Sunday, September 20, 2009

game day

ok, before i get into the weekend happenings, i must report on bike commuting this week. it's 18 miles each way, so a solid 36 miles plus a transition run when i got home made for a nice workout. i have my priorities in line- you can only carry so much, and coffee is defninitely #1 (thanks for the idea, charisa!)

yeah, i know the Look 496 isn't really commuter bike material, but i'm logging all the miles i can on this ride before my final races of the season. and to be honest, i just love to ride it. one day, i will get me a proper commuter bike for sure, though. commuting was fun, but a little sweaty. will be kind of challenging on days in need to look super professional at work for meetings, but there is a shower at school we are working on getting in order, so problem may be solved soon.

so, let me set the stage: i'm sitting here on sunday night watching james yell at the TV on the DVR'd chargers game (which ends up 31 to 26- Charger's lose, but james has made sure all day long (while we were racing/travelling) that he didn't see the score and he has been even ignoring his phone/twitter/facebook!). its a little sad to see his hopeful face when i know that the chargers lost (you see, i was in the frozen yogurt store while james waited in the car and the guy behind me asked the yogurt girl who won). poor soul. james is going to be bummed in a couple hours. i think i'll try to go to bed before he finds out they're not going to win.

so i'm sitting here on my computer pretending i don't know who's going to win.
we just got back from a fun weekend in San Dimas, CA. yesterday, james tried his first cyclocross race and now i can safely say any sort of an off-season we had planned together is done. james declared, "racing cyclocross every weekend IS my offseason." in all honesty, i am really glad he loved it so much and i'm excited to watch him get even better.

yesterday, we also pre-rode a couple laps of the mountain bike cross country course with Allison (pro who WON the whole race!) and Justin (her fast hubby). i was a little sketched on the first lap - lots of fast descents, so i took it pretty easy, just getting to know the terrain. justin and allison were AWESOME and gave me a ton of good tips for building confidence on the tricky sections. it helped a lot for sure- i think i might need to commission them for a couple more lessons ( hoping i can persuade them with a jar of nuttzo and a good bottle of vino) . after the pre-ride was over, i set out for a few more laps solo. i know this wasn't ideal the day before a race, but with my half-ironman goal in mind, i knew i needed to put in about 4 solid hours on the bike and a decent transition run. it was close to 100 degrees out there and after the second hour, i literally couldn't get enough water. i was downing bottles in 20 minutes and dying for more. after about 3 hours, the hills (LOTS of climbing on the course- 1000+ feet per lap) really started getting to me. i was "granny-gearing" it all over the place and just made it my goal to keep moving and working for at least the 4 hours. i made it to my goal, made a quick change, watched the finish of james' cyclocross race and headed out on my run.
"i'm ready for my closeup- i mean t-run" (i swear i was untangling my ipod cord and not posing.really.)
i was pretty delirious by the start of my run and saw this big lake/reservoir with huge "NO SWIMMING VIOLATION OF LA CODE 1456 blah blah blah". i decided i couldn't live without jumping in the lake so i made a break for it and dove in in my running clothes about halfway through my run. this was the lake- doesn't it look inviting?
it was awesome. i was glad i wore my Zoot Ultra TT shoes too- drainage holes come in handy! after the dip, i finished off the run strong and was ready to rest- close to 5 hrs of training in the mega heat and i hardly knew my name. but i was proud that i did it solo!

after cyclocross awards, we headed up to LA and had dinner with james' awesome sister (and race support!), steph. i'd love to say we were cool and did something other than eat and sleep but that would be untrue. after a quick recovery sleep, we were up and at it again for today's cross country races. the US mountain bike cup finals/unification race. it was said to be one of the biggest this year and i was nervous! i had decided to race category 2 (which is like intermediate) becuase the beginners races are usually only about an hour and i wanted a little more. but, i knew the girls here were serious competitors. no worries though since its just a "fun" race for me. i started off strong and had a great Lap #1. i was strong on the climbs and all the practice during my long ride yesterday helped me big time with confidence on the sketchy descents. on the second lap, i could tell i was holding strong and eventually i saw a woman in a Team Ouch kit in front of me. i passed her on a climb! yeah! well, yeah until we descended and i went around a corner and yard sale-d all over the place. whoops! i hopped back on after collecting my things, and was determined to catch Team Ouch lady again (she passed me during my fall). about a mile later, i caught back up and passed her....until the next big..
(i must interject: oh, sad, james just asked me to "fist pound" him becuase he saw a good play. so sad. )
climb. i chose some crappy gearing and ended up dropping my chain off my rear derailleur. this time it was not "blame it on the chain", it was totally my bad. i just need practice in pre-shifting and shifting while climbing. this mistake ended up taking enough time to correct that the Team Ouch girl passed me again and made it stick. i was almost a minute behind by the time i got back on and the race was over.
debriefing..."so what had happened was, i took a left and.."

i finished strong and ended up winning my age group for category 2 (not hard when i was the only one who was IN my age group). so, i just compared myself to the other cat 2 women (there were 7 or 8) and i was 4th which i thought was okay. later, i looked at the results and noticed that category 3/beginner had also done 2 laps (not sure why becuase it is usually 1 and i would have raced category 3 if i had known). there were lots of category 3 women (about 20 and would have been 6 in my age group) and i noticed that i would have won my age group by about 8 minutes. so i was stoked because in my head, i am still a beginner.

after the race, i watched james take the win in the category 1 men's field and he really had an incredible race. he was totally shelled after and took a little napper while we waited WAY too long for the awards. you know, the raffle that never ends and all that business...

(ok, by the way, james is still watching the charger's game (4th quarter now) and after several fist bumps, just said, "it's not just a mere football game, we're watching life happen. i live for the bolts."...seriously? he has had a couple beers, i guess.)
so, it was a great game day for team Walsh...too bad not so much for the san diego chargers.
oh, poor dear, james just asked me to take a photo of him "before the game winning drive"[uh....the chargers lose this game]...and i'm going to upload it now...

unfortunately, he also wanted to take a photo of my stupid outfit and my ghetto spot on the floor (thank the lord we're moving this week! wahoo!). this is me right now typing this..

i'm only wearing shoes because i just had to go outside and load the bike into the car for tomorrow's ride...hence the bike grease. i know, i'm super classy.
alright, gotta go upstairs and pretend to sleep. one minute left in the game and i don't want to be here when he finds out they lose!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

starting to click

these past couple weeks have been heavy on the training and the work and the life, but everything seems to be falling into place. james and i are moving into a new condo that we're really happy about (and i swear my joy only has a tiny bit to do with the fact that it is literally next door to the YMCA where i swim master's early in the morning.) our new place is a great location: very close to the beach , central to all our favorite cycling routes, super easy to run from (lots of trails and road options), and an easy walk or beach-cruiser bike ride to downtown encinitas where you can find our favorite bars, restaurants, a new Whole Foods (soon!), and my yoga studio. STOKED!

moving means HASSLE, though and we're full force getting rid of half of what we own and investing in a couple new things. i just spent half my paycheck on a new couch and james is can't wait for his new flat screen monster tv to be delivered. we also had a garage sale today- WOW. interesting people at the garage sale. let's leave it at that. here's james post-sale- notice not only the lack of furniture left in our place, but the lack of any kind of life in james' eyes- he's toast! garage sale= WAAAAY harder than 4 hour bike ride

other than that, work is still pinch-yourself wonderful- i love my school. actually, i love my school MINUS the bagel/donut/muffin explosion in the break room that beckons me when i need a snack. i've been carb-bomb dodging as much as possible but it's hard when this is in your face all day long and people look at you funny if you "pass" on the donuts.

on the training front, i'm getting very excited for my next few big races. Orange County triathlon is in just two weeks and i'm ready! i have had some great bike workouts and i'm feeling totally healthy on the run. this past week i cycled 14 hours including a big mt. palomar ride (gotta love long labor day rides!), hill repeats, a cruisey ride with katya, and an incredible 87 mile ride with colleen and an awesome crew. in the past few weeks, my cycling has turned the corner a little bit. every day, i feel a little stronger and like i can actually hang. the glimmer of hope is there thanks to all my awesome friends and bike-mates who have put almost as much into my quest to not suck on the bike as i have.

the mt. palomar ride on labor day was a nervous one for me because last time, i was road kill and did not make it up the mountain. this time was different. the crew was ALL boys (very fast ones) and me, so i gave myself a substantial head start up the mountain. this was the best move i ever made. instead of playing chase all day, i was in the lead, trying to hold them off! i was able to ride within my own limits and stay strong and steady. i reached the top an hour and 30 minutes later and was ready for more. bring it. i continued on with the boys and took my own route to ride steady for about an hour while they did another climb. all-told, we rode 4 hours 30 minutes and i was happy, strong, and felt solid. its almost like the hard work is finally starting to pay off....

yesterday, i was lucky enough to be invited (okay i half invited myself) to ride with colleen, becky (who is kona bound!) and their fast male counterparts. both becky and colleen can kick me sideways on the bike, but i studied the route ahead of time (so as not to be a liability in case i was too slow) and went out with a positive attitude. we ended up having a total blast and the girls took it to the boys, riding extra miles, and we put in over 5 hours before the t-run. during the ride, i didn't take too many (okay really any) pulls at the front of the pack, but i also didn't slow the group down and was able to keep up. huge for me. i was so very excited i think i was smiling the whole ride. training has a whole different light when you are actually able to bury the "i'm about to get dropped" anxiety for a few minutes and enjoy your friends and surroundings. loving it.

on the running front, i am just happy to be healthy and coming close to normal run fitness for me. i've had long runs of 15-16 miles the past two weekends and felt great. the cross country races are helping me with speed and in between i'm filling the training log with chatty runs with friends.

swimming-wise, the pool is becoming my friend and i am finally at home in the 1:30 lane. i even LED THE LANE for close to 200o yds last week. another big first since i don't lead and i basically stink-eye anyone who tries to steal my caboose position.

althought the swim bike run is on its way, i have been SLACKING on the strength training, but something had to go with the whole job and moving situation. i figure i'll continue to slack a bit more and then pick it up after October. i just can't swing it right now but i SHOULD make sure i get to yoga at least once a week and do two more supplemental core sessions. maybe becuase i wrote it it will happen!

so that's my update. the OC triathlon is just two weeks away, but i am also racing my mountain bike up in bonelli park (near LA) next weekend. this is one of james' big races so i want to be there and it will be a nice workout for me.
oooh, and i want to show you my favorite post-ride refueler (which i described in detail to colleen and becky this weekend)...
it's greek yogurt (like fage 0% or 2%- protein bomb!) with bluberries (regular or frozen), strawberries, mango chunks, almond slivers, ground flaxseed and a sprinkle of coconut shavings. if i was on Top Chef (my favorite show), i would call it a de-constructed smoothie.