Sunday, April 29, 2012

Birthday Ride!

It just so happened that some friends mentioned a few weeks ago that they were riding Mount Hamilton on April 29th.  And since that happened to be my 35th birthday, I added a note on my schedule and begged Coach to let me do the climb as part of my long ride.  Lucky me, she said GO CLIMB YOUR MOUNTAIN!  

As I linked to in my previous post, Mt Hamilton is the highest peak above our valley and the observatory at the top is something I've visited a few times growing up in the area.  But I've never gotten to go climb the mountain on my bike so I was super excited to do that today! It's never especially steep but just a long steady climb, punctuated by a couple of short descents into beautiful valleys along the way.
Mt Hamilton Elevation Profile (begins around the mile 7 mark, the rest was our warmup route)
Sara, Chris and me before the start
Warming up in the sunshine!
Everything is SUPER green after the last round of rain we had!
Beginning to climb up the foothills
First look down at the valley and we still have TONS of climbing to go
Going up and up and up and up
Another valley view
First peek at the peak! The little white bumps at the top of that highest peak are the domes at Lick Observatory
Water stop at Grant County Park - I was ridiculously hyperactive for this entire ride (good fueling!) 
More green stuff
Pretty little stream I crossed over
The top looks so close but it's still 5 miles away!  The road gets very windy with switchbacks at this point.
Again - SO close but still 1.5 miles of road to go!
I made it!!!  What a FUN climb!
Hamilton was SUCH a fun route - challenging but beautiful and do-able! I had an unbelievably good time through the whole thing.
Neat to be so high that we were above this hawk.
One last peek back at the top of the mountain during our descent
In all, it was everything I could have hoped for in a birthday!  Fun times with friends and an amazing experience, not to mention Sara came prepared with a cooler of beer for post-ride (I did my brick run and drank my pre-packed recovery beverage first) so we were able to sit around in a park and relax after.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Finally Friday

I always have these random revelations about training during training.  Then I promptly forget them when I am done.  Today I had an hour ride followed by my long run of the week.  My legs took a little while to warm up on the run and then...I just kind of floated along.  Not that it wasn't work but I didn't look at pace or think about it too hard and the run just flew by.  And I was disappointed it was over when it ended because I could have gone longer happily.  I get stupid happy on my long run endorphins.

Anyway, I *think* what I was pondering during my run was how each year we find new ways to push me to my limits, juuuust to the edge, and then rest up for another round of more.  That's how you get faster, right? The rest just as much as the pushing.  I spent most of this week doing shorter easier workouts, which after Sunday's race was a nice way to ease into the week.  Because let's face it, it's NOT a bright idea to take a 48 hour coast-to-coast roundtrip right before a race and even though I managed it I know I have still been paying for it.  The bigger work started again today and while I am still a bit tired from the week I've been having (taking care of Jeff after his knee surgery, managing the dogs and household stuff on my own) it was nice to see that I could still get the work done properly.  Next weekend I get to go for a long ride (two of them actually) on Saturday and then run a half-marathon completely untapered on Sunday.  It's a training race, not a race-race, clearly and I'm not expecting ANY kind of PR but it'll be fun to see how my body responds to the challenge!

As for this weekend, I'm super excited because I finally get to ride the mountain that I blogged about 4 whole years ago!  The weather is supposed to be perfect and I. Can't. Wait!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Nose Knows

A quick update on how nosework is going for the boys.  We've moved from searching for food to teaching them to search for the first of the competition odors, birch.  Now we hide a small vented container with a q-tip dipped in birch essential oil in the midst of boxes and other objects, along with a tiny bit of food, and they have to find it.

Stanley LOVES nosework and is progressing well!

Max is getting more confident about knocking the boxes aside and going for the hide!

And Puck...Puck is like a bull in a china shop but he's doing quite well for puppy.  This is just a short (fuzzy - sorry) clip where his hide was in the top of the music stand and he kept knocking and spinning the stand with his body and then getting confused because the trail he was following moved!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NCBCC Regional Specialty

Last week I flew cross-country to spend one day at a dog show in Maryland.  Probably a little bit crazy but four of Stanley's kids from two of his litters last summer were making their show debut!  And since I hadn't met them because the litters had been in Ohio and Michigan - AND cause it would be a great opportunity to catch up with a lot of dog friends and meet others I only knew online - I didn't hesitate when it was suggested that I make the trip.

The puppies all did fantastic!  6 months old and in their very first dog show and they behaved beautifully!  None of the nonsense their father put me through :-)  They all handled the huge loud crazy indoor show confidently and I was so pleased with how they are growing up.

This is Flynn, he's a Stanley-Zoe puppy.

 This is Flynn's brother Smudge.

This is Adele, she's a Stanley-Abby puppy.

And this is her littermate Paisley.
 Paisley was all worn out after her big show day!
 Smudge, Adele, Flynn, Paisley and their cousin Gillian - puppies are the best!

 I also had a blast with the people and am grateful to everyone for hosting me, from picking me up at the airport to letting me crash on a couch to rushing me to the airport early Saturday morning when my taxi didn't show up (and the cab company refused to send anyone!).

I hope I get to see more of Stan's kids at the National this fall!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Metro Triathlon 2012

After a whirlwind trip to the east coast (only 36 hours on the ground there) - more on that in a later post - I was back in San Jose Saturday noon to the news that the Metro Triathlon, where I was to race the Olympic distance, would now be a duathlon due to some water quality testing issues with the city.  Not ideal, but not much you can do about it so I did my best to throw all my race gear together and prepare for Sunday.  I also arrived back to a massive heat wave - mid-April and it was over 90 when I landed!  Race day was forecast to get into the 80s so I knew it would be a rough one.

The race site is only a few miles from my house but I got down there pretty early to get a good transition spot.  One advantage to a tri club membership was preferred rack space in transition!  Before too long, my aunt and uncle and Kristi and her husband were all arriving so we hung out and chatted and got ready.  My mom came to spectate and took all the great photos!
I was amazed at how warm it was already that early in the morning.  Usually we race at Lake Almaden in June and are shivering before the start but not this day!

Kris and I hit the portapotty line

and then we were off for our warmup run!

Lake Almaden.  Doesn't LOOK nasty, does it?

After watching all of the sprint waves go off and then all of the male Olympic waves, it was finally time for the 39 and under women to start.  In place of our 1500m swim was a 1500m run around the lake! 

I look happier than I felt at this point.  Even with a planned build through the mile the effort was starting to hurt a little and my body was letting me know it was not happy about two big travel days before the race.  Right after this my mom yelled "Go Mimi!"  Um, that's my sister's name.
Run #1: 0.93 miles in 6:45 for a 7:18 pace.

T1: I had to dash through all of transition to get to my spot and the bike out but I was reasonably fast.  My Garmin says 0:53, the official time says 1:13.  Maybe the mat was closer to the mount line than I thought when I hit my watch but that's odd.  Anyway!
Time to bike!

I had very specific instructions for this bike course and I'm pleased to say I nailed them!  Heading south towards Morgan Hill, we had a strong headwind but I just held my watts on the target and stuck with the plan.  On the biggest climb of the day, I spun up easy and yet passed everyone ahead of me who tried to hammer it, and then I made the return trip to town with the last 8 miles all well over 20mph!

Elevation profile for the course

My instructions from my coach were to average 125-130 watts on this course (before you judge, remember that power depends a lot on weight...and I'm basically just barely over 100 lbs - so my power-to-weight ratio at threshold is not that bad).  I put my Powertap CPU on Average for the power reading and just biked my buns off.  End result: Average power of exactly 130 watts!  And at a nice high cadence as well.  My VI (Variability Index) number shown below was 1.02, meaning I did a darn good job of riding this course evenly!  This all equals a happy coach :-)
Bike: 24 miles in 1:18:18 for ~18.3mph average.

While I was off biking, my mom and her camera were hanging out at the lake!

T2: 0:43 by Garmin, 0:50 in official results.  Good stuff either way.

And then time to run again!!!

By this point, it was getting REALLY hot.  I had a bit of a sloshy gut from the bike, as I had taken in all of my calories but probably could have used more straight-up water because of the heat.  I started out the run just taking in a lot of water and my salt tabs to settle my stomach down.  As per my plan, I took the first mile fairly easy (the first mile off the bike always goes fast for me but no reason to make it hurt with 5 more to go after that).  Then I spent the next few miles just focused on keeping the effort steady-hard and getting from one aid station to the next, where I'd dump water on my head and chug a cup of it as well. 

Around 3.5 miles in, I was passed by a 57 year old woman who was throwing down a smoking pace in those conditions - totally impressed.  Over the next mile or two I started to realize I was feeling better and getting faster and starting to catch up with her again!  She turned out to be a great pacer to keep me going late in the race! With about a mile to go, as per the plan, I picked up the effort, passed her and pushed on through to the end.  My last mile was my fastest of the day!

Sprinting to the finish line!

Run #2: 10k in 52:22 for an 8:25 pace. Not my fastest 10k but better than I expected given the weather!

Really, really, really done! :-)

My performance ended up being good enough for 4th in my AG, which is really just icing on the cake.  I'm most proud of sticking to my plan, getting my bike pacing SO right, and holding it together on my run to finish strong.

Thanks to my coach, for never giving me more than I can handle (even if I doubt it sometimes LOL) and yet always challenging me to be better.  Thanks to TrainingPeaks for letting me race with your kit this year and tell people all about my favorite training tool.  Thank you to Dr Brink at Premiere Spine & Sport for fixing all my aches and pains and keeping me healthy while training.  And thanks to Concept Cyclery for cleaning and tuning up my bike for this race - it's about time all the IM AZ dirt was cleaned off of it!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

And on the 4th week, she rested...

Another training cycle is done and not a moment too soon!  Going into the weekend I was finally starting to feel the fatigue and cranky muscles.  I did come home Saturday afternoon from the ride to find a nice surprise waiting!

Official racing and training kits for the year!
I finished off the training block with a nice long run this morning (and an easy bike spin after) on the Los Gatos Creek Trail.  I started up in Los Gatos instead of here at home, so I got to warm up going downhill and then push my pace on the return trip uphill.  Fun!

Long run days always make me happy!  Somewhere around the hour mark, headed back up into Los Gatos I had a huge grin on my face - even though my legs were tired from yesterday's ride, I was still having a great run!

Happy to be done and that I got to show off my TrainingPeaks shirt on the trail.  I KNOW a lot of those athletes out there were checking it out.  Or, they were just staring at my boobs.  But let's think positive! :)

I think I might live in my compression tights for the foreseeable future.  Nothing hurts yet but it's bound to come.  And it's time to enjoy rest week as it is also race week!  The first triathlon of the year is up next Sunday...perfect time to take a measure of how all this training is going!

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tierra Bella 2012

We enjoyed our first non-rainy day in a while around here with Tierra Bella, a well run organized ride of various distances that covers some of our usual training grounds and some new roads as well.  Today Kristi and I teamed up with my husband and a couple other friends to tackle the 100k course.  We finished off our day having ridden 62 miles and change with about 4750 feet in climbing!

On the way up Gilroy Hot Springs (the same steep climb shown in the graph from last week)
Slowly getting closer to the tip-top
Still greeeeeeen out here!
I took a little video of the descent.  Here's how you drop 1000 feet in 3 miles, sped up to only take 3 minutes instead of 9.  I ride my brakes a LOT on this one.

I love seeing all the baby cows!
Yep, just another ugly day around here.
One more little day of training to go before rest week!