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Vineman Monte Rio

Greg and I raced the inaugural Vineman Monte Rio olympic distance triathlon on June 2. We had visited the Russian River area of Sonoma County a couple of weeks prior to that and rode part of the bike and run courses, just to see what it was like. The roads were flat, newly paved, and shady. Sign me up!

The nice thing about competing in a difficult half Ironman race so early in the season is that then you’re basically ready for anything after that. In fact, we’re racing again this weekend! The olympic distance is so fun and relatively painless after the Wildflower Long Course.

Vineman Monte Rio makes the sixth multi-sport event these race organizers host each summer. Since this was the first running of the event, we weren’t exactly sure what to expect, but these folks know what they’re doing and it went very smoothly.

Packet pickup was quick and painless. There were just a handful of sponsors since it’s the first year of the event, so we were in and out of there quickly. Monte Rio is a small community with limited parking, so they were encouraging participants to park three miles away at the rodeo grounds and take shuttle buses in on race morning. This meant leaving bikes in the transition area overnight. Greg and I were staying at a campground adjacent to the rodeo grounds, so we chose to just ride our bikes the ~3 miles in. This worked very well for us.

RACE MORNING
The Van really does make things easy on race morning, the MVP being the in-house toilet. This was a low-pressure race for both of us, so I was able to take care of breakfast, getting dressed, and all necessary “business” before Greg was back from trotting Miles around the campground. I had built in the necessary time that would allow us to run behind schedule (as is always the case) and arrived at the race site with plenty of time to spare.

SWIM — 30:37 (2:03/100)
The water was warm (~72*F) compared to the outside temperature (~60*F), so it felt good getting in. I made the mistake of not being in the front of my age group and started behind 3-4 rows of women bobbing around in the river. It took several minutes to finally swim around everyone and get in a groove. While I am not swimming as strongly as I was last year, I start fast and finding “clean water” makes a big difference in getting into a rhythm.

The water was shallow and a lot of people were standing up to walk, especially in one section on the way back in. For anyone with open water anxiety, the Vineman races are very good for this reason. I was able to swim through it all, which was great. I’m much faster while swimming than while walking in knee-deep water. I assumed I’d end up somewhere around 30 minutes and was really pushing myself at the end. Just as I stood up in the water, my Garmin beeped at me that it had been 30 minutes (I keep it in my swim cap in a Ziploc bag and have it set to beep every 10 minutes, just to give me an idea of how I’m doing). I was disappointed that I couldn’t break the self-inflicted time barrier, but also feel better knowing that the race directors said the course ran ~150 meters long. At my 2:03/100m pace, I would have finished sub-30 if the course had been accurate.

I swam into three other age groups in my mile-long trip up and down the river and had no idea where I was in my own age group. There were no other orange caps around me at the time I exited the water and felt pretty good about things.

T1 — 4:18
I say this all the time – I am not fast in transition. This course made it difficult for everyone because of the long distance from the water’s edge up to the transition area and because that run was on small pebbles. We were all hobbling down to the race start, lamenting our transition times before it even began. Some people left their flip flops at the water’s edge and found theirs in a sea of other flip flops for the trip back up…but most gutted it out.

BIKE — 1:16:10 (19.5 mph)
This was a fantastic bike ride! Greg and I rode a section of the course a couple of weeks ago and then drove another section of it Saturday on our way to the campsite. The main road out to the coast was recently repaved and was pristine – perfect for racing! The course took us on a bit of a detour on a less-traveled road that had a little bit of elevation gain and was in poor condition. Other than that 7 mile section, this bike course was a dream.

I saw Greg just before I made the turn onto Highway 1 into Jenner; he was on his way back in. I had a race plan to eat my Larabar at the turnaround. I got it out of my bento box and promptly dropped it as I tried to open it. Now I know why people over-pack for short events… I tend to not eat very much while training/racing anyway, so I wasn’t totally concerned, but I knew I didn’t have much in my race belt for the run and I’d have to take advantage of the aid stations on the run.

This bike ride ends up being a PR for me in an olympic distance race. I passed 7 people in my age group on the course and was passed by one woman who was flying.

T2 — 2:27
I was in the run transition area with another woman from my age group. She was chatting with her husband, saying that this run was going to take her a long time. Of course, “a long time” is all relative to how fast someone’s normal running pace is, but I did feel a bit confident coming off a great bike ride and feeling good for the run.

Spoiler: that woman got the 3rd place podium spot.

RUN — 52:19 (8:27/mile)
I think I’ve mentioned that my running training has focused on hills and consistency rather than speed this year. That was all due to the sufferfest that the Wildflower run is. I signed up for this race kind of on a whim, just because it is a beautiful venue, the distance is [relatively] easy, and it would be a fun weekend getaway.

I hit the 1 mile marker and was delighted to see my pace at 8:17. That is fast for me! And yet, everything felt good. I kept on with it, not paying attention to my pace, only with feeling good while running. The run course is absolutely flat and 99% shaded. The only sun is between mile 3.0 and 3.1 at the turnaround. It was blissful!

I saw Greg at my Mile 2 and he looked good heading into his last two miles. I was chatting with people and otherwise feeling good about life. I had a half package of Clif Shot Bloks as I started the run and decided to take a gel from the aid station at Mile 4. I don’t usually use these for training because they upset my stomach, but I knew I needed an extra shot of energy because I’d lost my food on the bike. Despite everyone saying it’s “just like frosting,” I don’t often eat frosting (!!) and it was hard to suck it down. It did seem to work as prescribed and did not give me any stomach distress, so that was a win and I plan to employ that this weekend as well.

I felt good all through the run. I didn’t explode. I never had the desire to walk. No stomach/bathroom issues. I was passing a lot of people and not being passed by anyone in my age group, so that led me to speculate on where I was in the field. I rounded the last corner across the bridge and saw Greg cheering for me. I turned into the finish area, which included winding around the transition area and up a steep hill to the finish line. This bit of terrain led me to ask aloud,  “Who puts a fucking hill at the finish line?!” and several spectators laughed.

I was so proud of my finish! I thought it was a PR for me, but it turns out the olympic distance I did last year (the one I am doing tomorrow, in fact!!) was a 2:41:32. I did better in the swim, run, and transitions at that race last year, causing a little bit of anxiety this afternoon…

FINISH — 2:45:51
Greg and I hung around for 30 minutes or so, waiting for them to post the final results. The post-race food was pancakes and sausage, so I made-do with drinking half a Dr. Pepper and waiting to eat until we got back to The Van. As proud as I am of my finish, I was totally bummed to get fourth place in my age group AGAIN. I think this is the fourth time I’ve missed the podium by one spot! Even so, it was a fun morning and I was glad to be part of the inaugural running of the race.

POST-RACE
We rode back to our campsite to rescue Miles and spend a couple of hours river-side before taking a leisurely trip down the coast. This delicious concoction includes Stoli Chocolate Coconut Vodka, chocolate almond milk, and coconut milk. The latter two items are known for their recovery properties, so I feel like it’s all good…

And almost nothing is better than watching our sweet boy fetch his ball up and down the river.

We’re headed to Morgan Hill this evening to camp somewhere (hopefully) and race the Reservoir Triathlon tomorrow.

Enjoy your weekend!

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MDW Cycling Adventure

More adventures awaited us on Sunday. Greg had been poring over maps for a few days to find a good bike ride for us. We know the Vineman race routes well, but wanted something that headed out to the coast. Greg showed me the options, me being very clear about saying I wasn’t up for a long ride — 25 miles was my goal for the day. He estimated a route for me that we could do together until I peeled off to head home and he continued on for a longer ride. Let’s go!

The first nine miles were great. Rolling hills along the river and into the town of Cazadero. At mile 9.5, the road went up and continued going up with only slight reprieve for another nine miles. I have not been training on hills and this definitely felt like work. Also, I had a lot of time to think while I was climbing. Not all of the thoughts were good ones, GREG. Among them was the thought that there was no way this was going to be a 25-mile ride. I knew where I was on the map and there was no way this was going to work out. I was right.

It turned out to be a 37-mile ride with 3,151 feet of elevation gain. Yeah, not exactly the ride I signed up for. But the scenery was beautiful!

SonomaCoastRide

During a photo op outside of Jenner, I let Greg know what I thought about his route planning skills. Ha!

IG_screenshot

 

It’s always an adventure when Greg is doing the planning!

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Lately (6 months of it)

Do you guys realize it’s May? Sorry I dropped off the earth for the first almost-half of the year. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Not Training for Anything! 
This is probably the most exciting thing I have going on: I’m NOT racing Wildflower this weekend! The crew that usually attends/races is not doing it this year and we were not gung-ho to go ourselves because the drought California is enduring has forced the race organizers to change the event. The water capacity is at a mere 5% of normal. While I do not miss the sufferfest, I definitely miss these people!

WILDFLOWER 2010

(PSA: look at your water consumption and cut back where possible! We put in a fake lawn several years ago, installed an on-demand water heater last year, saving greywater for plants, switched to a low-flow shower head, and installed a pee/poo flusher option on the toilet).

I don’t have any races on the calendar, though I *may* do Bay to Breakers for fun with friends next weekend. Greg might do Vineman Monte Rio, if there’s enough water in the Russian River… I just can’t be bothered to swim/bike/run all at once right now. I haven’t swum since the Santa Barbara Tri!

Still Staying Active
While I am not following a specific training plan, I’m not loafing either. My goal this year is different: look good and feel confident in a bathing suit/naked. You can shake your head all your want; I don’t care how trivial it sounds to anyone else. Body image is something I struggle with and I decided to make it a goal for myself. This goal requires an an entirely different approach to diet and exercise than training for endurance events. Most of my workouts are 30 minutes or less and involve high intensity intervals. My diet includes minimal carbs and much smaller portions than when I was training 20 hours per week. I have not given up wine, obviously.

I also find reasons to walk/run more places. I got the new Garmin Vivofit activity tracker and it is a great excuse to take a walk around the block after a couple of hours of computer work and walk downtown to pick up those last minute groceries. I find myself purposely pulling into the parking spot farthest away and incorporating walks into my social time with friends.

Daily sMiles
Now that I’m not training and/or exhausted all the time, I spend a lot of quality active time with Miles. We run/hike/swim at Water Dog Park in Belmont a couple of times a week, which is fantastic except for the poison oak he gets into. Greg and I are both very allergic and itchy spots pop up on us all the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tahoe

It was far from an epic winter in Tahoe, but we turned the few times there into fun times. We celebrated Keith’s 50th birthday in March and I learned time and again that working from The Van is very productive.

 

 

Girlfriend Getaways
My local girlfriends did our annual getaway to Murphys this year. We drank a bunch of wine, met new friends, excelled at Cards Against Humanity, and had a wonderful weekend in the Sierra Foothills.

My family and I successfully completed the 9th Annual Sisters Trip in March, this time with a beautifully-appointed rental home in Aptos. More laughter, drinking, walks on the beach, and life-changing conversations. I’m so glad we set aside the time and money for this trip each year.

Which one is not like the others?

We have some fun stuff planned as summer nears. I won’t let six months go by without posting again!

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Summer Fun!

August 5, 2013 Fitness, Friends, Fun 1 Comment

Long time, no talk. It would take me ages to go into detail about all the stuff I’ve been doing, so I’ll be brief and show you a bunch of pictures. Then we’ll be caught up and hopefully I can get back to more regular posts.

After Vineman Monte Rio, I traveled to Milwaukee for work. That’s right: back to the scene of Rashconsin. Luckily, I did not contract syphilis or anything like it this year. Also, I have to tell you how enjoyable it was to get in a morning run each day without the pressure of Ironman hanging over my head!

I’ll say it again, if you haven’t been to Milwaukee, it is worth going there. The city is beautiful, the people are nice, and there is more to do there than I would have ever thought.

On June 16, Greg and I competed in the Reservoir Triathlon. They changed the date on this year, but it’s the same Olympic distance event we did in June last year. We went to the race site on Saturday evening to run the dog around before settling into The Van for the evening.

I signed up on race morning and didn’t really know what to expect out of my legs. I also tried to tell myself not to expect too much out of them… Having done this race last year (4th place finish, remember?), at least I knew what to expect of the course.

Below is a picture of the swim course on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning, the entire thing was shrouded in fog. In fact, all the athletes had made our way down to the water’s edge for the race start and they delayed us by 15 minutes to give the fog more time to burn off. The race announcers kept saying, “Just swim out, following the people on paddleboards. You’ll eventually see a big buoy.”

I generally swim pretty straight and knew where I was going from last year, so this vague instruction didn’t cause me much anxiety. By the time I turned the buoy, the fog had burned off and it was a gorgeous day to race. I certainly felt my legs on the bike and wondered what I’d have left for the run. It turns out that doing Olympic distance events two weeks apart with one week of standing on a concrete floor working a trade show will actually cause fatigue. Lesson learned.

The run was a 2-loop out-and-back this year. You know how much I hate two loops. I saw Greg as I headed out on my first lap, he was about two miles out from the finish. He looked like he was suffering a bit, but still strong. It was a mental test to run past the finish line and head back out for my second loop…

Here are my splits:

Swim – 29:14
T1 – 2:12
Bike – 1:23:41
T2 – 1:23
Run – 0:53:54
TOTAL – 2:50:24

Good enough for — you guessed it — 4th place! My time from 2012 would have netted me 2nd place, but I certainly did not have that effort in me that day. This race is great because they bring in Pizza My Heart and craft beer for the after party. We took the coast route home, enjoying sunshine and beaches all afternoon.

June continued to be very busy, with a J.Hilburn conference in Las Vegas the following weekend. I learned so much and met some amazing people, which is really helping me build my business. Seeing other people be successful is a very good motivator! This conference was held at The Cosmopolitan. I am not a Vegas person, and this hotel is configured in such a way that I never had to walk through a smoke-filled casino to get to my room, the restaurants and bars, and the conference hall. For me, that’s about the only kind of win I’ll see in that city.

The Chandelier Bar is stunning

We hosted the Martz family for 4th of July, then headed to Tahoe to spend the weekend mountain biking and exploring hidden Alpine lakes. The Martz boys are 10 and 6 years old and had fun “surfing” in the lagoon.

Mountain biking is not usually my strong suit, but Jennifer talked us into a route that would be challenging enough for Greg and fun enough for her and me. She was right! The best part was that we parked at a trailhead by a lake and had the whole place to ourselves for booze & snacks after the ride.

The key to being happy was choosing to ride with platform pedals and regular shoes instead of clip-in pedals/shoes. I was able to put my foot down easily and often without the stress of being able to get it unclipped. This ride was 10 miles of challenging fun for me!

We began training again in July, this time for the Santa Barbara Triathlon on August 24. We haven’t done this race in four years and it will be good to go after it again. It’s a 1 mile swim, 34 mile ride, and 10 mile run. In addition to the regular training, I have been doing long runs every week for a month now, hoping that 10 miles is what “a normal run” feels like on race day. I’m not holding my breath on that one, but it does feel good to go that distance week after week.

Oh, and just because the picture is too adorable, here are the little ones I take care of splashing around in the sprinkler a couple of weeks ago. Summer fun!

Okay, we’re all caught up! I need to do a Van-centric post with all the updates Greg has made. I promise I’ll get to that. And even when I can’t do a full post, I’ll at least put up some pictures so you don’t forget about me. Hope your summer is going well!

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Pics from Wildflower

I want to share a few Wildflower photos that were taken by friends of ours. First, an early morning shot of all the athletes racing:

The three guys on the left (Joe, Martz, and Kidder’s 14-YO son Kyle) were smart to do the Mountain Bike race. Their race didn’t start for two hours after this photo was taken and their smiles were just as big an hour after that. I’m totally doing that race next year!

Here’s a family shot from after the race. I was happy to be standing at this point. Greg finished about an hour before me and was feeling pretty good. Miles wondered when we were going back to the lake.

Our camping setup is pretty sweet, what with The Van and all. We arrived at our usual spot near Mile 12 and started nesting. Greg rolled out the new awning and carpet and we were ready to welcome visitors.

When the Martzes arrived, their older son Colin took great interest in the van. He has been researching an RV for himself, you see. He’s 10. The one he wants will arrive at his door in Santa Barbara for a mere $130,000. It was so fun to take him through our van and show him how everything works and why we did things a certain way. Apparently he took it to heart.

Two weeks after the race, we got a postcard in the mail, as shown below. It was from the Martzes. Colin had recreated all of Wildflower with Legos, including our van. Nancy took a picture and sent it to us, which will be a memento we keep forever. I love it so much!

As you can see, he built the van setup flawlessly, right down to the awning, bikes mounted to the back, and the sunroof. It even has the hitch on the back bumper! I love that he included me, Greg, and Miles. My favorite part? Greg is holding a bone for the dog and I am holding a bottle of wine. Ha!!

As we get ready to race again this weekend (Vineman Monte Rio), it is fun to look back on Wildflower through these photos. The beauty of Vineman is that it’s an Olympic distance race and we’ll both be done racing by 10:15 AM. Even with temps at 90*, we can enjoy the day on the river.

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Barb’s Race Recap – Run

August 7, 2011 Fitness, Friends, Fun 2 Comments

This is the finale in a 4-part series. I’m glad you’re still with me!

Part 1 – Pre-race + Nutrition
Part 2 – Swim + T1
Part 3  – Bike + T2

I kept the title of this post simple, but considered several alternatives as I was writing it:

Welcome to My Pain Cave
When A Plan Falls Apart
Kill Me Now
WTF Happened?

After a surprisingly good swim and stellar bike, I just needed to tough it out for ~2 more hours and I’d have this race in the bag. I was easily on track to meet my stretch goal of finishing in 5:45 and I was ready to get it over with. I hoped my legs would to spring to life for the run as they had for the bike, but I had my doubts.

The run course is an out-and-back with a dirty trick thrown in. We ran out 4.35 miles and then had to run all the way back through the transition area only to turn around and go back out on the same course for 2.2 more miles. That turnaround was at the top of the first big hill, naturally. We covered the same ground four times before finally crossing the damn finish line. It seems very hilly when you’re running it, but my Garmin data says it has only 338 feet of elevation gain. By contrast, the Wildflower 10K course has 556 feet of elevation gain in half the distance.

I suppose the run setup is good from a spectator’s standpoint because they get to see us run by so many times. For the athletes, it is mentally defeating. In fact, I will never do Barb’s Race again for this very reason. I will do Vineman 70.3 instead because that run course is one big loop.

My legs were cramping from the get-go. I’ve never had my quads cramp like that and it concerned me. My stomach was also cramping and I hoped the PREV I chugged in T2 would kick in (it did). I stopped to use the bathroom at Mile 2 just to make sure my cramps weren’t going to produce anything, and to pee. It was touch and go on if my legs would work after sitting down… I lost 90 seconds there, but the peace of mind was worth it.

Smiling for the camera

I walked a lot. I’m actually surprised my average pace (10:35) is not slower because I walked so much. I obviously don’t know how to pace myself. When I was running, I was running fast. Too fast. So then I’d have to walk more. There were a lot of people walking and that “everyone’s doing it” dynamic is dangerous. When you get to this part of the race, the mental game really begins. Your body will do what you need it to do, but your mind has to go there first.

Because we were going back and forth so many times, it did give me an opportunity to see Caryn a few times. I kept hoping she’d catch me on the run so we could commiserate on how horribly it was going… But she was 12 minutes behind me out of the water and 10 minutes behind me on the bike, so running/walking together was not going to happen.

The volunteers at the water stations were fantastic. Everyone was very encouraging and we were best friends by the time I passed by the fourth time… I kept my sense of humor and made jokes about walking and asking if anyone had beer instead of Gatorade. I had a couple of glasses of Coke on my last loop through and it tasted surprisingly good. Usually it’s too sweet for me, but the carbonation and sugar hit the spot.

I got to 12.1 miles and looked at my Timex. If I could run ONE WHOLE MILE in 12 minutes, I could finish the race in under 6 hours. I knew my cheering section was right around the corner. Right around the corner from them was the finish line.

Welcome to my pain cave

I finished in 6:02:15.

WTF happened?? I mentally broke down. That’s all there is to it. My usual run pace is somewhere in the 8:30 range and I couldn’t even shuffle at 12 minute pace for one mile?! This is infuriating to me and explains the overall race disappointment that I have felt all week. My official run time was 2:22:01. *sigh*

Greg ran alongside me for the last quarter-mile or so and was with me at the finish line. What a guy! Immediately after crossing the finish line, my left foot and toes cramped up with charlie horses and I hobbled over to a shady area to sit down. I took my shoes off and have vowed to never wear them for anything longer than a 10K. In addition to the cramping, the bottoms of my feet were burning for the last half of the run and the tops felt like they were bruising.

My cheering section and coach came over to congratulate me. I shed a few tears about Argus and made for the food tent. It wasn’t long before Caryn was crossing the finish line and we could compare notes.

All in all, I raced well. There were a lot of lessons that I learned and will apply to my training for next year. In the meantime, I’m basking in the off-season and not feeling even the least bit guilty!

I’ve posted all pictures on my Flickr site. Thanks for coming along on the journey!

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Barb’s Race Recap – Bike + T2

August 7, 2011 Fitness, Friends, Fun No Comments

This is Part 3 in a 4-part series.

Part 1 – Pre-race + Nutrition
Part 2 – Swim + T1

BIKE
The bike course is a 56-mile loop that winds through three famous wine regions in Sonoma County — Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley. The scenery is just stunning. I had to keep reminding myself to look around and enjoy it rather than just looking at the pavement a few feet in front of me.

Caryn and I pre-rode the bike course in June and that provided a lot of insight. There are a couple of tight turns to navigate and I was able to set my expectations on the terrain. The first five miles are flat getting out of Guerneville, but the rest of the route is rolling. There is one big climb (Chalk Hill) that happens at Mile 45, so you’ve got to save your legs for that. The roads are pitted with potholes and I adjusted my tire pressure to offset this. When we rode it in June, there was a lot of broken glass and loose gravel on the roads, but they thankfully had them swept before the race. There is on-course support at Miles 18, 28, and 40 — water, Gatorade, and bananas are offered.

I was able to settle into my aero bars and keep a steady pace until turning onto Chalk Hill Road at Mile 41. My average speed never dropped below 19 mph until the climb at Mile 45. My race goal for the bike was to average 18 mph and finish in 3:05, so I felt really confident the entire time I was out there. My heart rate was under control and my legs had a lot of fire in them. I ended up averaging 18.8 mph overall and finishing in 3:00:12.

Greg and Jeff parked at a friend’s house at Mile 38 to spectate. I saw the van and gave a holler to let them know I was coming. I knew I was ahead of schedule and they’d miss me otherwise… Greg’s poor spectating skills are often joked about (as is my modesty in cheering for them to cheer for me). Paula and Kevin came down in time to see Caryn go by. They made signs!

I knew I was going to be somewhere around 10 minutes ahead of Caryn out of the water. But she’s a faster cyclist than I am and I knew she’d be chasing me down. When my average speed started to drop climbing Chalk Hill, I knew she’d catch me. I kept waiting for her to catch me. She never did!

I was prepared to pee on the bike if I needed to, but the urge wasn’t there. I did start to have stomach cramps around Mile 20, which concerned me. I was able to go to the bathroom early that morning, but it wasn’t what I’d call “normal” and I had a feeling things were going to be off because I had eaten dinner so late… I had a plan. I had packed a vial of PREV with my run gear at T2 and I willed myself to remember to drink it as soon as I got off the bike. I hoped it would kick in fast enough to thwart any GI issues that were brewing.

Ryan turned me on to PREV and I am forever grateful. I used it once before when my stomach started to revolt after a hot and hilly training session. It worked within minutes to quell my upset stomach that day, and I was glad I had planned ahead to bring it on race day.

There were tons of spectators on Windsor Road watching the bikers come in and the runners go out. My cheering section was there — Tara, Addison, Mike, and Tiff — and it felt great knowing they were there for me. The tri club was situated nearby and the two groups joined forces as I came through the chute to the dismount area.

The clouds were just beginning to break up, but it wasn’t unbearably hot. In fact, race conditions were perfect!

T2
My Timex watch was tracking overall race time and I felt great looking down to see 3:37 coming into T2. I knew I had bought myself a lot of time for the run and the minute I took those first steps off my bike, I knew I’d need it.

The distance between the bike dismount and our transition area was far! My legs didn’t want to work and I felt like I was going to fall running on the pavement in my cycling shoes. Also, there were surprisingly few people spectating in the transition area. The whole thing was kind of surreal. Since Caryn didn’t catch me on the bike, I kept looking around for her in the transition area. I really wanted to run with her!

Official T2 time: 4:25

Click here for the gritty run details!

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Barb’s Race Recap – Swim + T1

August 7, 2011 Fitness, Friends, Fun 2 Comments

This is Part 2 in a 4-part series.

You can read Part 1 here.

SWIM
The swim and T1 take place at Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville. Caryn and I got there with plenty of time to set up for our 8:14 AM start time. I think we arrived somewhere around 7:30. Of note, they do not assign you a transition spot on the rack by number (as many races do). This is a first come, first served situation. In general, I feel like the triathlete community is very accommodating of one another, but elbow room in the transition area can be a bit touchy (literally).

The water temperature was 72* — warmer than the outdoor temperature, so it was nice getting in! This race had an in-water start, which was a first for me. Once our wave (purple swim caps) was invited into the water, the mass of us plunged in and got in a few strokes to warm up. I adjusted my goggles and made my way to the far right. My tendency is to drift left as I swim, so I wanted to be as far right as possible.

We were swimming in the Russian River, which does have a slight current. I can’t say that I actually felt it as I was swimming against it, but it was there mentally. Knowing that I’d be swimming with the current at the turnaround kept me going hard. I would love to see a GPS diagram of the course I took on this swim because I was all over the place! The worst of it was that the waves were not started far enough apart (in my opinion), so I was swimming into athletes from the three waves ahead of me.

I refused to look at my watch until the turnaround. I knew it was more than halfway from the finish and I didn’t want to psych myself out before that. As I rounded the second buoy, I looked and my time was 17:57. I was so stoked! I knew I’d finish in less than 35 minutes at that pace! The traffic thinned out and I could swim longer between needing to sight the buoys and other swimmers.

As I was crossing under the pedestrian bridge, I purposely looked up to see if Jeff and Greg were there. Yep! Spectating a swim race is very difficult, so I thought I’d make it easier for them — I hollered and waved! That way I knew they’d get good pictures of me (and know when I came out of the water). Can someone tell me how horrible my form is (and how to correct it)? I’m on the left.

I was so thrilled when I stepped up on the ramp and looked down at my watch. 32:35! (Official time is 32:43) I honestly couldn’t believe I swam that fast, especially considering my shoulder injury and being unable to swim for 6 weeks during my training. I was ecstatic, and my coach was there at the swim exit yelling my name. Loved it!

T1
Barb’s Race was running simultaneously to the Full Vineman Ironman. The benefit of this was wetsuit strippers! I haven’t ever taken part in this before, so we walked over to see it happening prior to our race start so we’d know what to do. Basically:

  1. Come out of the water and make your way up the ramp. For me, I got my wetsuit unzipped and off my arms, down to waist level.
  2. Make eye contact with a stripper (!!).
  3. Lay down on your back and throw your legs in the air. Your stripper will yank your wetsuit off your legs and hand it to you.

As I ran to my transition area, I rolled my wetsuit up, tucking my swim cap, goggles, and ear plugs into it. Everything had to be stuffed back into the T1 Transport Bag, so I wanted to be efficient. The transition area is a gravel parking lot. Fortunately, the aisles along side the racks were carpeted. The areas in between the racks were not, so it was critical to have a towel for brushing off your feet before stuffing them into your shoes.

I quickly got into my socks and shoes, sprayed a liberal amount of sunscreen on my face, and got my helmet and sunglasses on. There is a steep-ish hill coming out of the transition area onto the street, so I was sure I had my bike in its lowest gear as to not drop my chain or fall over within the first few yards of the bike portion.

Official T1 time: 2:54

Jeff was there snapping photos and it felt great to be on the bike. Best of all, the skies were still overcast!

Click here for Part 3!

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To Chase Or Be Chased?

July 18, 2011 Fear, Fitness, Friends No Comments

I was having lunch today with a couple of girlfriends who just completed the Vineman 70.3 race yesterday. It’s the same course as Barb’s Race that I’m doing on July 30, so I was getting the nitty gritty race details from those in the know. I love hashing it all out!

I was remarking that Caryn and I are doing Barb’s Race together, but we are not in the same age group. I’m younger, so I will likely start 5-10 minutes ahead of her. She has been razzing me about my mental block on the run, talking smack about how she’ll be “chasing me down.” Admittedly, this scare tactic is working.

Do you push harder when you’re chasing someone? Or being chased?

I think I push harder when being chased. When Greg and I ride together, I’ll purposely try to get a head start on him and push as hard as I can to see how far I can make it before he catches me. I attribute this internal competitiveness to my improved bike speeds in recent years. At the race, I know I’ll be pushing to make it as far as I can before (IF?!) Caryn catches up to me.

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday – 50-mile bike ride + 5K run

Monday – 2400-yard swim

Tuesday – 20-mile bike ride + 3 mile run

Wednesday – 90 minutes yoga + 2100 yard swim

Thursday – 5 mile hill run

Friday – OFF

Saturday – 52 mile bike ride + Tracy Anderson

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Barb’s Race Recon (and WWW: June 26)

July 6, 2011 Fear, Fitness, Friends 2 Comments

It’s three weeks until Barb’s Race (Half Ironman triathlon) in Sonoma County. Caryn and I drove to the race site to ride the entire bike course and part of the run course on June 30. I still have a bad taste in my mouth.

Yeah. It was bad.

But first things first. Barb’s Race (and Vineman) is a two-transition-area race. The swim and bike start at Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville and the run start/finish is at Windsor High School (about 17 miles away). The swim is in the Russian River. The bike course takes you through the Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valleys — to say it is stunning terrain is an understatement. The run is hilly.

Caryn and I were prepared. We met at Windsor High School, put her bike and cycling gear in my car and drove together to Johnson’s Beach to get a true sense of the course at the actual distance. We were all ready to go — bikes put together, directions taped to aero bars, nutrition on board — and Caryn made a glaring discovery:

I hadn’t left my running gear in her car at T2!

We figured out a way to get my shoes and visor there, though it wasn’t pretty. I’m just so glad she thought of it before we left my car! It would have been heartbreaking to have gotten to the high school and not been able to run. (Actually, maybe that would have been better.)

The ride was fine. Nothing spectacular (other than the views – which I did not slow down to photograph for your benefit), but not horrible. Both of our legs were tired from previous workouts, so we weren’t killing ourselves. I rode this race course last year when Greg was training for Vineman, but my intention this year was to figure out my nutrition, when it’s beneficial to be in the aero bars, and how much Chalk Hill will hurt this year. Mission accomplished on all three: 1/2 PB + apple sandwich and two hydration bottles, miles 20-40, and mildly.

A few additional notes about the bike course… 1) The roads are rough. It’s very hard to relax because the roads are full of potholes, repairs, and cracks. 2) I hope the race officials minimize car traffic on race day because there is no shoulder/bike lane in most places and it’s a little scary sharing the road with drivers who have been wine tasting all day. 3) I also hope the race officials have the roads swept before race day. The amount of broken glass and loose gravel on the road is bad news.

We got to Windsor High School and made a not-so-quick transition to the run. I had been talking about how much I didn’t want to run since about Mile 22 on the bike, which certainly didn’t help. It was hot and later than we intended it to be. Quite simply, I was over it by that point. I stopped at 1.5 miles and declared, “I don’t want to do it anymore.” Caryn concurred and we turned around, cutting our intended distance in half.

We headed back down to Johnson’s Beach to retrieve my car and I drove the run course. HILLY. Now, I’m totally psyched out. Also, I did not do enough research on the Barb’s run course versus the Vineman run course. For Vineman, the course is a loop that includes running through La Crema winery. It’s hot and exposed, but not hilly. Barb’s Race is an out-and-back that does not run through La Crema. In addition to having to run all of those hills twice, we have to run clear back to the transition area and then head back out onto the course for 2.2 miles before finishing. I just can’t imagine how defeating it will be to run to the finish area and then have to run back out.

So now I’m contemplating going back up to Windsor for a day trip that will allow me to run the course and properly set my expectations for how bad it’s going to hurt. I just don’t want to defeat myself before I even start, which is pretty much how I feel now. I did a 54-mile ride + 2 mile run this past Sunday, talking myself out of the prescribed 4-mile run. I have a mental block on running.

Any one up for a trip to wine country? My run will take about an hour and then I’ll treat you to a tasting!

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday: Active recovery – 12 mile bike ride + core + massage

Monday: 2000-yard swim + 4.5-mile run

Tuesday: 90 minutes cycling (45 mins SFRs)

Wednesday: 1750 yard swim + core

Thursday: 56 mile bike ride + 3 mile run

Friday: 2000-yard swim

Saturday: Active Recovery – 2 mile walk + a few laps in the pool

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