Tuesday, July 26, 2011


As I’ve mentioned a few times, as I geared up for IM training this year I made a few changes that I hope help support my training and overall health.

Gluten Free

About a month ago, when I came home from Mexico and got back to serious training, I cut gluten out of my diet.  I don’t have gluten intolerance per se (though I have certainly noticed a response from my stomach when it’s slipped back in) but there seems to be a lot of information out there about the role of gluten in inflammation and it’s yet another way to clean up my eating habits even more. 

Surprisingly, it hasn’t been that difficult to cut gluten/wheat out of my diet.  Thanks to Whole Foods and a number of conscientious local restaurants, there are gluten free cupcakes, gluten free brownies, gluten free pizza, gluten free beer…what was I saying about cleaning up my diet?  Oh yes, I am still trying to avoid those things now too, but it’s nice to have the option at least when I need a fix.  Instead I spend even more of my day’s calories on fruit, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, etc etc etc.  I took a look at my sports nutrition products and cut out one item that included wheat, but otherwise most of what I’d selected for the year is still good.

I’ve committed to keeping this change in effect through IM AZ, I’ll assess again after that.  But I’ve gotten through one month of the five since I made this change without too much trouble, so I know I can handle it.  I have seen a marked reduction in my random digestive upsets so that’s a plus.  Other than that, I’m not sure there’s a real way to measure change anyway, other than that I’m happily bouncing along through my workouts and recovering well.

Letting Natural Hormones Take Over

I started taking “the pill” when I was 15, for health reasons (massive problems with normal function).  I stayed on them through my 20s because I like dogs, not children.  But really, there’s been no reason for me to be on them for some time now.

Vasectomy: Best. Wedding. Gift. Ever.

And so, after some more reading/thinking about how the artificial hormones affect female athletes in a possibly detrimental way, I chucked those too.  Again, it’s too early to say if there’s any quantitative change but between that and going gluten free, I dropped 3 pounds in the first couple weeks.

Finding Balance

It should be clear by now I tend to find myself on the overcommitted side of things at times.  This is not how I want to find myself during Ironman training – it *does not* end well.

As such, last weekend was our last agility trial until after the race.  Weekends will simply be too booked up with training.  But fear not for the social lives of my dogs, because that makes this the perfect time for Stanley to do more conformation shows.  He absolutely loves the show ring and his handler, and all I have to do is drop him off clean.  Win-win.  It doesn’t hurt that quite a few of the upcoming shows are near places I want to ride my bike! 

And Max has been having a blast hanging out with Jeff, including going to a bar for guys night out while Stanley and I were doing agility last Friday night – he’s delighted with all the fun he’s having as a “retired” agility dog.

So that’s where we leave it for now – lots of swimming, biking and running to do and in between the usual mess of work and dog training classes and sleep and massive quantities of FOOD.  It’s a hard life but someone’s got to live it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bay Team CPE

Delaying a post on diet and other changes I’ve been meaning to write for a week because I haven’t had any time today…hopefully tomorrow!

On Sunday I dropped Stanley off at the agility trial and went off for an easy 90 minute ride.  Right back to Chesbro where I swam the day before – it was much quieter out there this time.


And then it was time for some fun with the dog!

Jackpot (like gamblers) – he did the jump-tunnel-jump gamble quite easily – we got our qualifying points and got out of there before the whistle.  Stanley ran past one jump I wanted him to take but now I realize it was a smart move because the judge was standing in our way!

Snooker – my favorite class and 1st place.  The video seems to have missed our first red but we did a 5(tunnel)-7(double jump)-6(two jumps) for the opening and then got points for the entire closing.  The 7 was tricky since it was not bidirectional in the opening.

Wildcard – another fun run where we had 3 choice points to make along the way in order to qualify.  Still going fast on his last run of the day!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Feeling Fishy

Today was the big 2.4 mile swim, my first one since IM AZ nearly two years ago and only my second time swimming the distance in open water.  I mosied on down to Chesbro Reservoir in Morgan Hill to meet up with a bunch of friends for the race.

Photo stolen from race website

I have to say, I’m going to feel spoiled in Ironman with all the buoys…all these OW swim races this summer have involved 4 or less turn buoys for 1+ mile swims so my sighting gets lots of practice!

The swim today had 3 yellow turn buoys – the straightest path between these buoys and the double orange start line buoys made for 1.2 miles.  We swam 2 loops to make up the 2.4 miles.  As you can see in my little marked-up map, there were 3 orange sighting buoys that were not in a straight line between the yellows + 2 irrelevant red Muscle Milk buoys that marked the course for the youth swim.  Suffice it to say, it made for some interesting navigation.


I went into this race a bit sleep-deprived (thanks to husband snoring) and with an achy back (thanks to dog’s agility fun match last night) so my attitude/motivation might have been lagging a little.  But the reservoir was warm (68 degrees) and clean and all my friends were doing it so I sucked it up, jumped in and swam to the start line.

Loop 1 – The Warmup.  I kept a nice light pace throughout the first loop of the course, just focused on sighing well and swimming with good form.  I was more or less alone by the time I hit the red buoys but I expected that with a race this small.  When I cleared the last yellow buoy and turned back to start the course again, I made a small boo-boo in sighting for the red buoys instead of the orange start buoys (which we had to pass through again) – this cost me a little bit of time before I realized it but at least I didn’t have to turn around and swim back for them.

Loop 2 – The Draft.  My instructions for the 2nd loop were to find someone and draft like mad.  Somewhat difficult when there’s almost no one around you but I did spot a woman with no wetsuit, meaning she’d gone off in the wave 5 minutes behind me.  Sounded like a perfect draft of someone faster than me and I latched onto her toes.  Unfortunately I think she slowed down quite a bit in her second loop but every time I tried to swim away from her, she was right at my hip.  So it was easier to just cruise on her feet.  The sun came out for the 2nd loop making the return sighting very difficult and it helped to just follow someone else.

At the final yellow buoy, I dropped my draft and sprinted for the finish line at shore.  Mary cheered me in as I ran up the boat ramp and I was grinning the whole way with what I knew was coming.


I swam this race 24 minutes faster than my IM swim at Arizona.  Who says hard work in the pool doesn’t work?!  Even with a slow draft and poor sighting, I am delighted!

The day got even better as I met Jennifer right before she went in for the 1.2 mile swim.  We caught up a bit more after her race (which she did GREAT in!).


Nigel came in 2nd in his AG in the 2.4 mi wetsuit swim.  While he waited for me to finish, Mary talked him into doing the 1.2 mile wetsuit race with her so he signed up.  And ended up finishing as the 1st place man!  He got to make 2 trips to the podium and take home a bunch of wine!

One more day in my rest week and then training kicks up a notch again – I can’t wait!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

4 Months To Go!

Ironman Arizona is just 4 months away and boy does it feel more imminent than ever when I look at my training schedule. 

Shit’s getting real, y’all.

I’m once again reminded why that having such a solid base phase for my year pays off.  Because even though it ended 3 months ago, cranking out my longest workouts of the year doesn’t feel nearly as difficult as I would expect.  And that makes me less nervous about the upcoming weeks where – holy cow – I’ve got some long work to do.


That was the sound of me jumping for joy at getting to ride long.

I’ve made a few changes to things to get myself into full-bore IM training mode in the healthiest way possible and will talk about that a little more in another post.  Anyway, sitting here on the cusp of big training, and buoyed by a morning where I nailed my key brick of the week, a short list of things I am grateful for when it comes to training for this Ironman:

  • As always, I’m grateful to my husband for not only not telling me I’m crazy and should stop doing this stuff but helping me do it in all the ways he can (anything from going along for Molly’s Crazy Ride of the Weekend to feeding the dogs while I’m at the pool).  He puts up with a lot when it comes to the fast pace life with me seems to run these days!
  • I am grateful for so many friends for support, well wishes, training companionship, jokes, commiseration, and product recommendations!
  • I’m grateful for my coach for getting me so much further than I ever imagined when we first started together.  She had her work cut out for her with me!
  • I’m grateful for my brand new iPhone, for allowing me to download TV shows that I’m too tired to watch by the time evening rolls around and instead watch them on my bike trainer, where it nestles perfectly into my aerobars.
  • I’m grateful for my not-so-secret weapon Recovery e21 that keeps me bouncing back from every tough training day to face the next.  I’ve got some more samples to share so if you haven’t tried it yet, ping me and I’ll send you some.  And if you’ve already discovered how awesome it is, don’t forget the coupon code on the right side of this blog.
  • I’m grateful to Concept Cyclery for helping me get the bike and fit that makes riding so much more fun (and fast!).  I can’t believe how much better the long distance mileage (and my butt) feels this time around.  THANK YOU, Bruce!
  • And for now, I’ll end by saying I’m grateful to summer, for finally showing up.  ~60 degrees for morning dog walks, masters swim, and runs, ~80 degrees in the afternoon.  I love me a Northern California summer.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weekend Warrior

I feel like I live weekend to weekend these days, plugging away at my job and workouts during the week just to survive to the fun stuff.  This weekend was no exception in my current trend of crazy-busy – Stanley had a dog show and I had a big training block to wrap up!

Since we were down in Carmel for the dog show, e21 teammate Mary took us out for our long ride on one of her usual routes on Saturday morning.  30 miles out from the coast on Carmel Valley Road, it gets very quiet and sometimes VERY steep.  But it was gorgeous and we had a blast!





Made it to the top of the pass!


I returned to the dog show to discover Stanley had gone Best of Breed and was about to head into the Herding Group – perfect timing!  I had so much fun cheering him on in his first Group outing and was thrilled he made the judge’s cut to her final dogs.


I was fast asleep by 8:30 that night, all worn out from our big adventures. And back on the bike by 5:10am and out for my long run by 6:10am and back at the dog show by 9:30am. Phew!

On the upside, I was able to replenish some depleted calories Sunday night with a birthday dinner for Nigel!


We are all grateful today was a rest day.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

And He’s Talented Too

I’ll be spending the rest of summer/fall working on weave poles and dogwalk in trial-like settings (fun matches) since they are great in class but he’s not carrying it over to trials.  Otherwise I’m quite happy with his runs though!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Stud. Muffin.

I FINALLY got Stanley’s win photo from Woofstock!


I hope he remembers how to be a show dog since he gets to do it again this weekend, while I’ll be out roaming the backwoods of Carmel Valley on my bike with Mary Tanner!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Central Valley Adventures

Stanley and I had an agility trial up in Dixon today just south of Sacramento – in the flat farmlands of California’s Central Valley.  I also had a long workout on the schedule and so I planted my dog at the trial with a friend and hit the road for my longest ride of the year. 

Since I’ve never ridden in the area, I came up with a route online and was just hoping it would work.  For the most part it was good.  I survived the first 9 miles that I knew were on farm roads with fast traffic and no shoulder.  The hilly section was FAR steeper than I expected.  And the headwind was STRONG for 25+ miles of the ride – I went through all 99 bottles of beer on the wall plus several recitations of The Jabberwocky.

Oh look, another hill…


And more to go still…


A flatter moment





Faking my appreciation of the worst headwind I’ve ever ridden in, much less for the entire last hour of the ride


Tomorrow I’m getting my long run done at home, where it’s NOT 90 degrees, before I go back to the agility trial.  I hope my legs remember how to work by then…

Friday, July 8, 2011

Splash & Dash #2 Report

What a difference a month makes!  Last month we froze our butts off doing the June Splash & Dash.  This month it was sunny and 90 degrees out.  Instead of putting our wetsuits on to stay warm while we waited for the start, we put them on so we could jump in the water and cool off!  I opted to race in a swimsuit this time because it seemed like the cooler choice for the run.  Nigel signed up for the race this time so I had someone to float around with while we waited. 


Having learned a bit more about what I’m capable of, when it comes to swimming hard, at the 1 mile race a few weeks ago, I was determined to carry that over into the swim this time around.  I think the new wetsuit has made a difference for me because my shoulders no longer hurt while swimming open water.  So my goal was to draft the entire 2-loop swim and go as hard as I had to in order to stay on a pair of feet.

I’m thrilled to say I did it!  I stayed in a pack for most of the first loop, trading off feet as needed but always surrounded by others.  This turned out to be especially beneficial for one leg of the square course that put us swimming directly into the sun – I couldn’t see a buoy AT ALL!  Instead of popping up to look for it, I just stayed on the feet of the pack and ended up swimming right to it.  I literally never saw it till it was a hand’s length away, that’s how hidden it was in the sunlight.  On the second loop, things became slightly more sparse so I stuck to drafting off the same 2 girls.  At one point I was bumping with someone for my share of those feet and glanced over at her purple cap thinking “wouldn’t it be funny if this is Jill (a friend who’d asked me about my plan for the swim and drafting) I’m fighting with?”   Lo and behold, I exit the swim after the 2nd loop and I see her heading out of transition, it WAS Jill! 

In any event, the plan worked and my swim was 3 minutes faster than last month!

Transition also went much more smoothly as I asked Jeff to cut 2 inches off my wetsuit legs this week.  They still extend to my ankles but now I’m able to get them over my heels without 2+ minutes of frustration because they are stuck.  Knocked 30 seconds off transition right there.

And then it was off to the hard hilly 5k run, with my HR sky-high from the swim.  As I headed down the first long hill and was just passing Jill, a passing car honked loudly and Jill laughed “well someone really likes your outfit.”  I looked over to see it was actually Jeff, coming to see Nigel and me finish.  I told her, “He’s married to me, he has to like it.”

I knew the course this time around, where to take the speed of the downhills and where the big SUCKY-STEEP climbs were.  I still had to walk part of the 2 big climbs as my HR was around 197bpm, but I got through it.  And though I was certain it was slower this time around, I ended my run 35 seconds faster than last month!

In the end it was a race PR of 4:26 over the same course last month – woohoo! 

Happy at being done!


Next up is – EEEEK! – a 2.4 mi swim race.  I’ve only done one of those once and it was followed by a long bike ride and a marathon :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Southern California Collie Club Trial

My boys had quite a good time at the trial in Camarillo last weekend (we stayed in Ventura since it was closer to the beach/fun). 

Max got 1st places in all of his runs and finished his NJP title.  Sadly it looks like he hurt his neck again and I won’t put him through the pain of dealing with it again so I think this is the end of his agility career.  However, he went out with a bang with a happy sweet perfect run as he finished yet another title after a long and successful agility career.

Stanley had some great runs and some crazy runs.  Apparently spending all day in 90 degree heat does not diminish his enthusiasm one bit!  This was a very nice Excellent Jumpers run he did, with just the weave pole bobble to prevent us from qualifying, but I’m pleased I ran him without holding back.  He’s young and still learning but he’s getting there!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ventura Vacation

I’m in the midst of a big training/agility trial trip on the coast in Southern California.  Jeff and the dogs and I rolled into Ventura Friday afternoon after fairly event-free 5-hour drives (the dogs, the luggage and the bicycles all came in the minivan with me, while the husband enjoyed a top-down roadtrip in his convertible). 

It was a wee bit windy when we attempted dinner on the Ventura pier Friday night.


In the end, long drive + wind + beach sounds/scents + kids throwing rocks below us + skateboards + other dogs on the deck + flags whipping = overstimulated dogs and they were happier when I stashed them in their crates in the car while we ate.  I know *I* was definitely happier.

The original purpose of this trip was to cram in one more agility trial (beyond the one I am entered in for next weekend) before training takes over my life.  I managed to talk Jeff into coming down for a little beach fun with slightly cooler temps than home and promised some fun meals/beers/etc.  And the trial schedule worked out perfectly to allow for fitting in my long workouts before I had to be there to run the dogs.

Saturday morning at 6am we headed out for a long ride up the coast from our hotel.  I did some research on the local bike club websites to find ideas and more detailed directions for the route I chose.  It turned out to be a popular one as we saw LOTS of riders headed out as we made our way back into town.

Started out with citrus groves on the way to the coast


Then onto a bike path along the ocean


And then onto Highway 1 paralleling the beach


And then onto Highway 101 for a brief stretch where it’s the only route available (but it has a BIG shoulder)




The only hiccup in our ride came when an RV very carefully passed us, pulled into the bike lane in front of us (WTF, we’re thinking, but we’ll just pass him) and then proceeded to pull a u-turn right in front of us.  I was able to swerve off and slow down at the last second but Jeff didn’t and went down on his bike.  As if the bloody knee, scraped elbow and badly bruised wrist weren’t bad enough, his brand new biking sunglasses fell off and were run over by a car. Booooooo!

Riding sans sunglasses and with blood running down his leg


I was honestly thrilled with how the ride went – I haven’t ridden this long since March so I was a little nervous but it just goes to show how important that big base period I put in was and how much 2 weeks of rest prepared me for the next step!  It was heating up by the time I had my run off the bike but it got done and one more big day was in the books – done by 9am and I was off to spend the rest of the day doing agility with my boys.

Unfortunately Jeff’s day just got worse and worse.  While visiting one of the local beaches (after buying a new pair of sunglasses!), his beloved BABY (the car) was hit in the parking lot and gouged pretty well.  He gave up and went back to the hotel to drown his sorrows in a beer at that point.  And then when we got back from dinner at a brewpub, the power was out at the hotel.  So we sat in a dark hotel room listening to the screams of 30 children in the pool for a couple hours.  You know the kid that yells “Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad!” for 3 minutes straight before being acknowledged by parents that learn to tune that shit out?  Yep, we could hear every word of it like it was in our room.  Romance. Killer.

Jeff headed home this morning as planned, so he can enjoy BBQs with friends, while I stay on till the trial ends on the 4th.  I headed out this morning for another brick – short bike/long run – and figured the path along the ocean would be a nice route.  With nearly 50 miles of biking on my legs in the 24 hours before I started the run, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d survive it – but again, I guess all the things I’m doing right (nutrition, rest, hydration, etc etc etc) are working because I had a blast!


And then it was off for another day of agility with some great runs for the boys!  I’ll post about that another day when the videos come.

And so…we end our week tired but happy and excited about what is to come! (And *sniff*sniff* missing Jeff a lot even though we know we’ll see him tomorrow night at home)