Monday, March 29, 2010

What I learned in Tucson…

Yesterday, I summarized what we did each day in Tucson. Today is what I learned from the experience. Here goes:

Climbing for 25 miles straight is amazing, and humbling, and I’m looking forward to trying it again someday. I learned that the next time I should start out a little more conservatively, and finish stronger. You have to ride your own ride. It’s good to push yourself with stronger riders, but you also have to learn your own limit. It’s inspiring to ride with other amazingly strong age group athletes, who have families and jobs and lives and still find time to train hard and have amazing results.

Descending for 25 miles is AWESOME! Mountain biking has really helped me to have less fear on descents. I just loved letting loose and bombing down the mountain as fast as I could.

Cacti don’t compare to evergreen and deciduous trees. The desert was a nice change of pace for a few days, but I could not live there. I need my trees, grass, flowers. Green is good!

Tucson is the most cycling friendly city I’ve ever been to. Bike lanes everywhere, and when the road narrows too much you immediately see ‘Share the Road with cyclists’ signs. Drivers are very tolerant of bike riders out there. Drivers elsewhere should take notice. Also, the range of cyclists out there is incredible. Pros and your average Joe. And I mean average. Nearing the bottom of the Mt Lemmon descent I passed a guy who was going up, he was on a hybrid, with a basket on front, wearing a button down shirt that was unbuttoned and flapping in the wind.

Good recovery habits can get you through more training than you thought you could do – compression, recovery drink (chocolate milk is my recovery drink choice), ice baths, stretching. I did a pretty good job on this front after each day.

Sunshine and bright blue skies do wonders for your attitude. You just feel positive and happy and energized.

What I learned from the other campers…
Mary… little Mary is a tiny powerhouse! Damn, that girl can swim and ride and run. She packs a wallop in her tiny frame, and can put the hurts to you. She is the epitome of the saying ‘big things can come in tiny packages’. She is completely motivated and committed to get the absolute most out of her body, and I think Kona is in her future this year. Mary, Coeur d’Alene is yours!

Ange… the other powerhouse from the Northeast. Mary and Ange grew up together in Maine. I guess Maine breeds tough chicks! When you look at Ange, you just see strength eeking out of every muscle, and that smile too. Ange showed me that even swimmers can be super runners and cyclists. Thanks Ange – I’ll be thinking of that whenever I run.

Melissa… the third tough Northeasterner. She is from Boston, loved her accent. She is 46 (I think) and runs like she is half her age. I know Mel will never forget her cycling shoes again ;-) And she proves that age is no limit!

Kari… is from the southeast. Another super runner. Kari facebooked me this morning and said she is going to think ‘swim like Cheryl’ in the future. And I am going to think ‘run like Kari’. Kari also faced her fear of descending. She was so nervous, but she went down Lemmon confidently, and I know she will be screaming down descents in the near future. Her training partners will be shocked when they see her new found skill. She made me realize that I should take my biggest fear and face it. And what is my biggest fear? Pain on the run. Pain in my legs, pain in my lungs, pain in my heart. These swimmer legs can run, I have to face the fear and the pain.

Kate… the kindest person ever. She brought gourmet cupcakes from an awesome bakery in Richmond all the way to camp! And hit the grocery for everyone since she arrived early. Always positive and supportive. She kicked her last years time up Mt Lemmon by a mile. What an improvement! It’s awesome to see how the hard work makes the athlete.

Other than me, everyone else was from Chicagoland area.

Well, except Julia... Julia is from Minnesota. Shit, when I think I have it rough training in the winter, I just look to Julia’s blog for a little motivation. She is a tall wisp of a girl, but don’t let that fool you. She is tough as nails. She rode Mt Lemmon like I should have. Conservatively at the start, and she crushed everyone by the top. She knows how to ride a bike. And she rides outside in Minnesota winters. She is a hard core, no excuses girl. Just like I want to be.

Tracy… picked me up at the airport. I was waiting for my bags and saw this attractive woman running around in work clothes, iphone hanging out of her ear, only to find out we were talking to each other on our phones, standing 10 feet apart. Her physical appearance is deceiving. She is strong, physically, and even more so mentally. She knows what she wants, and she dials in her effort and just keeps on hitting it. Tracy is a never-give-up kind of girl, and she helped me get to the top of Mt Lemmon. Consistency is the name of her game, and I will take that lesson home with me.

Jon… had not been outside on his bike for over a year, but he did the maximum length and number of rides the whole weekend. No matter how much he hurt, he pushed through it. And if anyone ever needed anything, Jon was the one to stop and help. A very upstanding guy! We should all be that way.

Sharon…ever smiling and positive. Sharon is a nurse, mother of 4 , and how she fits all that in, and trains like she does is amazing. She helped me through the run up Sabino Canyon, I am ever grateful. Hopefully someday I can return that kind of favor to a friend or training partner, being the strength to get someone through a rough patch. Thanks Sharon!

Rich… the other guy on the trip. Wow, he can run! Oh yeah, and swim and ride! I love seeing the speedy runners do their thing. So damn impressive.

Jen.. married to Rich, and Jen is one of the nicest gals around. Positive and hard working. She was nervous for the long ride, as we all were, but she put her head down, got it done, and was doing some amazing pulls the last hour. I’ll remember that. At the end of the long ride, just put the head down, and get it done! Jen and Rich spent their anniversary riding 120miles around Tucson. That is impressive! I’m sure I’d have knocked my hubby off his bike a few times after that many hours in the saddle with him nearby.

Last, but not least is my coach, Jen, and her hubby Jerome. They are like Yin and Yang. So opposite, but both so strong and confident, as athletes and people. Jen challenges me day in and day out to give my best, and she puts herself out there as the model of hard work, grit and determination. I hope I can bring the best out in myself this summer the way she does when she trains and races. This weekend was the first time I met Jerome. He was a bike racer at Valpo in college, so I was psyched to ride with a good roadie (even though now he is a triathlete), once a roadie, always a roadie. I learned a lot from him on that 120mile ride. A laid back attitude and sunny disposition , and some food, can keep you going for a long time. The pace was easy for him, but he totally dragged our asses around Tucson and helped us all get in our longest ride of 2010 – and its only March! He totally saved my ride when I crashed, and he fixed my bike (I learned some spoke/wheel truing maintenance out there on the road from him) and he got me going again.

So, Tucson was a challenging 4 days for me. I learned a lot. I’ll try to keep all these lessons in the back of my mind and pull them out when I need them. Someday I’ll go back there and tackle those challenges again!

Thanks Jen and Jerome for a great training camp! and thanks to my fellow campers for a fun 4 days. Hope to see you all again some day.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Opportunity in Tucson

I'm sitting in the Phoenix airport, waiting to go home. The past 4 days I had an opportunity to train in Tucson. Jen was taking 12 of her athletes to Tucson for a mini-training camp. I was looking forward to a few days off work, a few days in 80 degree sunny skies, and climbing Mt Lemmon on my bike!

Day 1 - Mt Lemmon
Mt Lemmon is a long 25 mile climb. Its actually about 22 miles up, 2 miles down, a mile up and a mile down. From 2500feet to near 9000 feet. Then turn around and do the opposite. In hindsight I started too fast. I never bonked, but about mile 12, I knew the group I was riding with was going faster than I could handle for another 12 miles. My heart rate was z4, and I could not sustain that for another 12 miles. I backed off a bit, and eventually made it to the top. Its pretty exhilerrating to ride uphill for 20+ miles, when you live in Indiana, where the longest climb is just over a mile. But the downhill was even better. Its funny, on the way up, there were times I thought , oh, can't you just slacken up a bit (talking to the slope of the road). But on the way down, it felt too gentle. I only touched the brakes a couple of times, most of the time I was pedaling, even around curves. I bombed it as fast as I could. Near mile 8, a group of 3 went by me, I tried to hop on, but the three of them went by at a faster pace than I was going, and I could not latch on. SO, I soldiered on alone, really enjoying the descent. A little steeper with less pedaling would have been nice, but then the uphill would have been too steep (at least for me and the gearing I had). I believe I did a short run after the bike. It was completely forgettable, very hot , no shade, very miserable.

Day 2 swim and run and maybe ride
The morning started with a swim. In an outdoor pool, the water was a little warm, but just swimming outside in the sunshine made it ok. Then we went to Sabino Canyon for a trail run. This trail basically climbed up a mountain. The plan was for everyone to run up for 60-75minutes, then turn around and go back down. The bottom was steep, I had to resort to some walk/run on the steeps, then as it gradually leveled out a bit (still going up), it was more running. The trail was pretty technical, as far as the footing lots of rocks to screw you up, up high, on the edge of some steep dropoffs. The other girls were like mountain goats, and I did my best to keep my legs moving. At least my hip is doing well, and I never once felt a peep out of it. At the bottom, a mountain stream crosses the road, so we stopped for an ice bath. That felt sooooo good. My calves were really tight from the uphill running. The frigid water was welcome, although my legs still hurt for the rest of the day. The optional bike ride turned into a ride where only Jerome and the 2 guys rode, and all the girls stayed home and relaxed. Day 3 was looming, and those of us with an ironman on the schedule for this summer were anxious about the ride on day 3.

Day 3

Day 3 was a ride for everyone. 6 of us were supposed to do a century, taking in many of the routes locals ride. The route actually mapped out to 107 miles, we made a wrong turn somewhere, and even taking 10 miles off at the end of the ride, we were just shy of 120miles. Just about double my longest ride of 2010! The ride started out for about an hour through Tucson city traffic. Not great, but its a very cycling friendly city, with bike lanes everywhere, and when the bike lanes end, the 'share the road (with cyclists)' signs are everywhere. The topography of the ride was lots of flat, rollers, and one climb of 3 miles. The climb is Gates Pass, and midway up, I was leading, and pulled left to drop back and let Mary and Tracy lead, and Tracy got caught in a rut in the road, and started to go down just as I was next to her. I tried to move left more, but I was too slow. I went down on my left side, then spun a little and smacked the back of my head (in a helmet of course!) on the pavement, crossed the yellow line. Thankfully no cars were coming. I was stunned for a minute but was able to do a quick inventory and I was pretty sure everything was ok. Jerome was off his bike and everyone got me and my bike out of the road, and they got me up and to the side too. I figured I was ok, (although I have to buy a new helmet now since I have a chunk out of it).The helmet probably saved my life, I will never think its ok for anyone to ride without one. Anyways, I stood there again assessing if I was ok, and decided I was ok enough to try to ride. Jerome was truing my rear wheel that wasn't spinning. I learned how to do more bike maintenance by watching him. Tracy was ok from her crash too. I felt bad everyone seemed so worried about me, I guess my fall was a bit more dramatic. Finally time to get back on the bike, and I struggled up the next mile or two, thinking I was just feeling anxious and slow from the crash, but after the descent, I noticed my front brake had been rubbing slightly on one side since the crash. Got that straightened up, and things felt smoother. The ride went on and on and on. We had some really rough stretches of pavement that just beat the crap out of us. We missed one turn, that ultimately added on over 10 miles to the planned route, we weren't aware of the additional miles at the time. Nearing mile 90, Jerome realized we needed to cut out some miles, which we did, and after this ridiculously long gradual climb of many miles (but with a tailwind),we finally turned and headed toward home. Somehow I think we all thought maybe 20 more minutes, but it was more like 20 more miles! And, the terrain was rollers, some steep, and seemed like mountains by this time, even though they were just small hills. The girls were getting pretty cranky, poor Jerome had to put up with us, but he was a great sport, and kept smiling, and got us home. except for one more small hurdle, which was relaly just a funny thing for us all to burst out laughing about since we were so close to home. A few miles before home, a stream had flooded the road, and it was blocked, but there was no way we were taking a detour, it looked shallow, we rode through, and I bogged down in deep sand. No worries, walked the bike out, back in the saddle, and a few miles later were finally back at our little house. What a ride. Almost 120miles. Quite a day for me!

Energy was low this morning for the swim, and my body was feeling pretty beaten up from my crash. Shoulder very sore and stiff. And my neck was in a lot of pain every time I turned it or lifted it to breathe. Jen was kind, and it was a very mellow swim for me. I think it will take a few days for my body to recover and heal itself, both from the crash, and the miles of training.

So, I'm looking forward to getting home to Todd and my puppies, and I see the weather is supposed to be in the 70's at home in a couple days! That makes me very happy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Murphy's Law

I always try to laugh when Murphy decides to show up in my life.

Last night I was at the pool for a nice long set of 100's where I was hoping for a good set. Its spring break here in Btown so not many people around. I typically have a lane to myself, and on very rare occasions I have to split a lane with someone. I got started with the set and made it about halfway when I'm at the wall, breathing hard, goggles on, watching the clock waiting for my now about 10 seconds to rest before I shoved off for the next repeat when I see a lifeguard sort of in my vision and hear this 'bla bla bla bla' but I'm not listening because I'm in the middle of my workout and I don't stop for chit chat in the middle of a set. Five seconds to go and she leans right in my face and says 'well?'. I yell back, I mean, say back to her, 'well what?' impatiently. She points to the guy standing next to her and says he needs somewhere to swim and will I split my lane. I yell, I mean, say, of course, I'm on this side, isn't that how it works. You don't have to ask me, I don't own the lane. She says she is just being polite. I push off mumbling if she was polite she wouldn't have interrupted my workout and made me take an extra 15 seconds rest. Pool etiquette! Jeez, its bad when even the lifeguard violates my rules. I mean the pool rules. ok, so I flip at the 25 and half way down the pool I'm hit by a tidal wave as I swim by this guy, gagging on all the water I unexpectedly ingested, I regroup and pass him again, but not until the wall at the 75 where he is apparently hanging on for dear life. I finish the 100, and glance back his direction and see him just off the wall, arms flailing, swimming vertically, with a sever off camber tilt, another crazy wash of water all around him. Shit. I have all the luck! Somewhere in the next 100 he drifted all the way over to the lane line on my side of the lane and I ran over him. He must not know its ok to open your eyes when you wear goggles! Hello, open your eyes! stay on your side of the lane! stay out of my way! ANd if you can't, find someone your own speed to share a lane with! The only saving grace here was that he swam one 25 for about every 200 yards I swam, spending much time hanging on the wall, or even a lane line. Its just funny, because I'm surely the biggest pool snob, PITA (pain in the ass) swimmer in this town. And nothing bugs me more than people who don't know even simple pool etiquette! I've asked if I could rent a lane for an hour 3 days a week, they say I could, but its a little more than I'm willing to spend. I'm thinking about laminating a sign and putting it at the end of my lane wherever I swim. It would say:
Do not stop me.
Do not talk to me.
Stay on your side of the lane.
If you cannot follow these simple rules, I am going to swim fly down the middle of the lane lap after lap until you move to another lane.

ok, maybe that last sentence won't make it onto the sign, but damn people, just use a little common sense!

So, this past weekend the weather was total shit. cold, rainy, windy. Perfect for riding outside. NOT! The forecast for today-Friday sunny and 60. Saturday and SUnday, rain and mid 40's. Shit again. I checked my work schedule and planned to take this afternoon off so I could do a long ride. And I'd just work from home in the morning. Well, I woke up to find my ATT Uverse service was in the toilet. No tv, no phone, no internet. My job is IT, so internet is a necessity to work from home. Thank you Murphy! I call ATT and we troubleshoot over the phone for 30minutes and they decide an onsite repairmen is required so I schedule for the 8-12 timeblock today. Seriously, I love it that they can only pin it down to a 4 hour time block! As if my time is no more valuable than theirs. Now I have to just use a whole day off. ok, no major deal, I get a lot of time off at my work. I'm expecting a call shortly after 8 with a more specific time when they might arrive, and I'm plowing through work email on my iphone, when I realize its 9am and no call yet. I see an email from ATT and look at it, and it says the service call is for March 17. Today is the 16th! NO! I'm sitting here waiting! I call and they say they can schedule someone from noon-4 now. Knowing I have a long ride planned, I say I need a closer ETA. They can't provide one, so I ask them to ask the repair guy to come late, after 3. They say they can't guarantee that. I tell them I can't guarantee I'll be there before then since they already wasted 2 hours of my time. So, I head out on my bike in glorious sunshine, a little cool, but just wearing knickers a short sleeve jersey and light shirt underneath. I'm riding alone, kind of boring, but I'm happy anyways. 72minutes into the ride my phone rings, its work. I take the call. 5 minutes yapping trying to help someone solve a problem that would normally be my problem to solve, so I can't complain about helping, and I'm back on my way. At 2hrs , ring ring. This time ATT. They are at my house. I tell them I won't be there for 2 more hours. He says he'll try to come back, no guarantee. ok, thanks Murphy! You had 4 hour block, and you came at 5 minutes into the 4 hours! Damnit. What can you do. Ride on I say! 20minutes later, ring ring. WHAT. Not another call. Its my neighbor. My dogs are sitting in my front yard. Apparently Mr ATT decided to open the gate to my fenced in back yard where my dogs were sunning and they got out and he didn't let put them back in, or call me to tell me he let them out. Nice. I'm freaking out, riding my bike, trying to sprint home, I'm 30 minutes from home shortest route. I ask my neighbor if he'd try to just open the side door and see if they will go in the house. He calls me back 5 minutes later and they are inside. ok, I breathe easier, slow down, and think I'll be filing a complaint with ATT! At 3:15 I call Mr ATT and ask him if he thinks he will be able to come, or do I have to call and reschedule. He says he just left my house. HUH? I've been here for more than 30 minutes. Did you just tap lightly on my door? Come on! I have 3 dogs who go crazy when someone comes to the door! ok, he agrees to come back. I wait in the driveway. I put on my friendly face, and am nice, and he fixes my internet, tv and phone, and I bit emy tongue about my dogs since he came back and fixed everything.

why am I such a pushover!?!?

in other important questions of my life... I just cut up a pineapple, and there must be a trick to cutting a pineapple well, and not wasting so much...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Me and the girls MTB'ing???

I wish we rode like the guys in this video!

Ange, Heather, we've got work to do :-)