Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summer of Jen

Before I get to my little report about the course preview day, I have some news...

Let's see, how did they put it... "The company is facing some difficult times, and your position is being eliminated." Yes, I got the axe! I am among the unemployed. On a Friday too, just like they said in Office Space "Less chance of someone coming back and shooting up the place."

Here's me when I got home, yes it was only about 11:00 am.

Anyway, before anyone even utters a condolence, let me state that I'm very OK with it. If I am honest, I'm happy. I didn't really like my job. It wasn't bad, but it was far from challenging and I was ready to move on. I worked there for over 5 years. It was my first and only real job since graduating college. I wanted to make a change but I was so comfortable in a routine, as I'm sure most of you can relate. This time, a change was forced on me and I'm welcoming it with open arms. I don't know what I'm going to do, but Zach and I are talking about a lot of options, and I can promise it'll be something big/cool/different. I also got a sweeeet severance package so I won't even bother looking for a job for at least a few weeks. Meaning I have endless time to train. Meaning this will be the Summer of Jen!!!

So prepare to be annoyed with my tales of sleeping 10 hours a night, going to noon master's classes, taking long mid-afternoon bike rides, and generally bragging about my joblessness.

Cheers, KK!

Ok, so onto the Vineman Course Preview day. And it was a DAY.

My Half Ironman, Barb's Race, is the same day as the full iron-distance Vineman (August 2), which is two weeks after the Vineman 70.3 race. All races cover generally the same course. So this group was a mix of people training for all events. It was an awesome day. It was perfect weather-wise: it never got too warm, and the smoke was not bad at all.

I drove the 90 miles (ya) up to Windsor where the group met up at the high school at 9:00 am. This is the location of T2 for the race (the bike is point to point). The coach of Tri More Fitness, Neil, was super friendly and greeted me when I arrived. There were about 20 other people there all from the same tri club, so I kind of felt like the odd man out. After a brief meeting and explaination of the day, I paired up with a sweet girl named Rachael from the UK (lives in SF) and we carpooled the 20 or so miles over to Johnson's Beach in Guerneville. She's done Barb's Race twice and was really helpful. Guerneville is where the race begins and T1 is located. We got a swim course overview from one of the Vineman race directors and then headed into the Russian River to do the entire 1.2 mile swim course. I wasn't that nervous but I didn't know what to expect time-wise. Here's a shot before we started swimming:

Kind of hard to see but the water is in the picture, it's just very smooth. We swam from where I stood toward and beyond the bridge. It's just a straight out and back.

swim 1.2 miles


Yay! Very happy with that time. If I could replicate that swim time on race day I'd be happy. If I could improve upon that, even better. I felt really comfy and had a lot of fun. The water is warm enough, about 74 ish?, and shallow enough to touch in places. I did brush the bottom with my hand a few times right after the turn around. They said there was a slight current but I did not notice. I was really pleased to see that I was solidly in the middle of the pack too. (Ever since that open water swim with the master's I'm paranoid about being last like I was there!) So in summary, awesome swim. I'm definitely ready for that portion of my race.

We got out of our wetsuits and headed back over to Windsor to begin our bike. We drove the exact route that we will take by bike on race day, since we'd obviously not be covering that on bike today. With all the driving and all the talking it was shortly after noon when we started the ride.

My only goal on the ride was to stay with the pack. Again, I'm paranoid about being last. Not even being last, but being dropped. Coach Neil did drive a SAG vehicle and promised no one would be left behind. But, I didn't know the route at all so I wanted to stay with other riders. I stuck with a group of about 4 or 5 girls at first who were taking a very easy pace. I was a little impatient actually, but knew I needed to stay with them. Boy, I'm glad I started off at this pace because it was a long and tough ride! Those girls obviously knew what they were doing.

We stopped and regrouped about 20 miles in at a little General Store. The ride is very rural and this was the only store for miles. At that point I sent a quick text to Zach to update him, refilled my water bottle, and snapped a cell phone pic:

When we took off, I ended up riding near my friend from earlier Rachael and a couple others. I stayed near them for the rest of the ride. We continued on the beautiful vineyard-lined country roads and up and down a few hills. I was really crusing along and hit some good speeds on the downhills- I went over 30 MPH for the first time ever! And I did it FOUR times. My max speed was 34! There were some long stretches with headwind, and I started to wear down. My ass muscles were on fire and I was pushing hard to keep the other riders in sight. Finally, we take our second and last break at about mile 43. I needed it too, not only to rest my ass but I was out of water. I'd been drinking plenty like a good girl and eating lots of luna moons and clif bar (practicing nutrition for race day). Coach Neil informed me that we were at the base of Chalk Hill which is supposed to be the big one on the course. They say it's not that bad it's just the fact that it comes so late in the ride. I would completely agree. It might have been a half mile but it's steep and has a couple bends, so you don't quite know where the top is. I made it up though and then flew down the other side. Finally we were getting close. Just a few flat miles back into town and we hammered.

bike 54.4 miles


16.0 MPH

Sweet!! So, that makes it my longest ride ever, my fastest average speed ever, and I hit my fastest max speed ever. I rule!

So now it's about 5:00 pm. I've completed the first two legs of a half iroman and I could easily curl up and fall asleep in the backseat of my car. But Coach Neil has other plans, a transition run! Allrighty, why not!

run: 3.5 miles


8:44 average pace

I was pretty much just shuffling along, counting down the minutes. I didn't feel terrible but I was tired and thirsty and ready to be done. I couldn't even imagine having to run another 10 miles but I have time to get ready for that, plus the run is my strength so I know I can pull it off.

As soon as I was done I had a nice conversation with the coach and Rachael and we packed it up and headed back in our seperate directions. I'll probably never see these people again, I mean they have other events but at that distance and the cost of gas, I think I'll pass. This one day was totally worth it though. I got an awesome training day in and a big confidence boost.

I grabbed a hot dog at a little shop in Windsor then hit the road. With the inevitable accident and backup on 101 I didn't get home until amost 8:00 pm. I had just enough energy to shower and hit a local establishment for some greasy dinner and a few beers. :) Here's a couple pics of me and my coach for the day and my new friend.

One last quick note, today we went out to Del Valle for a picnic and some beach-lounging and I swam for a while in the lake. Because I am greedy I'm counting it. I'll call it 500 y.

TOTALS for the week:

19.5 miles run, 114.2 miles bike, 5000 y swim

TOTAL training time: 12 hours.

Thanks for reading! :) Have fun at work tomorrow, suckers!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pack a day

The air quality is still total shit, and it's been really frustrating. I have a little over 5 weeks until my first half ironman, I NEED to train outside! I did one run on the treadmill, and I skipped a swim workout, but I can't cut back my cycling time because I need so much work in that area. People at work were talking about how they didn't commute by bike because of the air, and how it's just not safe to exercise outside. So I have to pretty much lie about my workouts so they don't think I'm an idiot. They just don't understand.

You know who does understand, Donald. :( I couldn't believe it when I heard that Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run was canceled. What a giant let down. That's like cancelling Christmas for these guys and gals. I know it was in the interest of the athlete's health, but what a bummer. All my other fellow northern Nor Cal athletes, Aron, Pamela, and of course Zach, hang in there.

So, I did a long ride and a brick run last night in the yuck, and afterwards I felt like I'd smoked a pack of cigarettes. I guess that means if the ultra runners were allowed to race, they would feel like they smoked a couple of cartons, which can't be good. They could really have long-term damage.

For the record, I did used to smoke, and it was gross. Quitting was one of the many changes I made toward living a healthier life. I can't believe I voluntarily subjected my lungs to this crap. I guess you could say the same thing about training outdoors now...
Thursday pm: bike
30.3 miles/1:57:56/15.4 MPH
t- run
3.0 miles/26:12/8:44 average pace

I tried not to take off at a fast pace like I tend to do off the bike. It's that weird feeling of going from flying on the bike to hardly moving when running. Plus, your legs feel all weird and sort of numb. As a result, I usually end up running like 7:00 per mile. That ain't gonna fly at the HIM! I've read too many race reports about people totally blowing up on the run, so I'm determined to pace myself. Last night I did really good: 8:51, 8:53, 8:28.

So tomorrow (Saturday), I am headed way up north for a Vineman Course Preview day put on by Tri More Fitness. Yes, I emailed the coach to make sure it wasn't cancelled. I'm really looking forward to it! It's going to be a full day including swimming most or all of the 1.2 mile course, biking most of the bike course, and finishing with a 30 minute transition run. My goals are to not fall behind the group, learn what the bike course is like hill-wise so I can plan accordingly, practice my nutrition/hydration, and ask some questions I have about the logistics of the race (for one, what is with bike aid stations? do you stop? do they refill your water bottle? or is it just like a run aid station?). They provide SAG, water, and mechanical help, so hopefully they won't leave me to fend for myself on the Sonoma highways. I'll get some pictures and post a report when I'm done. Have a great weekend everyone! Happy breathing!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


That picture is actually from last summer, but it's that bad if not worse. There are hundreds of wildfires burning in California resulting in some really yucky air. They are recommending that children, elderly people, and people with heart and lung problems stay indoors and they suggest everyone avoid exercising outdoors for now. :( Here's a handy website I've been checking a lot this week: Bay Area Air Quality Management District. It predicts an improvement later this week. I really hope so. Because I actually haven't stopped exercising outdoors. What am I supposed to do! I did one run on the treadmill, but that's it. Honestly, I can't shake the "I'm from Montana, this is nothing" attitude that applies to most nature-related things here, but I am probably being stupid. For real though people, the summer of 2001 (?) half the state was in flames and the air was worse than this for the entire summer. So, I will suck it up and damage my lungs a little.

For dramatic effect, here's a famous wildfire picture from Montana.

Seriously though, I know a lot of people have lost their homes and the firefighters are putting their lives on the line every day, so I don't mean to diminish the situation our state is in right now. My dad was a volunteer firefighter for many years, and in MT that pretty much always means wildland fires, so I know what those guys and their families go through. My sister-in-law's family is in the helicopter business, which in MT pretty much means fighting wildland fires (see a trend here?), and when I was at the U of Montana, tons of kids fought fires for summer jobs. Ya. So thanks to everyone who is working on this. :)

Anyway, here's what I've been ruining my lungs for so far this week:


Monday am: bike (see last post)


Monday pm: run

3.0 miles/28:10/9:23 average pace

Treadmill. It's been a while, wtf is with these things? It's just not natural.


Tuesday am: bike

14.0 miles/54:26/15.4 MPH

Road loop with Zach, sleepy


Tuesday pm: swim

2400 y/55:05

Master's class


Wednesday am: run

10.0 miles/1:32:20/9:14 average pace

Iron Horse solo, felt easy

Monday, June 23, 2008


Saturday am: run
10.0 miles/1:28:48/8:53 average pace
Leif Erikson Drive (Forest Park), Portland, Oregon.

I had a blast in Portland celebrating my friend's graduation. It was a crazy couple of days. The only workout I did Friday through Sunday was that run. I had to get up about 5:30 in order to be back in time for pre-graduation breakfast with the family, so that ended up being a loooong day. The trail was really beautiful. It was a gradual uphill for about 1.5-2 miles at first, then it was pretty flat until the turn around. My GPS wasn't getting a signal due to the heavy tree cover, but the trail was marked every quarter mile. Nice! I took a few pictures with my camera phone:

Here's my totals for the week:
TOTAL miles run: 22, miles biked: 39.3, yards swam: 4850
TOTAL training time: 7 hours 40 minutes

The race is 6 weeks away, so I'm entering the "holy shit" phase of my training. That means doubles every day and huge weekend volume. Right now that sounds awful because I'm still wiped out from the weekend, but I know I'll come around. I started the week off with an easy workout:

Monday am: bike
15.5 miles/1:00:54/15.3 MPH
Iron Horse solo
Happy Summer, everyone. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Busy girl

I took Monday night off but have been going non-stop ever since. I am feeling really good this week. I wouldn't use the word "breakthrough" but I am feeling strong and learning that I can push harder and move faster than I previously thought.

The two Master's classes I did were taught by a coach I've never had before, and he gave me some great advice. Not even new advice, he just explained it in a way that clicked. Mostly it was about my catch: "grabbing" water and having my arm positioned for the most powerful pull. Also about not crossing over my midline in the pull. I feel like I'm moving a lot more with every stroke now.

Also, I had two great bike rides with Zach. He's always told me that I can push myself harder on the bike than I am, and that pissed (pisses) me off because it makes it sound like I'm not trying, but he's right. Today I powered up the hills, flew down them, and cruised on the flats. I know it's not much, but my 15.9 MPH average on today's ride is huge. Not even that it's so much faster than I normally go (although it kinda is) but because I felt in control. I'm finally starting to feel like a cyclist.

I know I have a lot of work to do, but that's cool. I'm really fired up and ready to rock. With six weeks until my half ironman, I cut out that section of my spreadsheet and made a new little schedule. I added a day of cycling and since I can't really afford to cut anything else out, I'll be doing more than originally planned. But I'm stronger and way more motivated than I started out. I will still listen to my body and skip workouts when needed which is fine.

I am potentially adding one really cool thing to my schedule: a Vineman Course Preview day. It's put on by the local tri club up in Marin. We'd cover the swim and ride, which is perfect because my race covers the same swim and bike but has a slightly different run course. (Clarification: I'm doing Barb's Race, the women's only Half Ironman event held the same day as the full Vineman on August 2nd. There is a Half Vineman (70.3 series) race but it is held July 20th. The courses are all pretty much the same, I believe, with slight differences in the run.) That would be rad. I also have a 5k race coming up on July 2nd, a half marathon on July 13, and a Tri for Fun sprint on July 19. I'll use that last one for a dress rehearsal of all my gear, outfit, nutrition, transitions, etc. So lots of fun stuff coming up! Weeee!

Here's those fantastic workouts of the last three days:
Tuesday am: bike
14.3 miles/56:01/15.3 MPH

Tuesday pm: swim
2500 yards/58:38
Master's class

Wednesday am: run
8.0 miles/1:09:38/8:42 average pace
solo run, really consistent splits

Wednesday pm: swim
Master's class (tons of kicking)

Thursday am: bike
25.0 miles/1:34:18/15.9 MPH

I'm leaving in the morning for Portland for my friend's graduation. I'm going for a long-ish run on Saturday morning but otherwise will rest. And by rest I mean party like a rock star. And by party like a rock star I mean drink wine with her parents. So more like a soft-rock star. hehe. Have a good weekend everyone!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Brutal, in a good way!

Last week continued to be hot, but I managed to shake my heavy legs and had some great workouts. The weekend was awesome- a big run and a big ride, and both were awesomely brutal. My sore left leg (hip, knee, ???) is feeling a lot better, I'd say 90-93% ok. Everything else is feeling good as I begin the new week.

Thursday pm: swim
2825 yards/1:03:26

Friday am: run
3.0 miles/26:29/8:51 average pace
Made up for some missed miles earlier in the week on the Iron Horse with Zach

Friday pm: Open Water Swim
1120 yards/24:23
Shadow Cliffs with Zach after work. Did 4 laps (down and back) of the 140 yard swimming lane in my wetsuit. Felt totally comfortable. :) I'm going to try to do this swim once a week from now on, building up to about 2000 yards (the distance of the Half Ironman swim)

Saturday am: run
12.5 miles/1:56:45/9:21 average pace
Stevens Creek Trail with Zach
It was HOT, I was a little tired, I don't know. Something about this run totally kicked my ass. I think I might have been a little cocky about the distance too (Oh, 12 miles is NO problem). We were both a bit dehydrated and totally spent at the end. Beautiful course though.

Sunday am: bike
40.6 miles/2:53:06/14.0 MPH
Downtown Pleasanton to Lake Del Valle with group (inc. Zach). The Sunday group is pretty hard core, so I struggled to keep up with them. Ok, to be honest I struggled to keep them in sight. I was really cruising at about 18-20 MPH for the first several miles, then had a few about 15 MPH. Then we hit the climb. It's significant. We've been up to Del Valle several times (that's where my OWS race was a few weeks ago) and I always noted how insane it would be to ride up there. It's about 3 miles up to the top of the pass, then about 2 miles down to the lake, then you turn around and do it in reverse. OUCH. It was a mental as well as a physical feat. I think I might try wearing my GPS on some of these rides to measure the elevation gain. Anyway, awesome ride. The average speed isn't bad considering I was going like 6 MPH for the 5 climbing miles. I really need to work on my descending skills, I'm a major coward when it comes to downhills. Oh well, it'll come.

Spent the rest of the weekend with my mom who is still in town from Montana. Did a little shopping and went out to dinner in Walnut Creek and otherwise mostly relaxed and did errands. We drove her back down to my brother's in Sunnyvale last night and played Wii for a while. Man that is fun!!

Ok, TOTALS for the week:

24.5 miles Run, 91.2 miles Bike, 6445 yards Swim
TOTAL training time: 12 hours 30 minutes

This week is supposed to be a recovery week, but I think I'll just try to stick to my normal schedule and just rest if I need it. Besides, I'm going to Portland this Friday for my friend's graduation. So, I have shuffled things around a little and won't be doing a big weekend ride, so the total volume will be lower. I'm planning on going for a run in Portland's Forest Park which should be fun. I feel like I'm finally getting in a groove of training. Which is good, because my Half Ironman is less than 7 weeks away. :O

I started this week off right

Monday am: run
4.0 miles/33:49/8:28 average pace
Ran the first mile in a sleepy 9:20-something, and then Zach says "how are you feeling today?" Me: "Oh, allright" Zach: "Want to pick it up a bit?" Me: "Um, no?" Mile 2 was 8:36, mile 3 in 7:57, mile 4 in 7:44. Zach: "See? Like it or not, you ran fast!" :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Heat is On

It's officially hot here in the east bay. It is nice for morning workouts and open water swimming. It's a pain for afternoon workouts and, you know, sleeping. Ugh. It's ok though, hot weather means beers on the porch and that makes up for everything. :)

I'm feeling good today, but the week has been off and on for me. I was feeling really tired, so I shortened a couple runs and skipped a workout and it helped. I was feeling "heavy" - do you know what I mean? Not like heavy-fat, although that too a little, but just heavy and sluggish. Like I was carrying someone on my back. The heat and the poor sleeping didn't help. I decided I needed a little rest and to take a closer look at my diet. I'm slipping back into the "eat whatever I want" cycle and it's catching up to me. I need more fruits and veggies and less crap. I also need to not eat until I'm super full which I do a lot. I'm going to try writing down my food for a couple weeks and that should help. Not counting calories or anything, just admitting what I'm eating! Yesterday went well, I devoured a ton of watermelon and made a healthy dinner on the grill with a big salad.

Here's my workouts so far this week.

Oh, first, let me summarize last week. Since it was a race week, with one 1 hour 11 minute workout for the whole weekend instead of 1-2 hours running + 2-3 hours biking, my volumes were small compared to normal (well, compared to the previous couple weeks).

TOTAL miles run: 19, miles biked: 29.1, yards swam: 4350

TOTAL training time: 6 hrs 30 minutes

Onto this week

Monday pm: run
3.0 miles/27:43/9:14 average pace
quick solo run before Master's
hot, hot, hot. legs sore. supposed to be 6 miles.

Monday pm: swim
Master's class

Tuesday am: bike
25.1 miles/1:41: 35/14.8 MPH
Crow Canyon loop with Zach
felt tired

Wednesday am: run
6.0 miles/54:27/9:05 average pace
Iron Horse with Zach
felt tired/heavy. was supposed to do 8.

Wednesday pm: skipped swim class and rested

Thursday am: bike
25.5 miles/1:41:54/15.0 MPH
Crow Canyon Loop with Zach
felt much better!

Going to master's tonight. Then I think I'll do a short run tomorrow morning to make up some of those miles, and we're planning on going swimming in the lake tomorrow after work. Saturday is a long run (12 miles) and Sunday is long group ride (50+ miles?). I can't believe it's already almost the weekend again. Have a great day everyone! :)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Showdown at Sundown Race Report

The Showdown at Sundown Sprint Tri is a Vineman event held at McNears Beach near San Rafael. The swim (400 y) is in San Pablo Bay, the bike (9 miles) follows a rolling, winding road through China Camp State Park, and the run (3 miles) is mostly along a flat stretch of road in San Rafael. It is held at 5:00 pm, hence the Sundown reference. It was a really well-organized and fun event, and it was so nice not having to wake up at 4:00 am! The course was tougher than it sounds though and it thoroughly kicked my ass.

We left our place out in the east bay about 1:00 and it took about an hour to get there. We were among the very first to arrive, which meant we got sweet transition spots and had lots of time to lounge around the beach area and relax. My mom is in town visiting from Montana and came up with us to cheer us on. We checked in, set up our transition area, and then just hung out for a couple hours. We walked around and scoped out the bike and run entrances/exits and they were gnarly. The beach where the swim and transitions were is a couple hundred feet lower than the land above it where the bike and run courses were. Therefore, there was a STEEP hill you hit immediately on the bike. There is a series of stairs and steep dirt trails leaving on the run. At least we knew so we could be in the right gear and mentally prepared. There was a pre-race meeting at 4:15 which lasted 20 minutes our so. That left us just enough time to don our wetsuits and get in a warm up swim. I took a couple hits of my inhaler and we headed to the beach. The water was advertised as 71 degrees but felt chilly at first. And of course it was salt water, which is gross tasting. Other than that, I felt really comfortable in the water and not nervous at all. I was ready to race!

The swim

There were 3 waves- the team division, all men, all women. I watched the first two waves go off and then lined up toward the back of the ladies wave. The gun went off and we ran into the water. I realized right away that I made a mistake seeding myself in the very back. I was passing people! And it wasn't easy. The swim course is a half moon shape so you were always turning a little. I finally found some open water but I was rather towards the outside of the curve. I suppose I ended up swimming a little extra but it was worth it to get into a groove. Before I knew it I could see the beach again and I ran out of the water. I hit the lap button on my watch and was psyched to see 6:xx. Under 7 minutes! Smokin! I ran up a few feet and stopped to remove my wetsuit. I find it comes of sooo much easier if I do it right away rather than at the transition area. I had some trouble, you know how it is when you come out of the water, but I got it. I passed the timing mat into T1 with an official swim split of 7:50.


Threw down my wetsuit, swim cap, goggles and nose clip. Put my socks and bike shoes on, helmet and sunglasses on. Somehow in this process I took off my watch. WTF? Suddenly I just saw it lying there on my towel. Shit! I tried to put it back on but my brain was not cooperating, so I threw it back down. Grabbed my bike and ran out. Official T1 time: 1:39

The bike

I knew the hill was coming, I was in my easiest gear, and I had "Think UP" going through my head. Seriously, this thing was vertical. Of course there were people struggling but I just stood up and hammered. This was a bike path too so there wasn't much room to pass or maneuver. I heard a crash behind me, and thought "sucks to be them." After the steep hill, you make a sharp right and have a gradual hill on a bike path. Finally, we got out to the roads and I just went for it. My heart was racing from the hill and the excitement. The course was pretty rolling and winding. There was a headwind at times, too. It was not an easy bike course! I passed a couple people and a few passed me, but not a lot. I stood up on several of the steeper climbs and passed people that way. I found it was easier than pedaling in an easy gear, plus you got up it faster (I'm sure this is obvious to veteran triathletes, but it was a revelation to me!). I passed a few male stragglers from the wave before me. One girl passed me and said "pretty bike!" haha. We girls encouraged each other a lot the whole day too. :) I love how female athletes treat each other! I did see Zach and he was flying. He appeared to be near the front of the pack. I was so thirsty so I managed to drink a few times from my bottle, even though I don't do that much in practice. Turns out, when you are working hard, your mouth is dry and tastes like salt water, you figure it out. The downhills were a little scary at times, but I maintained my focus and control. I hit 26 or so I think, fast for me. I was getting pretty wore out from all the climbing and my heart was pounding. I had a slight side cramp too, which worried me. There was a downhill then a sharp left turn as we got back to the beach, then we made our way back down the bike path. NOT the steep part though, they make you dismount and walk your bike down. That wasn't comfortable, I tell you. Steep downhill walk holding onto your bike, in bike shoes with shaky legs, yikes. I should have taken off my shoes, but oh well. I got to the bottom and saw my mom right before I turned into transition area. Official bike split: 36:34 (15 MPH)

T2: Racked the bike, helmet off. Changed shoes (easy laces rock!) and threw visor on. I saw my watch again, so I grabbed it and my race belt. Ran out of transition waving to mom on the way. I lapped my watch as I left so I would know my run time. Official T2 time: 1:24

The run

As I mentioned, you have to climb again up from sea level. This time it involves stairs. A lot of them. With steep dirt trail connecting the sections of stairs. My heart was already pounding and that side cramp was lingering, so I walked this steep section. I noted on my watch that I walked for nearly 2 minutes. That's gonna kill my run time! Finally I reached the top and started jogging up a slight hill. Ugh. It finally flattened out but my side was aching and I was feeling tired. I tried to loosen up and relax but it just never happened. I started passing people right away, even though I felt like a snail. After a few minutes, a girl passed me. Drat! It's ok though, she would be the only one the whole run! I saw Zach again, and we high-fived. He still looked strong and he was ahead of a lot of people. I was happy to see the turn around point, and I grabbed a cup of water there. I drank as I ran and poured the rest over my head. I think I picked up the pace a little on the way back, but there were no mile markers to confirm this. My side ache went away but I had a new problem: I couldn't freaking breathe. Well, I could, but let's just say people knew when I was going to pass them. I was wheezing real loud. It sucked. I might have had the energy to run faster but I couldn't get the air. I don't think I've had such a hard time breathing before. I kept passing people (guys and gals) and some were encouraging me. I could still see the girl who passed me but I couldn't catch up. Of course there had to be another long hill right at the end so I wheezed my way up it. Ugh. Finally I could hear the announcer and I wound my way down the driveway into the beach area. The grassy lawn with the finish chute came into view and I spotted Zach. He yelled at me "Go Jen!" and then told me to catch the guy ahead of me. His daughter jumped in to run through the finish chute with him, but I have no shame and blew by them both. Whoo hoo!!!! Official run split: 24:29 (8:10 average pace).

Finish time: 1:11:48

I was so spent, I nearly collapsed! I wandered around and found my mom and mauled her with a salty, sweaty hug. Zach found us too and we congratulated each other. He said he had a great race and we broke it all down. We both had a good feeling about Zach's finish so we stuck around for awards. It was a beautiful evening on the beach and with all the excitement I didn't want to leave anyway! Finally they printed out the top finishers and Zach went to take a look. Sure enough, he walks over holding up 3 fingers. He got third place in his Age Group! He points at me and holds up 5 fingers. No way!! I got 5th in mine!! It was cool cause they didn't put up all the results, only the top 5 in each division, so it was neat to see my name. They started announcing awards and they gave out bottles of wine to the top 3 in each division. It is a bottle of La Crema 2004 Pinot noir in a neat Vineman souvenir box. Zach also won in the unofficial "Biggest Tattoo Division" haha. The announcer said that as he ran through the finish and also when he got his award. Hilarious. We watched the rest of the awards and then made our way to the car. It was getting dark and cool by this time, it was weird. We drove home in the dark and had a celebratory burger and beers for dinner in Danville. It was definitely a different kind of race- usually when we finish we go out for breakfast! :) It was a great day. I learned a lot (don't start so far back in the swim, use the inhaler in T2, just for a couple of examples) and I know I'll do better next time. It was very awesome to have my mom there watching. Here's some of the pictures she took of the day. Thanks for reading! Go check out Zach's race report for his details and finish times. :)

Official Results: 5th/29 Age Group (F 20-29)

18th/98 Females

75th/211 Overall

(also, not that it matters, but by clicking through the individual female results, I think I had the 9th fastest run time of women!)

Results link (if that doesn't work, I'm bib #225)

Picking up our numbers early in the afternoon:

Setting up transition next to my new friend Kendra. I like this picture cause my arms look ripped. :D
Pretty bike! :P
There's the swim course. This is the exit.
The swim. This is Zach's wave finishing and my wave beginning. We zoomed in and that is actually Zach right in the foreground there (that tattoo is so helpful):

Zach entering T1:

Zach in T2:

Zach heading out on the run:

Just came down the steep hill, heading into T2:

Leaving T2:

Zach finishing:


Best mom ever:

Award presentation:

3rd Place in AG! (And biggest tattoo division winner!)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Brick House

Thursday pm: bike
20.1 miles/1:20:02/14.8 MPH
Iron Horse Trail solo

Plus brick run
2.0 miles/13:58/6:59 average pace
Dougherty Road

Yay! I hope I still have some energy left for the tri this weekend! I took it pretty easy on the bike and had a pretty good headwind for several miles (headwind is the Iron Horse's middle name. Iron"Headwind" Horse). Then I practiced a quick T2 including dismounting my bike about 50 feet from my garage and running along in my bike shoes holding onto the handlebars. When I watched Zach's Napa Tri a few weeks ago I saw several people struggling to control their bike as they hurried along, so I knew I should practice it. Then I "racked" my bike (leaned it against the wall) and changed into my running shoes. Easy Laces are awesome! They are basically elastic laces so you just slip your foot in and the shoe is tight and ready to go. I started my run and immediately had some near-cramps in my left calf. I kept running, focusing on short even steps. By 1/4 mile I was fine. I cranked out the first mile in 7:04 and the second in 6:54. :O To be honest, I did stop a couple times. I had to wait to cross a street twice, and I had to stop to type in the code to get into my apt complex. And I needed those breaks! Still, cool. :) Hope I can manage something close to that tomorrow! We'll see though.

Oh, also, my left leg is really sore today. It's been kinda bothering a me little all week but more today. It's in the quad/hip flexor area. I think it's from cycling, because I really noticed it on the ride last night. It hurts to go up stairs, and to, um, bear weight. Not too bad but noticeable. Today I'll rest and I'm taking Sunday (the day after the race) off too, then I'll see how I feel early next week. It's been a while since I had a pain/injury but I know the drill. For now, I'm putting it out of my mind and thinking positive about my race! :) Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Aquathon week

I haven't done any biking yet this week, but planning on it tonight. I have done my running and swimming though:

Monday pm: run
6.0 miles/53:29/8:55 average pace
Iron Horse Trail solo

Tuesday: a much needed REST day

Wednesday am: run
8.0 miles/1:11:35/8:57 average pace
Iron Horse Trail solo

Wednesday pm: swim
2450 y/57:22

Thursday am: swim
1500 y/38:49
Gym pool solo

Tonight I'm going to do a brick ride to practice dismounting my bike in a hurry and running a short distance in my shoes. This will be my first tri with this bike. I’m also going to put in and try the new Easy Laces I got.

The triathlon is this Saturday at 5:00 pm. This is my first tri of the season and only my third tri ever. It's the Showdown at Sundown and it takes place at China Camp State Park near San Rafael. The weather looks perfect so far- highs in the 70's and sunny. Not too hot, not too cold. My mom is flying in tomorrow night so she's going to come watch (and take pictures of course!). It will be the first time she’s seen a triathlon. Should be fun!

Here’s a pic of China Camp State Park:

I will post pictures and a report as soon as I can. I don't have any real goals this time besides to swim, bike, and run as fast as I can. :) The course doesn't seem too tough, but you never know. I know it will be fun and a good experience.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Beeeg Week & Open Water Race Report

Tuesday pm: bike
20.4 miles/1:28:38/13.9 MPH
Iron Horse Trail with Zach

Wednesday am: run
8.0 miles/1:13:55/9:15 average pace
Iron Horse Trail solo

Thursday am: bike
24.6 miles/1:40:55/14.6 MPH
Iron Horse Trail solo

Thursday pm: swim
2450 y/54:30
Master's Class

Friday: rest!

Saturday am: run
10.0 miles/1:29:15/8:56 average pace
Lafayette-Moraga Trail with Zach

Sunday am: swim
1200 yards (appox)/30:27
Del Valle Open Water Swim Race (See report and pics below!)

Sunday pm: bike
50.1 miles/3:37:52/13.7 MPH
Iron Horse Trail (literally, the entire Iron Horse Trail from Dublin to Martinez) with Zach

TOTALS for the week:
24 miles run
95.1 miles bike
6050 yards swim

TOTAL training time for the week: 12 hours 50 minutes


Del Valle Open Water Swim Race Report

It's only been 4 weeks since we joined Tri Valley Masters, and due to some scheduling issues I've actually only been to 6 practices. Still, we felt the friendly pressure to participate in their annual Del Valle Open Water Swim Race. There are two distances to choose from (they are not at the same time, so many did both) .75 or 1.5 miles. Of course, we chose .75 mile course. I was pretty nervous, but I knew this would be a huge confidence booster. If I could do this swim, then I knew there was a good chance I can do the 1.2 mile swim in my Half Iron race where I get to wear a wetsuit, AND I still have two more months of training. My only goal was to finish. Looking at the previous years' results (and my standing in the slow lane at practice), I knew I'd be among the slowest swimmers, but that's ok.

Link to course map: here (see Application Form)

We got up about 6:30 and threw on our swimsuits and some warm clothes over top. I made chocolate banana protein smoothies and we headed to the lake. It's been really mild ("cold" to us Californians) here lately so jumping in a lake at 8 am seemed weird. Luckily, it was at least a sunny day. The temperature was about 50 (brrrr) and the water was announced to be 68 degrees (double brrrrrr). And, of course, this is a "real" swim event which means no wetsuits. We saw a bunch of people we know from Master's, and it was a big help to have some support. It was good to hear that others were nervous too!

We reluctantly stripped off our over-clothes and waded into the water with a few minutes to go. It was cold, but not horrible.They waved the 3 Minutes To Go flag and we got all the way in and swam out near the starting muffins (bulbous buoys marking the deep-water start line). I wished Zach good luck and took a few warm up stokes. Goggles and nose clip were good to go. I was a ways back when the horn went off but that was ok- I wanted to avoid the crowd which would obviously pass me anyhow.

Can't really do a play-by-play of the swim, so here's just some random thoughts. Well, I actually felt really good!! I wasn't nervous or panicky at all. In previous open water swims, I've always had a moment of panic but not this time. I had a good stroke going, I was sighting well, breathing was not a problem, I was doing good! I was stoked to see the first buoy, which we didn't exactly round but rather just passed by. The second one we rounded, but there wasn't a back up by the time I got there. The stretch to the final buoy was very long, in fact I couldn't even see the buoy for several minutes until I got within 100 yards of it. After rounding that one, it was a straight shot to shore. Unfortunately, my goggles were pretty fogged up so I couldn't really see the finish area. I just followed the splashing swimmers ahead of me until I was close enough to see the crowd on shore.

For most of the race, there wasn't much of a crowd around me, but I did have some company. I tried not to spend too much time looking down into the deep, cold lake below me.. not that you could see very far through the cloudy water. I also tried not to think about how far I had to go, or that there was nothing I could hold on to if I needed a break, or what would happen if I got a cramp, or if the lifeguards would notice if I started flailing in panic. I know I said I didn't panic, but that doesn't mean these thoughts didn't briefly enter my mind! But I was really good about pushing my worries aside immediately. It really helped to have a positive thought like "This is so cool." I also focused on the pretty mountains and trees that surrounded the lake when I breathed or sighted. It also helped to find a nearby swimmer and remind myself that I am not alone out there. All in all, I maintained my composure and crawled along. I knew I could breaststroke or float on my back if I needed, but I never did! That was cool.

I guess I tried to swim a little faster as I approached the shore, but since I didn't know exactly how far it was I didn't push too hard. I didn't want to cramp up at the last minute in front of everyone! I finally saw the ground below me and swam until I touched with my hand. Then I got up and sort of awkwardly ran/waded toward the shore and the finish chute. I heard Zach yell out "Go Jen!" and a few people were clapping and stuff. It's no Boston, I tell ya. :P I stopped my watch and it said 30:25. Wow, I had no idea it would take that long! I figure with the weaving and what not I covered a little extra distance. Zach and some of the others finished similarly "slow" compared to their pool times, so I guess that's just how it goes. I placed 7 out of 7 in my age group, I was definitely one of the last few out of the water. Still, YAY!!! I did it!! :) It was a super fun day, and I'm so proud of myself. I can't believe how far I swam out in that big cold lake with NO wetsuit! Awesome.

Testing the water: a brisk 68 degrees

A little nervous

The first part of the course: see the tiny orange buoys on the right of the picture? Probably not. Basically, we swam across the lake to the corner of this picture area. Those are the start muffins closer in on the left.

Then we swam across to this orange buoy (if you can't see it, it is straight out there practically across the lake), then to the finish line here on the shore

We did it!

Some of our Tri Valley Master's friends
Relaxing on the beach