Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ups and Downs

It's just been one of those weeks.  Is anyone else really really happy that it's almost Friday?!

I've been dealing with massive computer problems since ~Saturday.  My 3-weeks-old external drive died, with all of my photos from the last 10+ years that the Apple store had transferred onto it for me.  I'm now spending a small fortune on data recovery.  I've been trying not to think about it too much or I'll stress worse than I already am.

Welcome to big bike block indeed.  I rode Tuesday...I rode Wednesday...I rode today.  Twice.  My legs are grateful that we won't be riding again for a few days.

Work has been batshitcrazy this week.  Meetings upon meetings, computer issues there too (GAH!), and all sorts of high profile stuff that's good for my career but adds stress.

The boys started their new nose work class this week.  Now that they understand the search game, we are teaching them to search for a specific scent and pairing that with lots and lots of rewards!  Each dog searches in his own way but they all love doing it!

And finally, one of the best parts of my week...I've been working on swim form unlike any past year and hoping that I'd finally break through a big time barrier that's been there for me since I started swimming a few years ago.  We did a timed set in Wednesday night's swim technique session - a bunch of hard 100s, with a little help from pool toys for the later ones.  Well...I swam under my impossible time for every single one of the 100s!  I will say though, it gets really hard to swim all-out with the snorkel on even though you'd think it would help you.  I had that burn in my chest for the rest of the night but still it was worth it!  Now to figure out how to duplicate that effort, repeatedly, until it gets easier!

Happy almost-Friday!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Funday

There simply is no better way to start a Monday than with a long run.  I love the feeling of getting a bunch of miles done before work!

I had this same 90 minute run (amazing that I spent an entire 4.5 minutes waiting at stoplights between the local park and the trail...I guess that's the downside of rush hour timing) a week and a half ago, the morning after my dad's heart attack.  It was nice to see how much faster I could run it - all at an easy pace - when I was well rested!

I finally went and looked up what that Pa:HR number means in the data analysis section.  It's a metric for decoupling as a measure of aerobic fitness and a number under 5% is preferred.  As I negative split this run quite well with minimal increase in heart rate, my Pa:HR of 1.82% makes sense!

I hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekend Whirlwind

I kicked off Saturday morning with my first run test in a while.  It'd be nice to see what progress I've made in my fitness with the work I have been doing.  I had a pretty good feeling going into it and it was nice to see it confirmed with my best run test to date in the 3.5 years I've been working with my coach!

The test itself is 20 minutes as hard as I could go.  Don't pay too much attention to the paces below, I wasn't really going up and down like that - my Garmin doesn't play well with the big solar panels on one end of the track.  Thankfully I was on the track so I knew exactly the distance when I was done.  In any event, I got to confirm I'm getting faster!

TrainingPeaks makes it so easy to pull out my test segment, name it and analyze the data!

Stanley was showing in Vallejo all weekend and I went to watch both days after my workouts.  Nothing exciting to report in terms of results but he sure looked good in the pouring rain and slippery mud!

My favorite blue boy Beckham on the left with Stanley stacked right behind him
 I'm so glad no one slipped in the muck out there!
 Free stacking his little heart out
He was SO covered in muck by the time he was done in the ring he needed another half-bath before I could even put him in the car to come home!  It's good to have him back though, our house is just not the same without Stan the Man.

And with that my rest week is done - bring on the big training again!!!  I don't want to peek too far ahead in my TrainingPeaks schedule but there is some solid stuff ahead.  The title for this block is BIKE FOCUS/DOUBLE BIKE.  I think that says it all.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Something to Smile About

We're finding positivity in all sorts of ways today!

Stanley's grand championship, which we finished in Arizona a few weeks ago (with me handling!), is official with AKC.  Always a relief to see it confirmed!  Too bad the win photo also arrived today and it sucked too much for public sharing :(

My TrainingPeaks ambassador page is live!  I guess that means it's official :-)  If you are interested in trying out TrainingPeaks software to track your training/nutrition/data, go sign up and use my discount code TPA14 for 15% off!
I caught a break and had decent weather for last night's swim technique session.  I feel so lucky to be working with someone who is using all sorts of great methods to hone each aspect of my stroke.  Last week we worked legs and focused on the kick, so this week we worked on arms.  That meant I did all sorts of things while my legs were tied together - what a difference to the swim on both ends when I added them back in! 
I really need to wash my bike after Saturday's wild wooly muddy ride.  Maybe next week, after the next storm hits...

I was back at the same pool again today, to cheer my sister on at the high school meet.  She took another 6 seconds off her 500 free time from 2 weeks ago.  She's getting SO CLOSE to breaking a big barrier!

I've got just a few more days left in rest week before my next big training block.  Thankfully, a resupply package came in the mail today!  I've been using Extreme Endurance this year and liking my results so far, so I decided to add in the Immune and Joint formulas.  Every little bit helps, right?
I hope everyone is having a good week - just a little longer till the weekend!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Topsy Turvy

Life took a bit of a twist this past weekend.  Jeff and I were at the Arena, enjoying the Sharks-Red Wings game and finally feeling warmed up when I got a call in the middle of the 3rd period.  It was my mother, who was on her way to the ER following the ambulance that had taken my father, who was having a heart attack.

Suffice it to say, I was very quickly NOT at the hockey game and at the hospital with the rest of the family.  It was a scary night not knowing what exactly was going on but he was already looking much better by the time we headed home.  The good news was a very minor heart attack, his heart and arteries all look great, and he's had a stent implanted in the area where the plaque rupture occurred.  And he's already home and resting comfortably!  He's already quite healthy in terms of diet and exercise - and does not smoke or drink - so he just needs to fine-tune some things to help prevent anything bad from happening again.

Somehow in the midst of all of that, the last bit of training for the block got done.  I needed that long run on Sunday morning just for therapeutic value if nothing else and managed to finish it off despite texts and calls from family along the way.  Thank goodness this week is a rest week so I've been able to enjoy the lighter volume.  Which is especially helpful as I've been busy driving kids to school, home from swim practice, etc, so that my mom can focus on taking care of my dad.

Anyway, now back to our regularly scheduled life...

At the finish line of our 1st triathlon

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Winter has finally arrived in Northern California.  Everyone else in the area has had rain every day for the whole week.  The forecasters predicted rain for us every single day.  Well, they've been 100% wrong and you'll see where this presented problems for us...

Race recovery has gone well.  I had my key bike workout of the week on Thursday and nailed those Z3 & Z4 intervals!

We've got some sort of odd inversion bubble over Silicon Valley so we only had an hour of rain Wednesday night and then a big monsoon Friday night, despite the forecast of nonstop rain.  Otherwise we've been dry as can be and I'm not complaining!  

After last night's hours of heavy rain, we woke up to dry roads this morning but it was COLD.  The forecast was...a 30% chance of "few showers" and that was it.  So I figured we'd be good to go on getting our long ride done.

After my morning swim, we all met up (Jeff, my brother, my aunt and uncle) and headed out for a long ride.  It was quite chilly - low 40s - but everything was dry.  As soon as we reached the "point of no return" it started to rain.  And then it rained more.  It never stopped, for the next 2.5 hours.  Once we were completely drenched, Mother Nature added in some wind, and then some more wind, and then hail just to exfoliate my face nicely post-swim.  I couldn't feel my fingers and toes for most of the ride.  When we got back to the car, Jeff and I pulled off our jackets and socks and shoes, threw our bikes in the vehicle and ran the heater full blast for the drive home trying to warm our toes up enough to feel them.  We raced into the house, dropped all the wet clothes in the laundry hamper and dashed to our hot tub.  After sitting in the HOT TUB still shivering for 10 minutes, we made a break for the steam shower and after running that for a while took a hot shower and dried off.  It wasn't until I had a Baileys & hot chocolate that I finally warmed up.

This is not a happy face, except maybe joy at being done with a miserable ride.  Those are not freckles, they are mud.
 Those are white socks normally.
We weren't the only cyclists on the road today so at least I know I wasn't alone in my stupidity.  I made it my only goal for the day to not crash - it was super wet out there and conditions were definitely sketchy so I rode well very restrained and took all of the big downhills cautiously.  I'm just glad all I have left is a long run tomorrow to end this training block and then I can enjoy a nice rest week!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Instagram Life

One day at the pool last week.  It was much cloudier today.  For which I was grateful for the dash of cold air on my face as I just about hurled doing the 400 IM.
 Max's belated birthday lunch at Rock Bottom Brewery.  He's just a happy guy anytime we go out.
 Stanley the table shark hoping I would drop some food.
 The "alpha male" of the flock of peacocks that live near our friend was trying to impress me.
Walking dogs on one of the local creek trails (I'll be racing on this path twice this year)
Waiting for Stormageddon.  While it rained a little in the morning, it was clear again this afternoon.  All my friends around the Bay Area said they'd had downpours all day!
Still not raining at 5pm so we might as well run the dogs over at the high school!
 You can't see the mountains for all the big clouds rolling over, so maybe the rain is finally coming?
 Stanley flirting with an IG
Now it's nearly 7:30 and...still no rain!!!!!  So far this storm is sure a bust as far as my neighborhood is concerned!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

South Bay Duathlon Race Report

The South Bay Duathlon just 20-25 minutes away in Morgan Hill and run by one of our local race companies was a perfect way to kick off the season in that respect! The course started and finished at the local high school but was mostly rural through farm fields and parks.

The best part about small local races is getting to do them with lots of friends.  I was busy visiting with people from the moment I got there (Mary and I were parked right next to each other) until the moment I left!  Meredith was even awesome enough to come down just to volunteer removing timing chips at the finish line!

With agility & nosework classmate/masters lanemate Mary and my aunt Jo

Three ELF athletes at today's race - Kristi, Mary and me

Oh, you wanted to hear about the race, didn't you?  Well...let's see.

One thing I haven't talked about much here on the blog is that I aged up into a new age group this year!  The 35-39 women are one tough and competitive group but I'm excited to join the ranks.

The 39-and-under women's field lined up at the start line first (yay for going before the men for once!) and with a honk from the air horn we were off!  The pace was pushed from the start but I was pleasantly surprised to see I was hanging with 3 or 4 other women at the front.  One quick flat loop on the run course and we were back to transition.

2 mile run, 7:21 average pace.  The first mile was the fastest mile I've run to date, a 7:06.  Soooo close to finally breaking 7 minutes for a mile!

T1: 0:52

Off onto the bike and time to hammer two mostly-flat-with-one-steep-hill loops through Morgan Hill.  My instructions from Coach were to hold ~90% of my bike test watts for the ride, so I just focused on pushing the pace and keeping my watts up.  It made it simple in the headwind, tailwind, uphill, downhill, etc to just keep those watts up!  I found the uphill was the one spot I got to catch my breath!
10 mile bike, 18.7 mph average.  And I totally nailed Coach's instructions with an average power of 91% of my threshold watts!

T2: 0:49 (and would have been faster if i hadn't had to tie my shoelace that had come undone during the 1st run! Time for some speed laces...)

And then off for another loop of the run course!  I'd made the mistake of taking a caffeinated gel pre-race and it came back to haunt my stomach at this point.  For the first mile, I hung with another woman from my AG that I'd been back and forth with the entire race and when the chance came to go with some faster women from another AG I went for it and pushed as best I could the end.

2 mile run, 7:52 average pace.

At this point I was quite happy just to have nailed my plan as determined with my coach - that's always what I consider the biggest success for a race.  The combination of perceived exertion (on the run) and hard data (on the bike) worked just as intended today!

I drank some water and cheered in all my friends and family...put a layer back on because I was getting cold...packed up my stuff and chatted some more with Mary and Kristi.  We said we should check the results before leaving so we wandered over to the results tent and realized the awards ceremony was going on at the same time.  Just about the same moment I saw the posted results, I heard my name being called!


Making the podium for my 1st race in the 35-39 is an extremely nice way to begin!

Puck wanted to help display my prize shirt, just so he could sneak into the blog for Maggs

I was a good athlete and went for my recovery run before heading back home.  Jeff was peeling bags and bags of oranges off our tree when I got back, so I ended up juicing something like 100 oranges.  We are stocked on Vitamin C for the week.

Don't worry, I made sure there was fun race recovery eating accomplished!

Thanks to my coach for taking me to new levels every year!  Thanks to TrainingPeaks for supporting me in racing this year - I look forward to having a team kit to wear by my next race!  And thanks to Concept Cyclery for keeping my bike happy and healthy so I can ride the heck out of it!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Getting the work done

I don't have anything too exciting to report with respect to training.  I'm just trying to get the work done, one day at a time.  Swimming continues to feel new and exciting as my stroke changes bit by bit.  I have some sort of a *thing* about swimming in evenings (I hate it) but I show up for my weekly lesson and always come home happy and energized.  I was able to translate that into a really good swim at masters late this week where I just plugged away at the workout without the negative thoughts that usually enter my head during a swim.  It didn't hurt that I got to play with my new Garmin 910XT in the pool twice this week either!

This is my new favorite recovery/anytime drink.  Best coconut water I've tried and it tastes exactly like sticking a straw in a fresh coconut (which I've also been doing lately but it's a bit messier).

I've worn out most of the SwimOutlet suits I bought for training last year, so when I heard Splish was having a sale earlier this week, I took advantage!  If nothing else, I can continue to amuse my swim coaches and the lifeguards at the lap swim pool.

The first race of the year is tomorrow morning!  My bag and bike are packed up and everything laid out.  The hard part will be going to bed extra early and waking up extra early due to the time change overnight.  My main goals are just to remember how to blaze through transition quickly and to go hard, right on through the finish line.  Another lesson in suffering, if I'm doing it right.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Max

Today my heart dog turns 10 years old!

Max is the longest relationship I've ever had and one of the biggest influences in my life.  Together we ventured into the new-to-both-of-us worlds of conformation, agility, obedience and nosework and formed a team/partnership that rivals anything I've ever experienced.  He's got a laundry list of titles before and after his name - the meaning there is not in racking up one more piece of paper from an organization but in the time invested to learn how to be a team and challenge ourselves doing something fun.  He was NOT an easy puppy for a first-time owner/handler but we muddled on through, learned from our mistakes and developed an easy bond that now means we can read each other's thoughts and intentions with a small bit of body language or expression.

Max is quite the benevolent alpha with other dogs and has schooled every dog that's been a part of this family as to what constitutes proper play and interaction and what qualifies as "too much fun."  He's set the standard that every dog I own will have to live up to!

As an only dog with me for his puppyhood, Max was far too serious for such a young beardie.  He was the reason Jeff and Cujo came into our lives and he embraced Jeff as one of his favorite humans from the get-go.  The addition of Stanley five years ago came during Max's working prime - the chase for his MACH title - and he was all business with the goofy puppy.  When Jeff lost Cujo almost a year ago, it was as if Max sensed what his next job needed to be and he devoted an inordinate amount of attention to accompanying Jeff everywhere and keeping him company.  I've had the greatest joy of watching Max experience a 2nd puppyhood since the arrival of Puck five months ago as he's turned into the most playful dog in the house, firmly but lovingly instructing the puppy on proper behavior and playing with him all day, every day!

And so with that, I wish the original muppet the happiest of birthdays and promise him lots of cookies and walks to celebrate his special day.