Almost a week already since we've been back from Sun Valley. Despite stating "I'm swimming slow and bailing early" at Wednesday p.m.'s masters I swim the fastest timed 100 hundred of my life. I also nailed the hypoxic hundred 4X 25 yd without breathing....well not exactly ..you get 25 EZ between each 25 without breathing. Not bad for not swimming in 10 days...well minus that half lap across the pool pictured above. I almost sunk in there...it was hot and after dinner and a few sips of Tim's beer...coupled with the altitude (I'm going to wear the altitude excuse out aren't I) Anyway Wednesday night I made a major breaktrhough in my swim. I owe it to the the 50'ish year old male lane mates who wear a bit crash and gave me a lot of flack about my girl power swim cap. One was not afraid to tap my foot to remind me to speed up. The other would say "is that all you got...girl power" What I got gentleman is a history of designing custom Splishspeedos so watch out. I tried to repeat my breakthrough at noon on Thursday but couldn't recreate it. Maybe the arms were tired.....or maybe I needed a slap in the foot to wind me up. Sometimes it takes a bit to transition back form vacation.....Last week at noon I was meeting Tim for lunch here....see below. Well there wasn't that much snow but it was nice.
Since I have been back I have been a bit confused about which sport I am training for.....well a least nobody can accuse me of over training or over thinking next weeks race. Race ????Next weekend.... Well at least I'm signed up this year....I think.
Last week Tim attended a very good and educational orthopedic conference in Sun Valley. His conference went from 7:30 a.m -1200 and 4-7 p.m. I knew his time on the slopes would be limited. Once again I sacrificed myself on Tim's behalf. While Tim spent the morning working on sawbones and putting plates in models of bones I was sure to scope out the best runs possible. If he only had 4 hours to ski he wouldn't want to waste any time on runs with the second best snow. Right? Exactly. I took my job very seriously. After skiing each day except one I did the unthinkable. I ran...at altitude on trashed and tired legs. Well I couldn't just sit around eating bon bons while Tim put plates in sawbones....or something like that. Guess what....my legs didn't feel so bad. Unfortunately they were limited by my inability to catch my breath. Last week left me with a lot of questions:
1: Is 6000ft significant elevation?
2: Is 1000 ft of vertical climbed a lot in a 5 mile run?
3: Are these two things combined enough to a 10 minute mile
4: What's up with cars parked in the turn lane...seriously downtown Ketchum uses the center lane for parking...do you know how confusing that is for the sea level runner???
I know most people blog about how fast they go ....well that's how fast I didn't go. I don't care. I got in some good skiing and enough miles to remain in my skinny jeans. Amazing considering I ate pizza for lunch and huge Idaho potatoes for dinner. Oh shucks....now you are all thinking maybe my skinny jeans aren't so skinny after all. Once again....everything is relative.
In the latter half of the week Tim was able to run with me. He didn't seem to struggle nearly as much as me to catch his breath. I am attributing this to the altitude and males having more hemoglobin than females.....in other words men are natural dopers. Cheaters.... Tim was kind and offered to slow down. I would rather complain than ease the pace. Tim and I are a good pair. I am the militant one who gets us out the door. My bark is bigger than my bite. I would be more likely to go shorter or easier than indicated. Once started Tim wants to capitalize. The route will be hillier, longer and at more intensity than what I would have chosen. .....I'm soft.
All week long I read articles in the paper about a pack of 9 black...not grey, black wolves in the valley. Don't ask me the difference between a black and a grey wolf but obviously there is one. Despite the hotels two treadmills...I had to run outside. The scenery was great and the bike paths were plowed and awesome. In the back of my mind was that pack of wolves. I'm sure my quads, calves, and biceps would make a nice sandwich for that pack. I kept these thoughts to myself as I actually used the wolf excuse once before. How many times can I get away with the wolf excuse before being labeled officially outrageous? I wanted to get out of a run at my parents house in the Upper Peninsula. It was 5:30 a.m. raining, dark and I could hear the wolves howling. Yes the wolves...not the coyotes.....I love to run but at 5:30 am I love my bed. Anyway on our last day of running in Sun Valley we saw a big fresh bony structure....The hind leg of a deer....no, of an elk. It was too big. In fact maybe it was a Moose (it's getting bigger by the day) Anyway I am sure those wolves took down that elk. The ran home was at race pace because I was convinced the wolves were sighting me. I'm sure I looked to be an easier target than my bean pole husband. Funny all that money spent on models of bones for the orthopedic conference when in Idaho you could just go out and find some.
I have had quite a fun week since last Saturday's club race and Honey Springs ride. I worked Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and then I was free. I work 12 hour (+) shifts, so yes I do work full time. After that I was free to play to my heart's delight or maybe to my HR max. Tim was working a ton so he couldn't really play with me. I wish he could have. All I could do to even the score was make three loaves of french bread and two batches of cookies.
Wednesday Pat, Elizabeth and I rode the Great Western Loop to Descanso. It was such a fun time. I really love this ride and think I am making great improvements. This might not be evidenced by my speed but I think I was able to talk the entire time. Including climbing the infamous "wall". It's lucky that telling a story up the wall is a requirement. If people didn't like my chattering they might not ride with me. Tim was post call that day so he had arrived home just before I did. Not so good. I tend to be very bouncy around the house after a good ride and Tim was trying to sleep. Poor Tim. I did use that time to make cookie dough, then bribed Tim to go to evening Master's swim in exchange for cookies. Master manipulator. I refused to bake the dough until after masters. It was nice sitting in the hot tub after swim. Ahh.
Thursday I went for a long run. My friend Stacy came over to hang out/run with me. She has Thursday mornings off. We planned to run together. I manipulated her into an hour hilly run when she had intended to run 45 minutes flat. I figured she wouldn't even notice because she is the kind of runner who floats. I don't even think her feet touch the ground. It was tough catching up on all the news while running fast. I am sure everybody in La Jolla cove heard our news. When I huff and puff I tend to shout. I ran a bit more after she left as it was my day to run long. The pace was a little bit slower and the run was much less exciting. After that I decided to hit the pool for a few laps. Oh let's be honest the hot tub.
Friday started off with a good Masters workout followed by intervals on Fiesta Island with Julie and Elizabeth. We did a series of on/off cycling and let me tell you I really enjoyed the "off" time. When it comes to intervals and me, I'm like an abscess. On the outside it doesn't look to bad. Once you lance it, the pus comes out and you realize how bad off things really are even though you couldn't see it from the outside. UGLY. However abscesses need to be drained and I need to do my intervals. So there, I will keep at it. I did accuse Elizabeth and Julie of doping since they seemed to complete the session with ease. Doping on what you ask? Good question. The only thing I could think of was childbirth. Yes....they have both had two children. I told them that it must have changed their physiology and increased their pain threshold.....maybe I can even find evidence to support that it increased their VO2 max. Tim was post call again Friday but he didn't get off and home until 2:00 p.m. This was bad because he needed to nap for a while. I knew he would be tempted to sleep too late and be up too late. Then he wouldn't be able to get up for an epic bike ride on Saturday. Travesty. I let him sleep for a while then guilted him into a run. It was quite a sacrifice on my part. It took me running, a whole 4 miles, on tired legs, up Mt. Soledad, alone to guilt him into it. All in the name of love I ran up Soledad on tired legs. It worked and Tim copied off my 4 miles as I got ready for Lynn's birthday get-together. It takes me more time to get ready for an outing than it takes Tim to run 4 miles. We capped off the evening by meeting friends for a drink.
I think Tim and I have a real problem. Whenever possible we are getting hammered or trashed. Saturday, Tim and I decided to get "trashed." We trashed our legs all day long. We started in Pine Valley, headed up Kitchen Creek and out to Julian for pie. What some people will do for dessert. Tim was tired from the lack of sleep and I was tired from my week of playing. I got no sympathy from Tim when I stated I was tired. The espresso machine was broken at the Julian Pie Co. so when Tim wasn't looking I downed a "Motivator". I had to keep up without complaint for my marriage's sake. What kind of a wife would I be if I blew up my legs with the girls all week long then couldn't hammer with my husband?
I love it when I am off of work the day of a TCSD club race. Let me remind you all again. Free race. Free food....and if you are lucky prizes. TN and I were both off this Saturday and were looking forward to an epic day. We spent the early part the week tossing ideas about where to ride. What ride would be better than the next. Maps were out, routes were discussed. This was serious business. Disappointed though TN seemed more and more subdued as the week went on and managed to come down with another virus....
Note to all:
Exposure to sick children at a pediatric hospital
Minus: Hours of sleep
Plus: Maybe a day of over training induced by the need to drop a mountain bike that turned out to have a motor .
Equals: Getting ill.
When Friday drew near we knew Tim didn't have an epic ride, a club race, or even an easy ride in him. I offered to stay home and hang out with him but he said "One of us needs to have fun" that was all it took because I was quick to sign up for the race and and recruit friends to ride after. Tim would be disappointed otherwise. We tend to live vicariously through each other.
My neighbors and cycling soul mates, Pat and Elizabeth offered me a ride to the race with them. They even offered to climb Honey Springs road with me after. Carpooling is great because you can talk about whatever you CAN'T talk about when you are pedaling up a mountain.
Race Report: Sound of the Trumpet. Doo Doo Doo. This is ultra serious. div>
Pre Race: Talked to E night before race. Confirmed she wasn't using her disk. Good....I didn't have to play mechanic and switch out my brake pads for a 15 mile bike ride.
Note: If it take more time to prep bike than ride bike....don't bother..Unless swag bag is really really good or your husband is willing to do the mechanics....remember though to use your favors wisely.
Packed: Aero helmet....(Tim insisted) and normal helmet.
Disappointed: Tim by not at least using aero helmet....I'm sure considering all the red lights I was stopped at it would have helped.
5:00 a.m. Awoke....wanted to hit snooze but knew I couldn't.
5:05 a.m. realized I was very, very hungry for 5:05 a.m.
Ate 1 almond butter and jelly sandwich on homemade bread with a 1/2 banana
5:30 stretched/sipped coffee
5:45: must not disclose
6:00 picked up by P&E....Tim is quoting some movie line....stating "I'm kind of a big deal you know" Since people pick me up to go to the race.....He says this in a funny voice...because duh! If you have to tell people you are a big deal....you aren't really a big deal. Maybe you have to be there. It makes me laugh every time he says it. Laughing is one of my favorite things in the world. Believe me, we aren't fueling delusions with this line, only hysterics.
6:45 Ran a warm up lap...to the bathroom and back...total of 50 yds.
Chatted with Jess, Tina, and Joanne (much more important than actually warming up).
6:55 Listened to directions. Copied off Elizabeth and wrote directions on my hand. There were a lot of turns. Left and Right.....I didn't want to get lost.
7:00 Race start
Started running. Everybody in front of me was running way faster than I wanted them to....don't they know (in the funny voice) "I'm kind of a big deal" and they should slow down to where I am comfortable. Apparently they didn't get the memo. Ugh. My lungs feel tight. I can't breathe at this pace....need more room for air. Guess I'll breathe out my eyeballs. I wonder what Dr. Lichter would say about this ....breathing out my eyeballs.... Probably slow down, you fool. 6:30 pace on the Garmin. What???? I back off but breathing isn't much better. Run turns out to be 2.5 miles....It was advertised as 1.7 miles. I want my money back. Wait a minute, this race is free. I can't wait until I can get on my bike and couch potato it in the aero bars. Ahh. That will be nice. Secure spot in third after run #1. TCSD member encourages me...says that I'm doing good. He tells me in a minute I can get on my pink bike and catch all the girls. TCSD members are so nice. I say not E. I see her ahead of me. I think I better get a move on or Pat and E will have to wait for me. Oh dear.
Bike: I get on my bike. I am a little concerned because I could swear that the Almond butter and J has turned into Brick butter and J. This isn't good. PB and J didn't give me any trouble before last Sunday's century so it must be because I switched to Almond butter. I am certain it has nothing to do with the change in intensity. Nothing at all. I decide I hate Almond butter. It's foo foo and overrated. I refuse to purchase it ever again. Peanut butter tastes better. I refuse to think a half sandwich would have been better than a whole.
While fumbling through transition I see E heading out. I swear she paused and looked back at me. ....I think she was giving me a chance to catch her. It must be more fun for her to be racing...or chatting...or maybe it's like a cat dangling a mouse by it's tail before she eats it..... Just kidding, E is too nice for that. If she wanted to, she really could. I probably would if I was that fast. Maybe that's why I am not that fast...the whole Karma thing. She probably was wondering what was taking me so long. Despite having the directions written on my hand I forgot I had already made the first turn to the left and started to turn left onto the next street. Thanks to the volunteer who redirected me or I'd be in Mexico by now. I start to ride. I feel tired. I can only think of Tim's lecture at Grand Rounds. It was regarding safe legal athletic performance enhancing drugs....To think I only get lectures on drugs that convert cardiac rhythms. Guess what folks: caffeine is recommended... Well, don't go crazy on it. I'm sure there are limits. They recommended Motivator and I am don't have any ....It actually helps with fat metabolism into energy and neuromuscular contraction...I really think I could at least benefit from espresso. I decided to suck it up. Who isn't tired? Besides the fastest way to coffee is to finish.
Don't get me wrong folks but short races are about pushing. If you feel all happy...you probably aren't working as hard as you could. As long as you are happy when it over that's what matters. I love my pink bikes. Just when I think I become curmudginly I notice my bike is pink and I am having fun. I'll share a secret....sometimes I think my bikes have souls. They laugh at me. I think sometimes they sneak out and go for rides when I am at work;)
There are a bunch of stop lights. I catch up to Elizabeth and Li Anne. E and I pull ahead of Li Anne. I don't know if I am relieved I have caught up or worried because now it is my job to keep up. E and I get stuck at a few more stop lights before we return to the second run. We pass Philippe running with his bike. He has a flat. I am glad Elizabeth didn't stop to help him. Then I would have felt compelled to stop too. I knew I couldn't help because I have the wrong sized wheels....Still that would be pretty crappy, E being a good samaritan and me zipping into T2. Would have looked even worse when she caught of to me....the karma thing again. Tacky of me but I already got in trouble for racing too nice last weekend. We didn't really race each other into the parking lot. A car was parked sideways across the street .We really didn't know what was going on. It was like meeting somebody in a hallway and moving side to side and asking if they want to dance. Not such a good idea with a car.
T2: E and I head out to the run. (another 2.5 miles.)...I am happy to be running with the first place girl and disappointed because it's going to force me into ugly uncomfortable zone. I know though it is good for me though. Some guy is yelling at Suzanne about the course. Who yells at volunteers?......Crazy. If you want to do a better job put the race on yourself. If you don't like the course stay home...Trust me, nobody will miss you. Especially not the race directors. I think this guy distracts me from how hard I am working and gives me more energy to run with.
Run 2: This time it was easier....not a 6:30/mile. E and I are running. She makes a pit stop and says I'll catch you in a few. I keep running. I don't feel guilty she has stopped for a few minutes as I know she really will catch up. I also know Li Anne is coming and she runs really, really fast. I remember her from track. People don't know how fast she is because she is super nice and usually has her Labrador and kids in tow. She is the girl who runs in the front pack with all the guys ....and drops them. It's fun to watch. Soon I hear E...actually first I hear another guy....and he looks at me funny when I announce..."You caught up so fast" Sorry dude. I thought you were someone else. Then I hear E. We are gaining on Pat and she speeds up to catch him. I think he was waiting for us. I wish I could speed up too. At least I don't think I can. Soon I hear Li Anne's feet behind me. I know it is her...the turnover is fast. It hits me if I ever want to run like that I at least have to believe. Hokey yes.. but who gets fast by thinking they are slow...I tell my legs I believe in them. I put everything I have into staying as close to E and Li Anne as possible. I don't catch up. I don't think my quads bought in to that. I think I am less far behind then I would have been if I would have kept grumping at myself. At some point you have stop giving yourself the option of slowing down. I ran up the final hill as fast as I could. I high fived everybody. O.k. I am a dork but this is were the pain free fun starts. The finish. I am pretty sure I was the first to get coffee. Although it only lasted about an hour and then we were off to climb Honey Springs road.
When I got home Tim saw my medal and said "I'm kind of a big deal you know" Then he asked me what was on my hand..... the directions o.k. maybe not such a big shot.
Review/analyzation of performance: I can't tell you what my heart rate was because the strap fell down around my waist. E asked me if the strap told me I was hungry? After I transmitted the information to my computer I am sure it was trying to say that Almond butter is evil.
Tim and I chose Switzerland for our honeymoon. It did not disappoint. 6 days of skiing in the Alps: who could want more? Well....we could. We didn't want to come home. Although I must admit my legs were tired, but my legs are always tired, so why not ski some more. Special thanks to Tim's Dad, Bruce who researched everything for us. Travel agent extraordinaire and to my mother in law Cindy, who told me to be sure to drink the milk there. She said it was the best and she was right. They say the milk is better because the cows graze on the mountainside and eat herbs all summer....whatever it sure was good. Tim says he likes it even better with Swiss Cocoa. Yummy. It's even better consumed after shredding for hours in fresh powder. One complaint Tim had was the limited selection of fresh bread served daily at the Inn we stayed at. Geez could we have a few more choices.
Tim and I had many adventures while skiing in Switzerland. It is very different than skiing at a resort in Michigan that has 20 chair lifts to service 450 ft of vertical. The resort spans across multiple towns. It has the coolest little restaurants and warming huts randomly all over the mountain.
One day it snowed so much and the wind blew so hard the lifts didn't run. Tim and I spent the day walking around town. We tried a snowshoe run but it was cold and snowing so hard I had to wear full ski garb....try running with that much gear on. So it was a snowshoe trudge with great scenery. We were the crazy Americans that day at breakfast. We wolfed down our food and hurriedly headed out the door. We were giggly with anticipation of fresh tracks. We could hear cannons blasting the avalanches. The inn keeper stopped us as we headed out the door. "Non," he said and pointed to where the gondola should have been hanging. The lifts didn't run that day but we knew when they did it would be EPIC.
The next day the lifts opened late and it did not disappoint. For the life of me I could not understand why my powder hungry husband was acting so strange. He kept stopping and consulting the map and going to areas everyone else was going. Why did he insist I trade in my race skis for fat boards if this was how we'd roll? I didn't get it. Tim sensed my frustration and said "You lead." Great. I saw a faces descending with one set of tracks and a cat track intersecting. I said it was time to point my skis down the mountain. It was probably the most fantastic run of my life. Perfect pitch. Perfect powder. The series of faces just kept going and intersecting the cat tracks. What I thought to be cat tracks at least. At some point we had left the "resort." Things aren't marked so well in Europe. The cat tracks we were now crossing were actually a road but there was so much snow on it you'd never know. Two poles like the ones they use to mark the trails stuck up at the bottom. Tim boarded to the side. I thought I would do a little hop off the trail and on to the cat track. Tim was all smiles from the run down and I was really proud of my powder nose. Careful he said....turns out the poles were marking a flat garage roof covered with several feet of snow. I had to turn and wade back through the snow. I wonder what those home owners thought of the tracks. It soon became evident that we were no longer in an area serviced by chair lifts. We took off our gear and started hiking. After a bit of a walk, we encountered some builders and asked about a chairlift. They gave us directions to the nearest bus stops as we were 2 kilometers away from the lift. I don't think Tim was so happy with me at this point in time. I tried all sorts of tactics. We are earning our turns, epic powder, blah, blah, blah. I conceded to follow the trail map for the rest of the trip. In fact I just followed in his tracks. I wasn't sure he'd bring me back to the U.S. if I pulled another stunt like that. It wasn't until later in the week when I regained some leverage. Tim led us down a run that we eventually hiked back up. It turned out to be closed due to an avalanche. That was a long hike up.
This is the dog I almost smuggled home. Aqua was his name. He basically sat in the doorway when skiers returned from the mountain. If he was motivated he would move to the foot of the stairs in the evening so people would pet him on their way to and from dinner. He was sooo cute. I am going to get a dog just like him someday. I know he'll be too big, fat, and lazy to run with me but he'll be great to rest my feet on when I finish running.
I should have brought a snorkel the snow was so deep. I have to admit I was a little worried if I fell I would have to swim out.
Sunday was another morning where the alarm went off before 5:00 a.m. I didn't mind getting up for something fun. I met Stacy, Mary, Beth and Elaine in Little Italy. Today was the Italian style celebration of cycling. Complete with Italian cyclists who spoke very little English. The ride was 100 miles. You wouldn't believe the amount of boys we dropped along the way. Remind me....I have a bunch of "I drop boys" stickers I want to share. Mary did a great job securing us a stellar 6:30 am meeting spot, her friend's downtown apartment. Who is so kind to let 5 girls and their bikes descend upon them at 6:30 in the morning? Did I mention that when I get together with the girls my voice gets higher,louder, and I giggle incessantly? Hope that guy is still Mary's friend.
We headed out to the start line at 7:00. They were releasing cyclists in waves.... We got stuck in the third wave. We were to busy chatting to push forward. Anyway we were just fine with starting in the back ...until we heard the first pack was being escorted out by Ferrari's and Ducati's. Beth was quick to note this was all wrong.... Certainly the five of us should be escorted out by the Ferrari's. What could they have been thinking? Honestly, I'm surprised they didn't follow us the whole time. The ride was great conversation pace for the first 40 miles. Mostly, I kept asking where we were and if we were in the neighborhood where all the houses were on sale for half price? As if the half price sale would narrow things down. The beginning was a bit of uglyville. That was ok though; we had lots to talk about. Soon the scenery changed. We went through all these cool areas I had never been. There were new developments with well marked bike lanes and pavement smooth as a baby's bottom. One aid station was at the Olympic Training center in Chula Vista. I always wanted to check it out as I have an obsession with the Olympics. I thought about Mary's list of 25 random things and how she missed the Olympic trials for swimming by 2/100 of a second. Wow...what an accomplishment and a heartache. I love hanging out with these girls. I feel like even if we haven't known each other very long, we get each other. There is a lot of support and respect among us. Besides we share the same tan lines. We left the Olympic Training center and the riding got even better. Soon we were at Honey Springs Road. I thought of Tim. He has been eyeing this road on the map for so long and wondering what it is like. I missed riding with Tim today. He was working. Tim's really good at picking up a map and inventing a new "epic" ride. I like to complain to him "I'm in pain because of you." Honey Springs road was a 7 mile climb and home of the KOM, technically the QOM...for Queen of the Mountain. Let me just say it was a hot climb. Especially for the first day of March and my water bottle was close to empty. Beth said it was 100 degrees....it sure felt like it. I swear you could fry an egg on my face. We had decided that none of us were racing the climb as it was Sunday Funday. We didn't feel like doing any part of this ride as a race. However when all was said and done our "all girls tri team" dominated the boards. Had we stuck around there would have been prizes. We probably wouldn't have climbed it so fast if it wasn't for Stacy. She executed a high cadence climbing drill at the bottom for 20 minutes. Let me tell you for 20 minutes her legs spun so fast up that mountain I though my heart was going to come out my mouth. I was so relieved when it was over I didn't mind that we were only half way up the climb. We passed a fire station. I wanted to stop and spray myself with a fire hose. I thought the rest of the girls might find that disturbing so I kept pedaling. In retrospect they probably wouldn't have blinked an eye considering we all had ventured into the bushes a few miles back;) We enjoyed water and ice at the top. It was fun visiting with others of the San Diego cycling and triathlon community....others of our kind. Elaine announced that she was in "Hell" since she hadn't been riding much since IMAZ.....She bought a house and caught up on work. We gals have busy lives. I told her "Hell" was at least 5 miles ago....it would be easier from this point forward. I am a big believer in relativity. Nothing on this ride would be more difficult than that and we survived. Mary and Beth seemed to have floated up the mountain and I don't think they even broke a sweat. It was Beth's first 100 mile ride too. These girls are impressive.
After the Honey Springs ascent we had a nice downhill and soon we were on parts of the Great Western Loop. I love the Great Western Loop. I know it backwards, frontwards and inside out but I probably can't name the names of all the roads I ride on there because I'm geographically challenged and I have exercise induced dementia. When we finished the loop, I knew the last 20miles would be through potholeville and stop sign central. We really worked together to keep each other sane and whatever we hadn't discussed in the first 80 miles we had a chance to catch up on now.
The ride actually finished at mile 98. Beth wanted to get 100 miles in to complete her first century. I admire that and was relieved Mary volunteered to ride with her. As much as I love to ride I was really excited to shed my salty attire sit down on something other than my bike seat.
I promise I will blog about the Amazing Honeymoon in Switzerland. I must confess I have been too busy having fun since getting back to blog. Actually....I, like Abraham Lincoln, cannot tell a lie.... I was a major crab apple for a week after returning due to being sick. It would have reflected in my blogging. You all would have stopped reading. Tim says everybody quit reading my blog anyway because I never update it anymore;)
Despite seeing my husband very little this weekend, thanks to (in my opinion) his tortuous work schedule, I had a blast of a weekend. Saturday, I did something I never have done before......Drum Roll. A bike race. A real bike race. Not a time trial but a real bike race. Like the Tour De France or the Tour De California. A race where the riders are in a pack with formations that alternate. Riders launch attacks. They make breakaways and the peleton chases them down. It's all so exciting. There are only a few real differences between the Bulldog and the Tour De France.
1) I don't get a paycheck like those riders. I even had to pay for my own bike.
2) Bulldog is just a little bit shorter. 26 miles and a one day race. Versus the month of July. Actually it's just over an hour of racing. Really, what's the difference an hour vs. the month of July?
3) There is a division just for chicks at Bulldog and The Tour De France is exclusively for men. Can you believe that....a whole race for only men? Now you know why I relish dropping boys.
Saturday morning I headed up to Camp Pendleton early. My friend and teamate Raja and her husband passed me on the I5. I "drafted" them into the base. I was off to a good start. When the Marines put on a race they do it right. I have never experienced such a good port-a-potty to racer ratio. Raja and I set up our trainers and spun away for the next 45 minutes. I basically asked her how to be a road racer. She's been at this for three years now (with good results I might add). I always wanted to do a road race and finally it coincided with my work and travel schedule:)
Tim told me not to pull for anybody. Raja told me the same. She said nobody would break until the hill. Then somebody would attack. After that people would regroup. Other than my outloud conversations with Raja ....my voice over I pod with Beyonce and Pink playing . I don't think anyone knew I was a newbie. I looked the part. My pink bike and pink shoe covers made me look like a real road racer. Yes, pink shoe covers. A) to keep me warm and B) to reduce wind drag. ...You didn't know that was what slowed me down ?.....the buckles on my shoes? Gee folks, have some faith in me.
Soon we moved into the start area to be corralled for several nervous minutes before starting. Get this: women start last. Double dare you to get this. There is a mountain bike division (on the road) and the male mountain bikers are started before the females on road bikes. Want to know what I think of that.....I DROP BOYS!!!!
The race was pretty mellow at the start. Rhonda G, who had a baby 8 months ago and is still fast, launched the first attack. It was a little too mellow, so on the first little climb she stood up and rocked up the hill. I scampered up to her. I knew this wasn't the spot where the pack was broken but I didn't want to get behind. Rhonda's attack was shut down by the peleton. There were shouts that this was NOT where we were to hammer and it was stupid to start now. I'm used to 112 mile time trials so I was secretly hoping to race as much as possible. Rhonda is a true mom and commented she needed to get some racing in. She only had 26 miles to do so. Come on ladies, if Rhonda's going to the trouble to hire a sitter lets make it worth her while. Thank you Rhonda. I did as I was told though and kept my butt in the saddle. The race is controlled by the peleton and you better follow suit. We reached the top of the hill. I was at the front of the pack for a while. I know I wasn't supposed to pull into the wind but the group was riding conservatively. I knew I would be fine if somebody attacked. Besides I was getting antsy.
Finally we started to decend and turn left onto Stuart Mesa road. Somebody launched an attack. I later learned it was Raja. A drove of riders came from behind to get a good position for the climb. I was fine with that I certainly wasn't going to spend myself by pulling the pack down the hill. The Marines were out with slow signs making sure everybody went carefully around the corner. I know we would be all bunched up again soon. I didn't know how hard to go on the climb. Road racing is different than time trialing. You need tactics. I decided I would sit myself on the rear wheel of the fastest climber and try to hang on. I would make my move when Raja made hers. I scanned the crowd for Raja. She must have become stuck behind, I thought. Just be patient. Then I saw her on the left hand side 6 rows up. Shoot, how did that happen. I worked my way over to the side and climbed up to her. I thought that my making this jump would illicit a response. I thought one of those girls....you know the kind who goes to sleep sitting against the wall in a squatting position, would come forward and rip our legs off. No response. I was riding quite comfortably at the front of the climb. What now? I kept shooting sideways glances at Raja wondering what was up. I kept waiting. I slowed down ...nobody passed. I wondered should I conserve myself or make a move. Should I try to open up a gap on everybody? I wondered what cards these ladies were holding. I felt like I could go faster....but they probably did too. Shoot. I hate all this thinking. It's easier for me to just hang on with burning quads than to analyze and strategies. Should I bust a move or would I just be the idiot suicide bomber? It's one thing to think you might be able to go a bit faster....It's a pipe dream to think that you alone are stronger than the power of the peleton. I'm not a crack smoker. I really didn't have the courage to leave the field. I remained at the front of the climb with Raja. Side by side we climbed. At the top nobody passed us. Raja and I took turns pulling into the wind. I felt really weird about this. I was told not to pull and we were pulling the peleton....no help from anybody else. I know I shouldn't be out in front pulling but there was no way I could just wheel leach off of Raja. I mentioned somebody else could join us to Raja. Raja announced this to the group. After a delayed pause two girls came around us ....Finally, they want to work with us, I thought. We eased off the pull slightly. They stepped on the gas full throttle. They accelerated into the descent. Before we knew what hit us they opened up a gap. They didn't want to work with us. Raja and I didn't really have anytime to attack back. We worked together down the hill and basically did damage control. It seemed like they were a long way ahead.
When we started to climb we could see the gap getting smaller. Raja mentioned they were slowing. She suggested we ease the pace and organize with some of the girls behind us. I really wanted to keep pace lining just the two of us and reel in those girls. I thought we could do it. Raja's plan was a safer bet. The more people we had working together the better are chances of catching those girls.
Soon three others joined us. Raja instructed everyone into 30 second pulls, rotate to the right....although I'm guilty of pulling longer :0) Pace lining is the ulitmate example of teamwork and how the whole can be greater than the sum of it's parts. I owe a big shout out to Raja for directing and the other girls for joining in. I think we were all having the time of our life. We were flying. Flying past the boys too. We were closing in on the getaway girls. The energy was great. I think we put on quite a show. I knew there would be a point where it was every women for herself. It would be a mad dash into the finish chute. It would be at this point to pace line would bust up. I was told 1000 times not to take the final pull and be ready for the left hand turn to the finish. The race turned out to be 27 miles on my computer. At mile 26 I was in the front of the pace line. I was pulling my heart out. The gap was smaller between us and the escapees. I knew I could catch them but we were running out of time. After a decent sized pull I looked at Raja and said it's mile 26. I naively was hoping for the announcement it was every women for herself and pace lining was over. Ladies if you are wondering .....there is no announcement. I knew I should be on the left hand side and somewhere in the middle of the pace line. I wasn't and I had no clue how to get there now. Especially without essentially screwing somebody else. We had all worked so hard together it just didn't feel right changing up the rotation. Raja said "don't stop now." I think this was her way of letting me know now it was every women for herself and a mad dash to the finish. I didn't quite process that...(HR above 180 and two women in front of me) so I kept going and pulled my group up to the getaway girls.....Just as we approached the left hand turn, my pace line girls slithered up my left-hand side and into the turn. I had to brake to make the turn. I lost my speed...Note to self: don't let riders on your inside. I was in the absolute worst place to be....front of pace line and outside corner. It was my own fault.
Tim keeps asking me what I was thinking? I wish I could say I didn't know. Honestly I do know and my answer is so pathetic. I just couldn't be the one to disorganize the pace line. It felt like taking cuts in line in front of somebody who you respect. It felt underhanded. I'm not sure why I had such a hard time with this concept. I'm not that nice. I once bought a pair of shoes in about 30 minutes that a friend had been scoping for a year. I just swooped in and bought them. Of course I don't think I realized she had been interested in them. Maybe the other girls didn't realize I was that interested in the podium. =) I am however somebody who has issues cutting in the security line at the airport. I am going to have to work on these things.
15 minutes later when awards were handed out I felt a bit of a fool. I get it now. Duh ...This is a race. The whole thing may not be a race but the finish sure is. I ended up second in my age and 4th over all. I'll take it. I am not a sore loser. (Just perseverating slightly on my psyche). Those girls in front of me were there because they deserved to be. They played their cards right. I was slow on the draw. I will say that this was an exhilarating and thrilling experience. It felt really cool to be part the race. I will be out there again. In fact...I'm like a crack addict and I can't wait until next time. BTW...watch out ladies. I have a track record for getting things right on my second try.
I know I am a bit behind on my blog but lately all my funny stories have been embarrassing. Including my "race reports" and the Switzerland trip.....which I really will blog about. Not me meaning embarrassing as far as bad results but embarrassing in terms of me looking rather silly and foolish... I don't want to blog about those sorts of things but my loving husband Tim thinks those are the best stories. Hmmm. Why would I want to embarrass myself when I can embarrass somebody else.
So scrolling back a few blogs ago there was the blog regarding the family challenge and the Carlsbad Half. There was the great debate. I would like to formally announce that Bruce , my father in law, has been determined the age graded champ. For his efforts and to encourage future efforts he has been awarded a custom swimsuit by Splish (great company BTW....they were very helpful in creating this fine suit). Bruce you earned it. Wear it proudly.