"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or
brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not."

~ Anonymous
(taken from Matt Erbele's, It Takes Time to Get Good)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Costanoa: 2 Day Training Ride

This weekend my coach had planned a 2 day group ride. The goal of the ride was climbing practice. I was more than a little apprehensive about this. I knew I would be do the long ride that had SERIOUS climbing with SERIOUS bad ass riders. I also knew I would be last and making them wait all day long. To be honest, knowing that ahead of time made it a little easier. I actually was pretty proud of myself for keeping a couple riders in sight for most of the day.

You take your victories where you can get them.

Day 1: (disclaimer: My pictures suck and there are precious few of them. I was a little busy all day trying to stuff my lungs back into my chest and hoping my quads were not going to spontaneously combust. I did steal some pictures from my coach's site.)

The ride left from Santa Cruz and then headed up to the top of the Santa Cruz mountains. Yes, MOUNTAINS not hills. Across Skyline, down Alpine then back down to Pescadero and over to the campgrounds on Hwy 1 by Ano Nuevo. (I don't know how to make the tilde (~) over the 'n' in Ano. I apologize.)

Picture my coach took on Hwy 9. Thank God I wore my Camelbak. I would have not been able to drink on those climbs!

For those of you that are not from Northern California, and have no idea what I am talking about, here is what all that means: HUGE LONG climb, screaming/scary downhill, another BIG climb, wind tunnel by ocean, done.


And a visual

Elevation for the first day of this ride

A ball busting 6899 ft of climb. Hmm... we were all girls, so I guess that would that be a labia busting 6899 ft of climb (Unnecessary, RBR. Funny, but unnecessary. Again, I apologize.)

We did regroups about every 8 miles. Which was nice. At least I got to see everyone then. Yep, I was dead last into every regroup. Unfortunately, this means the minute I got there someone (in a perky, well rested, cheerleader voice) would say, "let's get going."

"But, but, I just got my fig newtons out. Can just I eat one?" I would whimper.

*click, click*
*click, click*

I would hear the sound of riders snapping into their clipless pedals. And we were off.

But I must say, in stark contrast to my experience with the tri team (This is the third time I have linked to that post. Think I am still bitter?), Anyhoo... today I was well taken care of and supported throughout the ride. When I did finally arrive at each regroup site, I was treated like I had won the Tour du France and throughout the day I had several riding partners, including my coach, who provided lots of laughs and good conversation.

Only a true bad ass can pull off sparkly butterflies on her helmet. She probably rode three times what we did since she kept coming back to check on and encourage me.
Thanks coach! You rock!

Ok, 'conversations' is probably an overstatement. Most of these conversations were the other rider saying something interesting and/or clever and me grunting, in what I would hoped would be construed as, a suitable response.

Lying ass sign. Note that it says "summit". If it is a summit then you cannot go up higher, right? Alas, we turned out of the parking lot and UP another hill.

Here I tried to quickly snap a shot of the view, which was GORGEOUS throughout the ride, right after arriving to the regroup, but as you can see they are getting ready to head out so there was not much time to frame the shot. Does not even kind of do it justice.

The descent was scary! Beautiful, but scary. It was a steep narrow road and because the weather was GORGEOUS there were lots of cars and motorcycles on the road. Apparently, attempting to "enjoy the view" at 45 mph on a narrow switchback mountain road. Assholes.

Here is the entrance to the road were I was nearly made a hood ornament for a fast moving Mercedes that was cutting corners around blind curves and ended up and in my lane. I tell you what buddy, if you hit me you better make sure you kill me or you will find out what your scrotum tastes like.

The gal riding behind me (Yes, behind me! Big ass + downhill = momentum. And they said pie wouldn't make me faster! Ha!) said that she thought I was a goner and I let out a pitiful little yelp as it narrowly missed me.

Here is a picture my coach took of me moments after the near miss. Does this look like a road you drive 40 mph on?

We had one more big climb (steep, but not nearly as long as previous climbs) and then we stopped in Pescadero for a heavenly sandwich and much appreciated time with my ass off the bike. I actually got to rest a bit here because the one thing I do much faster than these people is eat!

From here it was only 12 miles to the Costanoa lodge where we were staying. We had some time to shower, relax and socialize and then had a big celebratory dinner. Lots of fun was had by all. I was honored to receive the "Git 'er Done" Award

My favorite model sporting my winner's gear!

Day 2:

Sunday morning was the ride down the coast, which can be glorious with a strong tailwind or absolute hell with a strong headwind. By some miracle, my bad weather ju ju did not follow me on this trip and we had a strong tailwind for the entire 30 mile trip back home.

Elevation profile from Sunday's ride

Here is me and Bad Ass Helen getting ready to head out on Sunday. I call her Bad ass Helen because she is amazing. Fast, strong, and at the same time humble, sweet, and amazingly supportive. She was my roomie for this trip and we had a blast.

Julia joined us for this part of the ride and was kind enough to hang with me. We had a great ride back and enjoyed a nice lunch by the pool afterwards.

These women were all hardcore triathletes. Most of whom have completed Ironman distance triathlons and I was honored, if a smidge underqualified, to be riding with them.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My new baby!

No, I wasn't hiding a covert pregnancy, although that might explain a few things with regards to some pants that do not seem to fit anymore.

And no, in the interest in remaining married, no new furry babies have entered my life.

But the new baby IS all cute and new and PINK!

I got this!
Terrible picture of my new run camera (and same, old dog) taken with my Blackberry. I couldn't really take a picture of my new camera with my new camera. Duh!

Here is the first picture I took with her right out of the box.

Umm, ok, flash works. Sorry Lucy. Not very flattering.

then I took her out to try on my short, long run this week. She is waterproof, shockproof, and basically RBR proof! Let's see if I can kill this sucker!

Here are some rather boring shots from my rather boring run.

Coots on the lawn moments before a small child scared them all back into the lake.

Bridge in front of a bridge. Sorry for the off kilter shot.

The historic Rengstorff House where I was a Maid of Honor for my friend's wedding. Personally I find it a little creepy. Like you might find someone's taxidermied mother in the attic.

It wouldn't be a Sunday long run at Baylands without my white pelicans! I am impressed with this camera. This picture is a pretty serious crop from the original and it looks pretty darn good to me.

Today we were supposed to ride to the top of Mt Hamilton, but it snowed down to 2500 ft (Mt. Hamilton is at 4350 ft) so that was not an option and the ride was shortened to a 40 mile ride with about 1700 feet of climb. There was an added level of difficulty because we were hit with 25-35 mph winds today.

I took the new baby on my bike ride today

Here is part of the training group I have been riding with.

Here is my Bike Buddy from the Cinderella group. We spend our rides giggling like school girls and planning what food we are going to eat after.

They are awesome group and we had a great ride, despite the wind. Lots of laughs, lots of wind, and a decent amount of climbing, but all in all a really great time.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ride Report: Solvang Century 100 mi Ride - March 14, 2009

Since this weekend's ride coincided with progress report tim
e at school I will grade my efforts for my first 100 mi ride:

Adhering to 100 mile ride Nutrition Plan: EPIC FAIL

Adhering to 100 mi ride Hydration Plan: EPIC FAIL

Maintaining Sunny Disposition while completing 100 mile ride: EPIC FAIL

Maintaining even TOLERABLE Disposition while completing 100 mile ride: EPIC FAIL

Completion of 100 miles on a stupid, fucking bicycle: PASS (barely)

Here is the story...

This week was long, stressful and then culminated in an very emotional and painful event that I prefer to not go into. I followed this shit storm by immediately leaving to drive the 4 and 1/2 hours to Solvang, CA to complete my first 100 mile bike ride that I was both wholly unprepared for and not excited about.

I arrived about 2 hours before my LA Run Buddy and I checked into the hotel and did some work until she arrived. When she got there we were planning out the morning when it became obvious that I had somehow neglected to register for this ride.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Fortunately, they had 'Day of' registration. Day of registration at almost TWICE the price. $105 dollars to be exact.

Again, are you fucking kidding me?

Whatever. Totally my fault.

I got registered and after what seemed like an inordinately long amount if time, I finally got my HIGHLY unorganized, ass on the bike.

Planned start time 7:30 am. Actual start time 8:15.

Again, whatever. Totally my fault.

Getting ready to head out. Yes, I am wearing the same freaking shirt as Napa. It was cold and this was the only long sleeve shirt I had packed. I do own other shirts. Really.

LA Run Buddy all layered up and ready to go. It was colder than we had expected, so we basically put on all of our clothing and hoped for the best.

Miles 0-20

If I am truly honest with myself. I didn't want to ride 100 miles, or 50 miles, or even at all on Saturday. I was worried about the distance because my longest ride ever is 65 miles. Plus the farthest I got in the Cinderella training was 50 miles and my last two long rides were on the trainer due to over a month of rain in Northern California. But, really, my biggest problem was that my mental game was off. WAY off.

I have finished every endurance event I have entered not because of fitness or spot on training, but largely because I am SUPER stubborn and typically pretty mentally tough. Saturday, I just didn't have it.

The first 20 miles went by pretty fast. I adore my LA Run buddy and we hadn't seen each other in over a month. I dumped a bunch of emotional garbage on her and she, as always, made me laugh and feel better. I don't deserve such an amazing friend, but I am damn sure glad I have her.

This is an action shot of us riding out of the first aide stop taken with my Blackberry. After drying out, my run camera briefly came back to life. However, this morning it was pronounced officially dead, so my pictures are few and sucky. I love my big melon head in this picture. Super cute.

Miles 20-40

It took all the internal strength I could muster to turn away from the 50 mile course turnaround at mile 25, and head out on the 100 mile course. I just kept thinking if I continue to move forward, no matter how slow, eventually it will end or I will be struck by a car on Hwy 1 and be killed instantly. Either way, a 'win' for me.

Then at Mile 39 we hit the next aide stop and the HIGHLIGHT of the ride...

I was walking my bike through the stop simultaneously trying to stay out of real cyclist's way and pissing and moaning about the ride, when I hear "RBR!" I turned to see


Ok, now I probably terrified the poor man. I was so excited to meet him and to see a friendly face during this torturefest.

RBR and Formulaic! Next stop Rage in the Sage!
I promise to not be such a spaz then!

This really improved my mood and I honestly believe it helped me finish this ride. We didn't actually ride together since he was, you know, riding faster than my 'slug on thorazine' pace, but it was a real boost to my spirits.

Miles 40-60

There was wind. Then more wind. Then we hit some wind.

But it was ok, because we were riding on a pothole riddled highway with no shoulde
r and semi-trucks passing us at 50 miles an hour. That helped distract you from the wind.

Miles 60-73

Here is where after a screaming downhill you were supposed to turn a sharp corner that was covered in a fine layer of gravel. I yelled, "Gravel" to warn LA Run Buddy and heard her scream as I proceeded to NOT make the turn and went shooting off the road into the side of the hill.

Thank God it was muddy and I just got stuck in the ditch. Here is a little bit of the hill in Santa Maria I got to take home with me (BTW, they warned us about this turn on the ride sheet IN LARGE BOLD UNDERLINED LETTERS that I conveniently ignored)

What I did not yet know is that this was only one of THREE times I would head off road that day. Yessiree I got MAD skills!

Miles 73-87

The longest 14 miles in the history of miles being traveled. Steady, uphill, and looooooong straight aways that seemed to NEVER end. A cyclist at the last aide stop had told
us that it was the worst part of the ride. At least we can't call him a liar.

It was here that I proceeded to ride off the road twice for NO reason. Then I fell over trying to get back on my bike and rolled on my back still attached to it like some drunken turtle. This concerned LA Run Buddy greatly. Well, at least she seemed greatly concerned after she finished snorting out her Gu.

This prompted me to think about what I had eaten and drank so far. Hmmm.... 4 fig newtons, 1/2 a PB&J sandwich and about 20 oz. of water max. I am pretty certain that is insufficient to keep your motor and mental acuity sharp. I know better than this. What the hell am I doing?

I tried to eat and drink more, but I was not doing great at it. All LA Run Buddy and I could think was "we want to STOP fucking pedaling!"

Elevation profile for Solvang Century. See how fun 73-87 was?!

Miles 87-103

Home stretch. My attitude improved at the prospect of being able to stop pedaling and get off the bike.

I had a burst of energy in the last 13 miles, which makes me feel like the horror of this ride was mostly mental and not that I should just give up any hope of making the CdA bike cut off. But I have some serious work to do in the short amount of time left.

My bike computer, the ride sheet and LA Run buddy's computer say 103 miles. My Garmin said 101 miles.

Which ever it was. I was glad it was finally over.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


1:55, 1:57, 1:56


Swim masters,

3 X 100 10 second rest between, Those were my times.


Then, for a passing drill Coach goes to the slow lane and asks who the fastest in the lane is and the other two swimmers in my lane simultaneously point to me.


How ya like me now?!

* for those that have not heard/read me snivel about swim masters my previous 3 X 100 repeat times were 2:16, 2:11, 2:18 on 12/16 then 2:02, 2:07, 2:07 on 2/24 and I routinely have my ass handed to me on a silver platter by EVERYONE there.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

"I am not dead. I don't want to go in the cart"

Title in reference to Jane's Monty Python post. I love the "Bring out your Dead" sketch.

I promised myself that I wouldn't post until I had something positive to say, I am sick to death of hearing myself snivel, but I also promised myself I would post my weekly updates for what I am calling the 'Anyone Can' IM training

(Lame, I know, but it sounds better than "Holy shit! It is really 140.6 miles?!" IM training.)

I have been sick all week. Apparently standing around in the freezing rain, covered in wet clothes and an ill fitting mylar blanket, for over an hour, after running a marathon in the same freezing rain is not good for you. Would it kill my mother to be wrong once in a while?

Obviously, training was nonexistent , but I think the week off was good for me. I am still swimming in a sea of phlegm (awww, the poet in me comes out) but I am ready to get back at it.

Next up is the Solvang Century on Saturday. It will be my first 100 mile ride. LA Run Buddy and I will be doing it together, so no matter what happens it is guaranteed to be a good time!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Race Report: Napa Valley Marathon - March 1, 2009

Napa Valley Marathon - March 1. 2009 Time: 5:18:53

Goal: Improve time over last year

Actual: Improvement of 1 min 26 sec. Not much, but after the day we had I am taking it as a win.

Throughout the week everyone was buzzing about how shitty today's weather was going to be.

Not all gossip is idle.

The weather was, in fact, quite shitty. Now, to be fair it could have been worse. There could have been a tsunami, a typhoon, or even a golf ball sized hail storm, but that didn't happen, so maybe we should all just quit bitching. Of course, we should 'quit bitching' AFTER we regain use of our hands and our core body temperature rises above that of a reptile.

Here is the story of marathon number 7.


Julia, Claire and I met up at the Expo to pick up our race numbers and our uber-cool Napa Valley Marathon bags.

Here are Julia and Claire modeling their duffel bags.

I opted for the backpack since I had a duffel from last year. I have to say, though, that the duffels this year were nicer than last year and it was a tough decision.

We had our pre-race dinner at the community center in Calistoga. It was put on by the Inn that Julia and Claire were staying at. It is called the Bear Flag Inn, and I linked because this place was so adorable AND the people that own/run it are the kindest and sweetest people. Plus the old lady makes a MEAN lasagna and anyone that can make a mean lasagna deserves a shout out.

The chickens of the Bear Flag Inn.
I am sure you are stunned to hear that I love chickens.

We met up at the start and joined our fellow runners in the port-a-potty lines. There were lots of interesting rain gear being sported. I figured by the end of 5+ hours in the rain I would be soaked anyway, so I might as well get it over with and did not have any rain gear on.

Claire, Julia and me ready to rumble!
Or drown, whatever came first.

Picture of assorted rain gear clad runners waiting in the honey bucket line and the second guy I met that day that was running his 100th marathon at Napa today.
Well, there his ass anyway.

Miles 0-13

We all started out together and were in high spirits. It was raining, but not that cold yet. (*creepy, foreshadowing music plays*) Early on I noticed a young gal pacing off me. The beauty of being slow, but chipper when I run is that I usually get to meet a lot of people. Her name is Liz and she is an 18 year old college student. This was her first marathon!

If you do not want to talk to me during a marathon you have one of two options 1. Run fast (or, really, even fast-ish will work) or 2. Do not make direct eye contact (this one is not iron clad. I will talk to people that don't look at me. Best to run fast-ish. That makes it a done deal). Yep, I AM that chatty, runner girl that everyone writes about hating during marathons.

Anyhoo... this girl's name was Liz and she was GORGEOUS. Seriously, if you want to hang with beautiful women for 5 + hours, you need to swallow your Speedy McSpeederton ego and run a marathon with me. I am a magnet for absolutely beautiful women at these things.

Case in point:The stunning, Tina Louise that I met during the San Diego R & R Marathon.
We ran 22 miles together.

Here is beautiful, 18 year old Liz that I met and ran 17 miles with at Napa. (I know, Runner Barbie! It's ok, I thought it too.)
She was an absolute doll though, and I very much enjoyed running with her.

I guess I am like that fat, old (yet, endearingly cute ;o) ) pony that makes the thoroughbred race horse feel better, so they drag him along to races.

I like that the 'metaphorical me' in is the lead here!


It was Claire's first marathon too, so we were chatting it up and having a high old time. A kind runner took a group shot of us at mile 10.

The merry gang at Mile 10.

This was the last time we were all together. Julia had been sick for two weeks prior to Napa and was feeling it. She feel back into a more comfortable pace and hung in. What a miserable day to be feeling bad and doing a marathon! Such a trooper!

Julia keeps on keeping on!

Claire, Liz and I pressed on. We bumped the pace a little around 13.1 and were feeling pretty good. We were getting a little silly about the rain. It was pouring by now and as we passed a local resident sitting on his porch reading a paper, Claire asked him what the weather forecast was for today. He said, "sunny and clear ahead." That cracked us up!

I can not believe how many spectators and volunteers were out there! It was a real boost to your spirits. Napa is a nice course, but it can be lonely. I tried my best to thank all of them.

I snapped this view that I remembered from last year and I wanted to show the contrast in weather from Last year to this year.

Last year at Napa

This year at Napa

Miles 14-19

We kind of fell into our own paces here. Liz and I were still together and just ran and chatted. We had set out a race plan for her when we first met up. She told me that on her 20 miler she went out too hard and barely finished, and highly suffered through, the last 8 miles. I told her that her best bet for finishing was to hang at a comfortably slow pace until mile 17 and then she could reassess her pace and she if she wanted to push it a little after mile 17. I also told her that she was more than welcome to pace off me, but I suspected it would put her in slower than she was capable of. She opted to hang with me because finishing was more important to her than time and if there is one thing I can do, it is finish a marathon.

At mile 17, I asked how she was feeling, she said "great" and I told her that she was running strong, had a run a smart race and had a chance at a sub 5 time so she should go. She was hesitant so I told her don't worry if you are having a hard time I will be behind you and get you to the finish, but you are ready. And with that I kicked my baby bird out of the nest.

I find that when you take a picture with a simply GORGEOUS 18 year old it is advisable to do your best Jabba the Hut impersonation and appear as if you have no chin at all. Lovely.

We tried to take a last picture together at Mile 17 (really, I just wanted to replace THAT doozey above), but this when I found out that my high tech camera weather proofing kit (Um, ... ok, it is really a ziploc bag) had proved insufficient. My trusty run camera, who's paperwork CLEARLY states is NOT weather resistant and actually quite weather sensitive, died.

Can we have a moment of silence please?

Here is the last pictures taken with my poor little Canon.

Not very interesting, and it wouldn't have made the cut if it were not the last picture my little baby took. *sniff*

Miles 20-26.2

A new storm rolled in and it was much heavier, windier, and colder than the previous one. I started to get uncomfortably cold and was looking forward to being done.

I was, however, excited that I felt better during these last miles than I ever have during a marathon. I ran consistently and pretty strong and had quite a bit of kick left at the end when I realized I was going to beat my previous year's time.

I got to see Claire finish her first marathon and she came in running strong and feeling good. All in all a great day.

One small rant

My one gripe about Napa Marathon doesn't have to do with me at all. Because of the extreme weather conditions there were about ~ 7 people (the website is having problems with the results, so I can not get an actual number) that finished after the official cut off of 6 hours. They left the clock up and posted their times on the site (initially, that may change when they come back up) but they did not give these people medals even though they had plenty of medals left. They had medals left because a lot of people had not shown up to brave the elements. But these people paid their entry, they DID show up, they DID slog out 26.2 miles in the pouring fucking rain, and they DID bring commerce to this race's uppity fucking town. Yet, no medal for them because they came in over 6 hours. And we are not talking about 2 hours post cut off, they all finished within 40 minutes of the cut off and they can't give them a medal?

I personally think that is bullshit.

One of these people was this woman that was the mother of four and first time marathoner.
She finished in this same get up. Yes, that is a pink shower cap! She is about 4 feet tall and had run 6 + hours in a pink shower cap, but Napa couldn't spare a medal.

Her family, the ENTIRE family, was out there ALL day and was waiting for her at the finish with roses. She came in at 6:24 and did not receive a finishers medal I am currently composing an email to the race director. I have to sit on it a few days and edit out a few dozen 'fuck's, 'fucking bullshit's, and 'goddamn's before I can send it.

All class that RBR. All class.