Monday, December 29, 2014

I'm Back...sort of

Happy almost New Year!  It's been quite a month between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My husband and I have both been sick on and off since Thanksgiving.  I don't know if we keep passing different colds back and forth to each other, or if we've each had one cold that has lingered.  But I can tell you that I ought to buy stock in Kleenex and Nyquil.

I did managed to get in a few workouts last week.  Yesterday was such a beautiful day - if a bit cold -  that I decided to dust off the bike instead of heading to the gym.  It was worth it after feeling stuck inside with the weeks of rain that we've had.  I didn't go far and it wasn't fast, but it was a good step in getting back on the fitness wagon.

Biking selfie!

Beautiful sunshine but cold.
I'm looking forward to finally kicking this cold to the curb and getting back on a regular workout schedule.  This week will be a little more challenging with a Sharks game tomorrow night and limited gym hours Wednesday & Thursday due to the holiday.  But I'll do what I can this week, and hope to get back full force next week.

I'm looking forward to training for some fun events for 2015!




Monday, December 8, 2014

*tap*tap*tap* Is This Thing On?

I've been missing in action for a few weeks because of...well, just life.  Preparing for Thanksgiving was incredibly time consuming.  And as soon as Thanksgiving was over and I was ready to get back to normal, I got sick.

Last week was just full of yuck.  I was sick, had jury duty, and we had to replace the water heater in our house.  I haven't worked out since I don't know when.  But there has been some good, too.  Like this...

Emma & I got some new wheels
I got a new car just over a week ago.  It's a Ford Escape.  My former car - which I loved, loved, loved, and cried when we traded it in - was a 2001 Nissan Xterra.  But it had almost 160,000 miles on it and was starting to turn into a money pit.  It seemed every few months we were putting a few hundred dollars into it and I still needed new brakes and rotors, which would have been close to $1000.  So we decided that it was time for a new car so I could feel safer driving and not worrying about getting stuck somewhere.  So now I'm cruising in my new ride and it's such a good feeling to know that every time I turn the key, the car will actually start!  I'm also really looking forward to AC that actually works in the summer.

I'm finally feeling well enough to get back to a regular workout routine, but I just don't have the time.  I'm taking a test next week for a professional certification so I really need to focus all of my free time towards studying for it.  I'm only slightly confident at this point that I will pass, but I know that if I really focus this week I'll be fine come test day.

I'm really just looking forward to next Wednesday afternoon...my test will be over and I'll be able to focus and get back to a normal routine.  Till then...






Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How did it get to be Wednesday already?

I missed my Monday weekly check in by two days, but better late than never.  I've been taking part in a 21 day movement challenge.  It's been interesting because there have been some days lately that have been challenging - I just want to come home from work and sit on the couch, or I know I have something going on after work and won't get to the gym.  On those days, I just make a point of going for a short walk.  All movement counts!

I also did a 5k on Sunday - the Mermaid 5k.  I can't count how many times I've done this event at this point.  It's become a tradition!  My usual race buddy Meredith was there - although somehow I neglected to take a picture with my phone. Christina and Myla and Myla's little boy were also there.  Meredith coached a group of "Mini-Mermaids" across the finish line.  Christina ran.  And Myla & I walked with her son in the stroller.  It was a typical beautiful November San Francisco morning - if a little foggy.

The fog trying to burn off.

The Golden Gate Bridge trying to break through the fog.

The finish line. 
The top of the bridge has broken through.

It was a nice day and I don't mind walking these events so much when I've got someone to walk with - so I was grateful to have Myla there for company.  And even though she was pushing a stroller, we still beat our time from last year by over two minutes.

New favorite race shirt.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Not Bad, for a Monday

Happy Monday?  I'm not sure I can wish you a happy Monday and be sincere about it, but so far this day has been pretty good.  Thanks to the time change, I was able to bet up early to swim this morning.  And I got to work to find out that I'm in the running for some money in the office football pool.

But how was last week?  Well, the Giants won the World Series, so of course that was great!  I went to a Sharks game on Saturday night and they won.  And Dan painted a wall in our dining room yesterday and I love the way it turned out!

The yellow wall really makes the colors in the tapestry POP!
Oh, I guess I should mention how was last week for me health and fitness-wise, and not just how happy I am about the above mentioned fun things.  Although fun things are good for one's mental health!

So, I did get in two walks, one swim and a spin class last week.  I would have liked to have done more but between the Giants and Halloween, I feel like I lost three nights last week.  I am also down 1.6 lbs. this week, which made me very happy.  Nice to know I didn't avoid the Halloween candy for nothing!

Also, one of the local event companies released their 2015 schedule, so I'm starting to make plans for next year.  I know for sure that I'm going to do the Catfish 1.2 mile open water swim in June.  I wanted to do the 1.2 mile swim this year, but just never trained for it due to the uncertainty of the venue thanks to the lack of rain.  But now that I know exactly where and when, it's time to join masters.

However, Catfish is probably going to fall on the same weekend as the Mermaid triathlon that I like to do each year.  So now I'm looking for other events.  I'm seriously considering the Vineman Monte Rio event.  I have a friend who has already signed up for the sprint so I'd know someone there...always a plus!  And they have a sprint and an olympic distance on the same day, so I don't have to decide on distance just yet.  It's a little far, but I could always get a hotel the night before.

I've also got a 50% off race entry that I could use for the CA Sprint or Olympic triathlon.  It's the same venue as the See Jane Run triathlon so I'm familiar with it.  I could also use the coupon for Catfish, but it would be worth more to use it on one of the triathlon events.

I think for now I'm just going to wait and see how my early season training goes and how my hip feels before making and concrete plans.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's All About the Shoes

I've been doing more walking lately.  Since Fall is typically running season, I've decided that since I can't really run I might as well walk.  And it has ignited a spark.

One of my favorite distances is the half marathon.  Anyone who listened to my endless complaining each time I trained for one might find this hard to believe!  But I really do like the distance.  It's long enough that you really have to respect the distance and train for it.  But short enough that the long training days don't take all day - even at my turtle pace.

So...I'm wondering if I could train for and walk an entire half marathon with the condition my hip is in now.  I think that in order to do this, I can't half-ass it like I've done in the past.  Oh, sure I would follow a training plan - two shorter runs and one longer run per week.  But I typically skipped over the cross training days, and my stretching left something to be desired at times.

But since getting started in triathlon, I've become quite the believer in cross training.  And my foam roller and stretching strap are permanent fixtures in my living room.

But the one thing that I remember about all three half marathons that I've done was how much my feet hurt by mile 10 of each race.  And that's where the shoes come in...

I've read good things about the Hoka One One shoes - they have much more cushioning than regular running shoes, and the shape of the sole is more rounded.  I've been meaning to find a store that sells them so I could try them on, but instead I got an e-mail from Running Warehouse offering Hoka's at nearly 50% off.  I figured it was a sign and just ordered a pair, and they showed up on my doorstep the very next morning. (And while I'm always one to say "Go to a real running shoe store and get fitted for shoes" I figured that since I'm walking and not running it might not be as important - plus I couldn't pass up the bargain!)


Hoka on the left; my Asics on the right.  See the heel cushioning difference.

I've only worn them twice and for less then three miles each time.  But can I just say OH.MY.GOD. these are like little pillows for my feet!  So soft and cushiony, if that's even a word!  And the round sole made walking seem so much easier.  Wearing my running shoes for walking always left my calves feeling stiff and painful - almost like shin splints.  But with the rounded sole, it's almost like my foot just rolls forward.




Now I can't say I'll be able to walk a half marathon in these shoes.  My feet might feel great but my hip is the real wildcard.  And honestly, I don't even have a race picked out...it's just something I'd like to do sometime next year if I can.



Monday, October 27, 2014

How Did I Do Last Week?

Time to check in and compare what I planned on doing to what I actually did last week.

Mon - spin class; did not go due to a raging sinus headache
Tues - walk and strength training; went to spin class
Wed - swim; swim
Thurs - strength training; walked
Fri - swim; no workout.  Giants fever took over and I wanted to go home to watch the game.
Sat - no workout, but I will go to Weight Watchers to weigh in; up .4 lbs.
Sun - I'm going to leave this one up in the air for now.  We might be painting our dining room on Sunday which will be a workout in itself.  If we don't, I'll do something else - spin or Pilates, most likely.; spin class

So not really a roaring success.  I only worked out four days out of six planned days, but I did have a chance to reflect on this.  I think from now through the end of the year, if I do get in four solid workouts a week that will be a success.

I'm currently studying for an exam for work which I will take before the end of the year.  So I really need more time to study in the evenings and my workouts are cutting into my study time.  I know in theory I could get up and workout in the mornings.  But until we change the clocks, this just isn't going to happen.  I takes everything in me to be able to get out of bed and walk Emma in the pitch dark as it is.  I just can't force myself to get up any earlier - believe me, I've tried!

We are also hosting Thanksgiving again this year, which means my weekends are becoming filled with house projects - cleaning, painting, repairs.  

So from now through the end of the year, I'm going to focus on studying for my exam and maintaining my weight through the holidays.

So what are my plans for this week?

I will get to spin at least once, hopefully twice.  I will swim twice.  I'll bring my walking shoes to work so I can walk at lunchtime at least once.  And I'll get in some strength training where I can fit it in - if it means squats at my desk or planks in front of the TV at night, that's what I'll do.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Accountability

I'm going to try to do a blog post at least once a week, and I thought that if I put down in writing what I planned on doing this week it might help me to actually stick to the plan.   Accountability, and all that. So, here it goes...

Mon - spin class
Tues - walk and strength training
Wed - swim
Thurs - strength training
Fri - swim
Sat - no workout, but I will go to Weight Watchers to weigh in
Sun - I'm going to leave this one up in the air for now.  We might be painting our dining room on Sunday which will be a workout in itself.  If we don't, I'll do something else - spin or Pilates, most likely.

I will admit that my Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday workouts were planned with the World Series in mind.  These are workouts I can do in the morning before work so I won't miss any of the games.  I'm not really a big baseball fan, but I always seem to get caught up in the playoffs and World Series.  And when the home team is in it, it makes it even more exciting.  Go Giants!

#orangeOctober
I am also committing to bringing my lunch to work with me at least three days each week.  Both my waistline and my wallet will thank me for this one.


Monday, October 13, 2014

It's Not Always Golf and Triathlon

What have I been doing since my last triathlon?  Not much swimming, biking, or run/walking, that's for sure.

I had a week or two after the race where I didn't workout much at all.  This always seems to happen when I finish a race and don't have anything else on the schedule.  However, I did promise myself that I would spend this winter focusing on strength training.  I plan to get 2-3 full body sessions in a week and I've been doing pretty good with that.  I even purchased a Groupon to the new local Pilates studio that just opened, and so far I really like it.  I've taken a couple of the group reformer classes, and as easy as it looks it's really no joke!  They are adding more classes to their schedule at the end of the month and I'm excited because it will give me more options.

Hockey season also started last week, so it is officially my favorite time of the year!  We went to the Sharks home opener on Saturday and even went to the street rally before the game.  And they won which is always a plus.

Sharing my beer with "Jumbo" Joe Thornton.

Dan was out of town for work the entire month of September with only a few quick trips home - mostly to do laundry. And when he finally came home for good, he was on-call for the first week and weekend that he was home.  So any home improvement projects we had planned for late summer are behind schedule.  However we did do a little painting this weekend.

Before...

...and after, including an Emma photobomb.
We bought our house about eight years ago and I'm so tired of the bland white walls.  Next up, painting the dining room in time for Thanksgiving.

And finally, my company is offering a reimbursement to any employee who signs up for a 5k during the last quarter of the year.  So I'm doing the Mermaid San Francisco 5k on November 9.  I had been planning on doing it anyway - I do it almost every year along with a few friends.  But it's nice that someone else is paying for it!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

See Jane Run Triathlon Race Report

Sunday was my last triathlon of this year - the See Jane Run Triathlon.  Since I had a free entry to this race because I was a See Jane Run Ambassador last year, I figured I would have fun no matter what happened.  But secretly I wanted to go out and get some redemption for last year.  This was the last triathlon I did last summer as well - and I lost my timing chip, got a flat tire, and they ran out of finishers medals.  So things did not end on a positive note for me.

I got there dark and early as usual and had my transition set up with over an hour to spare.  I chose to rack my bike near the swim in/bike out end of transition.  I picked this spot because it was right next to Coach Stephanie and the Go WOW Team's racks.  I used to run with them years ago, but Coach Stephanie moved to the east bay and it's just too far for me to drive for an hour workout.   But she had told me they were going to be there and invited me to breakfast with them afterwards.  It was nice to see some familiar faces at the race.

Ready to go with time to spare.
This race has traditionally been a beach start, but because of the drought things were a little different this year.  The water level in the lake was very low and the very edge of the lake was just a pit of mud inches deep.  There is no way anyone could run though it, and it was quite a way out before it was deep enough to swim.  So instead we started in the lake.  But to get there, we had to walk through the mud and muck for quite a few yards before we could swim to the start buoy.  It was pretty disgusting.

You can see the mud all along the edge of the water near the start flags.
I decided to skip the wetsuit this year.  I knew the water would be warm enough and I feel like a much better swimmer this year so I didn't think I needed the extra buoyancy.  I started in my usual spot near the back of the pack, the horn blew, and off we went.  There was nothing remarkable to report about this swim.  I felt comfortable and confident throughout - if still slow as molasses!  I stuck really close to the buoys and felt like I swam pretty straight and even passed a couple of people.  They had put out a carpet at the edge of the water near the swim out to save us from having to crawl through the mud and muck again.  So it was swim, swim, swim until you reach the carpet - then stand up and get out.  Swim time:  14:27

After my swim at the Mermaid, I was so dizzy and nauseous, and I was also dizzy after the Catfish swim.  I had gotten advice to either try earplugs or try kicking my legs more once I got closer to the end of the swim.  I didn't have earplugs but I did the kicking and it was so much better.  I was actually able to run to and through transition instead of staggering like I did at the Mermaid.  However I struggled getting my socks on my wet feet so things didn't go as quickly as I had hoped!  T1 time: 2:13

The bike starts up a hill, but since I've been here before I knew what gear I needed to start in.  For the past two years this course has been shortened to 8 miles because of road construction.  This year we were going to get the full 11 miles so things were slightly different.

Just starting the bike course - so still smiling!
Honestly, there were a few odd spots on this course.  At one point we went through an intersection only to make a quick right into the bike lane on the wrong side of the road.  I saw two people in front of me miss the turn - because who thinks you're going to turn into the oncoming traffic bike lane??  Luckily I saw the volunteers yelling to get them back on course so I knew where to go.  Since I knew I was going to walk the run, I decided to see how hard I could push on the bike portion.  If I blew up my legs, so be it.  I felt like I was really pushing hard - even if my speed didn't reflect it.  There were definitely more hills due to the added miles - at one point I felt like I was climbing forever.  Nothing too steep, but it just felt endless.  But at least I was rewarded with a long downhill afterwards and got up to 24 mph on the bike - pretty fast for a chicken like me.  After my flat last year, it was so nice to actually be out on the course with other riders instead of nearly the last bike out there.  I think I enjoyed the bike portion the most of this race.  Bike time:  55:08

Back into T2, happy with my ride and even happier for no flats!  I had to yell at people to get out of my way, as they were taking pictures at the entrance to my bike rack.  People, if you've already finished the race before us oldsters who start last, please go somewhere outside of transition to take your pictures!  I had a little trouble getting my bike on the rack since I was on the end and the person next to me basically racked her bike in my spot, so I had to slide hers over.  And I was as far away from run out as you can get, so my time was really slow.  T2 time: 2:42

And the run - or the walk/run for me, and quite a few others.  This is the part of this course that I like the least.  It's mostly on fire trail, so it's packed dirt with a ton of rocks.  I always feel like my feet are slipping under me, and I feel like I spend half of my time looking down so I don't trip or twist an ankle on a bigger rock.  And there is no shade on this course and it's usually as hot as hell - making this part of the race feel like a death march for me.  Luckily this year, mother nature cooperated with us.  The clouds and fog stayed with us throughout the entire race and it wasn't hot at all.  Again, without a flat tire I wasn't one of the last ones out there on the course.  I can't tell you how much of a difference mentally that made for me to see so many other runners out there.  And even though I tried to trash my legs on the bike, I actually still felt really good.  I ran more than I thought I would, though it was still mostly walking.  The miles seemed to tick by pretty quickly and before I knew it, I was done!  Run (walk) time:  51:15

Smiling across the finish!
Total time:  2:05:45

And just like that, my second triathlon season is over.  I'm a little disappointed that I only signed up for two tri's this year. But with my hip injury lingering longer than I ever anticipated and the uncertainty of some events due to the drought, it was all I was able to train for.  And while I didn't see as much improvement in speed/time as I thought I would over last year, I could feel a difference in my races over last year.  In almost every race last year, by the time I got to the run I was gassed and just muddled through it.  This year, I felt like I pushed it on the bike and still felt good on the run - so I guess there is improvement.

I can't wait to see what the 2015 season has in store.  Olympic distance?  Aquabike?  We'll see!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Three Things Thursday

1.  I've been a single gal lately.  Dan has been working out of town for over two weeks.  I talk to him every night and even went to visit him for a night last weekend, but I'm ready for him to come home.  So is he!  He was supposed to get a day off last weekend but it didn't happen.  Then he was supposed to come home last night, but the project is still not finished.  He's optimistic that he'll be home this weekend, but I'm not getting my hopes up until he tells me he's actually driving home.

2. To wetsuit or not to wetsuit?  My last tri of the season is next weekend, and I'm trying to decide if I should wear my wetsuit or not.  The water is warm enough that I don't need one, but last year at this race I wanted the extra buoyancy.  This year I'm not sure I need it and if I can shave a little time off my T1, I just might skip it.

The same race last year heading to T1.
3. Speaking of the single life and that upcoming triathlon...With Dan gone, I've been nailing all of my workouts and sleeping like a champ.  I actually went to the gym and swam long course both Saturday & Sunday this past weekend.  Maybe I should send him out of town before every race ;)

And that's a wrap for today...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Volunteering at the Oakland Triathlon

I've been telling myself for some time that I'm going to volunteer this year.  If it weren't for the volunteers, these races couldn't happen.  They do so much - giving out race packets and t-shirts, manning the aid stations, directing racers on where to go, and so much more.

When I found out late last week that Dan was going to be working this weekend, I decided that this was my chance to volunteer.  I had considered doing the Oakland Triathlon (or Aquabike) earlier in the season, but after reading the course description decided against it without actually seeing the course.  So this was my opportunity to help out at a race and see this course as a possibility for next year.

I was assigned a post as a bike course marshal.  I was stationed just outside of transition at the bike exit.


My volunteer partner & I were to direct the bikers to the mount line giving encouragement.  Also, the bike out put you on a street with a couple of condo buildings with parking garages.  Even though the residents were told they could not exit the garage during certain hours, we had to keep an eye on the garage exits to make sure no cars drove out - 'cause, you know, some people think the rules don't apply to them.

Bikes up the street...

...and bikes down the street.
It was a lot of fun feeling the energy and excitement of race day and not having to race.  I really enjoyed seeing how fast the leaders made it to transition after the swim.  But what I enjoyed even more was seeing the "back of the packers", determined to finish no matter what.  These are my people!

After the event, I stuck around a little longer to help secure transition - making sure that bikes belonged to the people leaving with those bikes.  We were thanked so many times by athletes, and most of them said they really enjoyed the race.

After checking out the course a bit, I'm glad that I decided to volunteer instead of race this one.  There was a long run from the swim to transition.  I mean really long.  It was a few city blocks and included a climb up and down three stories of stairs and across a bridge over the train tracks.

Seriously - this was part of the swim to bike transition!
It was such a crazy set up that they even had a contest for the fastest male and female pedestrian bridge crossers with a prize for each of them.

This was my first experience as a race volunteer and it was so much fun that I know that I'll be doing it even more next season.










Friday, August 8, 2014

100th Post - A Race Report

I can't believe this is my 100th post.  Time flies!  It seems appropriate that my 100th post would be a short race report, so here it goes.

Last Monday I somehow acquired a case of race fever.  I haven't done anything event related in a couple of months and I had a sudden urge to do something that was going to result in a t-shirt and a medal.  Since I'm not running, I've also been struggling to get out and hit the streets for a walk.  I prefer to run alone, but apparently if I'm going to walk I'd rather do it with others. Surprisingly, the Brazen Racing Bay Breeze was still open.  Their events usually sell out, so I was happy to be able to sign up.

Start/finish line
I got there early to pick up my race bib and I got to see the Half Marathon & 10k race starts.  While standing around, I got to meet this guy.

Tank - pitbull puppy race ambassador
Meeting Tank and getting puppy kisses made getting up early worth it, no matter what happened in the race.  Shortly after this, it was time to line up.  I stuck towards the back, and we were off.  As I was standing in the corral I suddenly realized that I was hungry.  I'd only had a banana for breakfast and forgot to bring anything else with me.  Luckily, Brazen had the best aid stations and when I hit it I grabbed some water and a cup of peanut M&Ms - fueling like a champ!  Yes, it's possible to eat M&Ms during a 5k if you're walking it.

Since it was only a 5k there isn't much to report.  I walked most of it but threw in some 30 second run intervals in order to pass people and to test out my hip.  The thing that I got most out of this race was a feeling of happiness.  I really, really, really miss running like I used to but I'm starting to make peace with the fact that I just can't.  I went into this race knowing that, so I wasn't frustrated with my ability or jealous of the runners.  I'm grateful that I can at least still walk so I can still enjoy the race experience.

Moving forward!

After the race, I headed to the Muscle Milk tent.  They had set up a stretching area with mats, foam rollers and resistance band.  It was awesome!  I got in some good stretching before I sat in my car and stiffened up.  Brilliant!


I'm thinking in the future I should sign up for all of my races on the spur of the moment!  I had no stress, none of the early morning wake up time regret, and I obviously really wanted to do this since I had only gotten the idea and signed up a few days ahead of time.

Next up, the See Jane Run Triathlon in September!  Unless I decide to sign up for something else in the meantime...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Staycation

"stay·ca·tion

 [stey-key-shuhn] 
noun
a vacation spent at home or near home, doing enjoyable activities or visiting local attractions." - definition courtesy of dictionary.com

This is exactly what Dan & I did last week - a vacation at home.  We played golf three times, went to the movies twice, visited San Francisco and Santa Cruz, slept late every day, ate too much ice cream and drank too much beer, took Emma for more walks than she normally gets over the course of a week.  It was heaven.

I am lucky to live in such a beautiful place where you rarely have to worry about the weather.  I can be in San Francisco in less than 30 minutes, at the beach in less time than that, and there are an abundance of golf courses in the area.  We had amazing weather and it was really fun to play tourist in our own area.

Palace of Fine Arts in SF

A stream in Golden Gate Park.
Golf in Half Moon Bay.
Vacation dog Emma.
Today I had to push the ice cream and beer aside and set my alarm for work.  And it's time to get serious about training for my September triathlon.  So in order to keep myself moving, I signed up for a 5k on Saturday.  Onward!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Is the Year Really Half Over?

I'm having a hard time believing it's already July.  It seems like the older I get, the faster time flies by.

I don't talk much about my job here but I had my annual review a couple of weeks ago which led me to thinking about my job and my future.  And I came to the conclusion that I can't see myself in the position I'm in forever - or even for a few more years.  When I was laid off in 2009, I spent three years trying to find a job that I could be happy in while earning enough money to pay the bills - and still afford the fun stuff like races and Sharks tickets.  I found work rather quickly but the people I worked for were different (crazy!) than what I was used to.  So when I landed in this position two years ago, I was happy to just be working for a reasonable person in a role that let me leave it all at the office when I left each day.  I thought I could get by with just working to pay the bills, and making my personal life fulfilling - which it is.  But lately the days are dragging and I'm being pushed to take on work that I'm not really interested in doing.  It's not that I don't want more work.  I just don't want to do this particular work.  So I signed up for fall classes at the local community college.  It's never too late to change careers!

In other July news, my hubby and I will celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary on Friday, the 4th of July.  Again, time flies!

On the beach at Lake Tahoe

And finally, I think I'm going to join a triathlon team today.  I've written quite a few race reports on Mermaid series races - including my most recent triathlon.  They have training groups throughout the bay area, and have finally last month started one near me.  I've done two workouts with them and am going to another workout tonight.  It's a very small group since it's new to the area, but that just means more individualized attention.  I'm really looking for people of my ability to bike with, and I think this is the right group for me.




Monday, June 16, 2014

Catfish Open Water Swim

I did the Catfish Open Water Swim event on Saturday.  This is a local swim race that has been going on for years.  They offer a 500 yard, a 1.2 mile, and a 2.4 mile race.  Since I'm in no way ready to swim a mile in open water, I went for the 500 yard event.

The race is usually held at Chesbro Reservoir but due to the drought it was moved to Quarry Lakes this year.  This actually worked out well for me since I live much closer to Quarry Lakes and I was able to get in a practice swim there a few weeks ago.

There isn't much to say about it.  Show up.  Pick up your packet.  And then swim!  So I'll give you the details in pictures.

I might have been the first person to arrive.  They didn't even have our timing chips yet.

"We have to swim to that first buoy, then turn around." That's me in the sleeveless wetsuit.
Swim in and run through the finish line.
And done!
My favorite race shirt ever!
Next up - See Jane Run Triathlon in September.  I may have to find another event to do between now and then!  Maybe I'll sign up for an Aquabike to keep me motivated.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mermaid Alameda Triathlon Race Report

How can such a short race have such a long race report?

I finally got to do my first triathlon of the year.  It's hard to believe this was only my 5th triathlon ever.  I'm starting to feel like an old pro at this.

One of the things I love about this race is that you can pick up your packet and rack your bike on Saturday.  I got there right at 11:00 am as transition opened and got my favorite spot - on the inside end of the row.

Sunday morning started with the usual feeling when the alarm goes off at o'dark thirty.  What am I doing this, again?  But I got myself together and pulled into the parking lot right next to transition by 6:00.  Transition was split up by age groups, but since Meredith and & both got there early on Saturday we were only two rows apart.  I got my gear set up and hit the porta potty (for the first time), and still had over an hour to kill.

Every time I do this, I bring less and less stuff with me.  Learning!

We did the usual picture taking and wandering down to the water to check things out.  I was very happy with how calm things were.

The usual pre-race photo with my best race buddy

The water was much calmer than last year.

After hanging out staring at the bay and a couple more trips to the porta potty, it was time to head down to the start.

The Pre-Swim

I was lined up on the ramp to get into the water when suddenly there was a commotion out by the start buoy.  A couple of ladies in my wave were calling for help - I could see that they were holding up another swimmer.  Suddenly the race director was climbing down the rocks yelling to the crew, one of the guys helping us down off the ramp into the water dove in and started swimming towards them, while a lifeguard on a surfboard started paddling towards them.  Of course, I stared out there waiting to see the big pool of blood because in my mind only one thing could have happened - someone got bit by a shark.  Thankfully that was not the case.  I never did find out what happened, but they let those of us on the ramp get in and swim to the start while they tended to her.  I hope it was nothing serious.  But needless to say, it was not at all comforting for this to happen as I was getting ready to get into the water.

The Swim

I had only one goal going into this race, and it was to beat my swim time from last year.  I knew my run would be slower since I planned to walk it this year, and my bike workouts have been hit or miss.  But I really wanted to prove to myself that I really was a stronger swimmer than last year.

I lined up towards the back and on the right.  The swim was a straight line with the buoys on our left, then a final left turn to the ramp out.  I managed to calm my nerves before the start and when they sent us out, I was ready to swim.  I focused on just counting strokes and breathing.  Occasionally I'd have to stop for a second to sight - still haven't mastered that skill yet! - but when I stopped, I was always happy with how much closer to the next buoy I was.  I felt like I was making progress.  I managed to pass a few people and am very happy to say that nobody from the wave starting 10 minutes after mine managed to catch me like last year!

Swim time 2014:  15:51 
Swim time 2013: 17:43

Transition 1

When I got pulled out of the swim onto the ramp, I had a hard time walking.  I felt like I was drunk and honestly could not walk a straight line.  I had this same problem at this race last year - something about swimming in the bay vs. a lake.  I'll need to figure this out.  But this dizziness made standing up and while trying to put on my socks quite a challenge!  I was very grateful that I decided to pick an inside transition spot next to the fence because I had to grab it to keep from falling over.

T1 2014: 3:39
T1 2013: 4:28

The Bike

I started the bike not feeling my best and that continued throughout almost the entire ride.  By the time I got out of transition the drunken feeling had passed but my legs were nowhere to be found.  I spent the first few miles alternating thinking, "My legs are dead" and, "Damn, this road is bumpy!"  I tried to get some chews in me and drank when I could, but neither thing tasted good to me.  Honestly, this bike ride was a pure sufferfest for me and I was honestly shocked that I beat last year's time.

Bike 2014: 52:32
Bike 2013: 55:02

Transition 2

I got back to transition and was followed in by Meredith - whose wave started 10 minutes after mine.  Go Meredith!  I was so happy to be able to rack my bike and get on with the run - or walk, in my case.

T2 2014: 1:28
T2 2013: 2:10

The Run (or Walk)

I grabbed two cups of water on my way out of transition, and I suddenly realized that as bad as I felt on the bike, I felt equally as great now.  In fact, I realized that my hip did not hurt AT.ALL so why not try a little running.  I decided that I'd run and count to 20, and it felt good.  So I spent the run leg walking until I felt like running, then running for a 20 count.  All was going well.  I felt great.  It was a beautiful day.  Life was good.  And then suddenly I was falling.  I felt like I was in slow motion.  I tried to catch my balance and thought I had it, but gravity took over and I was on the ground.  THUNK!  I had tripped over an uneven crack in the path, and down I went.  I had road rash on my palm, my knee, my right arm, and my pinky finger was dripping blood.  But most concerning was that I had hit my head on the pavement.  Two women who were walking behind me saw me go down and came to help me.  I sat there for a minute just stunned, but really I was making sure that nothing was broken and that my head was OK.  These two women were amazing.  They helped me up, brushed me off, and I walked with them for a few minutes until we passed the turn and I was sure that I was OK.  When I realized that I surprisingly felt fine, I thanked them for probably the 20th time and told them that I was going to take off.  So back to my 20 count running/walking intervals I went.  Even with the time lost from the fall and walking most of the run, I realized that I still had a chance to beat my overall time from last year.

I think I was less than a mile from the finish when I saw Coach Stephanie of the Go WOW team out for her Sunday run with the group.  She gave me a huge hug which gave me even more of a boost to bring it home strong.

Run 2014:  38:48
Run 2013: 37:16

Sprinting towards the finish
(Photo courtesy of Meredith, my official race photographer!)

Even with the sufferfest on the bike and falling and cracking my head on the ground, it was a great race.  I shaved time off all disciplines except the run - and if I didn't fall I would have beaten that time, too.

Finish time 2014:  1:52:18
Finish time 2013:  1:56:39

Monday, June 2, 2014

Nerves...and Not of Steel

Six days until my first triathlon of the season and the nerves have already set in.  It's not the thought of doing a triathlon that scares me.  It's the swim in the bay.

I've got a number of open water swims under my belt at this point and for whatever reason, I just can't make swimming easily in the pool translate to swimming easily in open water.

I met up with a group yesterday for some more open water swim practice, and it went relatively well.  But it seems to take me so much longer in open water to get warmed up and find my groove.  And with a swim that's only 400 yards, I may never find that comfortable place.  I seem to do much better in lakes than in the bay, and I'm sure it's because I'm not afraid of being eaten alive by sea creatures.

I saw this quote this morning and it really struck a cord with me.

"Don't be afraid of your fears.  They're not there to scare you.  They're there to let you know something is worth it." - C. JoyBell C.

When I was swimming in the lake yesterday, struggling at the start, I actually had thoughts of not doing this triathlon or the Catfish swim.  I was mentally beating myself up for not joining masters like I said I would.  I was wishing I could run so I could switch from the triathlon to the duathlon.  

But I kept on swimming and eventually found my groove.  And I'll be there in the bay on Sunday morning to face my fears.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

When We Last Left Off...

I was annoyed about the Mermaid 5k and training for a triathlon and an open water swim.  Those two things haven't changed.  Since then, this is what has happened...


  • I tried to go for an open water swim with Meredith, but we neglected to check to see when low tide was going to occur.  Doh!
Somewhere out there, there is water in the bay.

  • My dad was in the hospital - twice within a week.  Luckily he is home now and doesn't seem much worse for wear.

  • I've played a shit ton of golf and have found my summer golf groove.  I want to play every weekend, both Saturday and Sunday.  If only finances and my aging body would permit!
Lots of baby geese on the golf course.

  • I met with a surgeon about getting my hip fixed and he couldn't help me because I'm not as bad off as I was led to believe.  This is fantastic news!  So I'll be meeting with his associate later in the summer to potentially schedule a fall surgery which will hopefully fix me enough to run again.  I figure I'll wait until fall for surgery since my pain has improved and I don't want to spend my summer recovering from surgery when I could be playing golf and doing triathlon-like things.

  • Received the Bia Sport watch that I'd backed on Kickstarter almost two years ago - and promptly decided that it wasn't worth the wait :(  So I put that baby up for sale and bought myself a Garmin 910xt.  The timing was perfect, as Garmin was having a rare sale so I got a great price and I'll get a $50 rebate.  Anybody want to buy a Bia?
Testing out the new toy.

  • And had a very relaxing Memorial Day weekend.  
Cheers!
So now it's 10 days until the Mermaid Tri and 16 days until Catfish.  There isn't much more I can do at this point to improve the results of either event, so I'm just going to go out there and do the best I can while still having fun.  Until next time...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mermaid East Bay 5k Race Report

Official time: 50:33.
Pace: 16:18 per mile.
Rank: 433/570.
How I felt about it: Miserable.

This was not my best performance mentally.  I should have just picked up my bib and shirt and turned around and gone home.  But I was there, I paid for it, I decided to just do it.

Driving to the race I had thoughts of "why am I doing this?"  It seemed like a good idea at the time to sign up, but on my way there I realized that I didn't want to just walk a 5k.  If I can't push myself and try to get a PR - or at least beat the time of my last race, or the last time I did this event - then what's the point.  My mood went even further south when I was faced with a huge line of traffic just to get into the park, and another big line for packet pickup.

So I started the race in need of a serious attitude adjustment.  I had just enough time to get into the corral with about five minutes to spare.  The music was upbeat and the race director was on the mic giving out positive messages and encouragement, so my mood lifted a little.  After all, it was a Saturday morning, sunny and warm, and I'm healthy enough to be able to walk 5k.  So I decided to make the best of it.

Since I knew I was going to walk, I tried to be considerate and I lined up towards the back of the pack - but in front of any strollers that I spotted! - so runners wouldn't have to go around me.  It turns out I should have started a little further forward.

You see, even though I considered myself a walker, I wasn't going for a stroll.  I'm still trying to push myself and finish as quickly as possible.  Turns out many others seemed to have a different idea.

I should have taken a few things into consideration before signing up for this race.  First of all, it was Mother's Day weekend - which meant lots of moms and daughters doing the race together, which also meant that they were going to walk side by side so they could chat.  (It's OK.  I don't mind going through the tall grass and weeds on the side to pass you since you have no idea what "on your left" means.)  Also lots of new moms pushing strollers - including the one who stopped right in the middle of the two-person wide path to adjust something.  (For F's sake, move to the side!)  And then there were the mini-Mermaids who started five minutes later than the actual 5k - and who caught up to me and passed me because while I was walking quickly, they were actually running.  Demoralizing!

I did run a few short intervals - for nothing else than to get past groups of slow walkers.  Or because there was a downhill and I just wanted this to be over.

And finally it was over!  And I was so thankful and no less annoyed.  So I did a little bit of stretching, then hopped in my car and got the hell out of dodge.

Monday, May 5, 2014

I Can't Run but I Can Swim

At the beginning of the year, one of my planned events was the Catfish 1.2 mile open water swim at a local reservoir.  But as the months went on with little to no rain, the event was in jeopardy.  The event company said they were working on an alternate location, but since they had moved two of their triathlons to locations with ocean swims I was afraid they were going to do the same with Catfish.

So imagine my happiness when I found out last week that an alternate location had been chosen, and it was the lake where I just did my swim clinic last weekend!

Quarry Lakes

However since months have dragged on without a firm location, I haven't actually been training for a 1.2 mile open water swim.  Oops!  And after that swim clinic, I think 1.2 miles would have been a little too much for me to do at this point.  Lucky for me, they also offer a 500 yard option so I signed up for that today.  And even more lucky for me, my race buddy extraordinaire Meredith has agreed to do this event with me.

The 500 yard swim course.
I'm really excited because I liked the location when I was there last week.  It's close to home, the water seemed clean, and it will be pretty easy for me to get there for a couple of practice swims ahead of time.  I'm glad this event has finally come together, and thanks to a bout of insomnia I was at the pool to work on my swimming early this morning.