Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Roller Coaster Ride

I've gone through such a range of thoughts and feelings since my last post. For the first few days I was really scared and convinced I had made a terrible mistake. One thing that was really scaring me was the bike course. Before ever registering for this I had heard about this huge hill on Lucas Valley Road and after registering I learned the bike route went up that hill. I went on the Craigslist Bicycling Forum and asked about it. Everyone said it's not that bad, though they are all hard core cyclers. I did make a decision though. I was planning on driving the route to take a look at it. I decided that this was not a good idea because I think it would just scare me and from the time I saw it until the time I rode it, the image of the hill in my mind would be associated with fear. I may have fear now, but no image of the hill in my mind to attach to it.

And I noticed a discrepancy on the website. The map they posted showed an out and back ride but the written description described a loop. I emailed them and heard back, "Hi Michelle, We originally had hoped to do the looped course thru Dominican. We changed it to out Lucas Valley Road and back. A GREAT ROUTE !!" Alright, so on Wednesday I routed the ride on to see what the elevation was like. Here's the route with elevation: [click for larger image]

Whoa, that elevation maxes out at around 300 feet. Not scary at all! Well, at least it doesn't sound nearly as scary as before and I think I can do that. Now I really want to get out and ride it. Maybe the route doesn't quite get to the scary hill before we turn around. Whew, I think that means one less thing to worry about.

My other thing is the swim. I'm considering doing the Tiburon Triathlon, a sprint distance tri on July 27th. In their information they write about the open water swim.
"A word of caution about cold water swimming: If you intend to swim without a wetsuit, you will have an unpleasant shock if you have not prepared suitably. That would be equally true for other non-wetsuit events such as the Olympic Club’s Trans-Tahoe Relay race or the open division in the RCPTiburonMile race from Angel Island to Tiburon. To swim comfortably in cold water, you need to train in cold water. Good local open water practice venues are Paradise Park in Tiburon, China Camp in San Rafael, Stinson Beach, Crown Beach in Alameda, and Aquatic Park in San Francisco."
This suggests to me that people swim without wetsuits at China Camp, where the Marin Tri will take place. I don't know if I could or would do that but it gives me more to think about. TriMoreFitness holds coached swim classes on occasional Sundays at the pool where I took the class with Jean. My plan is to go to one of their classes and just start asking questions. My hope is to get some good info and get set on the right path.

So we were supposed to go camping this 4th of July weekend at Big Sur. But the whole place is on fire and the park is closed. We were going to meet some friends (who live in Ventura) there. Instead we drove to Ventura to visit them. We left Wednesday evening (we'd both taken Thursday off) and got to Ventura about 1am. On Thursday they both worked so Miguel went to play golf and I bought a day pass to a local 24 hour fitness. I did my run per the training plan I'm following and then weight training. The run was hard and I had to take a couple of walk breaks. I'm really starting to think I might have to shift my training to a 1 minute alternating run/walk plan. Anyway, when that was over I went and got a massage. The masseur really dug into my shoulders and back and it felt really good.

Miguel and I brought our bikes down and on Friday morning we plotted out a ride. My training plan said to do an 80 minute ride. We headed out on our road bikes but Jeremiah wanted to come, though he doesn't have a road bike, so he rode his beach cruiser. We were a sight to behold. This is Miguel and I ready to head out.

And here's the route we took.
About 30 miles in all. There were only a few hills at the start of the ride and they weren't that bad. We were on the bikes 2-3 hours and we nearly killed Jeremiah. Here're the boys riding, followed by a pic of Miguel taking a spin on the Beach Cruiser and then us taking a break on the side of the road, by a Pacific Coast Bikeway Route sign. What's that? I googled and found this cool diary of this person who rode it from SF to LA.

I can't believe what a trooper Jeremiah was going with us on his Beach Cruiser. Even though he said it nearly killed him, he made it!

After we got home I checked my Garmin's stats. It claimed I burned 1500 calories. I'm not sure about that. Anyway, I'm sure I burned enough to cover some food! We hung out all afternoon at their apartment, BBQ'd (I ate a chicken breast, some tri-tip, grilled eggplant, salad, grilled corn and angel food cake with strawberries and FF whipped cream for desert - not bad, eh?), drank some really good Margaritas (bad?). Wait, those Margaritas were really good and not bad calorie wise. He made them with Crystal Light Lemonade with bottled Key Lime Juice and bottled Lime Juice and good Tequila and they were great! I'll be making those some day for sure! Here's a few shots from our afternoon.

After a day in the sun Kelly really wanted to see fireworks. We rode down to the pier and watched some, to be honest, crappy fireworks. I guess Ventura is too small a town to have good fireworks. Oh! But before the fireworks we ate funnel cakes. Yummmmy!! A picture of my guilty face eating funnel cake followed by Kelly and Jeremiah watching fireworks.

After the fireworks we went to In&Out Burger. A burger with no cheese and ketchup and mayo instead of their special sauce is 5 Points. I got that and sampled some of Miguel's fries. That and water and I was good. A few more pics from our evening. I didn't bring any warm clothes and had to borrow Kelly's, Hi Kelly! She took that pic of Miguel and I walking and I can't believe that's me! She couldn't either and spent the whole weekend telling me how skinny I am. I have to visit her way more often :)

This morning I got up and wondered if I lost any weight this week. I didn't go to my normal Thursday meeting since I was here. I looked up meetings and there was one about 4 miles from Kelly's. Miguel was off playing golf so I rode my bike to the meeting. And...duh, duh, duuuuuhhhh, I lost 1.2 pounds!! Woot! That puts me at 160.6 with a total lost of 73.2! The woman who weighed me (mooooooo - I feel like a heifer when I weigh in) was kind enough to compliment me on losing so much. Thank you! I stayed for the meeting even though it was all about how to eat healthy for the 4th, and, well, the 4th was over. Still, meetings always motivate me so I was glad I stayed. Plus it won't be my last BBQ of the summer I'm sure so I could use the info.

From there I rode a few miles to a Taqueria and met Miguel and the gang. I had grilled fish tacos and a salad (with dressing on side of course) and water. We put the bike in the car, I'd had enough. And today is supposed to be a day off anyway.

Before I sign off I want to introduce a new blogger - MJ (Megan). She used to blog with me on this site, MuscleTankt. She could use a few blogging buddies so stop by and say "hi" if you have time, she can use some support. She's lost a lot of weight and is working hard to get the rest off. She's taken up running and is doing great!

Thanks for all the encouragement, seriously. I really was scared when I wrote that last post. I read all the encouraging comments over and over. I'm feeling better now, though pangs of fear still hit me sometimes. Ok, I'm off to update my weight log.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Somebody, Please!

Stop Me! Oh, what have I done? I'll give you a hint...

Need another one?

Oh, crap. Ok...last hint... [click image to see larger]

Yep, you guessed it. I registered for another tri. But this time, oh please help me, this time, I registered for an Olympic Distance. What?! Holy friggin' cow! Oh Lord, I'm scared. Seriously, who the heck do I think I am? Enough with the freakout, here's the details from the website...

Marin County Triathlon: Olympic distance
Swim 1.5k (.93 miles)
Bike 40k (24.8 miles)
Run 10k (6.2 miles)

McNears Beach County Park, San Rafael
Sunday Morning, October 26, 2008
8:00 am Start

A 1.5 k open water swim around the pier at McNears Beach. At near high tide, this is a challenging plunge in the cold waters of San Pablo Bay. At the start, participants will swim out about 150 yards, keeping the buoys on your left. Then let the current glide you around and past the pier for about a half-mile before heading back towards the shore and along the easy shoreline route to the swim exit.

After the first transition, this 40 k tour will take you through the rolling hills of China Camp State Park, the beauty of rural Marin County and a passing view of some back roads in San Rafael. This is not your typical Sunday ride with the family. Lots of elevation changes. This route will take you past the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Marin Civic Center, out along the pristine Lucas Valley Road, along the campus of Dominican College, climbing up into some rather higher elevation roads of San Rafael and then back down into the park, completing one unique, and very Marin, 24.8-mile loop.

After the second transition, this 10 k run follows the road north along the bay, before heading back on the Shoreline Trail in China Camp. As you run back, feel the soft trail beneath your legs, pay attention to the San Pablo Bay you have already swam in, the road you had earlier biked on and the many types of trees, plants and wildlife you will encounter along the way. Downhill and fast, ending into the Green Village Expo, this will be one of your most memorable finishes ever.

This event is not an easy walk in the park. Please be experienced and/or take advantage of our professional triathlon-training partners. They will have you ready for race day.

Not a walk in the park indeed. I've been flirting with this triathlon ever since I stumbled upon it the day after my first TRIumphant event. I am going through many of the same feelings I went through after registering for that event, except on a deeper level. Holy shit. Can I do this? Will I finish? Am I nuts? Do I even want to do this? Am I strong enough? They note above, "Please be experienced." If by experienced they mean you've completed one "fun" sprint tri in which they didn't even keep track of your time then I'm good. Something tells me they mean more than that. Oh boy. Will I need a wetsuit?

So after registering I had a little mini-meltdown during which I spent over an hour searching out training programs online. Ok, two hours, but who's counting? What did I come up with? I found a 16 week Olympic - 2x Balanced training program on Beginner Triathlete. The "2x" means each sport is done twice per week. I calculated it out and I will finish this training two weeks before the tri, assuming no glitches. But life always has glitches so I have a two week buffer to play with. The 16 weeks includes the taper too so I feel confident I have enough time to complete it. I feel confident? Ha! Even typing that my little evil self-doubter laughed at me. SHUT UP! I've had enough of you, little evil self-doubter voice. Aaaannnyway...

So in perfect freak out mode I called Miguel and told him in no uncertain terms that I will now be getting serious about training. I told him to expect crappy dinners and little of my time. I told him the time he does get with me will be crappy because I'll be in a bad mood. I told him he better train with me whenever I ask or said crappy mood will be inflicted directly and purposefully upon him. Nah, I didn't say all that. But I did ask for his help.

So on Sunday, before registering for this tri and before fear set in my heart, I rode my bike to the pool. It was about 6 miles and I tried out the Garmin. Here's just some of the awesome info from the trip to the pool. Red is heart rate, Green is elevation and Blue is speed.

The ride was not a piece of cake as I would have expected and I found myself wondering if riding would ever get easier. Anyway I got to the pool and swam for about 30 minutes and then lounged. Swam some more, for about 20 minutes, lounged a bit more. Rode home feeling calm, cool and a little sunburned.

Then Monday morning at work I can't explain what came over me but that's when I registered for the tri. I think I was tired of thinking about it and tired of trying to decide. Little did I know this would give me even more to think about. I should have been able to figure that one out. So I came home from work and showed Miguel the training schedule. Mondays are gym days but I know this training will mean my whole routine is going to change. Day 1 has a 24 minute swim and a 48 minute cycle. My back is actually a bit red still so I can't swim, plus I just went yesterday. So we went on a ride, but a 2 hour one instead of 48 minutes. We did the 22 mile out and back trip down to the Point Reyes-Petaluma road. Here's the Map My Ride route.

And here's the Garmin data. Again, Red is heart rate (which is FAST), Green is elevation and Blue is speed (which is SLOW by the way).

Tuesday (today) is a day off but since he also suggests weight training at least twice a week and since I didn't do it yesterday like I normally would have and since I don't want to lose the muscle I have currently I'm going to go today to do upper body weight training. No cardio other than to warm up my muscles. Actually, I am really looking forward to going to the gym just to do weights. Weight training is my favorite part of gym time so it's like getting to eat chicken-pot-pie without the peas and carrots. Huh?

I'll give you a sneak peek at the rest of the week because this post just isn't long enough. Wed = 40 min swim, Thur = 24 min run (I need to start running outside!), Fri = 80 min bike, Sat = Off (something fun!), Sun = 40 min run (ha! run/walk maybe). I plan to sneak in a few weight training sessions in there too. Maybe I'll do the Thursday runs on the treadmill at the gym and weight train after and do the Sunday runs outside. Yeah, I like that.

Food has been so-so. I've been dealing with hunger a lot lately and it sucks. I don't know if I will lose again this week but I hope I do. You can rest assured I'll post it either way.

Any wise words of wisdom from all you hard core triathletes out there? My adrenaline is revved up again. I'm doing this for fun, I'm doing this because I like it, I'm doing this not to prove anything to anyone or myself but because I enjoy it. I'm doing this for fun. I am. Really. Right?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ales & Trails @ China Camp State Park

What a day. We attended the International Mountain Bicycling Association's Ales & Trails event yesterday at China Camp State Park. I noticed on the Ales & Trails website that the organized rides were limited to groups of 10, including leaders. I wanted to arrive early so we could be sure to get on one of the rides. We got there at 9am. Look at our bikes parked bright and early in the bike pen, patiently waiting for their fun! It wasn't immediately clear how to sign up for the rides but I soon figured out that the different rides were being done by various vendors and you signed up at their booths. The REI folks were doing a Beginning/Intermediate ride and clinic. That sounds right up my alley so I signed us up.

They were also doing free bike checks at a lot of the booths and we took advantage of that. The guy that worked on my bike said the cranks (those little arms the pedals are attached to) were loose and that I need to keep an eye on that. He tightened things up and oiled the chain and otherwise gave my mountain bike some love and attention. I need to name my mountain bike. I'm pretty sure it's a boy so that needs to be considered. Maybe an androgynous name in case I'm wrong about that. Wouldn't want to hurt his (or her?) feelings. Aaaanyway...

After some wandering around and checking out all the booths, including the bagels and cream cheese booth (I couldn't resist but at least I only ate a 1/2 of one with a light layer of cream cheese) it was time for our clinic and ride. Like I said, this was sponsored by the REI Outdoor School. The clinic portion consisted of some basics about making sure your bike is trail ready, shifting, breaking, weight distribution, etc. Then we rode around in circles practicing turning, keeping our pedals in the right spot, shifting our weight, etc.

After the clinic we got to take off on our ride. We rode the Shoreline Trail, a trail we've been on before. I was a little worried about keeping up because, well, it's what I do, but the pace was fine for me, even a little slow at times. There was a boy scout group hiking the trail and passing them was interesting. So we get to the switchbacks and our leader stops and we learn we're going to be practicing on them. Perfect! The last time I was out there I only made one of the switchbacks without having to put my feet down. We went one at a time with a leader at each switchback. I followed all their tips - take it wide, inside pedal up, brake gently, etc. By far and away the best tip was to look where I wanted to go. They said if we look where we want to go our bodies (and the bikes) will follow. It worked! I made 7 out of 8 attempts. The funny thing is the one I didn't make was while going uphill, which should have been easier than going down. Learning how to deal with switchbacks alone made the whole day worth it! Yay!

We took it a little faster on the way back because we were running late. The ride was supposed to be 45 minutes but we were out there for 1.5 hours. Didn't hear me complaining :) When we got back around 12:30 we learned lunch wouldn't be served until 1pm. We got a swag bag that included free water bottles so we used those to get some beer. Yummmmmmy. I was getting hunnnngry too though. 1pm rolled around and I asked about lunch and was told that it'd be after the kids race. When the kids race was starting I decided I needed to get in line for lunch. There was no line so I started one :) To tell you the truth this would have embarrassed the crap out of me before. "Oh, there's the chubby girl first in line for food." I didn't feel embarrassed at all. I worked hard today and I have a right to be hungry. Amazing all the ways being fat affected me. Funny thing, a line formed behind us almost immediately. I was glad I did this too because the line turned out to be loooooonnnng. Here I am...first in line!

The food was good. Lots of salads, roasted chicken, they roasted a pig!, gumbo (which was not that good so I only ate a little), cookies, biscotti. I think I did okay in my portion sizes. I gave that bread away to the guy sitting next to me. I knew I shouldn't have taken it. Anyone want to take a guess at the number of Points in this meal?

Yeah, me neither. I wore my heart rate monitor on the ride and only burned about 400 calories and I'm sure this meal is more than that. Oh well. After lunch we decided to ride some of the little wood things they had set up. I didn't do too bad. Not too great either though :) Here are some pictures.

Honestly, how cool are those pictures? I actually fell twice! Strange enough, I felt good about falling, like it meant I was pushing myself. Or I drank too much. Nah, I only had one beer so let's go with pushing myself :) I have to post a picture of Miguel too. If we go to Ales & Trails next year I'm going to enter this picture of him in the photo contest. Yep, my photo taking skills are that good :)

So, during lunch I commented to him how our lives have changed so much. He said, "Yeah, before our lives were me going out to play pool and you sitting on the couch." Sad, but true. But not true anymore. We had a great day!

We had to run home and get to a friend's house for dinner. We were pretty tired but hung in like the troopers we've become. I never really got hungry again but that didn't stop me from eating dinner :) I had Maduros (fried, ripe plaintains) for an appetizer and a shrimp salad with lots of spring greens for dinner. I also munched on way too many chips and crackers when we got there. Ah, food. Apparently the great challenge of my life. I feel okay about my evening choices. Not great, but okay. I'm just going to wipe out my daily Points (24) and throw in another 20 WPAs, plus the 4 APs I earned and call it a 48 Point day. I don't know if that's anywhere near accurate but that's usually how I handle these sorts of things. That leaves me with 10 WPAs for the week. I can live with that.

Today I'm going to head to the pool to swim and lounge. I'm thinking about riding my bike there to burn a few extra calories and to try out my Garmin. I hope everyone in the blogosphere is having a great weekend! See you all next week.