Monday, September 26, 2011

If It's Monday

it must be time to catch up on my blog!  The hard part about these big crazy weekends is just how much backlog occurs and if I don't stay on top of it, I'll be hopelessly behind.

I finished off my biggest training week yet this year with a bang - things are feeling GREAT (even my hip - yay!).  On Friday afternoon we headed down to San Luis Obispo for the Lighthouse Century.

Jeff and I found a nice little brewpub on the creek in downtown SLO to hang out until Nigel and George arrived.

Once we were all assembled and checked in for the ride, there was carbo-loading to be done. 
(Mine's the root beer)

The boys are very serious about their pre-ride hydration.

And after a solid night's rest, it was time to fuel up and get ready to ride 100 miles on the Central California coast!  I highly recommend the Lighthouse Century for anyone considering one - beautiful scenery, not a difficult course, and a VERY well supported ride.  It sells out within 2 hours every year!

After a few bobbles in the parking lot at the start (*someone* brought 2 right bike shoes and was not able to join us until later in the ride), we met up with Mary and Suzy and were off at a brisk pace up the coast in the fog and rain.
 I had SO much mud and dirt on my body from the first 40 miles

At the first rest stop, we met up with my aunt and uncle who were doing their 1st century.  I look short in this crowd.  My aunt says that's because I am short.
 View from the 2nd rest stop
 Once we hit the far turnaround, our missing team member had finally joined us and we headed back into a strong headwind going uphill - FUN!
Heading into the final rest stop, the guys decided to stop in to refill bottles and I continued on by myself.  Before I knew it, I'd picked up a whole line of men drafting off me for the last 20 miles!
I only had a couple points on the bike where I felt a little ache in my hip and I was careful to dial it back a little to keep it in check.  Overall, my fueling went perfectly, my energy levels were great and my legs were strong throughout - I pulled the last 15 miles at 18+ mph!

Once back at the car, I ditched the bike and headed out on a transition run.  ~4 miles later, I was stoked to be done with my fastest century ever (beat last month's time by 22 minutes) and a great run off the bike!

From there, we raced home, picked up the dogs, showered, and made it in time for the Sharks' 2nd home pre-season game

You'd think I would sleep late after a day like that but I knew I had a big Sunday ahead - my long run split into two segments, morning and night.  So there I was awake at 5:45 am eager to run!  After giving the dogs a long walk and having some breakfast, I headed out to see what my legs had left - 8 lovely miles later, I was back!  I spent the whole day twitchy waiting until I could go for my 2nd run.  This time, Nigel went with me and we churned out another ~6 miles (for a total of 18+ in the weekend).

After Nigel and I were treated to the special sight of a man shampooing his hair and washing it in the kiddie water play area at the playground full of children, we headed off to meet up with Jeff for dinner. And I was ready to EAT.  People wonder why we are at Tomato Thyme once or twice a week but they shouldn't after seeing this food!

Summer tomato salads with mozzarella are like candy to me, seriously.

Nom nom nom.

I think I'm entitled after riding 100 miles and running 18+ in one weekend.

And with that, I'm on to a rest week - yay!  My body needs this as training is about to get even harder in Kona and Arizona the following weeks.  I'm really just happy that the distance is feeling so doable this time around in Ironman training.  My legs STILL feel great - not sore at all - after that weekend.  I think I have to attribute it to excellent fueling, compression socks/tights and overzealous use of Recovery e21 (every hour on the bike and run this weekend).
If there's anyone left who hasn't tried some e21, message me and I'll send you a sample.  Otherwise, it's 20% off with code "mollymc"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'm Not Dead Yet!

I have a bad habit of blogging after the weekend and then getting sucked into training and work and falling off the map.  But I'm still here and going at it strong!  So far, I am winning when it comes to my biggest week of the year - of course I haven't even trained half of this week's assigned hours yet - BIG weekend ahead.

So what HAVE I been doing?

5:30am masters twice this week already.  (And a big long solo swim tomorrow)

Trying to give my dogs enough exercise without going out in the 90+ degree afternoon heat

Having a BIG reward after a brutal ART session on Monday to loosen up Sunday's painful hip flexors.  Tears could have been shed.  Thankfully by the time I had to ride hard on Wednesday morning it was much much better and after another round of ART Wednesday afternoon is feeling fantastic.

Rejoicing at the return of hockey!

Making some changes to my bike fit with the ever-patient Bruce over at Concept Cyclery.  I've been on this bike now for almost 5 months so it was time to re-assess and see if we could put me in a more aggressive position.  Thanks to all my lovely ART work, Bruce said my pedal stroke and form have improved dramatically, which helped support the changes we made.

Tripping over a crack in the sidewalk while running after masters today.  I carried on with the workout and might have started scaring people heading out on their morning commute.

Bathing my boys so they'd be clean for an overnight stay at my mom's house

Visiting with a possible future addition to our house :-)  More on that in a couple weeks...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ironman Ate My Weekend

But first, a few shots from yesterday's ride event.  I was a bad event director and only took a few photos.  So sue me, I was BUSY! :-)

It was a beautiful day for a ride!
The dogs were good about hanging out in between things.

Anyway, on to today...where I had a long ride on tap and a husband with his bike repaired to drag me around the valley.  Knowing my legs might still be a bit taxed from racing last weekend, Coach said shameless drafting was allowed!

I suppose I have to admit that fall is coming, we started riding at 7am and the sun still wasn't up!

 Hello, sun, can we have some warmth now? I haven't been able to feel my fingers since we started.
 Red bell pepper fields

 After Jeff and I did one loop of our long route down to Gilroy and back, we swung back to the car to refill our bottles and pick up another ride companion, George!  This was my view for the rest of the day.
 It was somewhere around the point of this picture (mile 55 or so) that my right hip flexor started expressing very angry thoughts about riding.
 As perhaps a gift, it was shortly after that that I flatted with 2 thorns in my front tire.  There are no photos of me lying on the shoulder stretching my hip out but it happened.  I was awfully chipper about changing my flat though - it went easily AND two different drivers pulled over to see if I needed help.  One of them had just finished his own ride and had a full-sized pump in his truck - it saved me a CO2 cartridge!
 From there, sadly my hip had some rough and painful moments.  I tried to get through them by smiling for as long as possible.

 But there were a few tears shed in my official Ironman Training Mandatory Meltdown.  I think I got mad at Jeff for slowing down in front of me and then he got behind me and that made me madder because I couldn't draft in the wind and I was going so slow because my hip hurt?  Anyway, sniffle-sob-pityparty and then I was better.  And the boys pulled me and I pulled them and eventually we were DONE with the ride.  I'd gone from freezing before sunrise to cooking in 85 degree heat and pedaled for nearly 5.5 hours.
 I arranged to meet Jeff at a Taco Bell several miles down the road and headed off on my run off the bike while he gave George a ride home.  I call this my "practicing for training in Kona" picture because it was hot, there was no shade, and the landscape was all asphalt and dry fields.
As it turned out, I had a fantastic run in the heat, covering more distance than I expected while feeling great throughout.  I sat in the shade at Taco Bell till Jeff showed up and then asked him to buy me a sugary soda as a reward :)

"Recovery" week is done and there's a BIG training week ahead!  Thankfully I've already arranged to see my ART doc tomorrow and Wednesday to address the hip crankiness before it become a real problem.  Onward!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I've been working hard at recovering from Big Kahuna this week...lots of sleep, lighter workouts during the week and generally just taking it easy.  This weekend I'm back at it pretty strong as I've got a long ride on tap for Sunday.  Today (Saturday) was spent executing a different kind of plan, putting on a charity ride that I started last year in honor of a family friend!  Everything went smooth this year as the riders were happy with the route, the food and their prizes!  The only casualty of the day was Jeff's bike, as his derailleur snapped on the first climb and he had to be picked up from there!  Hopefully it will be fixed in time for him to pull me around the valley tomorrow; otherwise I'm in for another solo ride.  I brought the dogs along and they managed to schmooze with the crowd and wear themselves out - bonus!

While I was off doing the race thing last weekend, Stan was again tearing it up at a local dog show, going Best Opposite one day and Best of Breed the other.  Last week we started him in a whole 'nother performance sport as well - Nosework!  So far, he LOVES it as the main idea is to find the food in the box (party time in Stan's world).  Eventually he'll learn to scent out and find certain odors.  Right now he is still learning the game of trusting his nose to find the hide.

Here is some video from our 2nd nose work class and some new challenges thrown at him.  The airflow in this room is very difficult for the dogs as it swirls AND it's a petstore so there are already lots of good food smells around.   Once he remembered why he was there, he did great!  And he was EXHAUSTED after class from all that brainwork.  I love tired dogs.

And with that, I'm back to putting my feet up and resting for tomorrow!  Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Big Kahuna Triathlon Race Report

Race morning started off dark and early with the alarm at 3:45 am.  Surprisingly I had no trouble sleeping solidly once I'd finally given up on reading and turned off the light.  I was tempted to hit snooze but I knew I needed to get going.  Copious amounts of sunblock applied to the body, followed by clothes, loading my bottles on my bike, grabbing breakfast and hitting the road just after 4am.  Going over The Hill (what we call the mountains in between our valley and the coast) on Highway 17 I encountered some night construction and lane closures but had adequate time to get to my usual "super secret" parking area and roll down the hill into transition.  Which was supposed to open at 5 but was already open and filling with bikes when I arrived at 4:58.  Still I nabbed a prime spot right between the swim in/bike in-out/run out.  My transition area was set up by 5:08 and then I just had to wait!

Thankfully not too long after that I found Jill and was able to harass her in between stints at the portajohn line.  Before long it was time to start the walk down to the beach for the pre-race meeting and a warmup swim.

We found Jeff and Nigel waiting when we got to the beach.  Surprisingly I was really not nervous - I felt very steady and just wanted to get on with it!

I was having enough fun to ham it up for the camera with my "game face."  Jill's coach was one of the race announcers and she kept us entertained while we waited.

After a brisk warmup swim (the water was a balmy - for here, it really is - 59 degrees!), it was time to get in line with my wave.  Women 35 and under went off at 7:15, in the 4th wave.
Yes, I really was the smallest person in my wave.

And then finally we were off!

For a 1.2 mile swim around the Santa Cruz pier, with nary a buoy in sight.  The only 2 turn buoys were over 1/2 a mile offshore and not visible over the swell until you got really close to them.  It made for some interesting sighting!

In the end, I emerged from the murky and cold Pacific in 47:20, over 2 minutes faster than my best 1/2IM swim.  With all the sighting issues involved, I'll take it!

And then it was off for a long run (over 1/3mi) up the beach and through the city streets to transition.  My actual time in the transition area was pretty short and despite the complete absence of one of my nutrition items for the bike (thanks to the men racked around me), I was on my way before long.  T1 time, including the run: 4:15.

I had actually been very nervous about the bike leg of this race since test-riding a portion of it last weekend.  It was relentlessly hilly, which I hadn't remembered, and my confidence was shaken a bit.  Still, I came up with a plan of attack and intended to stay strong and positive to execute it.

As it turned out, the bike felt FABULOUS!  I've never done a 1/2IM ride that felt so great where I didn't spend the last 5-10 miles wishing for it to end already.  Yes, it was hilly.  Yes, it was windy - so windy that it took me 12 minutes longer to return to town that it took to make the turnaround.  But I just felt steady throughout!  I attacked the downhills (because at my size gravity is not enough to get down them as fast as I want) and I held back as I spun the uphills (yet still passed people who'd fly by me on the downhill and grind to a halt going up).
I came back into town all smiles with a HUGE bike PR.  3:09:37 for an average of 17.7 mph.

I was very quick in and out of transition (0:37 with the 8th fastest T2 of the entire race!) and then it was time to RUN!
I made sure to dial my pace back heavily in the early miles to save something for later.  Jeff and friends biked down the road on my course for a couple minutes to cheer for me before I told them I had to stop talking and focus!

The run course follows a nice scenic path along the coast before turning onto the trails of a state park best known for its mountain biking.  Dirt and hills, oh yeah!  Unfortunately that didn't do great things for my legs when I was supposed to pick up the pace - I was lucky to hold on to the one I'd had for a while.  I realized once I reached the tiki turnaround that the run course was going to be a fair bit longer the 13.1 miles!  Shortly after emerging from the state park on the return trip, the sun came out, things got hotter, and my stomach announced it was done with this whole race thing.

The last couple miles were purely a mental battle to make it to the finish - I was officially FRIED.  I reminded myself often of one thing throughout race day and it was what kept me going at the end - YOU WANT THIS.  You didn't work this hard all year for the goals you set to let it go now, you WANTED to be here, in this moment, facing the point of breaking and make it to the finish line knowing you beat that pain and Kept. Moving. Forward.  You've dreamed of a day like this.

Sorry for the melodramatic interlude :)  Anyway, when you finally descend from West Cliff Drive to sea level, the course does the most unkind thing possible and leads you down the beach, where you get to run the last 1/3 mile (you know, that extra 1/3 mile that took it over 13.1 miles) on SAND.  I immediately ran to the waterline to get the firmest ground I could and then it was just time to focus on that finish arch (and not run into all the families playing on the beach).

Total run ended up being 2:07:11 - nothing special in terms of what I've run in the past but it got the job done in the conditions I faced on the day and I kept moving no matter how bad it felt.

In the end, I finished in 6:09:02 for a whopping 14:15 PR!  Slowly I am inching closer to the times I know I am capable of, thanks to all of Coach's hard work on me. 

And then I was done.  And not smiling anymore because HOLY SHITBALLS my legs hurt!  I threw my finish medal and water bottle at Jeff and marched straight into the ocean to ice them.

 Aaaaaahhhh, much better.

Best finish medal ever to approximate faces of finishers at the line?

My training schedule for today said Eat something FUN.  Don't mind if I do.  I'm pretty sure I earned it!