Monday, July 30, 2012

Roughing It

Instead of fixating on triathlon for yet another weekend, we escaped to the High Sierras for a quick 2-day backpacking trip.  We made the short hike into Lake Margaret on Friday and returned home Sunday.  This spot holds special significance for us, as it's where Jeff and I got engaged on a previous pack trip!

Jeff and Puck hit the trail first, while I waited for my friend Shannon and her dogs to arrive.  Puck LOVED wearing his pack and hiking.  I think he was preening the entire time, he was so proud of himself.

Once Shannon arrived and we loaded up, the 4 beardies hit the trail in a cloud of dust

Water break along the way

4 agility dogs do not have a problem crossing a log

Thankfully we made our destination before dark - the view from our campsite at sunset

The real play started the next morning, as Puck tried to entice Beckham into a game of chase

Happy Max!

Mist swirling on the lake's 7am and we're swimming...lovely.

Where's Waldo?

A little muddy? Are you sure?

9am and they are all crashed out

Puck SO wants to get the sticks Jeff is throwing in the lake for him

Unfortunately the swimming thing still results in panicked vertical dog paddling!

What? I'm cool.

Mid-day on the lake

Our own personal off-shore island

When it warmed up enough I got in for a swim.  The water was around 70 so it wasn't TOO bad without a wetsuit.

I was still hamming it up at this point because I hadn't swum into deep water yet.  When I did...well, let's say it's not easy to swim at nearly 8000 feet.  I really don't know how the IM Tahoe folks are going to do it.  I went into a total panic because even breathing every 2 strokes, I was unable to breathe and kept inhaling water before I could turn to breathe.  Breaststroke and backstroke were my friends that day.

Stanley LOVES to swim.  He swam out to join me in the lake and we swam back in side by side.

Serious Stanley face.  Torn paw pads are not fun.

The Beardies5.5 - Beckham, Loki, Stanley, Max and Puck

Half-brothers Loki and Stanley put themselves to bed in identical poses

Moonrise over the campsite

Do we HAVE to go home?

Hiking out

It was a great weekend that - even with some swimming and running - allowed me to decompress from IM training and rest up for peak week.  Which is now here, so BRING IT!  1 week till taper!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Before and After

Yesterday we ran the boys on the field for half an hour when we got up.  They came home wet but reasonably clean. After breakfast, they decided they were still feeling energetic enough that Stan and Puck did mad laps around the yard and through the bamboo.  Wet Max just slept inside, resulting in fabulous bed-face.

The end result:

Hours of bathing, drying, brushing, combing and grooming later, they were in better shape. And even more tired, thank goodness!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Looking for love in all the wrong places

It's a recovery week.  Thankyousweetbabyjebus!  Today is even a rest day.  I went back to bed 3 times this morning.  You'd think I could just STAY in bed but this house has dogs and those dogs have needs and those needs have definitive timelines like "TAKE ME TO THE FIELD TO RUN RIGHT NOW IT'S ALREADY 5AM!"  So there you go.  At least I made those little f*ckers wait for their breakfast until I'd had a post-walk nap.

Given that it's a low-volume training kind of week, I'm doing my best to put triathlon out of my mind.  I'm more focused on finding all our gear for my first foray into the wilderness in ~4 years.  It offers me a nice break from obsessing over how many bottles to pack for this workout and what route to take for that one and WHERE IS THE FOOD? WHEN IS THE NEXT EATING? OHMYGOD ARE WE OUT OF FOOD? WHAT IF WE RUN OUT OF FOOD? AM I EATING ENOUGH?

Yes, I am eating enough. I think yesterday's adventures in culinary multiplication (2 breakfasts, 2 dinners) singlehandedly vaulted me 5 pounds above my weight at the end of Sunday's long run.  Or maybe that's just all the water I've been drinking trying to recover from those two days of training in the heat.

Before I totally forget about triathlon for the week (other than my scheduled workouts of course), I had something I was thinking about today.  A friend raised a really good point this week about how much complaining sometimes goes on in triathlon.  We choose to do this sport, for fun (and fitness and to feed our competitive spirits and all that), no one is making us do it.  For the vast majority of us, it is not our job.

And so it makes it difficult, when you truly love this sport, to see people complaining all the livelong day about the training, about how it's ruining their life, about how they aren't having fun.  We all have days where it's not fun and we all get tired.  It's supposed to be hard.  But if you aren't finding joy in it, if you don't love the sport...why are you doing it?

On that note...if you aren't darn sure you love triathlon, then don't sign up for Ironman.  Because it will chew you up and spit you out and make you its bitch - you have to REALLY like this sport to get through all that with your motivation intact.  If you are in it for external motivation only - how it will make you look like a badass to others, the cheers of the crowd - you're going to be in trouble because nothing makes you examine your own motivation more than IM training.  Cheers from the crowd don't get you out of bed at 5am to swim, or on your bike again when you are still sore and exhausted from the last ride, or through the last miles of a run when you've got nothing left.

The journey of Ironman is in the all the weeks and months of training and life leading up to race day...not just in those 17 hours or less on the course.  Race day is a culmination of everything we've accomplished to get ourselves to that point - it's a tough day and it's hard racing but if you didn't take the time to find ways to love the training along the way, what will you love about the racing? If you didn't find love out there in the spaces between suffering...well, that's pretty sad to me, you missed the whole point.

Until next time... I promise the next post will be DOG related with not a word of triathlon!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Almost an Ironman

Biggest. Training. Weekend. Ever.

I'm still sort of in awe...over the course of 27 hours (starting 8am Saturday), I swam/biked/ran enough mileage to be just 3 miles short of an Ironman.  And for whatever reason, our weather turned from mild to HOT HOT HOT just to add some difficulty to it.

On Saturday Kristi and I carpooled early down to Chesbro Reservoir for the Catfish Open Water Swim.  We were both doing the 2.4 mile swim, which involved 2 loops around the reservoir.

Representing for Team Aquaphor!

The swim went well! I PRed by 7 minutes over last year (and was 18 minutes faster than my swim at IM AZ) and finally cracked the 1:30s.  As soon as I was done, I hustled back to the car to change into my biking gear - it was already getting hot and we had a LONG day ahead of us.

Kris and I set out from Morgan Hill north heading for the Crystal Springs reservoir on the border of San Mateo - the goal was to ride 115 miles.

It was not an easy day on the roads - it very quickly got over 95 degrees and we were going through our liquids quickly.  We stopped every 20 miles or so to refill our bottles.  We focused on hitting our long 15-20 mile intervals at IM watts and just got through the miles.  On the last stretch before the turnaround, I was CRANKY - my head hurt, the headwind was driving me nuts, I was tired of being hot.  Thankfully once we turned around, I started feeling better (or that would have been a long 60 miles!).

The scenery up at Crystal Springs was beautiful though!

Totally NOT enjoying the moment but doing a decent job of faking it

Love this!

At the 100-mile mark, Jeff met us and gave us Coke and ice cubes (most of which went straight into my bra).  What a pick-me-up!  And then we continued south, ticking off the miles back to the car.  Our profanity coefficient had been increasing over the course of the ride and it hit an all-time high in the final miles (where I joked we sounded like we had Tourette's - "crotch! ass! shit!" every time we hit a bump in the road).

When we finally reached the car and were done with 115 miles of cycling (after doing a small 1/2mile out and back to reach the full mileage), we still had a short run off the bike to do.  It wasn't pretty and it wasn't fun, but it got done.  This photo gives no clue as to how completely trashed we were at this point.  I think I just repeated "holy shit" over and over for the drive back to my house.  Upon arrival, I submerged myself in an ice bath and stared into space while Puck licked salt off my arms until Jeff got home with my dinner.

After a surprisingly fitful night of sleep, I was up reasonably early today and eager to get on with my long run before it got any hotter.  I didn't get a sunburn on the long ride but I did get some nice skin reaction to the grippers on my bike shorts (heat + many hours in shorts).  

I did feel better than my long run a couple weeks ago but you know it's not a good sign when you START the run by jogging through people's sprinklers to cool off and you gag on every salt tab you have to take.  As with yesterday, the miles clicked off - I felt better on my faster-than-race-pace intervals than I did on the easy recovery ones - and finally I was able to sprawl in the shade on my front lawn and stare at the sky until I could move again.

With an almost-3-hour run in the books, I closed out the weekend with 137.5 miles of swim/bike/run.  And finished up my biggest training week ever, as well as the huge 3-week training block!  It could not have come any sooner, because I am trashed!  Rest week arrives at a perfect time and I plan to focus on recovering (eating, sleeping, etc) and not thinking much about Ironman (I'm even hoping to fit in a small camping trip next weekend).  Because after that comes peak week, soon to be followed by TAPER, and I want my focus and motivation on target when it counts.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

We're getting down to the last few big weeks of training and so it was that I found myself awake before dawn on yet another Saturday, prepping my gear and heading out for a long day in the saddle.  After killing ourselves climbing steep mountain roads last week, we opted for slightly gentler mountain roads this week.

Nigel (in town for the weekend), George and I met Kristi up in Fremont and ventured up Niles Canyon, through Pleasanton and Livermore, and onto the very quiet, very remote Mines Road, which winds up the back side of Mount Hamilton (the mountain of my birthday ride!).

We were quite happy to start out the ride under cover of fog, because we knew we'd be dealing with major heat out on Mines.

Our last refueling stop before we headed into the boonies

The very beginning of Mines Road. From here it climbs into the hills and it's 28 miles to the next available food/water!

About 8 miles down the road and we've climbed a bit already

Looking ahead on Mines - it just winds up and up this canyon (road on the left)

Later on in the climb, the scenery changed a bit as we entered a pine forest and it looked more like being up in the Sierras.  We were surprised to find this on the back side of such a dry mountain.

My favorite part of the ride - forest/trees, a narrow one-lane road and virtually no traffic!

The final steep climb before our descent to The Junction, our turnaround spot and the only source of food/water on this entire road (which continues another ~30 miles to the top of Mt Hamilton)

The view from The Junction, a tiny little biker bar in the middle of nowhere

"You're young and cute, YOU go ask the big mean biker to take our picture"

Climbing back out from the junction meant just a couple more steep uphills for the day, then we'd *mostly* be downhill going back to Fremont (but with headwind!)

It got really HOT at this point - phew!

The good news is, we kept our happy faces on a LOT longer than last week!

Finally equipped with my brand new COMPACT Quarq crank, I found it much easier to spin up the hills without destroying my legs.  And as a result, I was able to hold a much more steady wattage throughout the ride, as evidenced by my TrainingPeaks data*.

Last week - watts all over the map (and too many above threshold!)

This week - a bit more stable!

In the end, we rode 109 miles and then ran off the bike quite comfortably! I was much less comfortable getting back on the bike Sunday morning for another 3 hours (it was a double bike shorts kind of day for sure) but it got done and another week is in the books.  The countdown continues...just 2 more hard training weeks - separated by a rest week - between us and taper time!

*Don't forget, you can get 15% off a TrainingPeaks premium account and have all these cool data analysis tools too - just use code TPA14!