The Bike and I

It’s hot tonight and my brain is scrambling to figure out what to write about here. My posts of 2014 have dwindled considerably. My last post was on tutus for goodness sake! What the what?

Frankly, I haven’t written because I feel like I haven’t done anything that is notable to write about. Which obviously is a self-defeating thought and a crock of sh*&. Clearly I have done some things because my year to date Strava profile shows over 600 miles of cycling and 30k feet of climbing. That’s something, right?
I just…well…I don’t have a “big” event this year.

And that’s ok.

A couple months ago my knee started getting cranky with me while running. I decided to cancel my Barb’s Race this year and take it easy on the running to avoid injuring it. Fortunately, it doesn’t bother my cycling.
The bike and I have an unusual relationship. I love my bike. I love thinking back about some of the amazing rides and sights I saw. But dagnabit, sometimes riding a bike gets me way out of my comfort zone. I also wish I was fast. Like Fast with a capitol “F.” I live in an area where if you go for a ride on a Sunday morning, chances are a pack of super fast road bikers will whiz past you.
I want to go to there.

Though don’t get me wrong—I have improved. Last week I rode the Barb’s race course with some friends. It was awesome not worrying about training for a big event and just enjoy 56 miles of biking. Well, as much as 56 miles can be enjoyed. At mile 43 the big climb started. For some reason I felt like attacking this climb because…well, I am not entirely sure why. And it felt fantastic. I think I have ridden that hill 8 times in the past 6 years and it has never felt that great. I didn’t even realize I hit the top!
And because I am a crazy woman I decided to ride a local century the following day. Well, technically 50 miles. That couldn’t take too long right? My friends Lisa and Jim met me at my house and we headed out for our ride. Getting back on the bike seat a day after riding 56 miles was not the best feeling in the world. I had ridden part of this route 2 years ago when I was training for Death Ride. 15 miles in, I was dying…we were riding up highway 9 and it was a never ending climb. I think in 20 miles we already climbed 3,000 feet. The 56 mile ride was barely 2000 feet of climbing. Holy hell it was hard and I thought to myself, “Toto we are not in Death Ride shape any more.”

We decided to cut the ride down to 40 miles which meant finding an alternate route. Our best alternate was Page Mill road, which I had never ridden down.

And oh em gee was it cray cray. (note to self: stop saying “omg” and “cray cray”…for reals now. And stop saying “for reals.” You were an English Major for goodness sakes!)

There is an episode of the HBO series Girls where the main character, Hannah, meets with an editor of an online magazine for a prospective freelance writing gig. The editor asks Hannah if she has seen her sign:

magic

“Do you get it?” She asks Hannah.

“So, the magic happens outside of my comfort zone?”

Let me tell you, any time I ride down hill I am way out of my comfort zone. And Sunday’s downhill was far from magical.
I was a hot mess. The descent was crazy with sharp turns and lots of cars and no shoulders (Mom, if you are reading this, what I meant to write was, “It was a relaxing ride, and I rode 5 miles an hour and the road was closed to cars”). We took a turn on another steep road aptly named Moody because I could feel a full blown panic attack coming on. It’s always a weird feeling when you are on a steep downhill wanting to stop and your brain is like, “ I don’t know how to stop This does not compute.” I managed to get off my bike without falling over and walked it downhill for 5 minutes so I could calm down. My legs were shaking. My hands were screaming from breaking so hard.

Down hills are so out of my comfort zone. And that is when I get frustrated—why can’t I get it together?

So, Dennis and decided I needed to try something to help me get better with my bike handling, confidence and balance.
We got me a mountain bike. I am still in the getting to know you stage of the relationship with my new bike. She is very different from pink bike and I am sure she will have a lot to teach me. We took it out on a local (flat) trail and it felt so weird riding on dirt on a narrow path. We did some drills to practice rear and front breaking. And, apparently, when you ride mountain bikes you really aren’t in the seat much. Which– hopefully —all of these new skills will help me gain confidence at biking because I really do love biking.
Last but not least—I did my first tri of the season today! It was the Mermaid Alameda—a fantastic short and fast course. Which… I forgot to train for. But again, not having a goal time to obsess over really helped me just relax and enjoy the event. I swam with my friend Nancy, which was great. I really wanted to dominate the bike because it is such a flat course that you can get some good speed going. I passed a fair share of people and then this woman passed me. I narrowed my eyes and thought to myself, “I am going to get her.” It was pretty fun chasing her for 5 miles. I finally passed her, and I think she thought the same thing, “I am going to get that pink bike.” Alas, she passed me and I just couldn’t get her. The run…was a run. Not my fastest on that course and not my slowest. More importantly—my knee didn’t bug me. I finished the race and was cheered on by my amazing Team Mermaid teammates. Six years of these wonderful ladies supporting one another makes ANY race a party.

Tutu Gate

There are many great debates in history. Pepsi versus Coke. Team Aniston or Team Jolie. Boxers versus briefs. Real Housewives of OC versus Real Housewives of New York.

And, of course, tutu versus no tutu.

Wait, what?

So, you probably read about the utter fail of Self Magazine for posting a picture of women running in tutus and called running in tutus lame. It also turned out that one of the runners had brain cancer and that she also sells tutus and gives some proceeds to charity. Nice Self, reallllll nice.

It’s been interesting to see people respond to this situation and also discuss at lengths if tutus are ok are not. Today my pal posted this. So, I feel like it is my duty to counter her argument with the reasons why I wear a tutu. It’s all in good fun on this dreary, rainy Monday.

So, let Tutu Gate begin!Image

Why Running Tutus are awesome:

1. A tutu really ties the running ensemble together

2. After racing it also makes a great cat toy

3. I have broken an hour in a 10k only twice. Once when I was 29, and the next time I was 35 and wore a tutu. Holla!

4. Because sometime around mile 11 in a half marathon I may start to fall apart and hearing someone yell out, “Awesome tutu!” can give me that extra boost.

5. Tutus are a great barrier for people who try to run close to me. I have space issues.

6. Tutus help the economy. If you don’t believe me, type in “running tutus” on Etsy.

7. When you are at a super crowded race trying to find your friends, you can tell them “I am wearing a pink tutu” and it is a good way for them to spot you.

8. Because races are the only times besides Halloween where it is socially acceptable to wear a costume.

9. Because seeing someone coming out of a porta-potty wearing a tutu is brilliantly surreal.

10. A tutu helps me not be all about chasing a PR. I have had plenty of races where I was disappointed with my time. When I wear a tutu (or sparkle skirt or whatevs), it is a reminder of “Hey, you are doing this because on some level this is FUN. So, chillax.” (apparently my inner voice likes to use phrases from the early 2000s).

But hey, tutus aren’t for everyone and that’s totes ok too. Do whatever YOU need to do to get you to your own personal start line. Wow, that was way deep, right?

 

“Would you like help out today, ma’am?”

Oopsie daisy…the new year kind of snuck up on me. How the heck did it get to be 2014 already?

Usually I do a year in review to capture the noteworthy events from the prior year. Truthfully, it is all kind of a blur right now. The past few months have been a whirlwind of stuff for me (actually I think it has been for everyone) and I am trying to just chillax and take things day by day.

Early in December, hubby and I started our house flooring project which consists of taking out the carpet and replacing with laminate. We also decided to do it ourselves. I was pretty nervous about the project–mostly because hubby is super meticulous and a perfectionist (which is awesome when you are doing home renovations) and I, am…well, not. My goal was to not mess anything up, or that we wouldn’t get frustrated with each other.

It actually worked out quite well. I took on the parts that weren’t as precises as, say, cutting flooring to fit perfectly into a corner. My job was pulling up the carpet, the carpet pad, pulling up the stables, ripping out the baseboard, some spackling..etc. Lots of manual labor and using muscles I rarely use. I was also named the “gopher”, which meant running to Home Depot (get it, “go-fer”?), dropping off the carpet remnants, listing furniture on Craigslist and–most importantly–ensuring Dennis stayed fueled and hydrated. I say “we” did the flooring, but it really was 75% Hubby. I didn’t care for the term “gopher” so we decided to call me chipmunk because they are cuter than gophers.

PHASE 3:

FLOOR

The project is in its end phase, and our downstairs is in a bit of a disaster zone. No furniture and for 3 weeks we have been sitting on bean bags. On New Year’s Eve we were mellow (I was coming off a cold) and ordered in pizza and watched The Big Lebowski. On bean bags. I obviously have not evolved much since college.

TUFFETLily patiently awaits a new couch…the bean bag will suffice. For now.

Speaking of evolving (nice segue, right?), 2013 was definitely a year in the books for me and lots of lessons learned. And realizations.

For example, I am “Ma’am”ed now more than I am “Miss”ed. You know, when you go to the grocery store and they ask you, “Would you like help out today, Ma’am?” Ouch. It just seemed like the ma’am thing happened overnight, and how can that be when I still feel like I am 17? In September I chopped my hair off and went darker (closer to my natural color, or so I remember). One day I looked in the mirror and thought, “What the heck?!” With the darker hair it is wayyyyy more noticeable when the grey hairs come in. How did they multiply like that? How can this be?  I guess I was in denial of their existence when I was highlighting, but now there is no escape.

And it is totally fine…the ma’am thing. It is just a new reality. Though, I am secretly nervous that one day while shopping online, ModCloth will send me a pop up message when I am trying to check out that reads, “Um, seriously? Are you buying that for you? Maybe you should stick with Ann Taylor Loft there, ma’am.”

Event-wise it was an interesting year. Rather than summarizing it in great detail, here is a picture:

2013When I see those medals, what comes to mind is, “good times.” Not as in my actual race time, but how each of those events has some good memories attached to it. The LA Marathon was great because I got to spend the weekend with my friend Robyn and her wonderful family. I finally (after 5 years) finished Barb’s Race. The Las Vegas 1/2 Marathon is officially a race I plan to do annually (especially this year since Britney is in concert ya’ll!). And in spite of it being a brutal-ish course, the Lavaman in Hawaii was pretty incredible.

When I think about it, I also didn’t take things as seriously as in past years. It wasn’t the be all end all if I didn’t have a result I wanted. Maybe someday a sub 2 hour 1/2 marathon. 2013 just wasn’t the year.

Which brings us to 2014. What will this year be all about? After I finished Barb’s, hubby and I were talking about what my “big” event for 2014 would be. I tossed some ideas around–aim for a sub 7 hour 1/2 ironman? Death Ride again? Concentrate on short distances? None of those ideas really clicked with me…I wanted something to bring me out of my comfort zone…something I haven’t done before…something that would force me to bike more (pink bike didn’t get a whole lot of love in 2013). And then I realized this event has been in front of me the whole time, I just never noticed it: Vineman Aquabike. This event is in July and is the same course as Barb’s, just minus the run. Oh, and double the distance. So, a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride. I have done a 2.4 mile swim before. I have biked more than 112 miles before. But together, well that seems like a Challenge! Whoo hoo.

What else will 2014 be about? Well, I am thinking that there will be a lot of change involved. Our home renovation project is a good metaphor for that. The change isn’t happening fast, it isn’t easy, but I have learned a lot through it, and am excited to see what the end result is…which brings me to the biggest change for 2014.

After much consideration, I accepted an offer with another organization. I had been at my previous position for over 4 years and it was an amazing experience. I learned a lot about the nonprofit world and was continuously inspired by the dedication of passionate people, and inspired by the families we served. I also started to realize that I was ready for a new challenge and that I still have so much to learn, which is really exciting. My last day was a week ago, and I start my new position on Monday. It has been wonderful having this week off to re-set and give myself some time to myself. And if I learned anything from the last 6 years of triathlons, nonprofits and home-ownership, it is the following: just keep working towards your goal, don’t get hung up on the stuff that are considered so-called failures, try your hardest, and be surrounded by people who support you and have fun with you.

Hmmm…this seems so very mature now, eh? I guess I am earning my “ma’am” title.

I think I may have to buy this in protest of the “ma’am.”

My Anti-Yoga Pant Donation

Is it me, or have women just been body bashed to pieces on the internet lately?

In one corner, we have “Fit Mom” plastering photos of her toned physique with “What’s Your Excuse?” as a headline.  Scarlett Johansson is ripped to pieces for having –gasp– cellulite. And my personal favorite, the Lululemon CEO dude who blames the infamous yoga pant fail on some customers’ bodies not being right for those pants.

Ugh. It’s kind of getting old, right? I feel like things haven’t changed much in my 36 years on this planet in terms of women, body image, and just being ok—no, being PROUD-–of the skin you live in. Isn’t anybody going to try and change this big old mess?

Actually, yes. It’s called the Mini Mermaid Running Club. And it rocks!

From their website:

Mini Mermaid Running Club, est 2009, is an afterschool running club for elementary school-aged girls. Our mission is to teach every girl to lead a healthy life by listening to her inner voice, valuing her uniqueness, learning to love movement and discovering the finish line is just the beginning. We have clubs across the United States and internationally. Our goal is to reach the girls who would typically not have access to a program such as this. We work with local governments, schools and communities to reach our most disadvantaged girls worldwide.

Yes! TOTAL awesomeness.

And they are doing it!

A few weeks ago I wrapped up my second season as a coach for a Mini Mermaid Running Club team. I co-coached this inspiring group of girls with two friends of mine. Mini Mermaid Running Club gave us a detailed and well planned curriculum for the girls for this 6 week program. In addition to gradually working their way up to running a 5k, we had activities around healthy eating, and a community service project. Included in the curriculum is a story about Mini Mermaid and Siren. Siren is your inner voice that tells you all the things that are wrong with you, that you are bad at, that you are an unworthy person…you know, all those ugly thoughts we all have. Mini Mermaid is your inner voice that tells you that you are great, you are worthy, you are amazing.  At one workout we had girls write one or two things that their Siren voice would tell them, and then asked the girls what would Mini Mermaid tell them? For me , as a kid, I am sure Siren would tell me my hair was ugly and weird, and Mini Mermaid would tell me that my hair was fun and unique.

We then told the girls to take the paper with Siren’s words and rip it up to shreds.  It was awesome seeing the girls ripping up the papers and squealing with delight. They have the power to shut out those Siren voices and stop them in their tracks.

The culmination of this program was running a 5k race in San Francisco. It was the Mermaid Series 5k that also had a 10k and 10 miler run going on. There were 3,500  participants in this race and I believe over 100 Mini Mermaid Running Club participants in the race.  As I was at the start line surrounded by all these girls and their coaches, I felt the tears well up in my eyes. I was so honored to be part of this ground breaking organization that is changing the conversation and really making a difference in girls’ lives.

I ran/walked with some of the girls I coached. It was a beautiful day in San Francisco and we were oohing and ahhing at how amazing the Golden Gate Bridge looked on this clear day. It was great to be running a race where I wasn’t preoccupied with a PR. it was just about the enjoyment of the day and also choosing times to push our bodies and run harder.  I crossed the finish line with one of the girls and saw her mom cheering her on and screaming her name, She had a big smile on her face as she watched her 8 year old accomplish this challenge.

A few days later, our team had a potluck to celebrate the end of the season.  The girls took turns talking about their favorite part of the race. What shocked me was most girls said that they liked that everyone did so well.  It wasn’t about “I am glad I ran fast” it was “I liked that the team cheered me on.” There was a kindness in this room that these girls shared with one another that you don’t encounter that often.

At the end of the party one of the girls came over to me and gave me a card she made. It was a picture of me and said, “Jill, thank you for being my coach.”

My heart melted and I was really trying to keep those tears in.

I can’t wait for the next season to start.

In the meantime, I can still make a difference. And so can you.  I am donating $125 today to help the Mini Mermaid Running Program’s video project so they can get the word out to MORE girls! Why $125? Well, I am calling that my anti-yoga pant donation…I could spend that money on overpriced yoga pants from a company that tells me my body isn’t right for their product, or I can spend that money on a program that teaches girls that the finish line is just the beginning.

Please join me in supporting this amazing organization—you can donate here.

Part 2: Lavaman Race Report

Part 2. Aloha

The week after Vegas was still pretty busy. In fact, so much was going on I didn’t even have time for all my pre-vacation rituals (pedicure, spray tan, obsessive over packing). Hubby was busy as well and it really felt like a long time since we saw each other.  I was really looking forward to Hawaii, but mostly looking forward to 7 days with Dennis.

We decided to go to Hawaii after we got back from our Thailand trip. We both had bad tummy issues during the tropical getaway part of the trip and decided we needed a do-over. What better time than Thanksgiving week? We decided on the Big Island since neither of us had been there. Once we booked our trip in July, I did some research on turkey trots on the Big Island (it’s always fun to do an event on vacation, right?).  There weren’t any Thanksgiving races on the Big Island but I did manage to find a triathlon that was the Sunday after we arrived. Well, that could be cool! So I signed up…without actually researching the event. I had done Olympic distance triathlons before, so why not?

We flew out the Friday before Thanksgiving. We checked into the Marriott Waikoloa. It was a nice hotel with a calm bay to swim in. The hotel was pretty quiet as the busy season begins around Christmas.  There were a couple shopping centers within walking distance so we were able to walk to dinner a lot.

Saturday we headed over to Bikeworks to pick up the bikes we rented. Hubby was not going to do the triathlon, and was going to attempt to ride up Mauna Kea volcano while I was racing. When in Rome…

The bike shop employees were super friendly. Dennis put on our pedals and his bike seat on his rental bike. He has been riding like a mad man these days. I, on the other hand, have not.

We headed over to the Kailua Kona side of the Island to go to the Lavaman Keahou Triathlon expo. This is a small race—perhaps 500 people. Once I arrived at packet pickup it dawned on me how ridiculous this endeavor was—everyone looked so fit, and hardcore. “Ok,” I thought to myself, “It is totally ok if you are dead last.” There was pre-race mandatory informational talk and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach. It was very strange to be doing a triathlon where I had no clue what the course would be like.

We headed back to the hotel and I got my transition bag ready for the race, as well as put all my race numbers on the bike, helmet etc. We wanted a bland, protein focused dinner so we went to Romano’s Macaroni grill. So Hawaiian, right?

I was asleep by 8pm and woke up before my alarms (I had two backups, just in case I turned into the snooze monster) at 4:30 am. Oof. I don’t think I am doing this vacation the right way.

I drove 40 minutes to the race start. Transition was organized well and each race number had their own reserved bike rack, which meant none of the stressful last minute transition squeezing of the bikes in the racks. I headed over to the swim start but had no idea where to go. Unfortunately I was barefoot and after 20 minutes of walking around the Sheraton my feet were screaming. Finally I was back at transition and just followed the group to the short walk to the beach.

There were 5 waves for swim start, and mine was the 4th wave. It was a water start so we had to swim about 100 yards to get to the start. The water felt amazing—78 degrees and I left my wetsuit at home.  I must say, there was something incredibly special about being in this water and being in a race on the same island as the holy grail of triathlons—the Kona Ironman.

Suddenly we were off. The swim itself was nice. It was choppy, but nice clear water that got to depths of 100 feet.  When I hit the turn around, I was excited, I felt pretty good. The last part of swim was super challenging because we were swimming right into the sun.  I had no idea where to go and just started chasing the bubbles of the people who passed me.  Finally I hit the end and got back to land. Time to bike.

Yes, I was not especially looking forward to this because my bike training has been super non-existent. Oh well.

The first 10 miles of the bike were AWESOME. We rode along the water and there were gentle rollers. I was averaging 15 mph pace and started getting cocky.  I am totally rocking this ride—this may be my fastest Olympic triathlon ever—I am king of the—-

Oh. No. Then the hills started coming. And the heat. Oh boy, this was not pretty.  At mile 17 we hit a big climb. It was long. Unshaded. Long. Steep. Did I mention it was a long hill? I think this may have been the most challenging bike on a triathlon I have ever done? I couldn’t be a grouchy pants, because, hello, the amazing water was to the right of me and I was in Hawaii. I finally hit the turn around and the rest was downhill. Whee!

I made it back to transition, slathered on some sunscreen and headed to the run. I was beat up from that bike ride. I decided to make the most of the run portion and call it a leisurely stroll to see the sights. I did a combination run/walk and wound up walking most of the race. If this were a normal race I would be totally bratty and down on myself about being slow. But really, I signed up for this race for fun, was untrained for the bike, and had just done a half marathon a week prior to this event. And the beautiful ocean was RIGHT THERE! I ran to the finish line and was thankful to be done, and thankful that it never occurred to me to stop racing even though I was feeling slow.

It was an amazing event, and I was so excited to get back to the hotel so vacation with Dennis could really start.

The rest of our trip was incredible. We biked some more. I swam a bunch. We felt really relaxed and fell in love with the Big Island, and getting away from the hustle and bustle of the start of the holiday chaos. Hopefully we return, and also I can show the Lavaman who is boss and maybe, I don’t know, train for it!

And this closes the books on the race season for 2013. It was a pretty great year!

Cyber Monday Special: TWO Race Reports for one low (um, free) price!

PART  1. The Vegas Chronicles

Holy cow, how the HECK did it get to be December? 2013 is almost bye bye!

November was a whirlwind of stress (both good and bad) and activity (work and racing). I had the Vegas Rock n Roll half marathon, and then exactly 6 days later I would be flying out to the Big Island of Hawaii for a mellow Thanksgiving getaway with Hubby.

Work was crazy insane (as it usually is in November). I also managed to get sick the week before Vegas Rock and Roll. My training for Vegas had taken backseat to other things, and I took it easy the week I was sick. I originally hoped to make this a big PR race but my training was non-existent so I just decided to not have a goal time and just enjoy the race.

I mean, enjoy as much as moving 13 miles can be.

I flew out Friday after work and was the first of my friends to arrive in Vegas. I was trying to contain my excitement at our decision to splurge and stay at the Cosmopolitan as I have been OBSESSED with this hotel since they opened. I love their quirky ad campaigns, and the first time I stepped into the magical casino with strands of crystals engulfing the ceiling and walls, I knew I wanted to be at this sparkly wonderland.

sparkles

I went to register and the woman at the front desk said, “I apologize. We are overbooked for the night.”

Um, say what?

“What? “ I said calmly, “I paid for the room in full. How can this be?”

She apologized profusely and went to talk to the manager. The manager came up to me and apologized again and said they would comp me a room at the Palazzo for the night, and have a car take me there and pick me up Saturday to check into the Cosmpolitan.

Well, a free night? Sounds good to me.

I texted my friends Laree and Nancy to let them know to cab it to the new hotel. I checked into Palazzo and went to my room. Whoa. It was huge! There was a large window in the living area with an amazing view of the Wynn’s golf course.

palazoo

My friends arrived at the room and we headed out for dinner and did some dancing at an 80s themed club at the Venetian hotel. It was upper fun and lacked the annoying pretention for some of the other mega Vegas clubs (i.e., no bottle service and private tables). We woke up at 7 the next morning and walked over to packet pick up. The new hotel location was actually closer to packet pickup for the race.  We spent a couple hours at the Disneyland like expo, grabbed some lunch at the Wynn and headed over to the Cosmopolitan to check in. The front desk employees were very friendly and apologized again for the inconvenience and upgraded us to the Bellagio Fountain room.

Well, if you insist…

fountains

Finally we were in our room, and I was so excited! The rooms are decorated in a funky, simple yet modern way. We had a private terrace on the 38th floor that overlooked the strip and the Bellagio fountains.  I have to give props to the Cosmopolitan for the amazing customer service. They even brought up a complimentary plate of fruit and waters after we checked in. That night we headed to a show (rhymes with Blunder from Frown Slumber) which was HILARIOUS! We headed back to our room to get some sleep before the race. This is my third time doing Vegas RNR and 2nd time doing it since they switched it to the night. I love night runs as you get to sleep in and have some time for pre-race nutrition.  We decided to buy tickets for the race breakfast buffet which was a good idea. It was pretty bland and simple—eggs, toast, fruits, cereals and I definitely made better choices than if we decided to go to a regular brunch buffet in Vegas.

We chilled in our hotel room and finally it was time to head over to the race. I figured that because this was a throw away race for me, may as well break some basic racing rules. Such as, new shoes. I had worn my new shoes exactly two times before the race. Fortunately it was my trusted Asics model and did not give me any problems. I also tried some new compression tights for the first time. I threw a pink tutu over them and was ready to rock. The weather was fantastic as we waited for our corral to go off. In spite of being sick all week, I was surprised at the amount of energy I had race day.  The Vegas RNR half marathon is super fun. It’s a flat course, and the strip is all lit up at night.  I finished in 2:25. Not too bad considering my longest training run was 9 miles and was almost 8 weeks before the race. And it was only 4 minutes slower than last years event.  My friends rocked the race and it was LaRee’s first half!  We headed back to our hotel, showered and ate a fantastic meal at a Chinese/Mexican fusion restaurant at our hotel called China Poblano.  I woke up the next morning at 5;30 am and flew back to San Jose to go to work.  Later that afternoon while I was prepping for a meeting I thought to myself, I was in Vegas this morning. How weird is that?

All in all, a great race! I definitely want to make the Vegas RNR a traditional event. Maybe next year I will get close to the elusive sub 2 hour time. When I got home that night and unpacked it dawned on me my Hawaii trip was getting close…oh, and did I mention I also signed up for an Olympic distance triathlon on the big Island that was two days after we landed?

To be Continued…

It’s a Hard Knock Life…

OMG, can we say BLOG SLACKER?

I think it’s been, like, two months since I posted.

Well, not much and, yet, so much has happened. To sum it up, I am one month away from Vegas Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon. I am plugging away my miles and almost following the training plan to a T…almost.

A couple weeks ago I did the Mermaid Capitola Triathlon. I signed up for the Olympic distance as that would compliment my half marathon training. Unfortunately, I kind of neglected to do some swim training…and bike training…and there were a couple weeks where work was super busy and training did not become my priority.  Life happens.

It was my SLOWEST triathlon to DATE at that distance. The course is pretty challenging and this year the swim had an added bonus. When we all headed to the ocean, the beach was COVERED in seagulls. Ew, I thought to myself as I made my way to shore to warm up in the water. There was a lot of seaweed that washed up onshore and as I started walking through I wondered why the seaweed was starting at me.

Wait…what?

As I scanned the beach I saw what may be in the top 10 most DISGUSTING sights every. Hundreds of dead anchovies washed up on shore. We had to gingerly walk through them to get to the water. Oh my gosh. it was so disgusting. As I bopped around in the water to try to warm up, I also tried hard to not throw up. It was so GROSS. I called it the sashimi swim.

I headed back to shore, and got ready to start. We counted down and BAM! We were off. Again, I had to walk through the corpse fish beach and it took me awhile to get in the water. As a result, I got clogged up with swimmers who weren’t as comfy in the open water and were doing back stroke, breast stroke, hitting me in the head. There also was a strong current. The swim was not great.

I finally got to the shore, and it was a loooong barefoot run on the street to where our bikes were…and uphill. My feet were screaming in pain. I should have left some shoes at the beach to put on and run with.

The bike was where I was starting to lose it. I realized my heart was not in this race, and when that happens, coincidentally enough my cadence and mph dropped. At least it was a sunny day. I was definitely beating myself up in my head for not getting on the bike more this year.

(side note: I also did not have my watch on,  so I really had no idea my time or speed)

Finally i got back to transition and threw my running shoes on. I contemplated bailing, but I knew my buddies would be at the finish. I started the run and one of the volunteers said, “good job, almost there!” “Err,” I said, “Not quite, I have 6 miles to go.”

The run was surprisingly nice, We had a lovely view of the beach. There were some loops involved, which weren’t my favorite, but the bonus was I got to see a lot of friends on the course.

Finally, I was almost to the finish. Unfortunately, we had to finish the last quarter mile back on the sand near the start, and hello, the dead fish were still there. And, because it was a warm day there was an almost hibachi effect on the fish and holy mole it was THE WORST SMELL…I started coughing and dry heaving. I made an effort to just breathe through my mouth because the smell was violating my nose. I saw the finish and sped up all the while thinking, “Don’t yack at the finish line. Don’t yack at the finish line.”

And I finished, with all my friends screaming my name as I crossed that finish line.

Totally worth it.

The last couple weeks post that triathlon have been run focused. I also discovered how awesome Spotify is for creating running playlists. I got great ideas from other playlists. I am a little ashamed at how much Miley is on there, but her new songs are pretty fun for running. I also put the Jay Z version of Hard Knock Life on and had a revelation to put the real version from Annie on my playlist. When I ran listening to that song for the first time, I was immediately taken back to being 8 and acting out scenes from Annie with my next door neighbor (obviously, with my curly hair I was always Annie and with her straight hair she was always Molly. Decisions were so much easier back in those days…)

(“You’ll stay up until this dump shines like the top of the Chrysler building!” Awesomeness!)

Speaking of the olden days, today I ran the Morgan Hill 5k. because I had a 10 mile run scheduled, I decided to stay at my parents house in Morgan Hill and run to the start, race, and run back. i headed out my parents door around 6:45 and it was a chilly morning. I took a deep breath in and was immediately taken back to waiting at the bus stop to go to school. It was a delightful mix of the chilly air and the smell of the neighbor’s trees.

It turned out to be a 9 mile run. Not quite 10, but I am ok with it. I was hoping to be faster at this point, but we will see what November 17 brings.

Oh, and that sashimi swim? The next day one of my friends pinged me on Facebook to let me know that I was in the sports section of the Santa Cruz Sentinel looking at all the dead anchovies in disgust. Yup, in the paper and me in a wetsuit…awesomeness…

BARBS RACE RECAP: 5 years in the making

One month later and I am FINALLY getting to my Barb’s ½ Ironman Race Recap.

And it’s going to be September in a week…

Where did the summer go?

I have not blogged about the race because it has been a whirlwind of cray cray (in a good way) before and after the race. We recently opened a new office in the nonprofit I run, and opening a new office from start to finish definitely got me out of my comfort zone. Telephone systems, Comcast install, network servers, furniture, paint colors, leases…holy cow! And this was the week before the race! It actually worked out well because I was too busy stressing about Comcast being 2 hours (!) late for their install that I didn’t have the bandwidth to freak out about the race.

It’s been almost a month in the new office and I LOVE it.

Anyways, on to Barb’s.

This is kind of long, so you may want to open up a new browser screen and watch cat videos at the same time.

SWIM:

 so herein lays (Lies? Layed? Has layed? Has lays? Grammar shmammer) the big irony of my tri-life (ok, I am probably using “irony” incorrectly but who cares. Alanis did it. So can I). In theory, swimming is what I should be the most comfortable with. I swam as a kid (albeit non-competitively) and I have always felt comfortable in the pool. In my tri-training, I HATE swimming laps. It’s just so boring. And getting in the water is cold. And wet. And then open water swimming—good lord I get super nervous. Because of critters (thank you Steven Speilberg) and also, you know, the whole risk of drowning. And I have mentioned plenty of times about the chaos of the swim start and all the people. Barb’s was no different. I need to learn to be more of a defensive swimmer, but I get so flustered with all the people. Barb’s race was frustrating because we were the last wave for the Barb’s race and the first wave of the men’s Aquabike went after us,  so 10 minutes into my swim these super fast men were making their way through the water. I was stuck behind a group of 3 swimmers that started stopping suddenly and then this male swimmer plowed on through and accidentally smacked me in the head (I couldn’t get out of the way because of the bottleneck of swimmers). I stopped my swim and yelled at him, “Seriously?”

At that point I knew my main goal of the swim was to not get punched in the face.

I finally got to shore and had my wetsuit stripped off by the volunteers and was excited that I completed my non-punch in the face goal. I prepped myself for the bike. Drank some water, ate a banana and slathered on the sunscreen. Because the start and finish were at a different location, I loaded up my tri-bag with my swim items and passed it to awesome coach Gina who was there to cheer us all on and get our swim bags.

Swim time:

1.2 miles: 42:05

I was hoping to break 40 minutes. Oh well.

T1 time:  6:35

(hmmm…what the heck was I doing in there?)

Bike:

I had one goal for the bike. Ok, two goals. Goal 1 was make it under the bike cutoff at 2pm. My main goal was to not crash. 5 years ago I crashed on this course. It wasn’t an awful crash but I did have a bit of a concussion and nasty road rash (and a DNF that haunted me since).

The good news: I finished under the cut off AND didn’t crash. The bad news is…I just want to be FAST on the bike. And you have to ride more to do that…which I really haven’t biked a bunch this year. Oh well.

I was so thrilled to bike into the transition area at Windsor high school. I made it! My fellow teammate Joan was at transition cheering people on which felt AWESOME.  It is great to have people there cheering you on as you attack your goals.

I dismounted my bike and followed the signs to the run transition. It was a pretty far hike to the racks. I found my run stuff at transition (you set it up the night before). I stumbled into my running shoes, slathered more sunscreen on, put on my running hat and took off. I decided not to wear my watch as I wanted to go by my natural pace.  As I was heading out I realized I did want to know my run time so I headed back to my bike and grabbed my watch. And made a pit stop at the porta pottie (TMI I know)

Bike time: 56 miles 3:49:40

T2:  10:49 (PR for LONGEST TRANSITION EVER! HOLLA!)

Run:

Oh dear. I was really scared about the run.  I was nervous that after all of this…the training, the completing the swim, and the bike that my body would just be done and I would quit the run. Running is hard. And 13.1 miles after a 56 mile bike is way hard. Right?

Once I started the run something strange happened—I FELT FANTASTIC. My legs didn’t feel tight from biking and it just felt like a run. My watch beeped signaling that I completed my first mile. It was under an 11 minute mile, which was faster than what I planned so I pulled in the reigns a little. The run was great because the course had the Barb’s participants as well as people doing the full (26.2 mile run that followed 112 mile bike and 2.4 mile swim). It definitely got me into a good place to be on the same course as people attacking way, way impressive goals.

The day before the race Coach Gina and I chatted about run strategy and I decided to walk the rest stops. They were at every mile-ish and I was so glad I did that. One, it was good to give my legs a break and two I was able to eat and drink without choking (as I normally do when I run the rest stops).

There were HILLS on this course. It was definitely a challenging run with two loops. I HATE loops. At about mile 7 I took a deep breath and then shouted out “WHOO!” (Something I learned in death ride training last year to clear the air out your lungs). I took a fellow runner by surprise and I said, “It helps if you go WHOO!”

So she went, “WHOO!”

It’s the little things.

At mile 8 I knew that this was where dark thoughts could come and I would lose my motivation. So, I took it as an opportunity to clear my mind. I know that sounds way hippy dippy, but it is kind of hard to get all the thoughts out of your head. I worked on just focusing on my body and not my thoughts and it felt amazing. All the stresses and worries about life etc. just left and I was able to focus on my run.

I saw my friends out on the course as well, which was great.

I finally hit the main road and realized I was a little less than a mile to the finish. I felt the tears pricking my eyes. I wasn’t in pain. I was filled with excitement and joy and pride that this was happening. 5 years of wondering if I would ever finish this race and I was FINISHING it. I hit the finish chute and heard coach Gina cheering me on. I crossed the finish line! I ran over to Gina and grabbed her in a big bear hug and just let the water works happen.

I finished!

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Run Time: 2:40:36

Total time: 7:29:32

This was my third ½ ironman finish to date and it was my fastest time.

And one day I will do one in under 7 hours. One day!

Now it is back to reality. I have had a nice break from TRAINING training for the past 4 weeks (got back into biking a bit, swam in the ocean, put off running) and my Vegas half marathon training starts tomorrow. I am ready and pretty excited to actually train (in a reasonable amount of time) for a ½ marathon.  12 weeks. Let’s do this thing.

The Taper Worm

In my head, I was hoping this would be the perfect blog post. I have all these, like, deep thoughts and nuggets of wisdom, inspirational quotes that I could put on posters and sell on an Etsy shop. And maybe make a cute t-shirt line?

However, when I open a new word document all that (delusional) genius is gone.

Blank.

Screen.

It’s less than one week until the BIG race and I can tell that the Taper Worm is lingering outside my door. The taper before a big event is reducing the volume of activities so you are well rested before the event (at least that is what the internet told me when I did a Google search for it). So, I am calling it the Taper Worm. I can feel myself getting a little irritable. Tired. Overwhelmed.  Whiny. Booo…

It’s been a few intense weeks since the disaster that was the Calfornia International Triathlon. First off, there was the HEAT. The temps hit the upper 90s here in early July which made for a grumpy husband and flat, lethargic cats. I ran a 5k on the Fourth of July —I was pleased to finish in under 30 minutes.

That Sunday a group of us rode the bike course for Barb’s. We met at 7am and ironed out the logistics of dropping off cars (the finish is 17 miles from the start). Fortunately the heat wave was over and it was actually chilly the first couple hours of the ride.

I have a kind of love/hate relationship with that bike course.  The love is that it is really beautiful–you see lots of vineyards, and animals, and stuff. The hate is the roads are kind of beat up, and I have flashbacks of crashing my bike on the course 5 years ago. I have ridden that route about 6 times in the past 5 years. And I have always gotten lost somehow. Wine country kind of looks the same.

Fortunately, we did not get lost on the ride.

At mile 20ish we stopped for lunch at the same place we stopped at when we rode in June. The Dry Creek Market is amazing and I was dreaming of their sandwiches since our ride last month.  I mean, these sandwiches are so good they should have poems written about them. I ordered the grilled caprese panini—fresh mozzarella, pesto tomatoes, and  olives. So. Delish. Liz Lemon would be proud. Did I mention they make their own kettle potato chips? Drool…

About 10 miles after lunch, I was starting to regret the sandwich. My tummy was in a world of hurt.  Yeah dummy, don’t eat a grilled cheese sandwich when you still have 25 more miles of riding.  We hit the big hill of the climb—it was ok. The last 10 miles were a drag and my tummy was on fire. It was starting to get warm…it was not a party. We finally finished the ride and I stumbled into my running shoes for a 10 minute run. Ugh! The jostling was not doing my tummy any favors.

After our run we drove back to the start and jumped in the river. It felt amazing on my sore muscles and woke me up for the long drive home. My friend Wilma and I drove back to the South Bay and I felt thankful for riding the course, in spite of the tummy issues.

The weeks after that ride have been a blur of running, biking, swimming and, oh yeah, work. We are in the midst of opening a new office and the move date is August 1. Eeek!

People have asked me if I am ready for the race. My response is,  I am as ready as I will be. I put the miles in, and am trying to not dwell on the coulda would shoulda’s (“I could have done more core work, I would have swam more in the open water, I should have lost some weight by now…”). I feel calm, yet a little on edge.

And I feel a little tired.

 I am ready for this chapter to end. This race has had a big question mark hanging over me for the past 5 years– ever since I crashed my bike on the same course. I remember that devastation of not finishing the race I trained so hard for…5 years.  A lot can change in 5 years. I am getting “thank you ma’am” more than “thank you miss.”  I have done quite a few crazy events since then that really were a testament to the fact that I may not be super fast, but I can suffer through things.  The biggest change is my attitude towards this race.  Yes, I hope I have a GREAT event next Saturday, but I know that whatever the day brings (PR or no PR) it will not be the be all end all that it was 5 years ago.

I think for me the key to focus on is the mental aspect of Saturday. The run is going to be tough, and I will need to continuously remind myself that I have done hard things in the past and how awesome will it be to finally cross that finish line that I was so anxious to cross five years ago.

I am dedicating the Barb’s training ride I did  a couple weeks ago to my friend Kathy B. who donated to the Vineman Charities for my Barb’s Race fundraising. I met Kathy through an amazing nonprofit leadership program I went through last year, and Kathy is a fabulous executive coach! When I told her I was training for Barb’s race she was thrilled because she is friends with Barb (who is a cancer survivor and had this women’s only ½ iron be part of the Vineman races) and has actually gone to the race in the past to cheer people on. Thanks Kathy!

I am dedicating yesterday’s 44 mile bike ride and 10 minute run to Rezvan, who also donated. Rezvan is my former boss at Peninsula Stroke Association (now Pacific Stroke Association) where I worked 5 years ago. It was my first major position in the non-profit world and Rezvan taught me so much. I was also training for Barb’s when I first started working there and Rezvan was a huge cheerleader for me. It is fitting I dedicated yesterday’s ride to her because we rode past the building I worked in—full circle! Thank you Rezvan!

Now…time for the Taper Worm…

Triathlon Tantrums…

When I was training for the LA Marathon earlier this year, I blogged about my marathon brain, or rather my “marathon brian.” Well, triathlon training brings out something else…tantrums. Perhaps we call it triathlon tantrums?

I had one yesterday.

A small one.

But let’s start from the beginning.

I am officially less than 4 weeks away from Barb’s Race. I am trying to not freak out about it, but I am starting to feel the pressure. I have a feeling I could have trained more for it, but… coulda, woulda, shoulda.

On Saturday I rode in a metric century (62 miles) bike ride in Morgan Hill. This ride was very important for me to get done because in all of my training for Barb’s I still haven’t done a bike ride longer than 40 miles. Barb’s is a 56 mile bike ride followed by a 13 mile run. Gulp. I have ridden that distance plenty of times in the past but I was still worried my fitness levels right now wouldn’t get me there.

I spent Friday night at my parents’ house  and rode 10 miles to the start of the ride. I did this to start riding early and also not deal with the loading and unloading of the bike so early in the morning. I also rode the extra miles so I could cut off the last part of the ride and be done before the heat got intense. (FYI it got to 111 degrees in the afternoon. Eek!)

It was a very nice course. We went through farm areas of Morgan Hill and Gilroy and hit this beautiful road I had never been on called Redwood Retreat. It was at mile 30 for me and was perfect—a 4 mile stretch of road with rolling hills and lined with so many trees they created a canopy blocking the sun. It was downhill coming back on the road and the scenery was spectacular—-plus maybe 3 cars passed me!

The last part of the ride was a drag. We went on Uvas road—basically following part of the Morgan Hill Sprint Triathlon route. It was starting to get hot and I caught a nasty headwind. I slogged through the rest of the ride and made it to my parents’ house before noon and triple digit heat.

I know what you are thinking, “Where is the tantrum?”

Wait for it.

So, Sunday I also had an international distance triathlon (.9 mile swim 24 mile bike, 6.2 mile run) in Pleasanton. My coach and I agreed this would be a training race. She gave me specific directions on each leg.

So, given that it was a training race I took it as a learning opportunity as well as decided NOT to get all intense obsessing about the race.

Though I was nervous about the heat. I did the race 2 years ago and the run in pretty miserable—unshaded and some hills.

I also heard rumors about not allowing wetsuits because of the water temps. I decided Saturday night I would swim without a wetsuit. I just didn’t have the bandwidth to hem and haw over wetsuit or no wetsuit. Make a decision. Bam.

I ate a sensible dinner packed my tri bag and tried to get to sleep before 10. Alarm clock rang at 4:45 am. UGH!

Dennis woke up with me (he usually is up super early) and was kind enough to make me an Americano. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I already had coffee and a full tank of gas so I could drive straight to the race and not make any stops.

I went to the garage to grab my bike.

Errr….

Both tires were flat.

Um.

OK.

We pumped the tires and crossed our fingers that they just deflated on my drive back from my parents’ house on Saturday.

I made record time to Pleasanton—about 35 minutes! Sweet. The parking at Shadowcliff Park was pretty backed up with cars so that took a while. I saw the sign for parking “$6.”

Crap. I totally didn’t have cash.

I handed a credit card to the park employee.

“You don’t have cash?” She said, a little annoyed.

“No. I am having a hard time getting it together this morning.”

She smiled. And handed me the receipt and a pen to sign the receipt.

“Ok, my friend,” she said.

I smiled. What a nice woman.

“Um,” she said gesturing to my passenger seat, “MY PEN?”

“Ohhhh, I thought you were calling me your friend. Sorry, of course. My bad.”

Clearly one shot of espresso in the Americano was not cutting it.

I parked a million miles away from the start and started to unload my car. I grabbed my bike and noticed—

Son of a…

The rear tire was flat.

Ugh!

Fortunately there was a bike mechanic at the race doing tire changes and other repairs. He changed my flat in record time (so thankful—my tire changing skills leave something to be desired—particularly at 6am on a race morning).

I walked briskly to packet pickup to get my race bib and cap. All of my minor dramas this morning meant I was super late to transition and the bike racks were already packed. I circled the transition area and finally wedged my pink bike between two fancy time trial bikes.

A serious looking man came over and looked slightly miffed when he saw my pink bike.

“Whose bike is this?”

“Mine,” I said weakly.

“Well, you can’t have it facing the same direction as my bike on the rack.”

“Yeah,” I said, “I know, but the other bike next to mine is the opposite direction. So,which way do you want my bike?”

“Oh,” he said. “Just move it here.”  He moved his bike down and I re-racked my bike, feeling like a major poser with my pink bike with the “diva” sticker on it next to the super fancy pants Cervelo.

Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore.

I had about 20 minutes until the race started. I could feel my nerves creeping in and my feathers ruffled  by Cervelo dude’s attitude. I started to get my transition area ready when my friend Kathy found me.

“Hey!” She said. We hugged and chatted and she said, “This is my first international distance race. I am kind of intimidated!”

Kathy and I train together on Tean Mermaid and have done a lot of the all women Mermaid races. She is training for the Aquabike race that is the same day as Barb’s.

“That’s because there are boys here,” I whispered.

“Oh no!” She whispered back, “Not boys!” We giggled and she headed to her transition area.

I finally got my transition area together and the men at my rack area were super excited.

“They just announced the water temps! We can wear wetsuits! YES!”

I tried to conceal my eye rolling as they high-fived and chest-bumped. This was obviously NOT a training race for them.

It was finally time for my wave to start (we were the 4th wave to start the swim.) It was a deep water start so I and a bunch of other women were doggy paddling our way to the start.

“Excuse me!”

“Sorry!”

“Oh, pardon me.”

We were trying to not get in one anothers way as we bobbed to the start.

“We sure are polite triathletes,” I said and the ladies chuckled.

Then we were off.

And that’s when things stopped getting polite.

And started getting real.

Six years of triathlons and I am still not used to the pure chaos of open water swims. Just limbs flailing and people getting up in your business. It was a challenging swim for me, maybe because I didn’t have the buoyancy of the wetsuit.

Finally I finished the swim and got to my transition area. I drank some sports drink and headed out to start the bike leg. I felt good. I had clear instructions from my coach to stay strong on the bike and at a certain cadence. I was pleasantly surprised that the previous day’s 60 mile ride didn’t break me. I had a good speed going, probably 18 mph as it was flat. I turned a corner and then my bike started to wobble and weave all over the place.

“EEEK!” I said and hit the breaks lightly.

And…that’s a flat.

Again…

It was a front flat. In theory you think it’s good to have the front get flat instead of the back because it is easier to change. But front flats are way scarier when you are riding.

I headed over to a tree and attempted the world’s longest tire change.

Kathy rode by,” Oh no Jill! Are you OK? Do you need help?”

“I am fine. Go, go finish your race!” I said.

I finally got my tube in the tire. I could feel my hands shaking. I just wanted to ride and then run. That’s all. Is that so FREAKING hard?!

Ugh. I attempted to inflate the tire with a C02 cartridge and realized in my fumbling I had broken the nut of the valve on the tube. Yup. I was screwed.

A nice volunteer drove me back to the start. I was trying to stay positive. Just a training race. But I was irritated with myself for messing up my tube.

I waited at the finish area for Kathy to come in. It was starting to get hot and I watched lot of the runners go by to start their second loop. They looked like they were in hell.

OK, maybe it was OK to not be out there.

I cheered Kathy on as she came in—she had a good race and was feeling good about Aquabike in a few weeks.

I headed home, picked up Subway for Dennis and I. When I got home, we ate our sandwiches and I decompressed while reading US Weekly. Once the food digested, I perked up.

“That race was AWFUl!” I told Dennis.

And then the temper tantrum occurred.

(Every once in a while I get fired up on a certain topic and go off on a monologue rant of epic proportions. Dennis first experience this when we first started dating 12 years ago. I had a margarita with dinner and we rode back with the top down on his car, in January. The margarita plus the cold weather made the rant switch go off on me and I monologued for 10 minutes on the freeway about Ben Affleck’s sub-par acting abilities.)

I spewed out all of my annoyances with the race. The testosterone Cervelo dudes, the swim…my lack of flat changing skills, the intense racers….the fact that my big race was 4 weeks away…arg!

Then I calmed down. I put my bike shoes and helmet on and rode 20 miles. I came back home, put my running shoes on and ran 5 miles.

It wasn’t pleasant and I knew that I needed to get that workout in. So, I am calling it a DYI Tri. Every workout from now until July 27 needs to get done. And needs to be quality.

I am dedicating the miles of training this week to my friend Robyn, who supported my fundraising for Barb’s Race.

Robyn’s Tri DYI style:

.9 mile swim

23 mile bike

5 mile run

Plus 6 miles from Saturday’s ride = 35 miles for Robyn.

I am dedicating the DYI Tri to Robyn because it was very much a “no excuses” kind of day. And that is totally Robyn. She trained diligently for the LA Marathon—even using a jogging stroller with her son Max during an 18 mile training run. Talk about no excuses—Robyn you rock!