Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ride for Africa

Last Sunday, I did the Ride for Africa Century.  The money raised from the ride went to build wells in Africa.  For those of you who don't know, my Bachelor's degree is in public health and I studied malaria for my PhD.  As part of my PhD research, I did field work in Africa, where I collected mosquitoes to use in genetic studies.  Now, I'm a scientist who works on ways to prevent and treat infectious diseases.  Clean water is critical to preventing disease.  So, a century bike ride that provides clean water to those who need it: YES, PLEASE!  I kept this mission in mind for the entire ride because there were definitely times that I wanted to quit.

The ride started at a gorgeous private estate in Valley Center, CA.  Valley Center is over 45 minutes away from my house, so it was a bit of a trek.  The volunteers were very friendly.  Since I hadn't signed up prior to the event, I got there early...maybe a bit too early because I was the first one there.  Only $55 later (with my Tri Club discount) and I was ready to go.  Well, kind of, because I realized that while I brought my hydration system, I didn't actually bring any water.  In my haste to leave the house by 5:00 am, I left my jug of water on the kitchen counter. No biggie!  There were aid stations every 10-20 miles.

I've been experimenting with a new nutrition plan and this ride was the ultimate test.  Through my eating habits, I've been training my body to be metabolically efficient.  In other words, I've been training my body to use fat during training.  As a result, I eat fewer calories during workouts, which 1) prevents GI distress, 2) prevents me from getting sick of sweet drinks and products (this always happens to me and makes it easy to skip nutrition), and 3) gives me steady energy.  There's a product called Generation UCAN that's recommended by the metabolic efficiency folks.  My buddy and mentor, Slayer, uses it and swears by it.  Not eager to mess with a nutrition strategy that had been working, it took me a while to give it a shot.  Instead of sugars, it utilizes a modified corn starch for energy.  So, I ordered a sample pack, used it a couple of times and it really seemed to work.  For the century, I took 1 packet during and 2 packets during.  I drank water with nuun tablets and ate a few banana chunks and that was it!  Less than 600 calories for an entire century, instead of the 1200 + I normally have.  I felt fantastic energy-wise!  Definitely a firm supporter of the product.  I will use this from now on.

Back to the ride, it started out with a series of super fun descents.  I zoomed down them and enjoyed the free speed, because I knew there was a lot of climbing ahead. The first half was great, a bit of climbing but not much.  The second half, good lord!  So. Much. Climbing.  I thought my legs were going to fall off.  The toughest climb of the ride is a 4-4.5 mile climb out of Couser Canyon at mile 84! Yes, that's right, at mile 84!  At this point, it was supposed to be all flats and descents.  Not true!  It was pretty much uphill the rest of the way, though at an easier grade than Couser Canyon.  Pure sufferfest.  I thought about crying, I thought about giving up, but then I thought about kids in Africa needed clean water and I suffered on.  At one point, a man behind me gasped out, "whoever planned this route has never been on a bike before!"  Hahahahaha.  I felt the same way, though it turns out the guy who planned the route is some sort of super cyclist, like a former pro or something.

The rest stops could have used a bit more organization.  Some ran out of water (it was really hot) and some didn't have any bananas or oranges.  Every time I reached an aid station, the volunteers asked me if I was the last one.  Uh, no, I was about in the middle or even the front of the middle.  Kinda discouraging and pointed to a lack of organization.  This was the first year a century had been held (last year they had a few shorter courses), so I'm sure these things will get better in the future.  Also, at one point, the arrows on the course were pointing in the wrong direction and a bunch of us went the wrong way until I pulled out my iPhone and checked a map.  All in all, a good event.

Here's the course
We finished back at the private estate, where we were greeted with cold drinks, tacos and live music.  It was very relaxing and and the nicest finish area I've ever experienced.  During the ride, I vowed never to do it again.  A few days later, though, I've forgotten some of the horror and have begun thinking about the nice parts.   Of course, my legs were too beat to do a long run on Sunday and I've been kinda fatigued and lacking in motivation since...time to get back to it!  Only 7 weeks left until Vineman.  Glad the bike course isn't like this one!

Oh, and while a century normally takes me around 6 hours, this one took over 7!!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May round up

You know training is going well when there's no time to blog.  My teammates have labeled this THE GRIND and they are definitely correct.  Time to put our heads down, train hard, and make this Ironman thing happen!

Here are some May highlights:
May 5: first century of the year
I rode up the coast with Lauren and Matt for my first 100 miler of the year.  It was flat until the halfway point, where I climbed up a MONSTER hill.  It was, by far, the steepest hill I've ever climbed.  Average of 18% grade, with sections of 22-24%.  When I first saw it, I turned back around and heading in the opposite direction. Then, thought F it!  I'm gonna climb that f-ing hill!  Did it, even though there were times when my bike felt as if it was vertical and I was going to fall off the back.  Gotta admit, I felt pretty badass afterward.

May 19: San Diego Century
The San Diego Century was actually 105 miles this year.  We started at MiraCosta College and rode out to Ramona (big hills!) and then back to the coast and then to the start site.  Team Badass was well-represented and we all had a blast.  Took it pretty easy and stopped at the aid stations to regroup, snack and chat.
Team Badass getting ready to ride


Inh has a flat!  Of course he does and of course I'm laughing at him!

Team Badass at an aid station.  Getting closer.

May 25: Pop up picnic
Okay, so not training related, but super, super fun.  We participated in a flashmob style picnic.  The location was secret until 2 hours before the event started, everyone had to dress in white and bring everything except for the tables, which were provided.  We had a group of 14 and made a feast!
Luke and Ash
May 27: Honey Springs Round 2
We decided on a shorter ride last weekend, since we had just done the century the weekend before.  Remember Honey Springs?  We did it at the end of 2011 and back then, I thought the big Honey Springs climb (7 miles long) was terrible, horrible, super hard and almost undoable.  This, time, though, it was cake.  Well, still long, but not too bad.  We missed our buddy and teammate, Inh, though.
We made it!

May 28: Swim breakthrough
It's no secret that swimming is my least favorite in the holy trinity of swim/bike/run.  I've gotten back on the swimming horse after slacking a lot, though, and I'm feeling better about it.  Nothing was working for a while, so I purchased an audiobook to listen to while I swim.  Definitely helping!  Doesn't hurt that the main character is a cop named Lucas (yeah, those of you who know me understand).  I'm a sucker for a hot guy in uniform!  Hahaha

Yesterday, one of my friends organized a Memorial Day mini-tri (by min, she meant less than a full Ironman.  Team Badass is CRAZY and I love it!).  The plan was to swim about 1.2 miles in Ventura Cove, bike 56 and then run 13.  Yep, a half-Ironman for fun.  Well, I woke up tired and not wanting to swim.  Still, got my stuff together, the car loaded and then somehow wasted a bunch of time so I was running late.  Got to the start site about 20 minutes late and the others were already swimming.  Aren, a Team Badasser, was watching everyone's stuff from the shore.  He's a great swimmer and has coached in the past, so instead of swimming, I picked his brain about swimming stuff.  It turned out to be very helpful.  When everyone finished, the girls got ready to ride.  I rode with Michelle, who just started riding and we had a leisurely ride on bike paths around Mission Bay.  Nice and relaxing.

During the ride, I had resolved to swim.  Once back at the car, I began the wetsuit struggle and got in the water.  It was a bit murky and the kelp was kinda creepy, but I put my head down and went for it.  There was no freaking out or swimming way off course or stopping or any of the normal crap I do in open water swims.  Normally it takes me about 32 minutes to swim 1 mile but yesterday it only took me 26 minutes!  Not sure how, but maybe I finally experienced the wetsuit advantage.  Definitely motivating.  I need to OWS once a week until Vineman.

Multiple long runs with my Hank
Love running with my boy!  The pig ninjas have started eating homemade dog food and love it!  And, they still have more than enough energy for long runs.  Hank is pretty proud, because people stop to pet him/scratch his butt/comment on how fit he is whenever he's running.  Okay, mama is pretty proud, too.

Still Paleo, still loving it, still have lots of energy for Ironman training!  Anyone who tells you endurance athletes have to eat bread and pasta doesn't know what they're talking about.

What's up next:
More centuries, lots of swimming and some huge runs.  I have also started planning my post-Vineman races, so I don't get fat/lazy/sad with the post-IM blues.  Signed up for my first ultra in October and another century in September.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Foxy Trails Half-Marathon

It was fun, I was tired from the hardest bike ride of my life the day before, I finished, it was slow, I want to do more.  That's about it.  I wasn't sure I was going to be able to move Sunday morning after the Saturday ride from hell, but I made it.  Good time for mantras: Toughen up, cream puff! Suck it up, Buttercup!
Look!  I'm beating all those people behind me.  I wonder what their excuse is?

Fun, fun, fun!  I love trail running!

I'm flying...and about to heel strike.  Maybe I should work on my form?!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The hardest bike ride of my life

So, this post is about a week late.  Last weekend I hosted a bachelorette party for my best friend from high school, but you'll have to wait until next time for those details.

Just over a week ago I did the hardest and most hellacious bike ride of my life.  Now, I've done a ton of 100+ mile bike rides and this one was only 85 miles but it was wicked!  I met up with Team Badass people Lauren, Missi, Ian and Aren to attempt the Champagne-Lilac ride.  We have been wanting to do this ride forever, mostly because of the name.  I grew up in Spokane, which is the lilac city, so I thought it would be fun.  Only supposed to be about 5000 feet of climbing.  Not bad!  We thought there were 2 major climbs and a bunch of rollers.  No problem!
This is what champagne means to me!  (Bach party preview)

We started in Solana Beach and began the climb up the Del Dios Highway.  I used to think this was hard, now it's cake.  Lauren had a mechanical issue and had to be rescued by another Team Badasser, Tammy, who was not riding with us that day because she was volunteering at Ragnar SoCal.

Side note: Ragnar is pretty special to Team Badass.  Ragnar Vegas is how I made all of my Team You Got Chicked friends, Missi and Ian met at Ragnar Napa (and are now getting married!) and was the foundation of Team Badass.

We continued up the Highway and out to the East.  It was getting hotter and hotter as the day progressed. We rode out toward the casinos and hit our first climb just over 20 miles in on Lake Wohlford Road.  This climb reminded me of the purple monster.  Long and kinda steep but not too bad.  At this point, we though we were 1/2 way done with the climbing.  It was getting really hot.  At mile 37 we turned down a road between orchards and saw the behemoth bitch before us.  Cole Grade.  We knew it was 3 miles long and steep and evil.  We underestimated the bitch.  Almost immediately, the climb became really steep.  There was no shade and I was sweating so much that I could barely hold onto the handlebars.  Thought about passing out, thought about dying, thought about barfing, held it together and made it to the top.  It was terrible, but we thought we were done with climbing.

We were wrong.  That Champagne road we were so excited about?  Long, boring climb with no scenery and really tired legs.  Why is it so hot?!  Then one more climb out of San Marcos.  Very steep.  Thought about crying.  Nobody was having fun by this point.  It became a death ride.  Finally we hit the coast and it was freezing cold.  We were drenching with rapidly freezing sweat.  But, we made it!  Turns out it was nearly 7000 feet of climbing with multiple huge climbs.

It was so hot that we kept running out of water.  I drank around 200 ounces of fluid that day.  Happy to have survived.  I managed to add to my bike shorts tan lines, which are pretty awesome.  They were a big hit at the bachelorette party.
This pic just doesn't do them justice

The next day, I ran my first trail half-marathon.  I'll tell you about that tomorrow.  It hurt.  I'm also badass.

Monday, April 16, 2012

120 mile weekend

Last week was kind of crappy, with lots of rain.  Here are the highlights:

Saturday: I decided some time ago to ride from San Diego to Huntington Beach (80 miles) to visit friends, stay the night and then ride back.  Unfortunately, we had a giant storm Friday night and the wind was still howling Saturday morning.  20-30 mph winds with gusts over 45 mph.  The tri club cancelled the bike and swim portions of the tri and there were wind warnings on the news.  Well, I decided to go for it anyway.  Yup, crazy!  It was bad.  About 2 miles from my house, I was descending down a steep hill and a cross wind caught me and blew all over the road.  Not fun.  At that point, I decided to get to Solana Beach and then I could take the train part of the way.  Only 12 miles away.  Terrifying.  I was going 9 mph on the flats into the head wind and it was not fun at all.  Made it to Solana Beach, where it rained on me.  :(   Rode the train to San Juan Capistrano and then rode from there to Huntington Beach.  Lots and lots of hills.  The scenery was great, but it was still crazy windy and I had to white knuckle it up the coast.  Finally made it.  Forty miles took me 3:13 and felt like 140.  Recovered with margaritas, tacos and gelato.

Sunday: Time to ride back home.  Much nicer day.  Beautiful, not too windy, sunny.  I rode from HB to San Juan Capistrano solo.  Luke rode the train to SJC and I met him there so we could ride back home together.  Unfortunately, Luke missed the train he was supposed to take so we had to wait 1.5 hours til the next one. I spent the wait here:

Finally he showed up and we started on our journey.  By the time we hit Oceanside I was hungry in a pretty serious way.  We stopped and I ate a twix, hot dog, french fries, bites of Luke's fried fish, a Starbucks large coffee drink, and a scoop of rocky road in a waffle cone in rapid succession.  Bad idea!  I thought I was going to barf for the rest of the ride, which was thankfully short.  In Carlsbad, we ran into Tammy, Todd and Don (Team Badass people), who were also out riding.  Fun little surprise.  Finally we made it home and collapsed on the couch.  120 miles in 2 days and I was beat!

Still feeling pretty fatigued today but trying to rehydrate for my swim tonight.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My big birthday boy

Last Thursday, my best running partner and favorite guy (3 way tie for first place with Luke and Rudy.  Okay, maybe Luke is in first, but Hank and Rudy aren't far behind) turned 5.  That's right, my baby is 5 years old!  Can't believe it.  This entire post will be pics of Hank.

When I decided to give Rudy a brother, I decided to get a puppy.  From now on, I'll do rescue exclusively, but RuDog had some issues that weren't immediately apparent and I was worried about adding a dog with an unknown background to the mix.  Anyway, I went to look at a female JRT puppy.  When the pups were released, Hank ran over to me right away and sat down in my lap.  It was love at first sight, for both of us.

Such a cute little guy!

Tiny baby Hank on his first night at home

Look at that naughty little boy

Hank's puppy years were filled with fun and destruction (good bye couch, chairs, pillows, books, remotes, a huge jug of olive oil), a heroin OD (not my fault.  Stupid druggies throwing their drugs on the streets in SF!), a broken leg and lots of adventures.
Little Man loves his ice cream

I know there's a snack in here somewhere!

Sitting in his toy box

Elvis.  I make him wear this every Halloween.

He is way too funny and acts like a little person.
Naps with Mom

Snuggling in his towel after a bath
He loves the beach
Dog Beach, Coronado
and hiking
Lake Berryessa


Mission Trails
and, he even rides a bike.
Every time I get on the trainer, he tries to ride on my lap
He's even a super famous supermodel (check out Oh! My dog photography)

I'm totally a crazy dog person, and I'm completely okay with that!  Best training partner in the world.  He's always excited to run, doesn't care about the weather or waking up early or where we go.  He just wants to run.  We could all learn something from the joie de vivre!

Look out for Rudy's special post this October when he turns 8!

Pig ninja power!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More summer time

Okay, here are some more highlights:

Black Mountain more than 15K:
Remember that super crazy hard almost 10 mile run I did about a month ago with Ian from Team Badass and thereisnotri.org?  Well, Team Badass has decided to make that a weekly event.  Hanky Panky and I met up with several of the speedsters and set out on the awesome/horrible/hard/fun run last Friday morning.  Everyone was way faster than me so I was hoofing it just to keep them within sight.  I definitely pushed myself and finished quite a bit faster than last time.  And, I wasn't too sore afterward, unlike last time.  Just some tired quads.  Just a few more days until this week's Black Mountain fun time.

April 7 long ride and Team Badass BBQ:
Last weekend we hosted a Bike and BBQ for some friends.  Everyone met at the Pig Ninja house and we rode up the coast.  Everyone rode between 50 and 70 miles.  I only rode 50 so I could get home and help Luke set up for the BBQ.  Fortunately, I had already prepped a ton of burgers and I made what may be some of the cutest cupcakes of all time.  Did you already know that I'm a total domestic goddess?!

Chick cupcakes

A special chick with bling cupcake I made for my friends Missi and Ian to celebrate their engagement
We ate, drank, engaged in conversations about "chicken bombs" and maggots, watched some rather inappropriate videos once the kids left and had a blast.  In fact, we had so much fun that we made karaoke plans for that evening.  However, about 5 minutes after making the plans and the last guests left, we realized that we were too zombie like to go out and cancelled.  Everyone was relieved :)

Easter Beach Time:
Yay Easter!  We're not religious, so we spent the day at the beach.  We rode cruisers all around Oceanside, ate yummy food and played a ton of frisbee.  Who knew frisbee was so much fun?!  I can't wait to play more!  Sunday was one of those days, and I've been having them frequently, where I'm so excited that I live in San Diego and can't believe (in a good way) that it's my home.  I can run by the ocean, bike by the ocean, swim in the ocean, play frisbee in the sand at the ocean and it's all within a few (okay, 6) miles of my house.  LOVE IT!  Never going to leave.

La Jolla Shores Evening Swim
Last night was my Tri Club's La Jolla Shores Evening swim season opener.  As we all know, I need more swim practice, especially open water!  I met up with the love birds Missi and Ian after work to join the tri club for the swim.  The group split into 2 groups: a beginner group that would parallel the beach and swim not so far and an advanced group that would cover a lot more distance.  Since I haven't been OWS since possibly CdA, I decided to join the beginners' group.  Thank goodness!  It was cold (but not THAT bad) and choppy (to me) and ugh, it was not so easy.  My swimming sucked.  I kept swimming and swimming and it seemed like I wasn't going anywhere.  Of course, the fact that I stopped every 3 strokes or so to doggie paddle and look around probably didn't help.  Hahaha.  Looks like I need to go every week!  I know it will get easier and if I master ocean swimming, fresh water will be that much easier.

The only thing that got me through this was knowing that I got Ethiopian food afterward.  Soooo good.  Fun dinner with Team Badass  friends.  Of course, the dinner conversation was not for polite society.  I learned things I'd never known before (and maybe wish I still didn't know).

On tap for this week:
running, biking, swimming :)