Spinning those pedals…

Training has included some pretty significant bike rides so far. Good thing, since race day is < 15 weeks away!
1. Pre-Wildflower double Diablo, Saturday, April 27. Mt Diablo is 3,864 feet. The ride is 10-14 miles, depending on where you start your engines (say 12 miles, 3,500 ft climbing). We did it twice. In 100 deg temps. Brutal. But, 90 minutes of consistent climbing is very good mental prep. 
2. Motherlode Century. Saturday, May 11. Another scorching hot weekend. This time, a 94 mile “century” in El Dorado County. We took a LOT of breaks on this one. Aid stations were advertised to be fairly spread out, but then ended up being about every 10 miles or so. Good, after some of the particularly heinous climbs like Mosquito Road (six miles, lots of people walking their bikes)… but otherwise only really necessary for bottle refill since it was so hot. We enjoyed the watermelon, Jelly Belly beans, and other snacks a bit too much. Regardless, early in the season for a long ride. Good to get the mileage in the bank. 
3. Normal San Rafael lollipop out towards Petaluma. Saturday, June 1. Not a very BIG ride, but a good, consistent solo effort over about 60 miles. Two short map checks and a pit stop. Decent amount of time in my aero bars. Confidence booster.
4. Ironman Lake Tahoe course preview, Saturday, June 8. Definitely took a lot of breaks, but some strong efforts over 85 miles. We did two loops, which meant we got to see the big climb twice – and notice how it felt the second time around (Not as nice. Aside from the obvious fatigue, the heat had gotten turned up a bit more, and I think I benefitted from naivety the first time up.) The top of the Brockway climb is steep. About 1,100 feet of climbing in ~ 3.5 miles. Couple other kickers in there, including a minor, but surprisingly painful climb that we’ll get to do three times, due to the 2.333 loops we do on race day. Hoping to revisit the course again this summer!

Wildflower Long Course 2013 Race Report

It was about time I had a really crappy race. Big picture, this wasn’t even that bad. I just have certain expectations for myself – and those expectations were not met out there on May 4.

So. expectations. I had expected that my swim would be about the same as it always is, my bike might be a touch slower (since some of my early weekends this year were definitely spent on my snowboard instead of my bike!), and that my run would be a little better than the past, since I’ve been doing 10+ miles for a while now with a lot of hills/trail. Which, overall would mean a time similar to 2010 and 2011, about 6h15min, or thereabouts.


Tough to say if it was lack of training or other things (um, heat) that I couldn’t control. Likely a bit of both.


Good –
  • The fast swimmers in the wave behind me didn’t catch me until I was halfway through!
  • Very little freak-out, breathing was much improved over my Olympic in April
  • Since it was fast approaching 90-100deg F and had been all week, the water was not cold at all
Bad –
  • Rumor is that the swim was a wee bit long
  • Poor sighting/judgement on the second half – seemed like the crowd was swimming closer to the shore, I was trying to follow them, but also stay along the buoy line. Should have just picked one and stuck to it.
  • Crowded finish with the mountain bike sprint fast swimmers coming in around the same time
Time: 42:25
Pace: 2:11/100
About normal for me, but I’d be stoked if distance was actually a little longer than 1.2 miles


T1: Wish I had just stopped for sunscreen. My time looks like I stopped for sunscreen. No idea what happened there.


Good –
  • Felt great up to about mile 30. Average speed was good, enough to carry me through Nasty Grade and still maintain a pretty decent overall average. That’s until mile 30.
  • Nasty Grade, Heart Rate hill. Not bad at all. I had done Mt Diablo x2 the weekend before, also in the heat. Definitely made these shorter climbs seem like nothing.
  • They repaved the descent off Nasty Grade. So. Much. Better. (Even though I didn’t know this until I was already on it and taking it way easy.)
Bad –
  • The mountain bike sprint started 15 minutes after my wave. So in addition to finishing up the swim with these guys, I had to start the bike with them. The first couple miles are all together, which was seriously not fun. Men doing a mountain bike sprint + 35+ y/o women on road bikes + bike relay folks = a major cluster fuck on some roads that are pretty twisty.
  • First bottle exchange (mile 25?) I did sucked. Got a bottle of Gatorade. Put it in my bottle cage. Leg is getting wet. Huh? Oh yeah, the cap was off and Gatorade was sloshing all over. Tossed the bottle. Sticky leg, lost hydration + electrolytes. Le suck.
  • Later, when I tried to get a bottle of water, I ended up with a Gatorade squirty bottle that was too small for my bottle cage. Had to take a gulp and toss it. Also not ideal.
  • Crushing headwind that started at mile 30, and sucked away my hard-earned mph
  • HOT. Headwind was like a furnace

I found out later that they ran out of water at the top of Nasty Grade. Total BS. I really feel bad for those riders, mostly women, who were there after me. Shame on Tri California. They’ve put on this event for over 30 years. They should be able to handle this heat better. Other stories of half-filled bottles (because some riders “just squirt it over their heads anyway” – um, as a way to cool down…) also made my blood boil. Made my unscrewed lid bottle seem like nothing.

Time: 3:30:06
Speed: 15.9mph


Oh crap. Hot.
Time 3:39


Good – 
  • I seemed to be faring better than a lot of the other people out there… tough to say if was a good thing.
  • Love for the crowd support, help from aid stations, all of the people who did their best to try to cool us down by spraying water on us. I did manage to run through the tri club cheer area, which is always a blast. Props to Steve for chasing me down and spraying me with more water.
  • The “Jiffy Lube” aid station at mile 8. COKE. OMG. COKEILOVEYOUCOKE. And Vaseline for my hella chapped and dry lips.
Bad –
  • Furnace temp winds were still in effect through some sections, almost lost my visor a few times.
  • Usually I run everything but the super steep section of the hill at mile 4. There was a LOT of walking.
  • I wish I had brought salt tabs. My hamstrings were on the verge of cramping for about 75% of the run. I have never had this problem before in training or racing. Yowza!
  • They ran out of cups at mile 6. Weren’t sure if there were cups at future aid stations, so I ran with a used cup in my pocket for the next couple of miles. Gross.
  • Never wanted to DNF so badly in any other race. Miserable. Absolutely not fun.
Time: 2:10:32
Pace: 9:57 min/mile


Here are stats from 2010 and 2011. Also,  my 2011 WF LC RR. Basically, I have been getting slower over time. Awesome. So much for the mid-30s endurance performance peak. F*ck.
2010 – 40:33, 2:05/100, 1017 overall
2011 – 41:28, 2:08/100, 1126 overall
2013 – 42:25, 2:11/100, 1301 overall
2010 – 4:55
2011 – 4:35
2012 – 5:06
2010 – 3:21:53, 16.6mph, 847 overall
2011 – 3:26:20, 16.2mph, 843 overall
2013 – 3:30:06, 15.9mph, 1082 overall
2010 – 3:05
2011 – 2:15
2013 – 3:39
2010 – 2:02:14, 9:19 min/mile, 475 overall
2011 – 2:07:07, 9:23 min/mile, 582 overall
2013 – 2:10:32, 9:57 min/mile, 558 overall <- interesting that this is just 3 minutes off from 2011 when it felt like it took an hour longer. Huh.
2010 – 6:12:29, 19/122 in W30-34, 82 woman overall, 634/1860 overall
2011 – 6:16:45, 27/115 in W30-34, 112 woman overall, 680/1813 overall
2013 – 6:31:48, 22/98 in W35-39, 105 woman overall, 789/2089 overall

HITS Napa Olympic Race Report

What?!? Yes, that’s right. I raced. Let’s discuss.

Sunday, April 14. Lake Berryessa. Link to HITS Napa Valley event
Aside from the normal training, I did take a visit up to the area to check out the bike course. The route we did that day included a missed turn, so we didn’t preview that much of the course, but enough for me to see that road conditions were mixed and that I needed to be able to deal with constant rollers and an exposed run course.
  • Water temperature pretty cool (I’ve read water temps were either 53 or 63, going with 63 – cold, but not miserable). Lake was fairly calm, some breeze.
  • Some wind on the bike – was hoping for more of a tailwind on the way back. Of course, that never happens!
  • Air temp was probably in the low to mid 80s. Warm, sweaty, but manageable for a shorter race.
Taper = minimal. I rode an easy 20 miles on Saturday, but otherwise left my training week the same. The race was definitely not supposed to be a major event in my tri season.
Wave 1 – men 39 and under, wave 2 – men 40 and older, wave 3 – all women. Big group, but not terrible. I started out to the side to avoid the fast swimmers, but not in the way back with the newbies. Two loops, double the sprint course that went off right before the Olympic. New to me – getting out of the water after the first loop. Yeah. That was rough. Kind of a traffic jam at the exit, and then the re-entry to the water required a bit of a mental kick. I found myself really kind of battling my wetsuit (since I haven’t worn it in a while) and sucking in a lot of air and water, rather than breathing calmly. Got popped in the jaw by some dude’s elbow towards the end. Pleasant.
Time: 33:02. Pretty normal.
OUCH. The gravel was really sharp and seemingly endless. Very few really good T1 times. Transition area was ordered alphabetically, so no idea of where I was with my AG. No socks, no gloves, just wetsuit off, helmet, glasses, gels in pockets, squirt of a half a Gu and water in my mouth. One bottle on my bike.
Time: 2:41
Fairly constant rollers. Couple aero opportunities. Out and back course. Warm. I choked down a half a gel at some point, but barely had any of my drink (Perform, in prep for IM LT) during the ride. Stomach wasn’t feeling great. Had a group of a few grumpy men and nice lady that I passed on the ascents and then got passed on the flat/down. Pretty standard issue for me. (Even though I really did not brake much at all on the descents!) Was hoping to see an average in the 18-20mph range. Barely made it.
Time: 1h22m, 18.1 mph
Since my tender little toes were covered by bike shoes, T1 was much easier.
Time: 1:25
Now much stomach was REALLY pissed off and felt like a big weight in my gut… but my legs? They felt GREAT. Over the out and back, gradual up and down and up and down course, my legs, thankfully won the battle over my stomach. The long, slight downhill to the turnaround was mentally fatiguing, as I was dreading the uphill return – but the return part was all about just finishing so I could calm down enough to loosen my twisted stomach. (Thank you to Super Dave for the TUMS in the transition area after it was all over.)
Time: 47:57, 7:43 min/mile
2:47:15. 3rd place award in my AG. Very surprised and very happy. A nice welcome back to triathlon after taking last year off.
Props out to…
Steve, for leaving at dark o’clock… 3:30am… to go to the race with me.
Heather, Mary, Rachel, and Don for going to Lake Berryessa the week before for a little preview – and not yelling at me when I made a wrong turn immediately out of the transition area.
HITS for altering their policy to allow for same-day packet pick up
Wildflower Long Course on May 4.

Kindness in the transition area

Race report and training updates and schedule – on the to do list. But for now, a race morning story to say happy Friday. 

Transition area. Dark o’clock. HITS Napa on Day 2, which means there’s an Olympic and a Sprint race. The Olympic area seemed pretty evenly split between newbies and people with a fair amount of experience. 
My bike was racked in the back and I’m getting all set up. Kind of wish I had brought the bike pump to the transition area, kind think my tires are probably okay. I look across the area to see if anyone had a floor pump handy. No… but there’s a group of people huddled around someone who’s pumping up their tire with a hand pump. Um… not going to work.
I ask my darling boyfriend (gold star for being there with me at the aforementioned dark o’clock) to get the floor pump and ask the hand pumper if she wants to borrow a floor pump. At first, she’s reluctant. No… it’s okay, they got it. Finally, she decides yes, she would like to borrow the floor pump, but wants me to come with her to help her do it. Ah, newbie. Okay. So I go over with her and walk her through putting the trusty yellow Joe Blow pump on her tire, etc. She says that her tire goes up to 120 psi. I looked at her and said, “Oh, smaller people don’t need to go all the way up to that, that’s just the max. I use between 90-100 psi. Maybe try that? It’ll be a little smoother ride.” This woman – this triathlete – looked at me like she was about to cry, but also with a HUGE smile. “Did you just call me a smaller person? I just lost 70 pounds.” And then she called for a friend of hers, “Donna, this lady just called me a small person. Can you believe that?” 
I was so thrilled to have made this woman’s morning that I was sure the happiness would get me through the swim. A fabulous, unexpected delight and a reminder that our words are very important!


Reviews of new training tools

I’m trying out some new tools this year. Let’s discuss.

First up – Strava, for tracking my training.

Hm. I don’t know where all of these magic segments start and end, so I’m usually just pleasantly suprised when I upload my Garmin data and find that I am on a leaderboard (or not) for a particular climb. Maybe this will become more obvious when I learn the routes in my area better… but I really hope I manage to NOT get sucked in to researching the start/stop of each segment prior to a ride. Seriously, I do not have time for that shizz.
Other Strava feedback:
  • I wish I could enter my non-GPS stuff on the mobile app. Chances are good that I have my phone with me at the gym when I do a treadmill or spin workout, but I have to wait until I’m at an actual computer to manually add that workout. I can totally do this now!
  • I do like that I can add my swim/spin/treadmill stuff at all – does help me to see what I’ve done over the past week in terms of total time spent training (minus strength/core/PT  including strength/yoga in the generic “workout” sector), but I don’t think this is really the intention of the product.
  • The social component of Strava – where you can follow people and comment on their activities is much more fun than expected. I’m helped by having a few buddies that seem into making comments and hope to do more of this myself. It feels great to have a friend give you kudos for a training session!
  • Wish I could enter a swim session in terms of yards, instead of converting yards to miles, since the website then converts to yards anyway!
  • I’m not using the premium features, but the idea of a “suffer score” seems like it could be an interesting carrot for some athletes looking to rank their workouts.
iPhone music app – Songza.
I frickin LOVE this app, which allows you to select from many curated playlists. Activities include “cardio,” which equates to some great, uptempo, fun music. I could not do a treadmill, or self-taught spin, workout without this app (thankful my gym has wifis).
  • I have not yet found a limit to the song-skip (thumbs down) feature. This is helpful, since I seem to like about 2/3 of the NPR workout mix.
  • Doesn’t appear that you can download entire playlists, but you can buy songs off the app. There are some songs that I hella wish I had on my shuffle (Running mix is circa 2008. Ouch.)
  • No ads in between songs (I don’t remember if I paid for it or not, but if I did, I guarantee it was not more than $2.99)
Triathlon speed/pace/time monitor system.
Historically, I’ve just worn a standard Ironman Timex on my wrist, clicked “lap” for each event and used whatever bike computer I had – be it a basic wireless computer, or my Garmin. Then I did Ironman and used my Garmin throughout. I really liked having my pace on my wrist for the run and now want to try it for other races – but other races don’t come with a transition volunteer to help you get your watch on your bike, or back on your wrist for the run. PLUS, I’m getting greedy and want a cadence monitor on my bike.
I was thinking about adding a cadence sensor to my Garmin and setting it up for transitions.
Here’s the how to from GPS/tri training equipment reviewer DC Rainmaker. Cons, as I see them?
  • h/t Brett – do I want to fumble with a little piece of equipment while I have cold hands after the swim? Shaky hands after the bike? What if I don’t lock it in properly?
  • The plastic strap for the 310XT looks uncomfortable on my smallish wrist
  • The clip on the new strap makes the computer sit up even higher on your wrist, which would take some getting used to on the run, and annoying as heck with a wetsuit for the swim.
So…I just installed the Cateye Strada Double Wireless. This tool is supposed to track your cadence AND speed – hence the double in the name.
  • Got the cadence piece to register, not the speed piece
  • I’m a little uneasy about having components just zip-tied to my frame and crankarm – there’s a magnet on my crankarm and a sensor on the chainstay.
  • I’m not sure if the speed isn’t registering because I didn’t correctly allow the sensors to get ID’d, or because they’re too far away 
  • I may be spoiled by the easy UI of the Garmin. I really hope that once I get the speed function working, that the time/speed/average speed/distance will just scroll on its own. I do not know if it will do that!
  • UPDATE: I took this off my bike because I was having a tough time getting the infos to all connect. Will either be selling to someone with more patience, or trying it again sometime (7/26/13).
My tri club has put our IM training plan into Training Peaks, so I may give that a shot. Comments to follow.
Other tools you want me to discuss?
Reader (only?) and former training husband, Ryan, reminded me that Strava is not a substitute for my blog and that he actually enjoys reading my posts. Awwww. Thank you!

Not a master + knee update

So, thanks mostly to my knee pain, I’ve been back at the pool. Saturday and Sunday on my own, then Tuesday and Thursday with Masters. 
Lap swimming at the public pool over the weekend. Six lanes. Two medium – on the left. Two fast – in the center. Two slow – on the right. The fast lanes are less crowded than the medium lanes, but I knew that if just a few more Actual Fast Swimmers came into that lane, I’d get run over. I joined the medium lane, where I felt, next to the old lady with the snorkel, the puffed-out chest guy doing one length at a time, and the breast strokers, like I was Michael fricken Phelps. (I also assumed that there must be water wings and a swim up bar in the slow lane if those were the medium swimmers.) 
But then… masters. Masters is intimidating. 
I have found the slow lane, where I am not in fear of being run over. The coach is great. He gives the fasties their stuff and then, when I finally finish the first set, he tells me what to do next. 
Tuesday included 9×100 yards. In swim speak, the coach will say something like 9x100s on the 1:30, meaning to start the next 100 on 90 seconds – regardless of when you finished the previous one. So rest is variable, and, if you don’t pace yourself and tire out early, rest gets shorter and shorter as you slow down. Afterwards, I heard women talking about doing these on 1:05, 1:10, and 1:15. 
I did them on 1:55. I am slow. It is a wonder I haven’t gotten booted from masters, since I obviously have mastered nothing.
Thursday, the coach told me to do a set that included 100s on 1:45. I’m sure this sounds ridiculous to him, but he always manages to keep a straight face. Sadly, 1:45 is a fast 100 for me. Meaning, no rest at all. 
Awesome. I got him to give me an extra five seconds so I could catch my breath. And then towards the end, I had to give myself another five seconds since I slowed down. Ouch.

Knee update:

One week post-onset and I’m doing much better. I’m still in pain when I lift up my knee, but nothing like before. I’ve brought my mini foam roller and a lacrosse ball to work and try to carve out a few five minute breaks to just shut my door and roll out my legs. Felt a huge release in my hip on Tuesday, thanks to some quality time with my roller while watching The New Girl and The Mindy Project. Seems like a good excuse to watch tv to me!
Took the week off from spin/bike/run (aside from my flat commute to work), returning to the bike on Saturday. 
Planned prevention:
Continued self-care, like my mini breaks during the day, longer sessions anytime I’m watching tv. I’ve highlighted the yoga classes at my gym that could work with my schedule (next up – actually GO to a class), and hit up a yogi friend for some help with a home practice in the 20 minute range. I also seriously need to continue to follow mobilitywod.com and stay on top of this shizz. Maybe swap out Body Pump with some heavier weight training, at least early in the season.

Take care of your body!

Good thing I got about three solid weeks of no sickness, no excuses training in before…


I know. WTF? Apparently, that’s how long it took any and all fiberous tissue in my right leg, from my psoas (which starts in your abdomen) down to my ankle, to get really, really, really angry. Angry, inflammed, sticky… and just generally unhappy. All pain is currently centered in one spot on the lower, interior part of my knee, making it really tough to even climb stairs (so no bike/run since Thursday when the pain started after a hill workout on the dreadmill).

I am trying to take it all in (a painful) stride and use this as an opportunity to swim, which I had planned to add in to my schedule in February anyway. I’ve already met with a fabulous ART/massage therapist friend once and will see her again on Friday. In the meantime, I’m making friends with my foam roller, a lacrosse ball, rock tape, and will be checking out anything and everything on the MobilityWOD.com site.

Let this be a lesson folks, don’t neglect your physical therapy needs!