Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pushing away the negative thoughts

My biggest goal for the rest of the summer is to be successful at pushing away the negative thoughts when things are going tough during a workout. This morning my ride was an out and back, south into a stiff wind, back with the wind at my back. In headwinds I often get discouraged, but today anytime I thought about the wind, I immediately just tried to think of something positive - I have a beautiful bike! I just saved a turtle from possible death from crushing! I just picked up a bunch of new shirts for work that Stacey and Clinton from What not to Wear would be so proud of! I'm really enjoying the new CD I picked up by the Kooks, and keep singing their songs in my head when i'm riding, and they make me smile. Swimming Olympic Trials start today and I can't wait to get home and watch today. I am so lucky that I can be out here riding on this beautiful morning. Next month I'll have the chance to race and see how my training is coming together. What's a little wind! At least its not hot!

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Despite losing power at our house last night around 8pm, and not having it back on until 3am, thunder and lightning rolling through all night, poison ivy itches still making themselves felt a little, it was a rather sleepless night. An 8am planned mtb ride at the park was iffy due to the rain, but the trails have been super dry and hard, so unless it poured inches overnight it would be ridable. But I was late as I fell asleep after walking the dogs at 5am. I went over, with mtb and road bike (just in case trails were not ridable). But they were! Thank you! I'd been off the mtb for 10 days, so I was really wanting to enjoy a 3.5 hour ride around my local trails. I just cruised, sometimes faster, sometimes slower, careful on rocks - they were slippery from the overnight rain, and eventually ran into Ange and her coworker Sam. We rode together for a while, and saw a huge tree, a hundred feet tall, about 75 feet down trail, leaning at 45 degree angle, splintering, cracking loudly. We stopped and wondered how long until it fell. When it did, the top would surely cover a good portion of the trail. We decided to sprint past it... we made it. A stretch on the road to skip the newer stretch of trail that is a bit more technical with lots of rocks (because they would be slippery) and then on to the awesome downhill at Hesitation Point. I just love this trail. Its so lush right now, green everywhere, sometimes I feel like I'm in a fairy tale land. I parted ways with Ange and Sam to do another loop, but met up with them at another connector where they had stopped to swap saddles with Heather and Jess who were just starting and has snapped a rail on a saddle - always handy to hook up with friends on the trail. I did one more loop before heading home. I was covered from head to toe in mud, not because the trails were super muddy, but there were a smattering of puddles and they just splash the mud right up. I stopped in the local market for my favorite Chugs chocolate milk - if you haven't tried this you must! Perfect recovery drink after a good workout. An email from Heather confirmed the tree indeed went down between the time we sprinted under it and when they made it up there.
My friend Melissa was supposed to be out crewing for her friend who was running Western States 100. Fires cancelled the race, and turns out she has an injury that kept her home anyways. I have been remiss checking in with her this past month, I didn't know she was having problems. She is born to run. I'm looking forward to seeing her put up some great ultra's in the future!
I'm thinking about hiring a tri-coach for the next year or so, someone to help me reach some new goals.

Friday, June 27, 2008

more pics of my goldie Sam

My hubby wanted me to post these pics. He likes to embarrass our dogs. :-)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Funny Quote

“I woke up not feeling great, couldn’t regulate in the heat, went nuclear early and I was going to be dead on the side of the trail if I didn’t stop and walk.” – Melanie McQuaid, after 2008 Xterra Southeast Champs in Pelham, AL

I have to agree with her! It was HOT and HUMID. Alabama always is!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I actually took Sam for a run

only 10 minutes, but he did it. He hates the car, so he never goes to the trails with me and Daisy, he just gets walks on the leash near home. But last night I had a 30 minute run after my ride, so I came home and first ran Daisy for 20 minutes. She was a spaz as always on a leash until she got hot, then she slowed down. Then back home and took Sam out.

It was a 10 minute easy jog, was supposed to be faster, but that was his pace, and he just kept looking at me the whole time, running right by my side, loose leash. I just imagined him saying 'hey mom, this is so cool. Just me and you and no Daisy. I like this!' He's soooooo cute.

On another happy note, I bit the bullet and went to promptcare this morning and got some prednisone for my poison ivy. I should have gone sooner, but who would have thought it would continue to spread up my legs after 5 days!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Poison Ivy Day 4

It just keeps spreading! I swear I just starting getting new itches, then I check and there is a new patch of poison ivy rash - arms, legs, stomach, ankles. It's making me absolutely CRAZY! And now I have to reschedule a massage I had planned for Friday because what massage therapist wants to touch poison ivy, and who wants to have someone else's fingers spreading poison ivy oils around your skin! Ouch! Its bad enough that it spreads on its own.

5 days until US Swimming Olympic Trials.
11 days until the TDF.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My ART guy turned triathlete, altimeters and posion ivy, and swimming olympic trials

So, its been three weekends since I've been home for a hard weekend of training. My local ART provider, Brian, was an alternate for the Atlanta olympics in track & field (throwing evernts). This year he bought a bike, and has transformed himself into a trim, fit triathlete. Just completed his first tri, and I rode with him for the first time Saturday morning. I had a 3.5 hr ride on schedule with a good chunk of zone 3 riding, 3x10mins of zone 5, and then just saddle time. He was riding 2 hours, and he put the hurts to me the whole ride! Now I'm encouraging him to get out and try some of the local big guy rides, because he loves riding and needs more of a challenge than I can give him. He says he's just a novice, but I tell him he may be a novice bike rider, but he's no novice athlete! He knows how to work hard!

In the afternoon I actually put a computer onto my bike. I haven't ridden with one in years. This one has an alitmeter, I thought it would be fun to track climbing, in prep for a potential attempt at Silverman in November (9000ft of climbing in 112 miles!). Then I cleared weeds, and got into poison ivy, and now have the itchies on my arms and legs. Why I never learn to wear long sleeves and pants when I do this is beyond me!

Then Sunday morning rolls around, with a shorter 2.5 hr ride, with a little less hard riding than yesterday, but still some upper zone riding. I decide to pick a hilly route, and the first hill I was wondering if that was such a good idea - my legs were hurting from yesterday. I suffered up the hills, managed about 2000 ft of climbing in 2:15 (I bagged the last 15 minutes), and even skipped the transition run! I'm such a wussy girl. Now I'm drinking a milkshake from Sonic - they have the best drinks ever! Especially their fruit slushes - but today was a good day for ice cream since I hadn't had any this week.

I'm anxiously awaiting the US Olympic swimming trails which start 6/29. I'm a hopeless swim fanatic. Should be very exciting to watch Michael Pehlps, Ryan Lochte, Dara Torres (my idol - she is my age!) Natalie Coughlin (just broke the AMerican record in the 200im in only her second time swimming the even in 5 years!), Katie Hoff, and all the others. Then the Tour de France is up in July, then the Olympics. It wil be a good summer for following my favorite athletes!

Monday, June 16, 2008

xterra richmond - way to go , grace!

Whenever I ride and do stupid things (which is quite often) I call myself grace, you know, way to go grace.

Yesterday I did xterra richmond and I lost count of thenumber of times I said this to myself. Let's start at the beginning. The swim is in the James river, light current, shallow water - 1-6 feet deep. Check out the link above to see photos of the boulders that are strewn throughout the river (and hence the swim course), and even the 'Mayan' ruin like thing we had to climb on the run. Anyways, the swim was wave starts, which was awful for me! Pros first, 2 minutes later were men 15-35, 2 minutes later were men above 35, 2 minutes later were women and relays. So, not only did I have the pleasure of trying to navigate lots of slower men who had a head start, since I couldn't take decent lines, I was swimming into boulders all the time. Most of them would just brush right under me, one I swam right up onto. The orange cone sitting on it was not supposed to be a magnet attracting me to it, but rather a warning to stay away from it. But my mind was not thinking except to get around the men, and I beached myself on it. The kayakers must have had a good laugh at that! WAY TO GO GRACE! I finished the swim with lots of abrasions on my arms chest. Not pretty. Then the run to T1 was .25-.5 miles long. No big deal except for the rocks you have to run over. ANd I mean a good solid 50 feet of those big chunky 2inch gravel pieces laid down for pavement. Many people stashed shoes at the swim to wear, but not me. Oh no, I had to do it barefoot - WAY TO GO GRACE! Then onto my sweet little mountain bike for a pretty technical 18+ mile course. The biggest problem was since the men had a head start on the swim I had even less of a lead on them so the first hour of the bike was jam packed with people. I stopped counting the number of crashes I had. One time I wiped out, got up and thought my handlebars seemed weird, and the front wheel and bars were completely turned around and I was sitting on my bike with them backwards! WAY TO GO GRACE! So, like I said, many crashes, none of them bad. Lots of dabbing, and several places I had to get off the bike and walk - a couple of steep switchbacks I didn't make it down, 3 short steep uphills that were littered with people - many times it was people in front of you that prevented you from riding something, and unfortunately I probably kept a few people from riding things - but that's mountain biking - crazy, fun, stressful, tiring - just so different from riding on the road. I should also mention that there werethese small bridges that cross the river so people can ride and walk across. And they all had these ridiculous stairs to climb. So around mile 3 we climbed the first, carrying our bikes, up 10 flights of 10 stairs each. Then ride singletrack, techincal sections, fun sections, crowded sections. This trail had everything you can imagine - and its right in the middle of a city. I wish our trails around here offered more variety. The more I get to ride other trails, I see more things I'd like to see on our local trails. Oh well, we did get to carry our bikes down the stairs next. Then more riding, and back up one more time - yep! That was F.U.N. FInally into t2, and I saw a gal who I met form Purdue, she cheered me along. I fumbled with my race belt for some reason, and my socks were full of sand and I tried to decide if I should empty them or just run. I opted for just run, and have a few blisters to show for that. But the run was pretty flat, except for more climbing up stairs to cross a foot bridge. A climb up the mayan ruin like structure, which was a hand and foot climb up a 75 foot steep hill with railroad ties every three feet to grab onto. One very cool section of the huge boulders that you scamper across, then climb up a ladder bolted into a wall. Then some trails, one long climb on the trails, back up to the footbridge and the finish. I was 3rd in my AG. I won't do this race next year. The swim is too short, and its too far to drive, and it was way to difficult to do two A races two weekends in a row (Pelham then Richmond). Difficult to recover from Pelham, and then figure how to train for Richmond. Too bad, because the Richmond bike course has tons of room for improvement for me!

My running is pretty slow now. I'll be adding some speedwork next because I was just plodding along. My overall pace was 9min miles, which probably meant I was running 8:30 pace when I could actually run, and that just won't cut it.

And my swimming sucks too. So, I have to bump the swimming up starting NOW.

I'm happy to be home.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

why am I doing this race?!?

This race totally plays in favor of my weaknesses and completely minimizes my strength - a short 1k swim, a long 18.7 mtb and a long 11k run. Oh well. I guess sometimes you have to do things that don't play to your strengths. They are going to start the race early to try to beat some of the heat. The med tent at Alabama was full last week with people getting iv's, so I guess they are hoping to reduce those numbers.

Friday, June 13, 2008

swim (walk, crawl), bike (hike, carry, crash)...

ok, so today I met Ted for a preride of the Richmond course. I had to get off my bike at least 10 times for some steep uphills over rocks/roots that I just didn't quite make it up and over, and I think one or two steep down switchbacks with deep sand/debris that kind of freaked me out. I carried my bike up about 200 stairs, and down about 100. We got lost, and I rode a bunch of extra miles. But that's ok. It will make the race day ride seem short! And I just can't wait for those stairs again! Oh yeah, it was hot again. I didn't fill the camelback all the way and I needed it. I'll have to rethink race day, and fill the camelbak all the way (which i would have done) but maybe also take a bottle from the aid station and drink some of it quickly right then. Rumor has it the swim will start in waves, so at least I won't have all the fast pro riders who are so slow swimmers right on my ass when I get on the bike scaring the bejeezis out of me.

Then there was a swim clinic today where the swim course designers swam us through the course. All I can say is what a freaky crazy weird swim course. Its in a river, so you have current to deal with. But the river varies from only 1 foot deep to 6 feet deep. Many times there are rocks shallow enough that they brush against your stomach, and your hands grab them as you pull underwater. This is just one very bizarre swim.

No run report as I'll just wait until race day to see that one.

I had tiramisu tonight for dessert - uh-oh! I also had my first hoho of the trip today - double uh-oh! Just getting ready for the race ;-)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

How y'all doing?

Spending a week in the southeastern part of the US is a treat. I love the accents of the people who live here. And everyone is so friendly! Wednesday I had a pleasant mtb ride at Bent Creek in Asheville, with a retired guy named Bob who I met the day before. We did a pretty mellow ride that climbed a few miles on a gravel road then just some nice non-technical flowing single track. Easy paced, which helped my sore legs, but the best part was that the single track was just littered with little whoop-dy-doos - or whatever you call them - little jumps that you can get awesome air on. They were all over the trail. Like every 100 yards there seemed to be another to jump. I had a blast. Today we drove to Charlottesville, VA, and visited Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. It's a very interesting place to go. ANd to hear the tour guides talking about Thomas Jefferson - he is truly an amazing person! When I get home I'll be hitting the library to read more about him, his inventions, his life.

A few bad things for the week - I've had ice cream 3 times so far! Its been ridiculously hot (except for one day). I've probably done a little too much shopping! I really miss home (I'm a hopeless homebody). And its not easy to get in good training while travelling - especially swimming. I'll be happy to get home. Tomorrow we make the quick trip over to Richmond, and I'll get in a pre-ride and/or a pre-swim. Should be an interesting course to report back on!

ok, its almost 8pm and I've put off a run all day so I think I'm going to head out for a short one before bed. good night all.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

ouch - race day plus 2

So, its been 2 days since the race. And I have to say I'm not recovering well. Every muscle in my legs ache still. And not just mildly, but quite a bit. I did an easy paced 6 mile trail run this morning followed by an easy swim in the lake, and it was just awful. Tomorrow I have a mtb planned with someone I ran into at the trails, but itspouring rain now, and I don't know what it will be doing inthe morning. Whatever the case, I'll be taking it easy between no and SUnday and just trying to recover and get some good feelings back to these poor muscles.

Monday, June 9, 2008

On the road

I spent some time at the Birmingham botanical gardens before the race. I love flowers, plants, and so does my mom. We enjoyed it, but would have enjoyed it more if it had not been so hot. This is my favorite photo from the gardens...

After the race, we drove north of Atlanta, and this morning headed toward Asheville, NC. On the way we stopped at Chimney Rock, and I did a walk to the falls that were used in filming the movie Last of the Mohicans.

Now we are in Asheville. I hit a local bike shop today, found where I can ride my mtb, trail run and swim. So, I'll do some of that plus we will hit the Biltmore house, gardens, and some shops while we are here. Then up to Virginia.

...more to come.

Race Report - Xterra Southeast Champs

For some reason, the xterra people like to start the regional championship races at 9:30am! In Alabama in June, at 9:30am its already 90 degrees! By race end this year it was 100. ugh.

So, this year, I was sporting a new race kit - the team I race for - Get A Grip Offroad racing team - suplied me with shorts and tri-top. The top had pockets in back, which is a big no-no for me in a swim. So I broke down and bought a Desoto speedsuit, hoping the speedsuit might help compensate for my absolutely dismal swim training this year, plus eliminate the drag from the pockets. My swim was still a little off last year, but it serves me right. I have been swimming 30 minutes twice a week at absolutely pathetic paces. Its time to get back to normal swim workouts when I get home. Oh yeah, the water was a way too balmy 82 degrees. I swam the whole swim next to Melanie McQuaid, 3-time xterra world champion, but of course she blew me away in T1 and everywhere else! In T1, there was one other age grouper just ahead of me. I started the bike knowing I should hydrate a lot, and I tried to ride smoothly. In the first 10 minutes, tons of pro men, women and fast men age groupers need to get by. Its stressful, because its all singletrack for the stretch, so I have to try to slow down, make room, its just not fun. One corner I tried to go too tight to give them room, and washed out. Lots of trail rash on the right leg (hard to see in the photo, but its really pretty!) , and I held up several people as I tried to pull my bike off the trail. Once I was going again, things were uneventful, the first AG woman passed me at the single track just before the doubletrack long uphill. SHe didn't pull away until I let some other guy go by near the top of the long hill, and I lost contact, because there's just inches of decent trail to ride on just on the side of the double track- the rest is rocks, gravel, and on the uphill its too easy to loose traction and then you can't get going again. SO I had to let her go. One more AG woman passed me just before blood rock, and the woman who was first in t1, was fixing a flat and I passed her. Of these 3, one was world champion last year, one was second at world championships last year (to a now first year pro), the other was just plain fast (20-24 ag, likely to be pro soon). SO I was not feeling too bad. I got to blood rock, rode half, then hopped off. Lots of people stand there to cheer and watch people crash. I told them I was walking, and they cheered me anyways - all are so supportive. Its a nasty stretch of rocky trail. No more passes to the end of the bike. My bike plus t2 was also a few minutes slower than last year. I'mnot sure where Ilost the time, maybe just overall heat fatigue, and the little wipeout at the start. The run scared me, as it is a beast. The first mile or two are relatively flat, and I ran the whole thing, moderately paced, taking gatorade and water twice. Then the run goes vertical on trail that is often loose, debris covered, and steep. ANd I mean steep. There is no hill in Bloomington that I can think of that compares - maybe that gravel road that Ange and I rode in January. Then back down. And the downs are steep, quad busting steep. I am slow on the steeps - down or up, doesn't matter. I had to walk a lot of the ups. I'd bargain with myself to run 40 more steps when I was ready to walk because my heart was ready to bust out of my chest. There are 5 or so big hills like this in 4 miles. It is an absolute beast. Did I mention its a beast? Well, it is. My run was 5 minutes slower than last year. The woman who I passed fixing her flat, passed me running, looking so strong. Then one more woman passed me on the run (she was world champ last year, and at this race I beat her by 10 seconds, this year, she beat me by about the same).

I hit the misting tent, which is just the most awesome thing at the end of a hot race. I need to set one of these up for my dogs.

I finished 1st in my AG (there were only two of us), and I was 5th amateur woman overall.

If you read my previous entry, you know I got to meet Conrad Stoltz after the race. That was very cool.

Now I'm in Asheville... next post coming soon.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Me and Conrad

Yeah, that's me in the photo with Conrad Stoltz! (Check out his blog - there is a link down in the sidebar of my blog) What do he and I have in common, other than the fact that we both raced the Xterra Southeast Championships in Pelham, AL today, in 100 degree heat, and maybe 100% humidity? Nothing! He is the man. Three-time Xterra World Champion, olympian in road triathlon for his home country of South Africa. He is tall, strong, fast, a freaking amazing mountain bike rider, and as nice as any person can be. After the race, we were sitting in the shade behind the awards area, and he was sitting a few feet in front of us, eating a giant plate of food. And me, being the complete dingbat that I am, walked over and asked him if I could be so rude to interupt his meal and have a picture with him. He put his plate down and stood up, shook my hand asked my name, asked about my race, and posed for this photo with me. Little old me , from Bloomington, IN! He is the man. What a super nice guy. It made my whole day! ANd what a day it was. The race was brutal for me. Harder than last year. The heat really got to me. All three disciplines were slower than last year. The swim was in an uncomfortable warm lake. At the start of the bike I washed out in a tight curve trying to make room for a couple of pros to get by, and have some nice trail rash. I drank a lot in the ride, just trying to stay hydrated, I was so scared I'd blow up on the run. This run is like no other 10k, and its even a bit short of a 10k. I'll try to find someone who has posted a elevation profile, because you just can't believe a 10k could be so brutal! SO, I sufered a lot. ANd lots of people suffered a lot. I even went to the medical tent! ok, not for an iv, or anything exciting, and it wasn't even right after the race - that was the time for the beautiful cool misting tent - every hot race should have one of these. But that trail rash - Alabama has a lot of annoying bugs, and they kept landing on my scrapes, and wouldn't leave my blood alone! so I had the med guys clean 'er up, and cover it. That's all. Oh yeah, I won my AG - slower time than last year, but its still a win, and it qualifies me for Maui again - yippee!
Big thanks to all my friends who help me train to get here, and my mom who came down with me for company, and Todd for putting up with my training addiction, I mean habit. Its all for fun. Maybe I'll have a little better race next Sunday in Richmond - not that an AG win isn't good, but just a little faster would be good.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Blood Rock - not happening

Yesterday I met my mom for the 9 hour drive to Pelham. As we drove the temperature rose to 100 degrees. Once here, I pre-rode the bike course, hoping I might be able to ride the Blood Rock technical section. That comes at least two-thirds into the course, and the first part was uneventful. I rode easy-ish, drank a lot (it was near 100!), and found the rocks and roots not as bad as last year - I think I've learned to pick better lines since then. At Blood Rock there were two guys checking it out. I walked it, watched one ride it, walked back up, rode the first short section, and decided the bottom was not worth a crash and walked for 20 seconds over the last stretch. So, for a second year, I'll be walking Blood Rock. I'm ok with that. Finished the lap uneventfully, did a lap of the swim - the water was disgustingly warm.

Its Saturday morning now, and today is just rest, checkin for the race. We may go to the Birmingham Botanical gardens. Now its time for Cheerios - breakfast of champions.

Send positive thoughts to me for tomorrow - and that the weather cools down!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Flash Flood

This is what it looked like outside the window of my office yesterday at 4pm. The water was gone by 7pm.

One more day of work, then my race/vacation begins!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Crazy Storms & Running Shirtless

Wow, we've had two days of heavy thunderstorms, tornado warnings, and high winds, and yet somehow they spaced themselves out enough that I've been able to run yesterday morning in just a drizzle, ride my 40 minute time trial last night in high humidity and sun, and sneak in a 45 minute tempo run between heavy downpours - running without a shirt, no less! My first run of 2009 without a shirt! Its been a cool spring, and even the last week with warmer temps, I've continued to wear shirts so I'd be warmer than normal to try to be ready for the likely 90 degree temps that will await me in Alabama on Sunday. But this morning when I walked the dogs at 5am in a short sleeve cotton shirt, I got home soaked (from sweat, not rain), and had to opt for skin over shirt for my run. Glad I did!

My left shoulder feels funny today. I don't know what I did, hopefully it shakes itself out today so it doesn't bother me swimming tonight. If not, at least I have an ART appointment tomorrow, so I can have Brian work on it if necessary.

now, back to another fun filled day at work...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tuesday Tempo Torture

That's what one of my cycling training partners calls her Tuesday training ride. She rides with her husband, who is a very strong bike rider, and some of his friends. Its a tempo ride for them, and she just hangs on for dear life for the whole ride. I think it would be a 2-3 hour ride at z5+! No thank you! Good thing I can fall back on the excuse that its not on my training plan.

But tonight will likely be a washout as we are in the midst of some pretty severe weather.It may fall to a ride on the trainer. I borrowed a new specialized saddle from a friend to tryout on my new Guru. The Arione that came on the bike is AWFUL! Did I say AWFUL!? Well, I finished a 3.5 hour ride on Saturday and my bottom side felt soooooo sore. So, I'm on a mission for a newsaddle. We'll see how the specialized one works out for tonights ride.

Friday I leave for Pelham, and my first attempt of the year to qualify for the Xterra World Champs in Maui. I have to finish first or second in my AG. Last year I finished second here. This year, I'm racing two qualifiers - at Pelham and Richmond. I thought Richmond would be a fun one to try. I'll post updates as I travel the week with my mom. First stop Pelham. Then Charleston, SC, Asheville, NC, then Richmond, VA, before heading back home to Todd, and Sam and Daisy (my dogs), and Junior and Peanut(my cats). Just in time for Todd to turn around and head out of town for work - to Virginia - where I will have just returned from!