Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Who does that??

I mean, who races triathlon in December?? Such a silly idea. It's cold. Dark. And after Thanksgiving. Holidays have started, time to "recover", right??!?

Nope, only I would sign up for an Olympic distance race Dec 3rd. I figure I'd give some props to HITS for taking on Ironman Corp. Any organizer that is attempting to put on a super sprint, sprint & olympic distance race on the Saturday, and a half & full on Sunday is truly insane, and thus fits right in with this sports and should be supported. That was the theory.

So, to sum it up, I kept in shape. A little. Swam once a week (sinus are liking not getting wet every day), ran a few times, kept up with Sergio's workouts, and my long ride in on the weekend. While it certainly wasn't going to be a PR race, I figured I would, at least, work off the T-giving gorging.

And this was definitely going to be a family affair. Dave was racing too, so why not bring the parents as well??!? at 4 months old, Chase is not quite to "big boy" status. So off we all met in Palm Desert, CA where the weather was... quite nice really. 

We check in and it occurs to me I have no idea if I'll actually FIT in my wetsuit. Last wearing was this race last year... my last race (and 2 months preggo). But if anyone can pack a sausage.. that's something I can do. I may drown, but at least I will drown floating on the surface with a wetsuit :-)

As it turns out, I didn't drown. And the water wasn't the icy 50-some-odd degrees like it was last year. I'm in no rush. Why rush? That would imply I had a remote chance of being competitive.  I exit the water, "you're doing great!" Of course I am.... I am not face down like a limp noodle in the water. 

Off on the bike. Feeling pretty good. Winds are manageable. I start counting women returning from the turn around to get an idea of where I am in the pack. I loose track. Not sure if that was a boy or a women who pasted me in the other direction. 

I exit the bike and realize my last brick was, well, last year at this race. Ooh, legs aren't going to think I'm so cool now. So let's just get this run started. Yup, legs are regretting the idea of running. No speed. Just a rhythm. Ok fine, punishment accepted. Dave passes me on his return home after the turn around and has a look of shock. What??!? I think. 

And then I count the women in front of me.  One... two..... holy mole. I'm three..... oh shit. That's overall. HITS is a mass start for all the women so you know where you are. No waves. Just a gun. 

Let's try not to get passed by too many women on the way home I think. 

And then I finish. Third overall. My best placing ever. Until I look at the final results. Second?!? What??! The women in second was pulled from the final results. Not sure why. She's a stud. Rumor has it she did the IM the day before. Ouch. Hell of a cool down. 

So blessed by Chase... and got the hubby a little worried he was going to be run down... it ended more than ok. 

Happy riding!

Wowzers... a race??!?

Yikes. Last blog was 18 months ago. Ouch. Yup, it's like I fell of the end of the earth. Or had a baby. Jokes aside, Chase is pretty dreamy. If his eye don't kill you.. his giggle will. Super-Chase!

And then there is a race. Soon. ITU at the end of April. Am I ready? Well, about as ready as a bulldog is for an agility course. Not. 

Training was going ok. At least I was consistently getting in one swim, bike, run in a week. Then some damn tendon/ligament/nightmare in my hip told me to drop dead and die. Luckily for me I didn't listen, but man, oh man. I haven't been able to run for the last 2 months... and while I thought I was getting somewhere this week (wahoo! a 30 minute run completed!), today I was back down to 10 minutes before the cramping/non-weight-bearing ache began. Ok, I can survive the swim.... manage the bike.. and limp the run. 

I will say it for the record.. there are no course records this mama is going to break anytime soon. 

At least the bike feels ok. I figure with one ride a week...I'm not getting anywhere.. but hopefully not going backwards either. Positive thinking.

In the meantime, mama needs to get her groove back. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Never would I have imagined...

That I was nuts enough to enter the Elite State Track Championships, but I did.

I've had my new track bike for less than a week. Ridden it twice. Picked up race wheels en route to the race. Never rode 'em.

Who said don't try something new at a race??!?

4th in the 3K pursuit & 3rd in the 500m Time-trial.

Suckered into going to whatever track races are around, I found myself actually entertaining the idea of racing against elite track racers in the state. "Elite" means: You are a female. You have a USAC license cat 1-4. You own a track bike. You are still upright and breathing. CHECK.

That being said, there are some very good racers in SoCal. With 3 velodromes within 2 hours, there are probably more track racers in SoCal than anywhere else in the country. It's just they're somewhere else on race day and with a little luck I may not actually be dfl. But against the elites, I have no problemo taking my share of the caboose at the back of the train. It's all about the experience, racing hard, and having FUN!

With a few less-than-ideal-but-it'll-do-in-a-pinch, including but not limited to not having the right gearing, a slipping seat post, and the mysterious rubbing sound (I used to blame it on the brakes. Not and excuse I could conjure up this time), I went out, busted a lung, or two, hit the hammer. Then hit the wall. And still, I had fun!

To all you ladies out there...get out on the track if you can, it's definitely worth it!

Many thanks to Matty at Ride Cyclery in Encinitas for working double-time to get me on a new bike!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Weee!

I feel like a kid who just opened the cookie jar.

You know, that feeling of, "screw it, just do it!" I know I'm gonna like it. Why, I'm not sure. It's just pure pain, and how long can you really suffer?

Of course, I'm referring to Time trialing, short, long, and everything in between. I've been doing my fun Wednesday night workouts at the velodrome for 3 years now. By no means seasoned, but certainly not the rookie in class. The workout is great, and you can be sure of jelly legs at the end of a 2 hour workout.

I told myself that I was just going to have fun this year. Take a time out from being serious, and just learn to enjoy whatever I'm doing. So, when fellow trackies suckered me into racing my first 40K (24 miles) time trial, I said sure. So whatever if it's the state championships. Nothing like jumping in head first.

I've done plenty of 40K time trials. It just happened to be wedged between a swim and a run. My fastest time was at Nationals a couple of years ago on a fast course with a 1:06, respectable for a triathlon. For a time trial.... uh, I might be asked if I stopped to smell the flowers. So the question was, how fast could I really go? The goal was to break an hour.

So the end of May I drove the 3 hours out to BFE (really, it was) to a micro universe called Lake Los Angeles. No, there is no actual lake. No, it's not near Los Angeles. Where is it.... 20 minutes east of Palmdale, up the high desert ~ 4000', where all they have is dirt, weeds... and wind. Yep, severe wind. Gusts to 55 mph and a severe weather alert issued. Apparently that's just the way the tumbleweed rolls up here. I'll just tell you now, I thought I was doing to die on the cross winds. Death grip on the bullhorns. Aero, hell no. Water, hell no. Survival. I felt myself loosing time. "Just relax" I finally told myself. I'll say I could do with a little more confidence riding a disk in heavy cross winds. (As Kirstin Armstrong said, "Always run a disk. Always.") The good news, the first & last segments of the 23.5 mile course was downwind, so the rolling was fast. I crossed the finish line, looked at my watch... and tried not to fall off, 56:49. A respectable PR. Ended up placing me 3rd in the Masters 35-39. Had I raced Cat 4, I would have won. It would have placed 2nd in the Cat 3, and 4th in the Cat 1-2. There are some amazing athletes out there... and it was awesome to see them ride like the wind.

So then I come to today. It's Sunday. Yesterday, I got an email, "you racing the TT at the velodrome on Sunday?" Uh, what TT? So somehow, I manage to pull together the spare race wheels (Dave was racing this morning and was sporting the Zipp set), and get 'ol Roo Girl ready for her first track experience. Normally you can't ride a geared bike at the track, but today for the TT, it was an exception. I've always dreamed of letting Roo Girl rip on the track, and now was my chance.

So, off I went with what I considered to be an inordinate amount of stuff: 2 bikes, wind trainer, clothes for all seasons, water, some food.... First I nearly forgot my shoes. Then the trainer. Good lordy, would I ever make it out of the door this morning??!? Skipped breakfast and settled for Powerbar Bites in the car.

I arrive and check in. "What races would you like to enter?" I'm asked. "Uh, I've never actually raced at the track so I have no clue what I should enter," I reply. "Well then, I'll sign you up for all of them since it doesn't cost you any more," the official replies. My, twenty bucks gets you a looooong way on the track!
"Uh, kay...." I reply.

So first the Flying 200. For all you non-trackies, this is a sprint. You get a rolling start and get to wind yourself up to full speed by the time you start. 4 blinks of an eye and zero oxygen later, you're done. 200 meters is a hiccup of pure pain on the track bike. 14.8 seconds. Ouch.

Next up, the 500 meter TT. Again, short, sprint, pain with a standing start. I break out Roo Girl for this one, I'll actually have time to get into aero. 5-4-3-2-1, go. Now "go" does not mean attempt to pedal and weave aimlessly around the track until you get going. But, alas, need to work on those starts! Once up to speed the fun set in. 43.8. Not bad for a ridiculous start.

A break while the guys duke it out over the kilo (1000 meters). I'm next for the 2K. This time I manage to start in the right direction... forward. 3 laps in, I'm done, thinking I'm about to blow up. Just keep going.... halfway.... finally, 6 laps done. 3:00, not so bad! But how in the heck am I going to do a 3000 meter race when I could barely finish my 2k???

No time to think, I'm second up for the 3K (still hacking up a lung from the 2K). Settle, settle, just count Ks, not laps (total of 9 laps). 1k done. 2k done. I actually feel ok. I crank it up and by the last lap I'm on overdrive at 113 rpm. 4:38. Holy frijoles! That was fun!! I ended up winning every race, but alas there were only 3 of us, so it doesn't really count.

So, soon I'll have some photos.. and will post to prove I actually was there....

In the meantime, thanks to my trackie friends for showing me a whole new kind of fun! If you haven't tried riding on a track... it's a must!

Happy Riding,
Raja

Velodrome pics Copyright William Rohn 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Back to Bulldog

It's been 2 years since me & 'ol Treky dusted off and headed to the races. At 24 lbs, she and I have a few lbs to loose. But that just makes you stronger :-P (so I'm told)

I've done Bulldog Road Race twice before, it's fun, fast and has a nasty hill right in the middle. It's steep and once you think you've gotten to the top, it goes up again. It flattens, and just after you're pretty sure you're done mini-puking, it goes up, again. They key with this race is hitting the hill as hard as you can. The top contenders will gap everyone else, and you'll typically never see them again. Two years ago I was able to recruit enough friends, including 2 other bellas (Jen & Christine), and we inched our way back to the podium with a 2nd & 3rd overall finish.

This year, wasn't expecting that kind of performance. I've only been back into workouts for about 6 weeks after my Budapest hamstring injury (still not 100%, but manageable). I've lost a good 8 lbs since Feb with 5 more to go before I feel like I can fit in my shorts. I'm not sure if my iPhone app MyFitnessPal has terrified me or empowered me. I never thought I'd be counting calories, but the reality is.... being conscientious of what I put in my mouth without "dieting" or restricting what I eat makes enough of a difference to shed pounds.

Team mates Madelyn, Cindy & Karen were all season Bulldog racers as well. Last year they battled it out in the pouring rain while I sat at home with my ankle injury. This year, the only difference was I didn't have an ankle injury. The rain however, was haunting me. So, we crawled in my car and turned on the heater to stay dry & warm. That's my kind of warm up.

The race started with a little apprehension. The roads were wet and by the first mile, there was no shortage of road-mud everywhere. We all stayed up front and out of trouble. After sitting in the first few rows on the way out, I attacked on the final small downhill before the left turn to the climb. With the wet roads, we wanted to stay up front around the tight left. Then the madness began.

As expected, the slighter riders, who looked like climbers, attacked. Madelyn & I hung in with the group. A few pukes later, my body informed me that I would in-fact, not, be staying with this group. Madelyn "The Climber", did and caught the break. At this point I was looking at survival and was delighted Madelyn was there to represent.

The lead group was a solid 5 strong, and they were pulling away. Me & another girl were left in neverneverland as chasers. As we were both time trialing home, I was hoping she's slow up just enough to let me catch her so we could work together. But she didn't. So I gathered friends and somehow managed to hang on and get pulled back up the last 5 miles of the race. We blew past her and came within a minute of the lead group.

Everyone did an amazing job. We all had to remind ourselves mid-race, we paid money to be here. We all also noticed the amazing support provided by the hosting Marines. The guy halfway up the hill had all the great lines "oh, you get that guy!" (all the men's waves started first), "don't you quit on me!" "uh hu, you go girl!" I'm going to blame oxygen debt, as I know he had a ton more to say. If you ever get the chance, go to a race run by Marines. The support doesn't get any better.

Congrats again to Madelyn who finished 4th overall & 2nd Divison, I placed 6th overall and 1st division, Karen placed 3rd in her division and Cindy was 4th in her division.

But the best part of the race.... the coffee & sun after the race with a group of very cool Bellas.

Happy Riding,
Raja

Sunday, October 17, 2010

World Championships destination Budapest

As I sit here on my 13 hours of flights heading home, I think about what was, what could have been & what will come. My adventure started well before September 2010, even before the start of this year. It’s been a hell of a year and to not recognize my journey without the beginning would be to read the last chapter first and think you know how it ends. Hell, I don’t even know where it ends.

I came to Budapest to race for Team USA, not to win, but to enjoy the final stretch running across the famous Chain Bridge. I wasn’t going to win, but I did have expectations to make the top 15. Last year I was 18th, this year I was better trained, better schooled, better disciplined, and better prepared. Having podiumed in all by 2 races this year (and still close), I was racing better than ever before. I learned new tricks to shave off precious seconds and was even schlepping my disk halfway across the world to really make it count. I had new swim coaching which was working. I had new speedy Zipp wheels whisking me about. I had gotten through a very trying period of physical exhaustion to feel a new kind of running. I had overcome a wrecked ankle, severe plantar fasciitis (muscle was so screwed I couldn’t curl my toes for 3 months), and my chronic sinus allergies (or whatever nightmare you want to call it) which made swimming & running a coughing mess.

But when I landed in Budapest, I threw on the running shoes and aimed for the Chain Bridge. I had spring and bounce, and could feel “it”. “It” is when your body is moving and at complete peace with what your mind is telling it to do. Go faster, ok. Turn over quicker, ok. Lengthen your stride, ok. It’s when your body says “let’s go, is that all you want?” All the typical aches and pains were still there. My lower back always a mess, my sinus on overdrive, my hamstring tweaky, but I had power. Coach Sergio Borges had been very positive about seeing me through the rough spots, and now I finally felt fit.

The days leading up to the race started posing some difficulties. First, there was the language. Hungarian is unlike anything we have heard in the states and from what I can understand, is not of Latin origins. If it is… well, it’s quite a few cousins down the road. They’ve got hyphens, dots, accents, hats & v’s over some of their letters. Sometimes all in one word. Heck, we even found a word with “jjj” in the middle. Really?? One J wasn’t enough, so how about 3??!? Our race course was situated in a man-made bay area off the Danube south of town center. Langyomanyosi bay. (No chance on swimming in the Danube, at 6 knots the current is a wee bit strong.) Try saying that to a taxi driver. We found that pointing to a map was the easiest means of communication. Hubby Dave is good with languages and the first thing he wanted to learn was “cheers” (and rightfully so since the first thing he wanted was Hungarian beer.) Sounds easy enough. Then he asked someone to write it down (because he hadn’t a clue what they were saying. So, here’s to you beer fans, Eg├ęszs├ęgedre!

After we learned our way around the town, we attempted a ride. Attempting a “workout” was nearly impossible. Picture the middle of Paris with more cobbles and bike paths on the sidewalks. The Hungarians are so incredibly nice, they will stop driving to politely advise you in Hungarian that you should be riding on the sidewalk, not the road as it’s too dangerous in the small, busy streets for silly bikers. (The pointing and gesturing lead the translating). They’re so bike friendly they have a designated bike path stretching a massive portion of the Danube. Now, there are some challenges on the bike path if you’re riding on a road bike, or better yet, a TT bike with fancy-smancy zipp wheels, but by golly, there’s a path and if I wanted to ride to Vienna, I could. In an attempt to get some kind of bike workout in during the week prior, hubby Dave & I decided to head outside of the city on said bike path to ride roads less traveled (by cars). Five & a half hours later we managed to get a measly 49 miles in. My intent was not to go out for a long ride, you just had to ride that far to get above 10mph!

The biggest challenge came in the form of weather. Last year’s reviews of temperatures & weather indicated a hot, semi-dry time of the year. Temps this past July were up to 40 degrees Celsius (aka, really hot). September rolled in and brought nothing but rain, wind & cold. In the 14 days we spent in the area, we got 2 days of sun. Not warm, but at least not raining. I packed all kinds of the wrong stuff. I wore my shorts once. I barely wore a T-shirt outdoors. Me and my Patagonia down sweater were inseparable. I didn’t bring a rain coat. I didn’t bring an umbrella. The only warm clothes I had were my jeans, my Team USA warm ups (although thin), and my down jacket. Thank goodness for trash bags! Clip a little hole out of the top, and two more holes for your arms, and viola, a rain-ish jacket-ish.

The morning of the race started somewhere about 3AM after deciding sleep was not going to happen and I could recite the line-up of songs from the club downstairs. No Doubt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, all good stuff, unless of course you’re trying to sleep. Gerry Foreman, fellow triathlete from San Diego (at 74!!) and flat mate was up too. The rain had been more on than off for the last 4 days and my spare running shoes were still wet from dropping the bikes off in transition the day before. The massive length of transition was on a grassy bank above the river. Already under 1-2” of water. ITU had indicated that disk wheels were not recommended in the conditions, so my precious disk would not even come out of its bag this trip. I had been in touch with Coach Sergio for advice on rainy conditions & logistics. Warming up? Shoes on the bike or off? Possible muddy conditions, and very very wet roads. “Stay warm” were his words of hope. I put on all my arm clothes and made sure me and my trash bag got a good 15-20 minute warm up run in the rain. My feet were beyond soaking and the trash bag, at that point (6AM), was maybe keeping me a bit warmer, but certainly I was already soaked through every layer of clothing I had on. I decided it was too risky to keep the shoes on the bike with the wet roads, and the grass didn’t seem too muddy so clipping in wasn’t going to be too big of an issue. I’d leave my shoes on the bike coming into T2, but alas, my well practiced flying dismounts were going to have to wait. It was too risky if brakes were questionable.

I had no idea what to expect with the swim. A festering sinus infection (massive thanks to Doc Stacy who called in an emergency short course of antibiotics) hit hard the morning I was flying out a week before the race. I had tried to outwit the impending infection but woke up to find I had most certainly failed. Team USA doc is fellow San Diegan Dr John Martinez, who also happened to be working with me on my sinus troubles for the nearly 2 years prior. Per docs orders, no warm up swims in the bay for me. Too many allergy issues already from those that had taken a dip in the bay. So race morning, it was a quick (~ 20 seconds) jump in the water and we were off. No warm up had been allowed. And it was cold. Not unbearably, but probably 57-58 degrees. I failed to find feet to draft from and had a hunch I was the draftor. The swim isn’t my strength and it never will be. I accept this. The bike however is my strength and I had no doubt that whomever was on my feet would not be there for long.
Transition was a continuous pool of water over a grassy field. I struggled to close my fingers and strip myself of my wetsuit, but it felt good to get my feet in bike shoes (love the toe warmers), even wet shoes. The bike was interesting. With 8 corners & 2 U-turns, there wasn’t much time to get up to speed before carefully negotiating a turn on wet roads with standing water. A section of unpaved road had been finished the night before so there wasn’t a chance to pre-ride the course. I passed a good number of girls but was not able to easily get into a rhythm. I have to say that the Mexican men don’t like getting chicked J. And as lovely as the Brits are….. PASS ON THE LEFT!!!!

All my new tricks were for not. No shoes on the bike, no flying dismounts, no speedy transitions. The goal became staying upright. I wasn’t concerned about me, concern came from not knowing if the rider behind you understood the dynamics of riding with wet brakes. Having successfully survived the bike, I joyously ran into T2 which was nearly entirely under water. After successfully negotiating 95% of transition, I somehow managed to practice baseball and found myself sliding on my ass to my bike rack. A few expletives and a gasp from someone (ref in transition?), I was in my soaking running flats and stomping puddles out of transition. Doc John brought the humor as I passed, “I got SUNSCREEN!” Haa… I would have loved to see the sun. The adrenaline was racing and the legs were turning. I tried to lengthen my stride and get into a power rhythm. My legs wouldn’t respond. Come on!! Move it girly! I knew I could go faster, my legs weren’t heavy, they just wouldn’t stride out. I noticed my hamstring, or shall I say, the knife in my ass. I was passed by an Aussie & SNG (Singapore??) racer with about 2K to go. I hooked on and kept pace. I had a good kick, so as long as I stayed close, I could finish it. Coming up to the Chain Bridge, my dream of this race, I gritted the teeth and passed the SNG racer and started closing the gap to the Aussie. The adrenaline was kicking in again and commanded my legs to go farther. But they wouldn’t listen. I finished in 26th. A far cry from the top 15 I was capable of doing. I left dejected and horrified when I noticed my run time was ~2 minutes off what it should have been. What the hell happened? The brain doesn’t work so well when racing. When the adrenaline fog released, I found myself unable to walk straight. My left hamstring was a mess and felt like it had a dagger through it. Lengthen the stride at the run? Hell, I couldn’t straighten my leg to lengthen my walk. Somehow that slip in T2 did more than I realized at the time. A few days after the race I watched the finish video and clear as day I was compensating by throwing my left leg out to avoid using my hamstring. When racing my brain had not wrapped around the idea of injury, just “stupid body, GO FASTER!!”.

The trek back to transition was slow, painful, cold & wet. Another downpour. I didn’t even bother to change out of my cold, soaked uniform. I put more wet clothes on top, and dragged 50 lbs of soaking transition crap back up river. Gerry walked with me back to the flat. A quiet, somber, gimpy trek. My season was now prematurely ended, and I was tired, soaking wet, very cold, hungry and upset. “Your limping” he said. All I could choke out was “I know.”

The race was the most miserable racing experience I had to date. I had realistic expectations and lived up to none of them. And I had a dagger in my ass to boot. I decided before I made any rash decisions I should probably shower, eat & sleep. In that order ASAP. Oh, and put a load of laundry in as I didn’t have a single piece of warm clothing that wasn’t dripping. I don’t remember much of the rest of the day.

The next day I felt better. Well, at least mentally. I had indeed pulled my hamstring and opted to taxi to the race finish to watch Sunday’s races as walking was not pleasant. The sun was out and the Sunday racers had it good. Dry roads and sun. Nobody asked for more. After watching fellow training buddy Marisa finish mere 2 seconds off 10th place and shooting shots of other Team USA racers, Dave & I headed out for a little R&R.

We drove to the southern wine region of Czech and stayed in a charming village of Mikulov and enjoyed the first warm afternoon of sun. Turns out, the CZ are serious about their beer… and Burcak (young wine). We arrive for the annual wine festival and begin our quest for the top Czech beers. The next day we ride through foggy vineyard and I am overcome with an amazing sense of peace. Yesterday my bikes shoes were soaking wet (and stinky I might add!) and I had no desire to jump on an go for a spin. After a good breakfast and a morning of blow-drying bike shoes, the feeling of riding through foggy grape vines, lakes & villages in complete quiet helped bring me back from the dead. Walking hurt. Running wasn’t possible, but I could ride ok.

We continued on to Prague where the first words out of my mouth were “oh my god!” It really is Robin Hood meets Lord of the Rings meets It’s a Small World. We stayed the first night in an affordable pension just outside of the Castle area. If you ever go to Prague, don’t stay here! The mosquito infestation was so bad both Dave & I slept with the blankets over our heads. We were too old to be playing Fort. We had planned a countryside ride the next day but instead opted to find new sleeping arrangements. Turns out, you can stay in a 4 star hotel for virtually the same cost as that stupid pension. We ate, drank, wandered and used our newly acquired umbrellas. Finally, the day before we were to leave Prague, a break in the rain. Since we couldn’t get the 2 rides we were hoping to do, we drove to Krivoklat Castle, parked the car & road a circle route to Karlstejn Castle. Just over 50 miles of complete CZ bliss. Forests, country farms, little villages, hills, river valleys & two very magnificent castles. A truly epic ride worth the journey and preceding challenges.

Now, it’s off to home to recover, heal a hamstring and whatever else has been slightly abused this season. We’ll see what next season brings. I started the year out with 6 weeks of injury, and it’s only fitting I end it with another 6 weeks of injury recovery. At least I’m well rounded J What happens next year we will see. I’m just so incredibly thankful for all the support I have received and words of encouragement that helped me get through a very rough year & final race.

Huge thanks to for your support to Worlds:

Sergio Borges X Training
Velo Bella
Tri Club San Diego
Gino Cinco & Function Smart Wellness
Sable Water Optics

Zealios Sunscreen by Personal Best Products

Monday, September 6, 2010

Budapest Days 1-3

Wow, there's nothing like being in a country where you have no clue how to say anything. Dave & I arrived on Saturday afternoon, and by the time we tried to hit the market for basics on Day 3... we discovered we came home with sour cream, not yoghurt, fizzy water, not still and still have no idea how to say "thank you."

Day 1: the flight landing into Budapest was inspiring. You fly right over the city and I could see the race course below me. I imagined myself swimming in the bay, biking and then, took a deep breath when I saw the chain bridge from the air - the finish across the bridge is going to be epic. As soon as I got to our rented flat, I jumped into my running shoes and took off. I had to run the chain bridge immediately. My legs felt great. Amazing considering I've been tweaked, twisted & crammed into a middle seat for the past umpteen hours.

Day 2: It's Sunday, so no bike shops are open to buy CO2, and I wasn't smart enough to bring a hand pump... do I risk rolling out for a light ride to spin the legs with no way fixing a flat? So, instead of an AM ride, we decided to visit the thermal baths at Gellert. Amazing old pools & natural thermal spas, uber-relaxing. PM-we decide to risk the flat and go out for an easy hour spin.... er, sort of. No spinning, just dodging walkers, other transport bikers, cars & cobbles. One thing to note... it's freaking COLD! Is this summer??

Day 3: Attempt to find market to buy breakfast foods: milk, muesli, yoghurt & water. Came home with milk, sour cream, muesli & sparkling water. Did you know if you mix drink mix with slightly fizzy water... it foams??!? Find flat water & hit the bikes for a long ride. My compromise with Dave was to do a long ride and get in some rural riding. His Ironman training & my Sprint training aren't exactly similar. So today, we go out and see Hungarian countryside. Route: Our flat downtown Budapest across the Elizabeth bridge, north along the Danube to a town called Vac. Euro-bike route 6 meant there were designated bike paths nearly the entire way according to our map. Sounded great until the path turned into a gravel mess and led right into a swamp. A quick pic & we were covered in mosquitos. We jettisoned out of there and hit the roads until we reconnected with the path. The rural road riding was fantastic. The bike paths are for recreational use only... no speeds above 12 or 14 mph were possible due to mud, holes, debris, etc. We finally made it to the ferry crossing and had a pleasant lunch in Vac. We had already been out for 3 hours and the dark clouds were setting in. We hit the main road (instead of a path) and high tailed it as far as we could at 20-25mhp. We rode up to the rain, through it & out the other side of the storm (10 miles of wet riding) opting to stay away from cars and stay on the bike paths & sidewalks. My poor bike, I don' t mean to be abusing you riding up and down curbs, over cobbles and across ditches. Once we hit the Budapest city limits we were out of the rain and back on the sidewalks. City-tour-de-Budapest was completed and I can say that riding sidewalks is a great way to slowly discover the entire city. It only took 5.5 hrs! I'm glad we got the long ride in today. Rain is expected all week so who knows what workouts I can do in the next few days. TBD

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pre-Worlds Prep

Wow….. the difference a few weeks brings. A month ago I was in a state of panic, depression, worry, fear, the list goes on. I couldn’t run to save my life. Really, if aliens were landing, I would have keeled over and died of heart failure trying to run a sub- 9 minute mile. I don’t yet have an explanation for why my running when from reasonable to garbage for about 6 weeks. Perhaps my body was fighting a cold, fatigue, stress, or a combo but it was beginning to scare me. Any intensity or incline would jack my heart rate up to uncomfortable, not-normal levels and it would feel like my legs were bricks and someone pulled the plug, draining the energy out of my body. It is at this time I was thankful to have a good coach, Sergio Borges. “Keep going, don’t worry about the intensity, just do the workout at whatever pace feels comfortable. The speed will come back” he’d tell me… day, after day, after day. I worked on my nutrition, began to take my multies again, broke out the fish oil, tried to get a nap in on weekends, get to bed earlier and drink more water.

I raced the Solana Beach Triathlon July 25th with complete trepidation. Would I be able to run? Being that I only had 2 more training races before Worlds, I wanted to be sure to make the most of my time racing and decided that since I screwed up my transitions in Iowa, I would concentrate on them here. I also decided to make some changes to my race routine. I changed my breakfast from yoghurt, honey & granola to a Nut Natural Powerbar in an attempt to reduce the puke fest. Sounds gross, but the sprint distance is so intense you’re on the limit for an entire race, which is a fine line when it comes to food. Maybe I just didn’t need as much. And I changed little tiny details which can be a huge time saver, like racing without sunglasses (which are a pain when you need to put a Giro aero helmet on in a hurry) and attempt a flying dismount (taught by fellow bella DeeAnn). Sounds kind of pathetic I’ve need had the balls to try it racing before. Oh well, always a first!

Stacy Dietrich was also racing, but unlike me, she was running really well. So, just as expected, halfway into the run she passed me. The question was, would I get ditched, or could I at least hang? Good news, I hung and the plug didn’t give out. I finished a mere 9 seconds behind Stacy. She deserved the 2nd place finish, only 8 months after her first child. I was delighted with 3rd.
Then it happened. A week later during a Tuesday morning workout, I began to run. Well. My training mates turned to me and asked, “and what’s up with you??!?” I don’t know, but it’s about time! I wasn’t just off before, I was minutes off. Now I was on and each breath felt like it put energy in my legs. So here’s my advice, when you feel like ass, trust your coach…


Then came today, the Camp Pendleton Triathlon, and no taper per coach. I love it when marines run events. The Hardcore race series is awesome. TC, race director extraordinaire, puts on races that rock. If you ever get the chance to race at Camp Pendleton.. it’s a must do. You get to race in areas you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get near and see machinery that only exists in movies. The marines park everyone with such order that each car is exactly 4 feet from each other, straight and perfect. You don’t even have to wait for a port-a-potty. And there’s a place to wash your hands. Setting up in T1 was a reminder at how many people join the sport with it being a lesson on how-to-rack-your-bike-and-set-up-transition. The beach start was scary as usual. Large sets rolled in and the strong north current sent you scurrying 50 meters south down the beach… just so you could reach the first buoy. The good news was I didn’t drown and while it still wasn’t pretty, it could have been uglier. I imagine I finished somewhere mid pack coming out of the water. The rough sea managed to easily remove my new age, technologically advanced, waterproof, idiot proof bandage covering the wound created when I tried to unsuccessfully remove my heel on a closet door the previous Sunday. (That was Sergio’s theory on why running had improved, the sore heel meant I had to stay on my forefoot while running.) Through the sand, into T1, a quick spritz of water on the heel to remove the sand from the wound and off I went on le biciclette. It felt ok, a nice 30K out & back, but not fresh. May have been due to the 2 hr ride I took yesterday in my non-taper race format. The run however…..

Felt like wings on a prayer. I ordered a new pair of bright pink Newton racers from Trisports.com and by golly, they arrived and have been partner to happy feet. I finished the run in a pinch over 21 minutes… minutes better than I had been doing in the past. The best part, I felt like there was more in there. The finish ended on a hover craft. You know, the ones you see in movies, and this wasn’t a set, or a toy.. it was real. I ended up winning my division and snapped a with race director TC. Congrats to coach Sergio who won his division & his many athletes that placed in the top in just about every division.

So the next step is Budapest. I’m beginning to get excited….

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Finally starting my year!


Triathlon is one of those great sports that leaves you guessing during your race. Where am I? Who's in front of me? Hell, who's actually racing? Am I being hunted? You start, swim, bike, run, finish and have no clue how you did. In that respect, it's rather an uneventful race. Not like a road race where you generally know who the heck just dropped you on your fanny and proceeds to pull away from your wrecked body. Nope... gotta wait. Go back to transition, deck change out of your wet "diapers" as I call the wet, cold, salty encrusted kit that was clung to your sweaty body. Put your bike away, come back, have a beer at the garden, eat a hot dog and then wedge your way back to the results board in hopes that they have listed the tentative results. It's always good news however, when your name is at the top of the list for your division. Even better when your BFF Stacy Dietrich (Velo Bella) placed 2nd right behind you. I actually expected her to run me down, but considering she just had a big, beautiful baby boy November 1st, I'd say she's ahead of schedule. Ladies, if you want to know the true definition of "pump and go"... ask Stacy!

I can say, I didn't expect to defend my win from last year. Mid January I wrecked my left ankle. (Yup, my clip in/out ankle). I sprained it. It was one of those injuries you just close your eyes and know it's not good. It was stupid too. Just not looking where I was going. I never had it x-rayed, but it wouldn't surprise me if a fracture was involved. On crutches & air cast for a month, and another month before I could run a simple 30 minutes. I dare not say easy, even that 30 minutes was hard. Under the watchful eye of
Gino Cinco, my saviour ART physical therapist, my recovery progressed and each week felt better than the last. Turns out your toe flexors stop firing and little things like standing on one leg are frustratingly challenging. Doh! So hi ho, hi ho, it's off to pt I go. Or went...

Needless to say, it ended up being a good day. Stacy & I exited the water together. We grabbed our bikes together. We left transition together. From there, she always had me in sight. Nothing eventful on the bike, outside of the nasty head/cross wind on this straight forward 2 loop, flat bike course. I tried to keep slightly easier gears & higher cadence into the wind, and push the biggest gear possible downwind. That happened to be my 12 since I couldn't shift into my 11. And I was sooo proud of myself, I cleaned my bike, changed cassettes, changed brake pads (for carbon wheels), adjusted my brake cables for the wide Zipp rims, and slowly, and meticulously graced my TT bike with my new 404/808 Zipp wheelset. Next time I should probably make sure I have all my gears too.

Then I got to the run. It hurt. Slower than last year. Nothing to write home about, just good enough to hold off the field. I survived the sand thanks to the extra rain we've gotten this spring (a little extra vegetation over the sand kept most sections a bit more firm than last year). I've only started training again one month ago, and was lucky enough to be invited to train with Sergio Borges with X Training. I've had great experiences with coaches Lesley Paterson & Peter Clode, but this was an invite I couldn't turn down. Sergio is a very hands on coach with 3 coached workouts a week. After my ankle debacle, I needed all the support I could get. And just as promised, Sergio was there on the run course, "just stay focused" he advised. Oh, so true. By mile 4 I had the "puky" feeling. It stayed with me the rest of the run.


So, since you've read all the way to the bottom of my superseal-bellaventure, I must profess, I'm a dork. In my effort to "stay off my feet" the day before the race, I decided to march my not-so-suzy-homemaker rear to the fabric store and buy a yard of plush terry cloth. See, Vela, or "Princess Vela" as I call her, loves her doggie-baths. I think she rolls in the stinkiest crap on purpose. 'Cause after the bath she virtually runs into a towel to be dried off. So, I figured the task of hand sewing velcro on a yard of terry cloth to make her her very own robe would keep me seated for awhile. It did. Along with many many finger pricks. Note to self... not recommended. Stick to cycling. :-)