Sunday, July 31, 2011

Crazy Dog Lady Goes Shroom Hunting

Actually Crazy Dog Lady went for a bike ride but found some cool looking mushrooms along the way.

I think Mushroom #1 on the right is a King Bolete.

A better view

Mushroom #2 on the left has a slimy cap when wet and stained my fingers brown/orange when I touched the bottom of the cap.  I think it might be a Matte Jack or maybe also a King Bolete.

Any  mushroom aficianados out there want to offer an opinion?  Because I'll totally put my life in the hands of some stranger on the internet.  I also need to figure out how to cook them if they are edible.  My mushroom book says King Boletes are 'one of the most sought after of all the mushrooms, delectable fresh or dried,' so that's what I hope they are.  No way Jonny will eat them so I'll have them all to myself.  Maybe I'll put a photo on Facebook, someone's bound to know what they are.

I picked more mushrooms than these but when I got them back to the car Jonny pointed out the maggots in them and they didn't get to come home with me.

Oh and we also had a nice bike ride with some friends.  The wildflowers were spectacular.

My legs hurt from the DOCNA trial yesterday.  I'll write more about that tomorrow but in short it was fun and we had some nice runs with little things here and there as per usual.  Still I managed to climb a lot of stuff I had to walk a few weeks ago.  It was too short of a ride, an hour 20 minutes or so, but I'm stiff and sore now so maybe it was just as well we cut it short.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Team Feat rocks the Stroke-n-Stride

My friend Amelia and I teamed up to do one of the weekly Stroke-n-Stride races down at the Boulder Rez.  They've been going on for years and I've never done one mostly because of the cost.  I can swim with the masters group for 'free' (I have a yearly pass) then go for a run on my own so why pay?  The fees are very reasonable-$20 if you sign up in advance.  It's a bargain and Racing Underground do a great job of putting on a fun event but still, free is more of a bargain.  Nonetheless I thought it would be fun to do it as a team and great practice for my open water tri's.  Amelia's a super speedy runner and she also wanted to a get a hard practice in.  It's easier to push yourself if you have a race and that's exactly the purpose of these races.  There aren't awards for individual races but they do keep a tally of your points from all the races and most amount of points at the end of the season in each age group gets an award.  So really these races are for training.

The other reason I've never bothered to do the Stroke-n-Stride is that it seemed so competitive.  I've looked at the finish times and worried that I would be slogging away by myself at the back of the pack and it wouldn't be very fun.  Lots of the uber competitive triathletes come out for these races to practice.

You have a choice of a 750 m/820.2 yard swim or 1500 m/1640.4 yard swim then the 5k run.  Since my tri race swims will be 1000 m/1100 yards and 880 yards I decided to do the 750 m swim.  I thought it would be fun to see how fast I could go for a short-ish swim and no bike and run afterwards.

The typical evening storms were starting to roll in and the skies at the other end of town looked downright ugly as I stood in the water waiting for the start.  But thankfully there was no thunder or lightning and the race went on with just enough cloud cover to make sighting the buoys easy.  I experimented with starting a little closer to the front but not in the heat of the pack.  I normally start further back but I think I seed myself too far back because then I have to fight my way through the people doing breast stroke and I think that's worse than a few faster people passing me.  The good news is I didn't feel the least bit afraid or nervous at the start and in fact was feeling pretty confident.  When the race started I had to sight a little bit more than normal because more people were around me and I didn't want to run into someone or get kicked but I managed the crowd no problem other than some butt slapping.  I wonder if there's any other sport where it's acceptable to slap a competitor on the ass?  I couldn't find any feet to draft off of though.  Every time I tried the person was too slow or swimming too erratically.  I was able to focus on my stroke a bit and not worry so much about the people around me.

The last buoy was a bit tricky, somehow I wasn't sure at first if I was headed towards the right one and I think I drifted a bit off course.  In order to motivate myself to go faster I picked out somebody to try to pass on the final stretch.  For the longest time it seemed I just couldn't catch him but as we got towards shore I finally passed him.  Ran across the beach to give the timing chip to Amelia and sort of wished I'd signed up for the longer race.  It was done before I could blink.

I changed into my running shoes and did a short run in the dirt at the side of the official race course while I waited to cheer Amelia in.  So many scary fast runners cruising past me.  I kept waiting for the slower folks to come plodding along but they never did.  I timed my run perfectly and Amelia came running for the finish just as I was nearly there myself.

I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera, rays of sun were poking through the dramatic cloud formations over the mountains.  It looked like something out of a painting.  Ah well, maybe next time.

Final Stats

Team Feat (a combination of our initials) came in 2nd out of 4 teams and 9th out of 113 overall (men and women).  The 1st place team came in 2nd overall and was about 4 minutes ahead of us.  Third place team came in 28th overall and was 4 minutes behind us.

I was 30/113 overall and would have been 1st in my age group by 1 minute, 21 secs. if they included the relay participants.

Amelia was 18th overall runner and also would have been 1st in her age group by 2 mins., 10 secs.

My time was 16:56 or 2:04/100 yards.  I'm a little disappointed with this, I was sure I'd go below 2:00 but it's good feedback for what to expect for my races.  Could be I went more off course than I realized.  My time for the 800 m/875 yard swim portion of the Lory Xterra from last year was 17:44 or 1:55/100 yards.  I suppose all of this depends on how accurate the course is measured and how closely I follow the course.  I followed that Lory course very closely, it was a simple out and back.  The Stroke-n-Stride course was more of a loop with the buoys further apart and only 3 of them for the whole course and thus harder to sight.

Overall a very fun race, great practice.  There's only one more race for the season and it's too close to my tri but I think I'll have to try to do more of them next year.  I can see the value now in practicing the swim in a race scenario plus it was fun.

DOCNA trial tomorrow.  Only one day but 6 runs outside.  Oh yes, and it's July so it'll be hot.  I know, DUH, but I wanted to get in at least one day of trialing in this month lest our skills completely vaporize.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Race photo and Indian Peaks bike course

They've already got the race photos up.  Kind of a cool one of me leaning into a turn on the bike.  Makes my stomach turn over a little bit looking at the angle of the bike.  The run photos aren't so flattering and I'm buried under hat and sunglasses but I was happy to see a mid-foot foot strike. The other run photo shows sort of a heel strike but not an extreme one.  My hamstring wasn't sore after the race so that's a good sign I'm getting the new mid-foot strike thing down.

I pre-rode the bike course for the Indian Peaks Xterra up at Eldora in 2 weeks.  The course goes on the cross country ski trails which sounds nice and rolling but some of these trails are very steep.  My quads were so sore and I was so tired from the race I thought I'd have trouble keeping up with the group but it turned out that the race director that was leading the group had done the same race and was also tired.  Also they kept stopping the group so no one ever got too far behind.  Nonetheless I didn't get too many photos because I was riding at the back and didn't have a whole lot of time to whip out my camera before we were off again.  Pro Xterra triathlete Sara Tarkington was riding at the back making sure none of us stragglers got lost.  She has some good tips on her blog for busy workaday triathletes.  I particularly like the one about eating all day.  And making sure you get a treat every now and then.  She was very nice and made sure I didn't get lost or eaten by bears.

The course looks nice for the most part, lots of uppy then down-y and not too many super long climbs.  I think I can ride most of the uphill but it was hard to say because a lot of people ahead of me had to get off to walk which meant I had to walk as well.  But when I had a clear line I was mostly able to ride the stuff, just a few rocky places might force me to walk for a short bit.  Also depends on the crowd situation and whether I can pick a nice line up through a rocky bit. 

Nothing special about this part of the trail, it was just a place where we paused long enough for me to sneak a photo.

Looking down at the hill I just rode up.  The trails aren't all this smooth and some are steep and rocky but for the most part I think the bike will be fun.

There is one tricky bit of downhill single track that has some muddy, root-y drop offs and I may have to walk parts of it.  This is the bottom of the tricky part and I can ride it as long as I stay to the right of the ditch in the photo on the way down.  This photo is looking back uphill so in reality I'll actually be on the left of the ditch when I'm coming down.

It's a 2 loop course and I'm sure by the second loop I won't run into anybody or at least very few people.  Overall it's nice, mostly ride-able.  The original course that I did many years ago was one loop and went up high to some singletrack that was nicer than these trails but there was a long, steep, rocky hike-a-bike section up to the singletrack that just about knocked me out so I won't miss that part.  This course should be easier but still very challenging.

I didn't hang around to check out the run.  Sounds like it's a combo of rolling and steep hills.  The run many years ago was like that and I'm guessing this year's course is similar.  I'm o.k. with not knowing the run course exactly, it's the bike course that's important to know in advance.  There's one more pre-ride the day before the race but I'll probably skip it so I can have fresh legs on race morning.  Should be a fun race though after that sprint race on Saturday I'm not so sure how much I'm looking forward to being on the course for nearly twice as long.  Sometimes I wonder what I'm thinking when I sign up for these things.

Week in Training

This was my peak training week for the Indian Peaks Xterra in 2 weeks.  Same exact total training time as last week, kind of freaky.  This week didn't include any hiking and did include the Lookout Mountain Triathlon Sprint race.  I did go for a hike on the Mesa Trail/Skunk Canyon on Sunday in the heat of the day but it was a slooow pace so I didn't count it in training.  Probably shouldn't have done it and recovered from my race instead especially since I'd done the pre-ride for the Xterra in the morning and was pretty trashed but I couldn't bear to sit around the house all afternoon while the hills beckoned.  My quads are planning a revolt I'm sure.

Run numbers are up again which is good considering the run was by far my weakest event at my race.  The run will be my focus for the next 2 weeks.

I was hoping the next 2 weeks would be a nice taper but there are still some solid workouts staring me in the face.  I also have an agility trial on Saturday only so that jacks up the training schedule a bit.  It's hardly a rest day but can't count as training.  There isn't a single rest day called for between now and the day before the race and that doesn't seem right though the volume is reduced and most days are only one workout rather than 2.  Still these old bones need more recovery than what's called for so I'm going to pick some key workouts to keep and skip some of the others.

Swim:  7723 yards/2 hour, 57 mins. (2 swims at the Rez)

Mountain bike:  16.0 miles/2 hours, 30 minutes

Run:  13.96 miles/3 hour, 22 mins. (6 min. run/1 min. walk for some runs)

Bike (road):  10.0 miles/48:31  mins. (Lookout Mtn. Tri., 1100' elevation gain, 10% grades)

Total training time: 9 hours, 38 mins.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tri-ing it with the Horsey Set-Lookout Mountain Triathlon

Well, the name of the name of the race does have 'mountain' in it.  It was hillier than I thought it would be, especially the run.  I was not expecting such steep grades on the run.  'Fun, rolling run loop on dirt roadways' is how the race website described.  They were definitely taking some liberties with their definition of 'rolling'.  Anyway, I'm not complaining, it was perfect practice for me, couldn't have asked for a nicer course and great practice for my upcoming longer Xterra's.  But my predicted finish times were way off, especially the run.  I was doing the ultra-runner shuffle up those hills and that's a way different pace for me than a regular 5k on rolling terrain.  But it was exactly what my training called for so it worked out great.  And it was a beautiful course, both the bike and the run.

The race starts at 6:30 a.m. but I don't get there until just before 7:00 because my wave doesn't go off until nearly 8:30.  The race director asked people to arrive staggered to avoid congestion and allowed us to set up in transition while others were racing.  It's weird though, the first person finishes 40 minutes before I even start.  They run the swim waves slowest to fastest and somehow I'm in one of the last waves so I get to watch all the superfit stick people arriving to transition with their superfancy aerodynamic carbon fiber titanium spaceship tri bikes. The difference between the early and late crowd in attitude and gear is pretty funny.  People in those first waves are riding ill fitting mountain bikes that probably belong to their neighbor and long basketball shorts with cotton t-shirts.  They do full wardrobe changes in transition between the swim and run.  In the time it takes  me to set up my entire area one couple still hasn't taken off for the bike.  The late crowd wear supersonic aerodynamic skin tight suits and have their shoes attached to their pedals and slip their feet in on the fly to save time in transition.  No dilly  dallying for them.  That's the great thing about the sport, it attracts all sorts with all different goals.

Because the race was so spread out you had cyclists racing runners into transition.

I kill some time before my wave starts by having a complete stranger take my picture.  In my defense she asked me to take hers first.

I spent so much time working out a way to keep my hair from going feral but it didn't even make it to the swim.  Teensy little pony tail braids get the thumbs down though at this point I'm not sure if anything will work.

Do you like my zillion year old pair of men's tri shorts from the bargain bin?  They're my favorite race shorts, so comfortable even if they're for boys and not so fashionable.

The race is at a country club and country clubs always remind me of Caddyshack.  Plus there's something weird about them.  I look around for Bill Murray because he seems like the one person at a country club that I could relate to but alas there's no sign of him.  I go back to the pool area after the race is over to retrieve a shirt I left behind and it's a good thing I don't have a Baby Ruth bar on me is all I'm saying.

This is my first ever pool swim in lanes and I'm not sure how it'll work.  We're pre-assigned a wave but we have to form our own groups of 4.  I find 2 other women who are planning a time 20 seconds slower than me which is kind of a lot in swimming but it's the best we can do.  Finally we find a fourth who's thinking she's even slower so lucky me, I get to lead the lane.  I was so hoping to be able to find people just a wee bit faster and draft.  But as it turns out the woman behind me wants to pass me after 100 yards or so then because we're all sort of on top of each other the third woman wants to pass me.  We all end up swimming right behind each other and though I lose some time having to let the other pass I also get a good draft the whole way.  Nonetheless my swim time is a disappointing 10 minutes or 1:54/100 yards.  I was sure I'd do it in 9:40 but oh well.  Maybe I lost more time than I thought letting the others pass.

Not my swim wave but the third lane from the left is sort of how we were all swimming.

T1 goes down without a hitch and then it's onto the bike.  The bike starts out with a nice downhill so I have a chance to recover a bit.  Which is good because it gets steep in a hurry.  1100' feet of vertical climb in the 10 mile course with the worst grade being around 10%.  Someone mentions the 10% grade in transition before the race and I scoff in my head, 'Olde Stage road is 17-18% and it's right by my house, I ride it all the time'.  Except now that I think about it I can't remember the last time I rode up Olde Stage.  Used to ride it all the time is not all that helpful.  But the climbs I've been doing for intervals are still steep, certainly more than 10% but I've been doing them on my mountain bike which has more forgiving gears.  But it's turned out to be good training and I manage the hills o.k. just slower than I was anticipating for the bike.  My legs feel a bit tired from the week of training but not so much that I can't squeeze some strength out of them.  A woman from my age group passes me at the start of the bike but I pass her going up a steep hill as well as one or two more women from my age group.  But because of the staggered start it's hard to know where someone is in the race compared to you so I don't worry too much about it.  I lose people on the downhill because my bike is geared for climbing.  On steep descents I run out of gears and being small doesn't help either.  I get as aero as I can and use the time for recovery until I can pedal again.  The course is a little curvy and technical on some of the steep descents and sure enough someone is being put into an ambulance back near transition.

If I have to ride my road bike this is exactly the kind of course I want to do it on.

The bike course did measure 10 miles despite what Gmaps says.  I was SO happy when I realized I was nearly at transition way before I expected to be.  Still I finish in 48:31, 5 minutes slower than my predicted time.

T2 also goes down without a hitch and now the fun starts.  Though I started out life as a runner it's turned into my worst event.  Injuries, surgeries, etc.  As I start out on the run and feel my heavy legs shuffling I remind myself that I'm lucky that I even can run.  Then I hit the big ass hill, straight up, someone is walking behind me and I think she's going as fast as my shuffling.  I should probably switch to power hiking but for some unknown reason I want to run.  It's hot and no shade.  And so it goes, up and up and up a dirt road.  A guy with a '47' on his calf passes me and says, 'Go 47 years olds!  1964!'  I answer 'Yay!' or something best as I can between the wheezing.  I reach the mile marker and I hear a woman behind me groan, 'Does that mean 1 mile??!!'  I tell her yes but add cheerily, 'But that means only 2 more to go!'  I can't see her but I'm pretty sure she wants to hurt me.  Or worse.  Then we go down for a bit and I've convinced myself that's the end of the hills, all downhill until we get to the foo foo country club where maybe we'll have a round of golf or polo or a cigar or whatever we do at country clubs.  Bill Murray will magically appear and incite a gopher riot.  But I'm wrong.  The dirt road narrows and goes up and up again, switch-backing through a mountain subdivision of houses but at least I'm in the woods now and it's shady.  It's a beautiful area and I grind up the hill.  Two people from my age group pass me but they're way too fast for me to chase.  Finally I reach the top and it is downhill the rest of the way.  Sort of.  I shuffle down fast as I can but the downhill is what screws up the hamstring so I try to be careful and not overstride but still fast fast little shuffly steps.  Finally I can hear the finish line but there's still a hill in my way.  A guy passes me and groans, 'Ugh, another hill' and I say 'But we're almost there' which is the lie I've been telling myself for the past mile but it cheers him up and he says 'Right on' and charges up.  Finally the finish line.

Then there's the food spread.  Guys in white shirts and black pants serving us hot, real, healthy honest to goodness food.  I blink a few times to make sure I'm not hallucinating.  Platters of beautiful fresh fruit, steamed spinach, grilled mushrooms, scrambled eggs, hash browns, all the breakfast meats for those who eat them, breakfast burritos, I don't know where to start.  Not a chip or crappy cookie in sight, everything hot and fresh and healthy.  Brunch at the country club, dahlink.  Life is pretty good at the country club.

The views aren't so bad either.

Final Stats

525 yard swim:  10:00 mins. (predicted 9:40), 72/257 overall

Dash from pool to transition:  37 sec.

T1:  1:26 (predicted 2:00)

10 mile Bike (road):  48:31, 12.4 mph (predicted 43 mins.), 150/257 overall

T2:  1:12 (predicted 1:00)

3.1 mile Run:  39:45, 12:50 min./mile (predicted 33 mins.), 207/257 overall

Total:  1:41:29 (predicted 1:30), 152/257 overall, 79/157 women, 11/21 age group

Funny to watch my rankings drop in the individual sports as you go from swimming to running.  If I had cut a mere 3 minutes off of my run I would have bumped up to 7th place in my age group.  1st place in my age group had a time of 1:15:07 (my original finish time prediction from Monday) and 3rd place had a time of 1:20:46 so I was over 20 minutes away from the podium.  Not that I had any thought in my head of coming home with hardware but it's interesting to see how far away I am.

No rest for the wicked.  Got up this morning and went up to Eldora to pre-ride the bike course for my Xterra up there in 2 weeks.  Despite the sore quads I survived.  Thankfully it's a 2 loop course so I only had to ride 7 miles rather than 15.  Phew.  I'll post photos and thoughts about it in another post but in general it looks ride-able.  I didn't stay to ride the run course.  It's going to eat me alive whatever it is and maybe I'm best off not knowing.  Plus I was so tired and hungry, headed down the canyon and had lunch instead.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Revised Race Goals and Finally Some Agility

Agility's been on hold a bit lately between my heavier triathlon training schedule and the summer heat but I finally managed a decent practice this morning with my training partner.  We were out there bright and early at 6:30 and it was so nice and cool I even started out with a sweatshirt on.  By the time we finished at 7:50 it was getting warm though.  The exercises we did had contacts and weaves, exactly what we need to practice, and Strummy was pretty awesome.  Hit all his A-frames and teeters, 3/4 dogwalks, had trouble with a few weave pole entries but if I remembered to cue them soon enough he got them no problem.  We've got a trial next week and today's practice gave me some confidence despite our lack of training lately.  And it felt so good to get him out there to play, he's such a fun boy.

I've decided to adjust my race goals a bit for a variety of reasons, the biggest one being that I think I was being way overly optimistic about my run time.  It kills me to admit it but I think I might end up with a 5k time over 30 minutes.  It's been a peak training week with a hard brick on Wednesday and when I took the road bike for a quick spin this afternoon to make sure I remembered how to ride it I realized my legs were more debilitated then I'd thought.  I had an ice bath and I'll stretch a bit and hopefully I'll wake up with a little more spring in my step tomorrow.  But that's the deal with a 'B' race, no tapering and it's like a hard workout.  So goals are now:

525 yard swim-9:40
10.7 mile bike-43 mins. (could be shorter depending on the hills)
5k run-33 mins. (ugh! but I don't want to push the knee/hamstring on a 'B' race)
Total-just under 1 hour 30 minutes (reduced from Monday's goal of 1:15)

The bike course measures longer on gmaps than advertised and it looks a bit hilly though not too bad.  I've made a few outfit decisions that will delay my time in T1 as well but after the horrible blisters on the arches of both feet after last year's Xterra I've decided to wear socks.  I timed myself and the socks cost me 6 seconds.  I would happily have added 6 seconds to my time last year in order to avoid those horrible blisters.  I'll spare you the photos.

Weather should be good, mid-60's to start the race and mid-70's at the finish and low humidity.  I'm guessing the folks from the Midwest and East Coast don't want to hear about the 11% humidity we had today.  It was in the low 90's and I didn't even need to turn on my swamp cooler.  Anyway, should be a great day for for a race on a fun course.

On an only slightly unrelated topic, best title ever for a blog race report goes to Punk Rock Tri Guy for 'She's Filing Her Nails While They're Dragging the Lake' for his Vineman 70.3 race report.  Thanks to him I had that classic Elvis Costello song in my head all day.  I'm only kicking myself that I never thought of it.  Trying to top that blog title will be the real challenge for tomorrow.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Week in Training

A nice solid training week, swim and bike numbers are up, run numbers are down mostly because I decided to skip Sunday's long trail run and go for a hike instead.  I only counted an hour of the 3 1/4 hour, 6 1/2 mile hike because in my experience hiking doesn't count very much for training.  However some of the trail was steep and I was pushing it a bit so I want to count something.  Put in another nearly 2 mile swim at the Rez on Thursday and upped my LT bike workout to 6 reps x 5 min. at LT heart rate.  I go up a steep road near my house and I think all the hard climbing is helping my mountain biking.  Saturday's ride at West Mag went great, rode a whole bunch of stuff I've walked in previous weeks and realized it wasn't so much my skills that were suffering as it was my strength.  Finally felt some climbing power this past weekend.

This weekend is my first race of the season, a little on road sprint tri up at Lookout Mountain in Golden.  Sounds like a pretty course with a hilly bike ride which I think will play to my strengths at the moment.  Not sure about the run but it's only a 5k.  It's a 'B' race for me meaning I'm going to race it all out like a real race but I'm not going to taper for it and my training hasn't been geared towards it.  I entered mostly because it sounded like fun but it'll make a nice hard training day as well.  My strategy for sprints is to go all out for the whole thing, nothing too complicated there.  Fueling strategy is simple too, a water bottle on the bike and that's about it, probably won't bother with food.  I'm hoping to finish in 1 hour 15 mins. or so.  I'm not sure how hilly the bike is or how my running will hold up so this could be an ambitious prediction but that's what I'll shoot for.  I went to masters today to see how my swim pace is holding up and I managed 1:36-1:38 with no drafting and lots of rest in between for the very few 100's we did so the 1:50/100 yards pace group I signed up for for 525 yards sounds about right though I'll confess I have no idea what that pace feels like.  My plan is to draft off the person in front of me in my lane as long as they aren't going too slow.  I'm most looking forward to the bike, I love hills.  Whee ha, should be a fun race.

Swim:  8286 yards/3 hour, 17 mins. (both swims at the Rez)

Mountain bike:  21.98 miles/3 hours, 38 minutes

Run:  6.9 miles/1 hour, 43 mins. (6 min. run/1 min. walk)

Hike:  1 hour, 2 miles (approx.) steep uphill hiking at approx. 10,000 feet

Total training time: 9 hours, 38 mins. (8 hours, 38 mins. without the hike)

116.1 lbs! (-1.4 lbs. from last week, I'll shoot for 114 for my race in 3 weeks)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Heart Lake/Rogers Pass-Sort Of

I've been wanting to try this hike for some time now and it turned out to be nothing like I thought it would be.  Somehow I thought it would be mostly exposed with dramatic mountain views.  It starts out at the East Portal of the Moffat Tunnel, which goes through the Continental Divide to Winter Park.  There are some crazy sirens going off at the tunnel and creepy voices over a loudspeaker warning intruders to leave, the authorities have been notified, etc. in a loop of different languages.  Thankfully there seem to be no terrorists that we can see so Jonny and I decide to press forward.

The trail starts off promising with a pretty meadow of wildflowers.

Finally the Columbines are blooming.

But soon you're in a dark musty forest next to a raging creek.  The forest is so dense that you don't get any mountain views.  It's also so damp from the still melting snow that there's moss hanging from the trees.  In Colorado!  Crazy.  The trail goes on and on and ON through the woods, not too steep, not too interesting, forever and a day.  The woods are pretty and all but I prefer hikes with mountain views.  Then we start to run into snow banks.  They're small and far apart at first but then the trail gets super steep and the snowbanks get longer and closer together.  Until we run into this after almost 2 hours.

The snow at the other side of the bridge is the trail. It's still another mile or so to Heart Lake with a steep 250 foot climb before the lake and even farther to Rogers Pass.  So we called it a day.  We could have hiked in the snow but we've both been there done that and neither of us like it very much.  It's already a steep challenging hike at that part of the trail without the snow and slipping and sliding around, post holing in places is not my idea of a fun afternoon.  Plus it's noon and time to head back anyway before the afternoon storms hit.  We have a lot of mud, snow, roots and creek crossings to get through to get back and I don't want to deal with them in a hail storm.

The falls at our turn around point

Closest thing we saw to a mountain view the whole hike

The hike back is pleasant enough but it feels a little short (6 1/2 miles and 3 1/2 hours or so) and I feel a little cheated at missing out on my views.  We turn around at an elevation of 10,774 feet and for some reason the altitude is bothering me a bit today, making me woozy.  Normally I'm o.k. with high altitudes but today I'm struggling a bit and I was yesterday as well on my bike ride.  Weird.  Towards the bottom of the hike Jonny's fingers swell up but he has no symptoms of altitude sickness.  Also weird.

We can hear the sirens still blaring at the Moffat Tunnel along with some other loud roaring mechanical noise for the last 1/2 mile or so of the hike but we can't see anything going on there when we get back to the parking lot.  That place is so weird, like the X-Files or something.  Just as we pull out of the parking lot it starts to rain and then hail.  I manage to snap a quick photo of the mountains in the hail storm.

We saw a fat little baby coyote cross the road and his mama on the side of the road on the way up but of course my camera was buried in my pack and they were nowhere to be seen on the way back down.

Jonny wants to go back in a few weeks when the snow has melted to finally make it to the lake but I don't know, the long trek through the dark damp woods was tedious.  I do want to see the lake though and maybe even make it up the pass.  So many other beautiful hikes though, maybe it'll have to wait for another year.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Garlic in his soul

I'm out on a run with Lola this morning and we stop for a moment so she can sniff something that's caught her fancy.  An old man walks by and I give her a little pat.  'It's going to die in 10 years.  Don't get too attached,' he says as he passes us.

Nice, huh?  Even if you're thinking such a hurtful thing why would you say it to a total stranger?  I start to formulate some snarky remark about his own longevity but figure anybody that bitter and horrible has probably fashioned a pretty crappy life for himself already.

Lola's 10 and I hope she does live another 10 years.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Crazy Dog Lady goes to the cell phone store

Is it a bad sign when the trendy 20 something saleswoman at the cell phone store is in awe of how old your phone is?  'I used to have this exact same phone years ago, I think it was blue but I can't remember' is how she puts it.  I like my old phone.  It's pink and has nice big buttons that I can read and folds down smaller than my new phone.

Pinky vs my new fancy pants smart ass phone.  Aren't the gizmos supposed to get smaller? At least the new one is purple which is almost as good.

See the nice buttons?  Great for middle aged dog lady eyes and fingers.  I am not a cell phone person.

For the once every few months that I use it to order Indian food take out on the way home from a dog trial it works o.k.  Or at least it did until I got my first ever call from an actual live client and it kept cutting in and out.  I kept having to ask her to repeat herself, very embarrassing and unprofessional and kind of threw me off my game.  So I tell my tale of woe to the trendy sales girl with the cool blue sparkly perfectly manicured fingernails and funky in  a good way bracelets.  She explains that it's the phone and I'm obviously due an upgrade, she doesn't even have to check, and once I get a fancypants new gizmo all will be right in the world again and I can deal with my clients with confidence and aplomb.  They will be busting down my door.  'Hurrah!', I think, 'that was easy enough'.  I explain to her the very few things I need it to do and she comes up with a couple of options.  I go for the one that has a display that you can make bigger.  I'm already to the point of needing 2 pairs of glasses and I almost never have the pair with me that lets me read teensy little letters.  Plus it's purple and it will only cost me $20.

I'm thinking this process has been fairly painless, trendy girl has done a great job of explaining things and pointing me in the right direction and not making fun of my cluelessness.  'I know you'll figure your phone out no problem', she tells me in an encouraging voice.  I shamelessly tell her I set up my own website, I can figure out this phone.  She's duly impressed.  However it takes forever and a day to set the phone up.  She has to call over a trendy looking guy to give it the magic touch because something is not working right.  It takes about 20 minutes or so to get the stubborn thing up and running.  There is some nice trendy generic alternative music playing in the store to amuse me and I pass the time by asking what must seem like the most ridiculous questions.  'Does it have a speakerphone?  Can I plug headphones into it?  Can I copy pictures I take with it to my computer?'  Somehow they both manage to keep a straight face.  I refrain from asking her if I can change the wallpaper to a picture of my dog jumping through a hoop.  Once they finally get the thing up and running and she explains to me all the ridiculous things it can do I feel silly about the speakerphone question.  Do you know that I can speak into the phone and tell it, 'Facebook' and it will go to Facebook?  How cool is that?  Except I hardly ever go to Facebook and I can't ever imagine a need to go there on my phone.  I wonder if I can make it bring up the Indian restaurant on the phone?  Now that would be useful.  Or if it could tell me where I left my keys?

I finally get out of there 1 1/2 hours later.  I play around with it a bit then decide to set my voicemail greetings.  At which point I realize that the cell phone service seems even worse than it was before.  One teensy weensy little bar.  Actually it looks like half a bar.  It takes me about 12 tries to say just my name for my voicemail greeting because it keeps cutting in and out.  I'm already nauseous about how much money I have to pay now on a monthly basis for my fancypants phone with internet service even with a discount Jonny gets from work.  And it still doesn't work??!!  I may be the first person in history to cut my cell phone in favor of my land line.  But I need a cell phone to use at my office which I'm only renting part-time.  There is no land line there, only wifi's.  And I need the internet if I want to accept credit cards.  So today I call Sprint and explain my dilemma.  I'm pleasantly surprised to speak to an actual person almost right away and they tell me they can send me a gizmo to boost my signal and turn my house into a cell phone tower.  For free!  Who knows what sort of weirdo radiation waves I'll be exposing us all to but at least we will have fancypants cell phone service.  I hope.

Now to figure out how to get Cody's picture on the wallpaper.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

6:09 a.m. at the Rez

An ominous front blew in this morning for swim practice.

'Days like this are what separate the Swimmers from the Triathletes' is what one Swimmer said.  She does not use a wetsuit.  Those are for us panty waisted triathletes.

I do use a wetsuit.  With cool pink racing stripes.  Last Thursday I wore a pink and blue striped swim cap and a guy complimented me on my fashion sense.  That almost never happens.

I even wore swim socks today and still had to run the heater in the car on the way home.  Who runs their car heater in mid July?  Didn't warm up until about 15 minutes into my run with Lola.  Had actual goosebumps while I was running.

Some ducks decided to join our workout.  They're real Swimmers as well, they don't need no stinkin' wetsuit.  Or swim socks.  But I think they were jealous of my cool pink racing stripes.

The water temp. was warm, probably in the mid to upper 70's but there was a wind so the air temp. was what made me cold.  It also put a little hop in the water.  Not enough to be a big problem but just enough to slow me down a bit.  Was still a beautiful morning though, one of my favorite things about summer is these early morning swims.  Such a special blend of time and place.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Week in Training

Lots of running this week, almost triple what I've been doing and I feel fine with it.  One workout short of both swimming and biking but it was worth it to bring up the running numbers.  The long brick (bike then run) on Saturday was encouraging, was pushing it on the mountain bike climbs and ran about 12 minutes straight before remembering I was on a 4 min. run/1 min. walk regime.  Didn't quite stick to that for that run, was more like 6 min. run after I remembered to walk.  Took 2 rest days, one that I needed and one that I didn't plan but that felt awfully good.  Was starting on a bike ride yesterday and I hadn't even made it past my house when it started thundering.  I don't mess around with thunder so a rest day it was.  Added another rep. to my LT bike workout, I'm up to 5 reps. of 5 min. at LT.  Finally got my heart rate up to 150 for the last rep. so maybe my LT rate is really that high and not around 145.  Ah well, it's close enough. 

Went to masters at the Rec. Center today to get in a skills/drills workout.  Don't want to get sloppy with my form with all the open water swimming and also wanted to be sure I get in that 3rd workout this week.  Swimming is sort of arguably the least important of all the 3 disciplines in triathlon, even more so for the off road tri's, but I like to swim and I'm trying to get faster even if the effort is hardly worth the small gain in overall time.  I'm also a little concerned about the pool swim for my little sprint tri.  It's only 525 yards which is barely a warm-up for me but I found out I'll be with 3 other people in a lane and the race director wanted a fairly accurate estimate of swim time so we're not lapping each other.  I put in for a pace of 1:50/100 yards which seemed reasonable given that I've been swimming 1:36-1:43 for 100 yard intervals during masters but in open water tri's I usually end up with a pace of 2:00-2:10 min./100 yards so I don't know.  Who knows how accurately the other people in  my lane will rank themselves and will I be able to draft?  That makes a big difference.  Anyway I wanted to check my pace at masters and I think I'll be o.k.  I found out the hard way that my watch isn't waterproof so I can't time myself for my Rez swims so I haven't been monitoring my pace.

Also checked out the scale when I was at the Rec. Center and I'm down into the 117's which is near where I was hoping for.  Would be good to be down around 114 for racing but that may be unrealistic to shoot for for 3 weeks from now.  I saw a study somewhere showing that more than a 200 calorie deficit per day has a negative impact on training.  Some days I can't help having a much higher deficit but I usually make it up somewhat on rest days.  In any case I'm eating lots of good stuff these days with all the wonderful fresh summer veggies and fruit hitting the stores so I suppose I'll be happy enough to get down to 116 by my early August race.

Swim:  4800 yards/1 hour, 40 mins. (both swims at the Rez)

Mountain bike:  17.28 miles/2 hours, 58 minutes

Run:  14.56 miles/3 hour, 27 mins. (4 min. run/1 min. walk)

Total training time: 8 hours, 5 mins.

117.5 lbs (-1.5 lbs. from 2 weeks ago)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Golden Gate & West Mag

Some photos from a hike in Golden Gate Park 2 weeks ago.

Continental Divide

Another view

Wild Iris

Wild Collie Flower

Beautiful hike but so steep, I was sore for 2 days afterwards.  Strummer barely noticed.

Yesterday was a steep long climb on my mountain bike in West Mag up to the Toilet Bowl.  I didn't have the beans to take too many photos but I did manage to snap a pretty meadow filled with wildflowers.

Two hour bike ride then 53 minute trail run up and down a steep ass hill then passed out on the couch with a belly full of food for the rest of the day.  I managed not to pass out in Chipotle this time.  Was supposed to be a 3 hour bike ride and 1 hour run according to my training program but between the elevation (around 8500 ft) and the long steepy steep hills this was enough self-flagellation for one day.  Actually it was a fabulous day on the trails, bike was fun, run went well, I'm lucky to have such a beautiful place to train only 40 minutes away.

2 weeks until my little on road sprint tri and 4 weeks until my real off road race.  And there's one day of a DOCNA trial tucked in there somewhere.  Better get back to that wretched dogwalk training.  And I'm happy to report no fledgling carcasses in my yard this week.  Or husband carcasses.  It turns out I can do the Heimlich maneuver.  Or something approaching the Heimlich maneuver, I'm not really sure what exactly it was that I did but Jonny was choking on something, like the kind of choking where the person can't talk or cough or wheeze, and then I did something and then he wasn't choking anymore.  Where my clarity in an emergency comes from I have no idea.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Lola sets off her own fireworks

Terminator of all things defenseless and furry.  Or feathered.

Lola's near misses for the day:

One mouse

One blackbird fledgling

On bluejay fledgling

Frank Shorter's cat.  Right in front of Frank Shorter.

O.k., the cat was from the other day but the other 3 were all in the space of this morning.  And I'm not sure if the mouse was a miss for sure.  It ran away and I didn't see blood but it was hidden in the grass.  I'm also assuming the birds are o.k.  She was on a leash when she went for Frank Shorter's cat or I'm not sure if it would have been o.k.

I was preoccupied with brushing Cody when I heard an odd animal noise coming from the corner of the yard.  A split second later the Trouble Twins went flying by in a blur of fur.  Then I heard the all too familiar squeal of a tiny animal in Lola's clutches.  I ran to the back of the yard just as the two of them were flushing out a fledgling bluejay.  Somehow amidst the ensuing melee of flapping wings and squawking of baby and mother and Lola I managed to shoo the naughty dogs into the house.  I went back out to survey the carnage and couldn't find anything so took that as a good sign.  However I couldn't see an escape route for the baby bird and wanted to be sure it wasn't hiding in some tall weeds waiting to be a Lola snack the next time I let her out so I bent down to inspect the ground and when I looked up I was face to face with the bluejay fledgling.  Then quickly realized there was a blackbird fledgling clinging to the same fence panel.

I'd already had a run in with the blackbird fledgling yesterday.  I guess there's a reason you don't hear about many baby birds joining Mensa.

They're not terribly attractive either.  Kind of give me the creeps.

Meanwhile Lola was going off her head inside the house which of course sent Strummer off his head.  Cody's such a good boy through the whole thing, standing outside at the back door wondering when he's going to get his Special Treat for letting me brush him, completely uninterested in baby bird carnage or any other Trouble Twin mayhem.

Anybody want to start an internet pool on how long those baby birds last?  My guess is first thing tomorrow morning when I let the dogs out because that's when I'll be sleepy and forget all about them.

In the meantime I'm going to a 4th of July barbecue instead of an agility trial like a normal person for once.  Well, if you count as normal a barbecue where you start out with a 2 hour mountain bike ride on ridiculously steep and technical terrain followed by a swim in a 'refreshing' recently thawed mountain lake.  Without a wetsuit.  Actually I'm skipping the bike ride and we'll see about the swimming when I get up there.  In the meantime I'm happy to go up high to the mountains and escape the heat of town.  And the chaos of Lola v. Baby Birds.

Happy 4th to all and don't forget the Thundershirts and melatonin.

Week in Training

Finally some decent training numbers though I'm kind of cheating in counting that hike.  Except that that hike knocked the stuffing out of me it was so steep and I was doing a bit of power hiking.  I was sore for 2 days afterwards so I'm guessing it had some training effect.

Swimming had the 2 mile in the open water milestone and I felt like I was swimming a bit faster or at least a bit more efficiently.  There was a woman who was swimming at my pace for the first 2000 meters and actually she was a bit faster and kept passing me but she was swimming in such a zig-zag pattern that I kept ending up ahead of her.  At the end of both 1000 meter laps I passed her on the straight-away back to the beach and came in a nose ahead of her each time.  Was good to have someone to pace off, I'll push myself if someone is slightly ahead.  AND I came home from that and immediately took Strum and Lola for a 40 minute run.  I'll admit that all of that wiped me out for the rest of the day.

I had my first brick workout (bike then run) of the season and it was also a Lactate Threshold (LT) workout, ie intervals.  I picked a super steep hill heading up into the mountains and climbed as hard as I could to get my LT heart rate which it turns out is somewhat undetermined.  I had an official VO2 max test in a lab in winter of 2009 and that came up with an LT heart rate of 151 but I couldn't get my heart rate much above 143-145 because my legs started giving out.  Muscular endurance is not my strong point and I have a hard time getting heart rate up on the bike and sustaining it.  I've also read that max and LT heart rate varies with activity and my test was done running on a treadmill so cycling LT could be lower.  Anyway I warmed up for 20 minutes, did four 5 minute climbs at close enough to LT with 2 mins. rest in between then rode down the hill for a cool down.  I don't care for higher intensity interval type workouts but I know they'll help me a lot so I'm going to gut them out.

Running is still coming along.  I'm up to 45 minutes of 4 min. run/1 min. walk.  Next run I'll up it to 50 and once I get to an hour next week I'll increase the run interval to 6 min.  Hamstring is still at a very low level of pain and no piriformis issues except for a couple of days after the killer hike so that's good.  Can't take on the LT training yet for running but the longest runs that my training plan calls for are an hour so I should be able to manage those after this next week.

Big training week next week and no classes or agility trials to hold me back.  I always scale back agility training in July because it's so hot and the shift goes to triathlon.  My first race is a little sprint in 3 weeks.  It's a practice race but still I'm excited.  First big off road race is in a month and I feel like I'll be plenty ready as long as the running doesn't get derailed.

Swim:  5700 yards/2 hour, 5 mins.

Mountain bike:  20 miles/3 hours, 29 mins.

Run:  6.1 miles/1 hour, 38 mins. (4 min. run/1 min. walk)

Hike:  6 miles (approx.)/3 hours, 15 mins.

Total training time: 10 hours, 12 mins.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Strummer sticks it to The Man

I'm a punk rocker yes I am

Not too far into a run with Strummer the other morning I noticed several bloody open wounds/gashes.  I couldn't figure out what had caused them and guessed it either happened while I was swimming at the Rez or he'd torn the very thin skin on a stickery plant that I didn't notice.  The plant option seemed unlikely but I couldn't even begin to imagine what else could have happened. 

Jonny came home from work barely able to move and explained that Lola had charged through the back door after a squirrel and Strummer followed in fast pursuit with 10 times the enthusiasm and had sent him ass over tea kettle.  In fact he'd landed on top of Strummer and he showed me the chunks of fur still stuck to the sidewalk where they'd fallen.  Aside from jacking up his back Jonny had a cut on his hand and being a boy he didn't bother with a band-aid.

He works for a big multi-national company that for many years has been trying to get some special elite hard to get OSHA safety certification that only 1% of companies ever receive.  After zillions of years and an amount of forms, paperwork, procedures, etc. that I don't want to contemplate they finally had the audit with the company representing OSHA.  Jonny shook hands with one of the reps then the second rep. shook his hand with a lot of force and gusto.  Enough force and gusto to rip open the cut on Jonny's hand and get blood all over hers.  Jonny claims he didn't notice this and I believe him because he doesn't notice lots of stuff like that, believe me.  But he got an email later that day saying that he had to file a safety report as to why  he got blood all over the OSHA rep.  Whether this effects the company's certification remains to be seen.

Strummer did this same thing to me several years ago and I initiated a 'Nobody goes flying out that door unless I release them first' protocol but Jonny was sort of a scofflaw.  Non-compliant.  No special fancy safety certification for our house.  I think we need to get OSHA involved.

Month in training

Numbers are similar to last month.  Lost 2 weekends to classes and a day to an agility trial plus hamstring injury and a G.I. bug.  

Swimming is in as good a place as it's going to be.  Swam 2 miles in the Rez on Thursday morning and that's the farthest I've ever swum in one workout, a milestone of sorts.  And I took the dogs for a run afterwards.  My goal is to do the 2 masters workouts at the Rez each week as well as one day of regular masters at the pool.  This gives me the required time for the training program I'm following and makes sense to me.

Biking could be better.  My bike handling skills and climbing ability felt a bit hampered with the hamstring injury.  It's more a mental thing than a physical thing, I'm riding conservatively to protect the injury.  Next month I'll start riding more aggressively and push on the climbs.

Running is getting better I think.  The hamstring strain is nearly healed and I'm getting better with the new stride mechanics.  I thought it would be more of a struggle.  I'll have to shoot some video to be sure.  Looking at my agility videos from the weekend it looks like I'm doing a mixture of forefoot and heel striking which is probably due to the different speeds I run on course as well as turns, etc.  Not too much heel striking overall though.  This photo shows great form (knee bent, mid-foot strike), if only I could do that all the time.

Swim: 24,700 yards/10 hours, 15 mins.

Mountain Bike: 77 miles/10 hours, 13 mins.

Road Bike:  30.87 miles/2 hours, 16 mins.

Run: 18.92 miles/4 hours, 52 mins.

Hike:  6 miles/3 hours, 15 mins.

Total Training Hours: 29 hours, 51 mins. (26 hours, 36 mins. without the hike)