Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Masters!

My PIC Sonja wrote last week about a great Masters swim she did and how much she loved it.  I read her blog and thought about how much I miss swimming with other people.  My swimming hasn't really suffered since I left my last Masters club in March.  But it gets lonely.  Really lonely.  Pacing myself, no feet to draft off of, nobody to try to keep up with, no coach on deck telling me to pick it up or critiquing my stroke.  Some days are great in the pool, I can get going and make some decent intervals but there are other days when it just won't happen.  I'm too bored, or unmotivated, or would rather stick a fork in my eye just to make things more interesting.  I have met some tri-folks at the new pool, in fact some very fast/competitive tri-geeks, but no swimming partners have emerged.  They are fun to listen to.....and to try and count how many times Kona-guy can fit Kona in a 90-second conversation.   He is talented.  

Sonja mentioned last night at track that she was swimming Wednesday Masters and did anyone want to join???  Me, me, pick me!!!! So, I joined here this morning for 5:30am practice.  Coach Paul was everything PIC promised - it was a great workout.  I managed to get in the correct lane on the first try and was joined by Jenna - yeah!  What I didn't realize at the time was that Wednesday's are stroke days.  Uh oh!  I really don't do stroke efforts.  At all.  But it was stroke day and we did lots of it.  I figured out pretty quickly that Jenna swam in college and was a SPEEDY backstroker!  We swam for 1.5 hours, mixing up harder efforts with nice recoveries and I felt strong and good the entire time.  We ended the workout with 3x100y on 1:30 with the goal of keeping the same time on all 3.  I knocked out a 1:10, 1:10 and ended with a 1:09.....Yee Haw!  My arms were SHAKING from all the stroke but  am so fired up about the workout. Now I just have to figure out how to get to HR every couple of weeks for a Masters swim....thanks Son for letting me tag along:)  

And a DNC update.....haven't seen Clooney or anyone else famous for that matter.  My car was searched several times going into the parking garage, the 16th Street Mall looked like New York City, and I even saw a protester get arrested.  I can't wait for this to be over.

Peace out. 

Monday, August 25, 2008

George

Where are you?  Yes, George as in Clooney is in town and I have been looking for him.  Well, OK, I didn't actually leave my building today but I thought about trying to stalk him.  

Ah yes, the DNC is in town.  Downtown has been completely transformed:  the Pepsi Center is completely fenced in and sports a tent city in the parking lots, policemen EVERYWHERE, protesters EVERYWHERE, reporters EVERYWHERE, politicians EVERYWHERE.  The entire city looks as though it has received a face lift.  And to make matters worse (I can neither confirm nor deny any/all political affiliations although if traffic really hoses up my schedule my vote could be swayed...), Mr. Obama is staying at the hotel connected to my building.  I actually had an interaction with a Secret Service agent in my parking garage this morning.  Of course, he was only interested in my trunk.....of my car!!!  Yes, bomb squad was on full alert and my rental vehicle (grrrrr) was searched and sniffed by the cute bomb-sniffing dog.  I was cleared to park and go to work.  So far, so good, clearly the Denver media has scared the crap out of the locals and traffic was a no-brainer this morning.  It is only Monday though.

Oh yeah, the car?  I realize it has been less than two weeks since I picked up the Audi from the last service appointment $$$ but yet another light started flashing $$$ and had to go back again today.  Oh, the pain factor $$$ on this is almost unbearable and almost more than the prospect of a new or slightly used vehicle $$$.  Blech, I really don't want to deal with buying right now primarily due to the $$$ factor but also because I will now have to face the harsh reality about what is really a functional vehicle for me.  A sporty, speedy sedan??  Maybe.  A functional, way less sexy small SUV (gasp), or wagon-type vehicle (double gasp)?  Probably.  2 kids to think about, a dog, various training implements including Princess, the wonder bike, to transport around.  I can say, however, that I will not be seduced by the mini-van.  No matter how sensible and practical it may be.  No way.  (really tempted to say never here, but we know what happens when I say NEVER!!)

OK, one final thought......lots of fun weather around here this weekend.  Around my house, it is now known as the "tomato warning"!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pikes Peak Ascent

So here it is, my "race" report for the Ascent.  This one has been pretty tough to type out as I am still disappointed in the end result:  not finishing.   I know, I know, I had no control over the decision to close the course.  But it meant that I didn't reach my goal of finishing at the top of Pikes Peak, and I have had a hard time processing that. 

Mother Nature did not cooperate the weekend of the race.  It started raining Friday morning, was a complete downpour on the way to the Springs Friday afternoon, and continued raining the remainder of the night.  On the bright side, Andrea, Sarah and I stayed in the most spectacular hotel, The Cliff House, 3 blocks from the starting line.  We ordered room service and watched the Olympics, what a great night!  The hotel had HEATED toilet seats.  Yes, HEATED toilet seats!!!!  I woke up a couple of times in the night to hear the sound of rain coming down on the sky lights.  It reminded me of the marathon last October.....raining, cold, and miserable.  And I survived that day (actually had a GREAT marathon) so I felt fine going into the Ascent. But my equation was off:  cold, rainy marathon in Denver does not equal cold, rainy half marathon up Pikes Peak.  

As we walked down to the start of the race, it was raining (surprise), and we saw all sorts of runners trying to stay dry in all sorts of ways.  Lots of trash bags, ponchos, rain gear, bags on the feet.  And then there were those with no jackets at all....Wave 1 went off right at 7:00 with the prediction of 1 to 3 inches of snow at the top.  No worries, I had my Yak Trax in my camelback.  We checked our dry clothes bag into the van that went to the summit, visited the porta potty (yes kids, only one trip today!), and lined up for Wave 2 start at 7:30.  We were off!!!

My main goal was to take it out very slow to give my body a chance to warm up and give my calves a chance to settle before the big hills came in just a mile.  What I didn't realize is that I was at the back of the pack and probably should have been mid to front pack.  As soon as we hit that first BIG hill (probably 15% grade) everyone was walking.  So I walked too....great decision for the calves as they were already tightening up.  As it flattened out (only a 5% grade), I started to run again.  As we reached the point where we connected with Barr Trail, it was a complete cattle call MOO trying to funnel all the runners onto the trail.  Once again, I was walking, and it was OK because I knew that I'd be able to pick it up soon.  After about 15 minutes of this hiking, I decided I needed to get more aggressive in passing since I wanted to run and challenge myself more.  "On your left" became something I said often at that point.  Finally, after the W's section, the runners thinned out a bit and I was really able to start moving.  I felt great, my pace was good and when it was really steep, I would aggressively hike that section and run again when it "flattened" out.  All of a sudden I hit some downhills and felt like I was flying.  Uphill, uphill, little downhill, I just kept on keeping on.  I drank gatorade at each aid station and tried to eat too but that wasn't going as well as I would have liked.  I forced down a gel and a couple of pretzels because I knew I had to eat.  The next aid station I would hit was Barr Camp, at 7.8 miles, it was considered the 50% of effort mark!

Although it was a light rain/drizzle at this time, it was beautiful.  Everything was green and lush and smelled so fresh.  I hit a big uphill and decided to agro hike this one, and was still passing people on the way up.  It was steep but my body felt fine - my calves were loose, my glutes and hips didn't hurt.  I had the start of a headache (exertion and altitude, not surprising) and my back was achy probably because of carrying the camelback which I have never used running.  Now it started to rain a bit harder and since I was at about 10,200 feet in elevation, it was getting colder.  I had drops of water falling off the bill of my hat!  And then I heard a voice from above.  No really, he was standing on a rock above me saying "Welcome to Barr Camp!"  I actually had tears in my eyes and a big smile because I still felt fine and I knew I would get to the top.  I looked at my watch and I was on a 4 hour finish pace.  SWEET -  my goal was 4:30!  This aid station had the best food: pretzels, pb&j roll ups, m&m's, nilla wafers.  I grabbed a pb&j roll and decided I would hit the m&m's at the A Frame (next aid station, 2.8 miles away).  I put on my gloves and continued on.

I was still hiking aggressively, pushing the pace and passing people on the left.  But the strangest thing was seeing people coming at me on their way down.  Wha?  What are you people doing?  Wrong way to the summit!  Or did they summit and decide to come down?  No, no, marathon is tomorrow.  I was very confused by this.  And then I heard thunder.  It seemed distant and I just hoped it would pass quickly.  A couple of minutes later, I heard it again except this time it seemed much closer and louder.  Uh oh.  But I kept going.  And I heard the thunder again.  This is NOT good especially as I was approaching timberline.  Oh yeah, it was raining very hard at this point, closer to hail, a bit windy, pretty nasty conditions.  And now I looked up and saw a stream of people COMING DOWN.  Wha?  And then a voice saying, "Course is closed at the A Frame, turn around and go down."  No......what do you mean closed?  I only have 3.5 miles to go.....come on, surely they are just kidding, maybe too wimpy to get to the top??  "Course closed turn around."   And I stopped.  I had planned on getting to the A Frame, putting on my rain jacket, warm hat and dry gloves, and taking advil.   But I was stopped now.  I started shivering and it occurred to me that I was soaked to the bone.  I put on my jacket and considered just getting to the A Frame because I was so close but it thundered again and I was now shivering almost uncontrollably and realized that would be an incredibly stupid thing to do.  So I turned around and joined the line of people going down.  But it was a complete clusterf**k.  People were still tying to go up and there was a mass of people going down and we just weren't moving.  I was cold and trying not to panic because I know how fast things can go bad at the elevation I was at.  Just Always Move wasn't working now, in fact, it took me over 40 minutes to go 1 mile downhill.

I was just trying to warm up and not to drown in my own disappointment.  It was only at this point that I realized that I had gone 9.33 miles up, and would have to cover another 9.33 miles to be off this mountain.  There were no mid-mountain shuttles, no easy way down.  I thought about the post I wrote a couple of weeks ago and knew that I had jinxed myself.  Never ever say Never!  I reached Barr Camp and I guess I was hoping they would say, it's cleared up and you can go to the top if you want!  But instead the rangers took our numbers and told us to continue down the mountain.  Race Over. And to make matters worse, all the m&m's were gone.  That's right peeps, NEVER pass up m&m's at an aid station!

Later, I spoke with some runners who made it to the top and said it was miserable.  Everyone who reached the top was hypothermic.  It was snowing, hailing, lightening etc.  Just plain dangerous.  They all looked a bit stunned at what they had experienced.  I'm pretty sure that the majority of Wave 1 runners made it to the top and the majority of Wave 2 did not.  I know lots of people questioning if the race organizers should even have started the race that day but the way I see it, if they are crazy enough to organize this type of event, they are crazy enough to start it on a less than perfect day.  

So yes, I am disappointed.  And yes, I want to try it again next year if the race schedule allows.  I realize the only reason I did not make the top was not my fault.  Mother Nature please raise your hand and take a bow!  By the way, the race organizers decided to give us non-finishers the way SEXY red hot finisher shirts.  I even wore it for a few hours on Sunday!

Best part:  Getting off the mountain safely

Second best part:  Heated toilet seats!

Thank you to everyone for your warm wishes and thoughts and encouragement!!


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mother Nature

Is not playing well with others right now.  Well, just those of us maybe not quite in our "right" minds that will be running up a certain 14'er on Saturday.  Yep, it's going to rain.  Yep, it'll probably snow above 10,000 feet on Friday night.  And maybe even continue this unacceptable behavior all day Saturday.  Start time temperature forecast?  A balmy 45 - 50 degrees.  And this, after the last month of 90+ degree temps.  Ms. Mother Nature is really not playing nice.  

And, all I can say right now is BRING IT.  I have had a date with this mountain since April and whatever Mother Nature throws at us runners on Saturday will not stop the date.  Unless, of course, the race organizers think otherwise.  

I won't have my best running clothes on for this date.  Nope.  There will be hats, gloves, tights, rain jackets, maybe even trash bags.  I may not be my usual charming self (hahaha) because snow in August makes me cranky.  But, I will be there.  Ready to go at 7:30.  With whatever Ms. Nature has in mind.  Yee Haw!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Isabelle's 1st Triathlon!

It's true, my AWESOME 5 year old did her first triathlon Saturday!!  

Tyler (BooYah) and his wonderful wife started the weekend off with a fun party for all the little triathletes!  They "rested" up for the big event by running around, jumping on the trampoline, and eating smores while the parents strategized about transition positioning, fastest swim suits (with ruffles or without??), course layout, and nutrition.  We had a great time and even watched some of the Olympics opening ceremonies.  




Big smile after completing the swim

As a 5 year old, Iz had to swim 1 length of the pool, bike 1/2 mile, and run 1/4 mile.  And, she did it with a smile on her face the whole time.  Her transitions need a bit of work but really, that is all mom's fault.....we will have lace ties for next year:)  All the kids did great and loved the popsicles at the end.  

Racing towards the finish!


Josh, Jackson, Maggie, Isabelle, Charlotte

Best part:  Iz called it the best day of her life

Second best part:  Charlotte running after us into transition crying "I want to ride my bike, I want to ride my bike"

Monday, August 4, 2008

Quads

I will never. NEVER. EVER. Run downhill.  AGAIN.  NEVER AGAIN.

Let me start off by apologizing to anyone (especially Bethie) I may have offended with the plethora of f**k bombs, sh*t bombs, and an array of other vulgar inappropriate language that came spewing forth from my mouth during my mouth during not one, but both of my weekend workouts  

A group of us went to "preview" the trail for the Pikes Peak Ascent that's happening in 2 weeks.  Let me sum it up:  Steep.  A little Steeper.  Hot.  Steep.  Hot and Steep.  And that was only for 4.8 miles.  In 1.5 hours.  Approximately 3900 feet in elevation gain.  Not even half way there.  Not even CLOSE.  Holy Steepness Batman, this is one tough trail.  About 2 miles in, I decided to take up knitting.  As Isabelle would say, "For Real".  At mile 3, I decided to not do the Ascent and hurt Steve (coach extraordinaire) instead.  At mile 4, things started looking only slightly better (of course, it was slightly less steep at this point).  We finally hit our turnaround point and started downhill.  Here's the big mistake for the day:  following Beth down.  Now, I have made this mistake before and I'm sure I'll make it again (keep reading!).  I thought I had made it clear that I wanted to walk the steep parts (i.e. the entire trail) but we just flew down.  And then I noticed my quads were a bit sore.  As in really tight and sore.  But I kept trying to keep up with Super Speedy Descender Woman.  But I kept going and then, a mere hour later, we took a dip in the stream and went for something to eat.  Things were looking up.  

Sunday morning comes along and I am off for a TT ride and an easy run.  Met up with some PC folks, my charming domestique pal DF, and of course, Beth.  It appears she is fresh as a daisy after yesterday's torture session.  In fact she looks strong this morning.  Uh oh, I'm in trouble.  We start our loops and my quads are SCREAMING at me to stop and take 1,000 advil.  But I hang on and ride the pace line fairly well.  Second loop, someone had the brilliant idea of a girls vs. boys loop.  Fine but only if girls get a 2 minute head start.  Beth pulls us along at a very speedy pace and wonders aloud why I won't take over the front.......because I can't pedal hard enough to get around her!!  (Surprised I am following Beth again??)  We finish up the second loop and have managed to hold off the boys, phew!  Loop 3, a 5 person pace line and I start to fall off the back I just can't keep up,  BooYah pulls me back in and I hang on to the finish.  Everyone does a fantastic job of pulling but apparently that one was too easy and they needed to do one more.  Good time for me to call it a ride and get on with my run as my quads never loosened up on the ride.  

Good news is that the run actually felt OK.  My legs hurt but not as bad as they did while riding.  Finished it up relatively strong and went for coffee.  BTW, I think coffee may be the most underrated recovery drink:)  Only problem was that as I attempted to walk down a little bitty hill, I actually whimpered from the pain in my quads.  Uh oh.  They were sore to the touch. Downhills and stairs were now things to be avoided, kinda like the plague.  Thank you Michael for understanding why it was just a bad idea to go upstairs/downstairs.  2 advil didn't even touch the pain.  Stretching my quads was TORTURE.  I tried lying on the couch and they just throbbed.  YIKES!  I even tried an epsom salt bath.  No relief whatsoever.

Thank you again hubby for trying to keep the kids off my legs and knowing that I wasn't cranky with you only cranky because of my throbbing legs.  

So now it is Monday, and let me repeat.  I will NEVER, EVER run downhill again.  Or, at least until Beth or Sonja or another one of my favorite training peeps says "let's go!"  And, I will follow and maybe even lead.  

Best part:  Yummy slow food restaurant after the trail with friends.  Except for the slow part which is not really good when really hungry.

Second best part:  Coffee.  and Advil.  and a little bit of wine.