators and I found the din invigorating. Man it pumped me up. The ride opens up with a climb. No biggee, just sat and cranked. No need to get too excited too early. 5 miles into the ride we left the safety of Lake San Antonio's hills and hit the open road where we were then besieged by the wind. A full on headwind, the kind that makes you want to tuck behind the person in front of you except that it's illegal. This is a no drafting race. On training weekend we bunched up in groups and took turns in the front, it wasn't even windy then. Well what can you do? I just gritted my teeth and cranked, cursed every once in awhile and it made me feel better. At mile 19 or so we turned right and the wind gave us a break. However the wind returned on the last 15 miles of the ride.The wind didn't only slow us down but it also made things a bit dangerous. After the second and largest climb of the ride was a big downhill. Normally a pretty thrilling drop, not to mention a place to make up time, I found it scary and daunting. I dropped in and the bike became hard to control. It sounded like a storm with winds shaking the bike. A couple of friends out on the course spectating mentioned that they saw several emergency vehicles at the bottom of the hill several times. On my ride I saw emergency vehicles 4 times. My biggest worry was that either a cyclist was gonna crash ahead of me or that a gust of wind would throw me off balance. Thankfully neither of that happened. Got it done in 3:13.

Started the run with legs feeling pretty tight and out of breath but that's normal for me. Things settled down pretty quickly. What I couldn't get a handle on was my heart rate. It was way up so I settled into ultra-running mode, walked and ran, walked and ran. I divided long hills into walk run sections and just walked plain walked the short steep ones. About 60% of the run is on trails, maybe even more. The hills are piddly but when you are tired and you have a time goal anything making it harder is a major pain in the a**. I stuck to the plan and slowly I got the heart rate thing under control. Aid station at mile 3-4 provided a nice distraction too, well somewhat nice. I thought it was just a joke but there truly is a naked aid station at Wildflower. Up until this point we only had girls in bikini's. Like most of the volunteer force at the race, these were Cal Poly college students. Speaking of which, the Cal Poly collegiate team was number one in the collegiate standings. Unfortunately I wasn't able to fully enjoy the sight because there were also naked guys in the crew and one of them looked like a young Homer Simpson with hair....I was disturbed and left thinking, "WHY WAS HE NAKED??!!".

On the run, coming through camp. Image courtesy of the club.

By mile 6 I was starting to get my groove. By mile 7 I passed through camp and got the cheering section of my life. I was floored. It was a total surprise, I had no idea we'd go through there. My heart rate was back up again but this time I didn't care, I only had 6 miles left. I could feel the finish and had started to believe again that I could actually achieve my time goal. I had given up halfway through the run and I abandoned it because it caused me more stress than I needed. Ironically letting go of it helped me make up a lot of time. The last mile is downhill and unless my quads are shot you can bet a fast run on the downhill for me. 10 minutes to 6h I had a mile left and all downhill, I knew I had it then. At the bottom I heard a ton of cheering and I actually thought it was for someone else, someone who was chasing me down perhaps. You know how the crowd goes wild at races when someone gets all pumped, sprints and starts running down people all the way to the finish. So I promptly moved to the right to get out of the way. I then looked over my shoulder to see who it was no one?? All the cheering was for me. Hahaha.Thank you Wildflower fans! Heard my name on the loudspeaker and the next moment someone was taking off the timing chip off my left ankle. I was greeted with a medal, fellow club mates who finished ahead of me and a wet cold towel over my shoulders. Sweet. Run time was 1:52, 8.5 minute miles. Total time for the race including transitions was 5:56:51. Pretty happy about it, now I have a time to beat next year. Ya heard me, next year. It was such a great time I plan to come back.

Wildflower Long Course
1.2 Mile Swim | 56 Mile Bike | 13.1 Mile Run = 5:56:51

On the way to retrieving my bike I ran into Donald. It was great running into him and we chatted for awhile. He seemed quite disappointed about his race but I'm glad he still had a good time. He managed to connect with a lot of bloggers. He accomplished more than racing that weekend.

My favorite event, food. Look at those glazed eyes, good thing there was coffee available after dinner.

Saturday night we had a catered dinner and a Piñata to celebrate Cinco deMayo. The food was good but the company even better. Traded stories with the other racers and thanked those who supported us. When I first came in I got a pat in the back and offered a beer, can't beat that. Not to be out done by the naked aid station, one of the clubs camped down the road from us got naked and ran all over camp. There was a good number of them too. I wondered if some of them raced earlier and where they got the energy to keep running. The folks racing Sunday morning turned in early but most of us who already raced stayed up and hung out by the fire drinking beer, wine and eating brownies. I turned in at 11:30 and slept like a baby, this time I had the chance to inflate my air mattress.

DinnerTime.jpgNakedness.jpgOther folks having dinner and more nakedness, this time from the campers.

Sunday was spent cheering on the Short Course folks. I remember getting up and thinking to myself "thank goodness I'm not racing". A couple of folks was kind enough to share their coffee. JP, Janet and I then made the rounds on the short course camp. We greeted our racers, wished them luck and snapped a few photos. The start of their bike ride also has a hill but I think theirs is even steeper:) A bunch of us positioned ourselves there and the later on we moved down to the start of the run. All the walking and standing actually helped flushed my legs. Our athletes did very well. By 2:30PM Kristin and I were already on our way out. We beat the rush. On our way out we say the last of the last on the bike. it was very painful to see. Those folks on their return still had a 6.1 mile run ahead of them. But there they were, still fighting and making headway.

OlympicBike.jpgSpectating.jpgLynch Hill on Sunday's race, the start of the short course bike ride. Biker climbing and the gang cheering. They were out supporting us on the long course on Saturday and now it was our turn to return the favor. Nice to see the others working for a change!

It was a fantastic time. The whole camping thing throughout the weekend was a whole lot of fun. Still thinking about it days later.

This year we won the the overall club competition. We always get beat by LA Triathlon because they are a much larger club but not this year. We also came third in the 3Men + 3Women competition. Top 3 men and women in our club have their times added and compared to the other competing clubs. We lost to San Diego and LA, basically Southern California. Always next year.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What's Next?

You know those days when you feel slow and your world is just a nice shade of gray. Maybe it's just from exhaustion, stress or lack of sleep,...maybe you just had a bad race with no silver lining. You look in the mirror and you look like you feel. You go for a run and you think, wow I feel like I already ran my workout. Well today is not one of those days. I feel great, I look awesome and you should have seen me cruisin along in my yellow Keen's. I got them free from Keen last year, was supposed to test them but hated the flashy yellow color. Couldn't get myself to throw them away though and tonight I was feeling spunky enough to wear them. Ran outside as the sun was setting, came in with the darkness - a simple 45 minute recovery run. Smiled at the ladies, chatted with a couple of friends. As I walked by the full length mirror of the elevator door downstairs, I even stopped, went back and winked at myself. It's simple really. If I curse myself for the days that I feel like crap then I will also celebrate when I'm feeling like...well I don't know what but something great. Yesterday I ran to track practice and I shot out of the house like the road runner. After just walking around for most of the day Sunday and full rest on Monday, I had energy to burn and rested muscles to wake up. I had some speed back and it felt easy. Very much looking forward to the Quicksilver 50-miler this Saturday. I don't intend it to be some spectacular PR run, just a simple 50-miler to get me back in the groove of ultra racing, fitness check and all that. Suppose to be hot and I hope it is. Pictures from previous race reports showed hills with no tree cover, nice.

Realistically my left IT is sore, so I will be stretching that baby till race day and I'm still waking up tired in the morning but that's also partly due to some late night work I've been doing. If I sleep well tonight and tomorrow night I should be golden. Out on the run tonight my mind was already picturing/imagining sections of the trail, going through checklists, wondering which friends I would see come Saturday and going through strategy and goals.

Not quite ready yet but I'm fast moving in that direction.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Swim Start Video

Swim Start!
Brian McNitt's girl Jamie (raced the short course on Sunday for her first Olympic distance triathlon), took a great video of a swim start. It's done in waves and I think this was the men's 35-39B start, my wave. So great to see. Brian was also the one who shot the Piñata video and Jamie was responsible for the Piñata in the first place.


All my training for this one moment:) Celebrating Cinco deMayo back at camp after a day of racing at Wildflower. Thanks to Brian McNitt for the video.

The Somewhat Quick and Dirty (Full report and images to come)
The Swim was refreshing, from the first stroke to the last. It was surprisingly choppy because of high winds and even I was initially taken aback despite being used to rough water. Didn't take much of an adjustment though and soon I was back into my zone. The wind continued to make it hell on the bike. It hit us at the start gave us a break in the middle then hit us again at the end of our ride. Not only did it slow us down but it also made a major descent on the ride dangerous. The wind would buffet riders and bikes became very unsteady. Bikes would get blown off position from the gusts. From what I heard from the spectators there were a lot of crashes. While I was out there, emergency vehicles passed me 4 times on the course. After the race I saw folks with road rash walking around!@#$*? My biggest worry wasn't me crashing but someone crashing in front of me. I was more than happy to get back in from the ride. Of course on the run there was barely any wind:) The hills protected us and it got warm. Run was tough and I pulled back the first 6 miles. In Wildflower 60% of the run is on single track and fire road. At mile 7 the course took us through camp right through our club's camp site where I was pleasantly surprised by a huge cheering section. Lots of love, photographs and even picked up a pacer for 50yds or so. It gave me a welcome boost and I was able to pick up the pace even more. By this time we were back on asphalt and I was able to motor along pretty quickly. Came to the finish line with just about 3 minutes under my time goal. Halfway through the run I thought I would miss it, gave up, ran faster without it hanging over me, got my boost from camp, ran even faster and made it, whew. Felt great after the race and returning back to the transition area to pack up and retrieve my bike I ran into Donald. He called out to me, didn't recognize him with his shades on. Talked for a bit, exchanged stories - nice guy. He was disappointed about his race but that's his story to tell. An excellent writer you'll enjoy the report.

Overall a great first event at Wildflower. The course and the weather seems to team up to make it a challenging event, at least in recent years. 3 years ago it rained. 2 years ago there was a heatwave. Last year it was normal, meaning the normal hot weather. This year it was windy. Hahaha bring it on. Soon as I crossed the finish line I was already planning my return for next year.

Sunday was spent cheering on the short course athletes. At the finish line I thought I heard the announcer say the name "Graham Cooper". Graham is the winner of last year's Western States 100 and a great triathlete. Maybe just my imagination.

Leave you with a post from a forum which I thought was particulary funny. It was forwarded by one of our coaches.
I've raced Wildflower 7 times since 1997. Heat, hills, etc, were nothing compared to the hell of Saturday. the swim chop (3 mins slower on average for most AG'ers) and the tornado that greeted us on the bike were the toughest hands down conditions I have ever seen in just about any race. granted I've struggled with a badly herniated disk and anemia since last year, but my bike split was 20 minutes slower than 2006. 

My plan was to take it easy the first 15, but just pedaling I was pushing 200-220 watts (42 year old lady here), which is very high for me. On the flat heading to Jolon Road , I was going 11 mph. It sucked big hairy donkey balls. I was 40 minutes off my time from last year (again, many injuries since, but still!, and a personal worse by over 25 minutes). 

The fact that Bjorn smoked that bike is a testament to what a great biker he is. 


Friday, May 04, 2007

Here We Go!

Why is the vegetarian cooking the burgers? With pal Spamsi at the pre-race Zoom BBQ last weekend.

Leaving for Wildflower this afternoon. My friend Sasser is giving me a ride down, she's great conversation, great company. With traffic, it will be a 4 hour trip.

Taper has gone well as planned, just a tandard two week taper. To be honest I needed it, not just for the next two races but because my body was feeling tattered and worn again. Always experimenting with mixing the whole Triathlon thing with the Ultra-marathon thing. This year I've upped my hours training for Tri and it's made a big difference in my energy levels. When I'm rested I feel very fit and strong, moreover it's spread out to the biking and swimming too and not just running...not so lopsided. However the days I actually feel rested and "zippy" is few. So this taper has been a blessing. Once Wildflower is over I'm going to back-off the riding and swiming, if I do another triathlon this year it won't be till September. First week of the taper I felt no difference, this week however my legs feel great. This is why I love the taper, I can feel the difference in my body, in my energy.

I'm also mostly over last weeks health issues. I got sick with a head cold. It was slow moving, I was out of sorts for two days before symptoms finally appeared on Friday. Meanwhile I was racking my brain to find out why. When I finally realized it was a cold I sighed in relief, whew nothing serious:) Then while that was going on I had stomach issues. At Saturday morning practice I felt like throwing up and my stomach was sore all day. Had to cut out solid food till I felt better. Through this whole time I just swam and biked. Funny how a cold dunking in the bay made me feel a whole lot better. Swam Fri, Sat, Sunday. By Sunday I was able to run again and I felt great. Slower because of the cold and stomach issues but the legs were sweet.

So now I'm doing much better. I was never really stressed. Not sure if I will be 100% come Saturday but it will be somewhere up there. Whatever I have going on Saturday that's what I'll put on the race. I won't worry about the past, the future, what I'm missing, what I could've done better, etc, etc, etc. Toeing the line, just as I I've done countless of times. So here's to the real kick-off race to my 2007 season. It's May and it's about time.

Here we go!