Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pac Crest Weekend Day 2

More brilliant single track. Today, after slogging through a morning short run to speed up the inevitable and painful adjustment to being at 4500 feet, I drove into Bend to ride a couple of hours on the Phil's Trails System northwest of Bend. I did one loop going out on Ben's Trail and coming back on Kent's Trail. Then I caught up with Megan Lord and we did a loop heading out on Kent's Trail and coming back on Phil's trail. It was a bit dusty and the rocks were a bit slick from pollen and dust, but the trails, although pretty easy, were great. I'm more comfortable being at speed on the descents and I'm learning how to catch air over the moguls.

I have the house to myself right now while the household (now twelve people strong) is up at Wickiup Reservoir testing the water for the weekend races. I fell asleep on the sunporch and everyone was gone when I woke up. Ahhhhhhh, blessed silence. The team will be arriving in full force tonight and all day tomorrow and my time will be spent nursing the various taper pains, weather-forecast related panic attacks and other associated neuroses of the team. I returned the rental bike this afternoon to remove the temptation to sneak out mid-afternoon and ride the Deschutes Trail again.

Time to be a coach. Beware.

Pac Crest Weekend Day 1

And, with little fanfare, my annual adventure in Sunriver, Oregon for the Pacific Crest Sports Festival Weekend has officially begun. Diane Cass and I arrived in Suniver about 2PM yesterday to clear skies and temperatures in the high 70s. This my first year in the casa de Walter, and I have to say, this is the way to roll. This house is beautiful, the company is top notch and I have my own bedroom.

But on a sadder note, my Grandmother Dorothy died yesterday from Alzheimer's disease. She's been sick for a long time and has deteriorated rapidly in the last week, so we've had time to prepare for the inevitable. But I was unexpected for how sad I felt when I got the news.

So I did what always makes me feel better: went for a bike ride. I rented a hardtail Kona at one of the bike shops in Sunriver and headed out for the Deschutes River Trail. Most of the trail is the mountain bike equivalent of a bike path, but it was beautiful and peaceful and the locals have built some fun offshoots with some moguls and smaller drop-offs. Went out to Dillon Falls and came back...probably 12-13 mile round trip. On the way back I found the single track that leads from Benham Falls to Sunriver. It was really rocky (I'm not a huge fan of riding rocks) but I rode it well and actually made it up a longer rocky incline without getting off of the bike. The last mile was flat and fast and I was totally in the zone, skidding through corners and riding over anything that was in my way. Heading out to Phil's Trail system near Bend later this morning and looking forward to more dirty solitude.

Greetings from Dillon Falls:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Go Team!!!

Here is a really great article on my TNT Pacific Crest Half-Ironman Team, which is gearing up for their big race this weekend. The bottom photo is my friend Tiffany Kalihi and I. Cute, even if they got the names wrong!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Training Philosophy? Train Hard. Have Fun.

Someone asked me other day to describe my training style. I thought about it for a bit, then responded, "I'm a self-coached, regimented pragmatist." "Huh?" was the response.

Self-Coached: I don't have a "training program" right now. Because I opted out of doing the half-ironman race with the athletes that I help coach, I was doing their spring workouts with them on Saturdays (less any run mileage over 10 miles), but wasn't following their complete program. This, in combination with various back and shoulder injuries, has forced me to develop my own weekly schedule. Fortunately, I am becoming a scholar in my various athletic endeavors and have a good handle what I need to do to be reasonably competitive and get in plenty of rest (although the latter is usually forced by circumstances related to work).

Regimented: I don't find it hard to make room for a workout everyday, and I love a consistent schedule (i.e., I'm a bit, but just a bit, of a control freak). Jeff's class twice a week, track and swim with TNT on Thursdays, TNT on Saturdays, Tri Club on Wednesdays. I'm a "regular."

Pragmatist: I'm a lawyer. One that is slowly losing absolute control over my daily schedule as I become more and more able to handle client matters and meetings on my own. Part of the pragmatism is flexibility. Thirty-five mile ride on a weekday night? Not if I have to be in BPA meetings for 8 straight hours, then need to spend 2 hours catching up on what has built up during the day. An hour on the trainer or a quick spin class will have to suffice.

Another part of my pragmatism is acknowledging that I had to find a new reason to get out there and be active. I am never going to win a race. I had my moment of glory in May 1995. That will have to do. Its all about having fun at this stage of my life. I have a goal to try one new activity every year. It's been a great experience that has opened my eyes and helped me let go of a lot of my fears, but I need to start picking activities that don't involve buying $400 of new gear.

The final part of my pragmatism had been trying to accept my body for what it is and focus instead on keeping it healthy and injury free. And making that junk in my trunk good for something other than keeping my seat warm.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Training the "Choose Your Own Adventure" Way-And The Gold at the End of the Rainbow

2008 has been of a choose-your-own-adventure kind of year.

Here was the original plan as of February 2008: Hagg Lake 4K Swim, Granite Man, Blue Lake Olympic, Pacific Crest Olympic, Xterra Vashon Island, TBD at Descutes Dash. Rest up for a few weeks, get ass in gear for cross.

The best laid plans coincided with reality like a bug on a semi windshield.

Here how this year has actually gone down: Sign up for Blue Lake Sprint after discovering potential scheduling conflict with Emily's going-away party. Decide to run Wildwood 20K at last minute. Wipe out and damage shoulder on a recovery run after Wildwood 20K. Skip Hagg Lake 4K swim because unable to secure back-fastening bra without pain, much less swim. Compete at Granite Man, but without the swim portion. Set Granite Man triathlon course record despite not actually competing the triathlon. Convince AA sports to let me switch from Blue Lake Sprint Tri to Olympic Relay. Come down with the plague two days before Blue Lake, unable to do anything but watch from the sidelines.

After Blue Lake came and went, I gave in. This season is, for all practical purposes, a bust as far as "competition" is concerned. I am hoping to swim at Xterra Vashon Island, but that might be the only 800 meters that I swim all summer--and it might be a side stroke. I am completely uninterested in developing a chronic shoulder condition.

I have also completely lost interest in foregoing recreation for training on my summer weekends. I was on the loaner mountain bike out at Hood River yesterday with Sarah Tingey. Yesterday's mountain bike ride was so much fun--and really frigging hard. I don't have the conditioning for sustained trail climbing and the bike handling was a full body workout. Sarah and I pushed our bikes uphill a lot, and laughed about it afterwards over beers and burgers as we sat in the sun at Full Sail. Quite possibly a perfect day on and off the bike.

The unexpected joy is that after that ride yesterday, I am finally motivated to do something, but that something has nothing to do with triathlon. I really just want to be on trails as much as possible for the rest of the summer. I want to conquer my fears and become a competent mountain biker. I think I just needed a new challenge in order to find my fire again. Short track starts tonight (!!!!!) and the new bike should be here before we leave for Pacific Crest.

And speaking of Pacific Crest: I will be racing the Kuota for only the second time this year. Those 24 miles will be a very interesting experience for my hamstrings. But riding fast will be a good change up from mountain biking--one that I'm sure my body and psyche will appreciate.

Monday, June 16, 2008

WTB: One Rewind Button

This weekend had to go down as one the most awful in recent memory. About 3 hours after writing the "Funk" post, I got hit by with something that was a cross between a cold, the flu and the black plague. I can't figure out where the horribly bloodshot eyes came from, perhaps there was some allergy attack that I missed because I was otherwise occupied with being pathetic.

Missed work Friday and was in bed all weekend. I emerged from the condo and into the gorgeous sunshine long enough to (1) order a new mountain bike on Saturday, (2) get in a car accident immediately following the aforementioned ordering of the new mountain bike and (3) watch everyone else race at Blue Lake on Sunday. Then back to bed.

The movies that they show on cable during the weekends are total crap. But there were "Dog Whisperer" and "Intervention" marathons. I hate admitting this, but I am hooked on watching "Intervention." It is, quite honestly, the best cure for the self-pity party. I'm injured and sick and have a busted up car, but dammit, at least I don't drink three gallons of mouthwash every day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


The title of today's post has less to do with the odor emanating from the running shoe box in my office than my present psychological state.

I don't think it will every be sunny in this goddamned city ever again. We have had 3 nice days in the past 30 (I am not counting the three days were it was over 90 degrees-that is not "nice"-"nice" is when you can sit outside in the afternoon and drink a beer without sweating through three t-shirts and risking heatstroke). Three.

The shoulder is taking much longer to heal than originally anticipated. I have already changed Blue Lake and Pac Crest to non-swimming events. And I had been consoling myself by thinking that Vashon Island was in 6 weeks and I had 4 weeks to get back to the pool. My concept of time is almost as screwed up as my mountain bike navigational skills. Vashon Island is a month from tomorrow. I can't get the PT office to call me back to set up an appointment. Am getting really crabby.

It's week six of boyfriend-less-ness. The intense psychic relief that I felt for the first few weeks has been replaced with a not insignificant bit of loneliness. It's not helping that Emily is leaving for Colorado in nine days. That'll be a big void that I'll have to fill over the next 6 months.

I have zero interest in doing the training that is necessary to take it to the next level. I desperately need to find something to help me, as Mo says, "harden the fuck up." Maybe the new mountain bike that I will be purchasing sometime very soon will help me find the motivation I need to make it through this funk.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Granite Man

Every race comes with some lessons learned. Granite man was my first off-road multisport event. Here is some of the wisdom I picked up from the experience:

1. I need some serious work on my mountain biking skills. This will mostly involve actually RIDING my mountain bike. I had been on single track once this spring and wasn't able to "race" the bike section of the race because my fitness level is about eight levels above my technical skills.

2. Nutritional and hydration strategy has to be totally different when you really can't be taking your hands off of the handlebars at any point during the bike section of the race.

3. A lightweight bike with a fully functional seat post would have been pretty awesome. My land yacht Gary Fisher (think 1973 Buick station wagon with a suspension fork) with the seat post that drops down every 15 minutes was not the optimal racing machine.

4. Off-road events are more mentally fatiguing than on-road, as you have to concentrate on your surroundings and the trail conditions at all times. Lapses in concentration often result in face plants into the side of a mountain.

5. Off road events are the BOMB.

Part One: Escape from Portland

The adventure officially began at 2:30pm on Friday when I picked up Emily. After a short pit stop at Burgerville for turkey burgers and some SE Powell Boulevard culture ("you want some fries with that shake"), we headed south. Into a monsoon that lasted until just north of Salem. Is it ever going to be summer around here?

Other than an incident with a window-washing transient at the Roseburg rest area, the trip was pretty uneventful. Probably because Emily had the directions to Jacksonville in her hand the minute we left Multnomah County and didn't put them down for the next four hours. Because we didn't want to miss the exit that was coming up in 240 miles.

Part Two: Jacksonville is a Cute Town, Good Flea Markets.

Jacksonville, Oregon is a former mining community located between Medford and Ashland. It is tiny and cute and hosts a great music festival later in the summer. After dinner, we stopped by a local church that was setting up for a flea market the next morning. Emily bought a floor length gray wool skirt with a bull embroidered into it. For only $1. I was pretty jealous. But I did find a "Don't Mess with Texas" coaster for Mo. I thought about buying a three-disk DVD set on the Armageddon, but decided against it when I realized that I already knew everything I needed know about the coming Apocalypse from watching two seasons of Rock of Love.

When we got back to the hotel we ran into two ladies about our age who were going to do their first triathlon out at Granite Man and needed some help with a flat tire. Turned out that the tire had been exposed to something so hot that the tire and tube had actually melted together. Yikes. I think they ended up driving to the all night Wal-Mart in Medford to pick up a replacement tire and tube.

We fell asleep during a Dog Whisperer marathon and I dreamed about my ex-boyfriend's dog eating my mountain bike.

Part Three: The Part Where Spending the Day Drunk in an Innertube Seems Like a Much Better Idea.

Woke up to perfectly blue skies on Saturday morning. It was a bit chilly outside, but it wasn't raining, so who's complaining. Loaded up the car and headed down to Applegate Lake. Drive was gorgeous and we scouted out a couple of single-wide summer homes along the way. I was partial to one that had its wheels removed and a llama chained up by the front door. Those folks must be well-off...a good guard llama is hard to find.

Granite Man is a point-to-point race, so after picking up our packets at the start/finish area and informing the race folks for the second time that I was switching races (remember this bit of foreshadowing), we headed to the bike/run transition area. A couple of the campers at the transition area were already out in their lawn chairs drinking 40s of Old E and fishing.

Watching people get set up for the triathlon made me a bit melancholy. The water was a bit cold, but it was clean and clear and you could see fish jumping not far from the shore. It was beautiful.

The duathlon started about 15 minutes before the triathlon. The race directors had us line up and started everyone about 30 seconds apart. I let a couple of people that were reeking of aggressive "I can't get stuck behind anyone" panic start in front of me. Then, it started.

Part Four: That's Funny, The Map Doesn't Show an Restroom on the Trail.

The first thing that I managed to do was get lost. Three minutes into the race. We rode through a boat ramp area and I took the trail that lead back up to the parking lot rather than the one that continued around the lake. I climbed up and up and up only to finish the climb at the start area restrooms. Sigh.

Once I made it back down onto the right trail, everyone that had started in the back of the line on their CostCo mountain bikes had made it onto the trail ahead of me and it got a little congested. I actually stopped once just to let some angry people get around me, just so that they could get stuck behind someone else. We spent about a mile on the trail, then hopped up to paved road for about a 1/2 mile and riders spread out a bit. Once we ended up back on the trail, it was all single-track for the next 10 miles.

The trail was beautiful and in great condition. The major theme of the ride is that I need to learn to turn right. All of the major switchbacks on the course were right-handed turns and I struggled with most of them. Got off-course twice more when I couldn't make the sharp (right) turn necessary to stay on the race route. Stacked it twice--on right-handed turns.

I notice that when I'm riding cross or mountain biking, I either crash once, twice or three dozen times. There is no middle ground. I think that the second crash always rattles my confidence enough such that I either (1) slow down and ride cautious or (2) just make a conscious decision to eat trail most of the ride. Because of the amount of poison oak along the trail and the condition of my shoulder after the second crash, I opted for (1).

So it became more of a ride than a race. And it was so much fun. After the second crash, I think I became the last duathlete in the pack and I rode alone until the one or two of the triathletes caught up with me in the last mile of the ride. The last two miles of the ride were on forest service road--a 1/2 mile uphill so bumpy and steep that I pushed the Buick uphill for 10 minutes, followed by a 1 1/2 downhill bomb on well-maintained gravel road.

Part Five: This Seems Like a Really Long Five Miles

Transition was a little slow, as removing the camelbak was a bit of a challenge when my shoulder refused to move in the appropriate direction without shooting sparks up into my neck. There were a ton of people cheering for their families and one little girl seemed particularly excited to see a woman racing ("Look Mom! There's a girl racing!"). She obviously hadn't been there long enough to see the slew of women that had already passed through ahead of me, but it was really cute.

First 1.5 miles of the run was on the pavement with a long climb up to the trail head. Once on the trail, we passed through forests and meadows and the lake was so close at some points that you could see the fish swimming. Great scenery, but one of the most challenging runs that I have ever done in a race--I was mentally fatigued, calorically deficient (from not eating on the ride) and very uncomfortable in the shoulder region of my body. It affected my balance a bit and I stumbled and tripped more than normal.

I also hit another milestone in the quest to become a totally self-sufficient triathlete. I peed and ran at the same time. I wore the tritard to race in, which is hard enough to get out of with two functional arms, but with only one shoulder operating at capacity...I really didn't have any other choice.

About 45 minutes in, the "are we done yet-i am so ready to be done" song started to play in my head. Applegate Lake is a really funny shape, with lots of inlets, so it was impossible to see the finish area until the last 1/2 mile of the race. But once I saw that the end was in sight, I was able to pick it up a bit, passed two guys and managed to out run a third in the last 200 meters.

Then, just like that, it was over.

I expected Emily to finish about 25-30 minutes after I was done, so I sat in the ice cold lake for a bit, then started putting some calories into my body. After about 15 minutes, they announced that the female triathlon winner had set a new course record. Then they announced my name.

Oh Jesus, how humiliating. I tromped down the hill while everyone was clapping and told the announcer that I, in fact, could not have set any triathlon course record because I hadn't actually done the triathlon. And, in fact, that I was probably the last woman to finish the duathlon because I am directionally challenged and unable to turn right. I felt like Zoolander ("you gotta lotta talents kid, but hanging a righty isn't one of them").

Emily finished soon after. She finished as the THIRD female overall for the triathlon. It was so awesome. She got a plaque and a bunch of hot dudes congratulating her.

The whole experience was challenging, fun and totally chill. I can't wait until I do it again, but I bet my shoulder, wrists and the black and blue area on the back of my right leg would prefer if I practice the whole mountain biking thing a bit more before then.

Officially results aren't posted yet, but I will edit this entry when that occurs.

Part Six: And the Rest

We spent the rest of the weekend in Ashland shopping, beer-drinking and play-watching. I bought a hot pink vintage cocktail dress and we saw an fantastic modern/disco/early-seventies staging of "A Midsummer's Night Dream." Go see the play IMMEDIATELY so we can discuss the hole in the wall and barking monkeys.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Just got home from a most perfect weekend around and in Ashland, Oregon. Will savor it now and write about it later.

Congratulations Emily Moon on your podium finish at the Granite Man Tri. You are a rock star.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Day After

Boy did I feel like hell today. Too much birthday bourbon (damn you, Emily) and my attempt to get back in the pool lasted one stroke. One. There is no swimming in my immediate future. I'm still planning on competing at Granite Man, but will be doing the duathlon instead. Such is life. I still get to go somewhere where there is sun in the forecast.

I spend a lot of time reading other athlete blogs and I've always wondered why triathlete blogs read more like a training diaries. Maybe that's all they are being used for. I have never been interested in putting my daily output and input into the public domain because, really, who cares?

I tried to become a numbers geek once, but lasted one week as it bored me out of my mind. I have to do enough "not fun" things in my daily life (work, pay bills, pluck eyebrows, clean up cat puke), that I didn't need to add to that list "making a permanent record of how little training I do in proportion to how much beer I drink."

The fun stuff is in the narrative of the experience and in the knowledge that some unexpected and delightful will happen during almost every workout or race. So I'm disappointed that my debut in a true off road tri will have to be delayed a few weeks (Vashon Island Xterra), but I have no doubts that tomorrow morning's race will be a memory maker.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Feliz Cumpleaños A Mí

Tomorrow I turn 31. In the spirit of surviving the first 365 days of my thirties, I plan on skipping out of work at lunch and seeing the Sex and the City movie, then heading out to Tabor to heckle the ladies doing the circuit race.

For your viewing entertainment, my mother has graciously dug up photographs of my first bikes:

Notice that I have already discovered the benefits of abandoning the traditional V bar set up for a more aero-dynamic position. This places minimal pressure on the part of the body covered with a diaper.

My first time trial. I was disqualified for leaving the start line too early. That's what you get for having your kid brother stabilize your back wheel. That dude is having a hard enough time keeping the diaper up. But check the stylin' horn/basket combination that I was rockin'.

And the coup de grace:

Matching pink fenders and shorts. And yellow jelly sandals. Don't need to say much more than that.