Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Traincation part 2: Bend, OR

When I first conceived of my recent traincation idea, I had in mind a Southern California adventure visiting friends in Santa Monica and San Diego... but that plan backfired when my San Diego based friend, Beth, noted that she would be out of town :( However, my smile quickly turned around when she shared that she would be training in Bend, OR, for a month and that I was welcome to crash the training party for a few days :)

The one drawback to this plan is that I don't like driving... and Bend is located 450 miles north of Truckee and 500 miles north of San Francisco. Time to suck it up buttercup and head north in search of fresh training roads with motivated and fun training partners.
After a great swim at Tahoe Donner's Trout Creek recreation center last Monday, I grabbed a breakfast and a packed lunch at Truckee mainstay, Wild Cherries, gassed up the family truckster and headed north, arriving in Bend some 7hours and 15mins later. This was perfect timing for dinner with some friends that had relocated from the Bay Area to Bend a year ago. The drive was pretty as you stay in the high sierra desert the entire way, only descending below 4,000ft and hitting the greenery of the Deschutes in the final miles.

On Tuesday morning, I got up early and ran along the Deschutes River trail... just an easy 6 miler to take in the scenery and do a little discovery of my new environs. After a leisurely breakfast, I headed over to the Juniper Pool in Bend to meet up with Beth. We ended up jumping into the noon masters program at the pool which was fine but I think the main set was only 1,200m so I was a little disappointed... I really thought the coach was going to flip over his whiteboard to reveal a second set. After the swim, we hit the gym for a little functional strength session... making up the workout as we went along.

Wednesday was set to be big ride day. After a 6am swim session of 30x100m, we climbed aboard the TT bikes for a big day in the saddle... Well, we did also stop for breakfast and coffee at a local Bend coffee house, Thump. Apparently, it is Bend's finest but I don't drink coffee so hard for me to opine... I did bring home 2lbs for Blanco... just in time for his Kona decaffeination prep... Oops!

I had not ridden over 4 hours since February so I was a little nervous about the 5hr and 90+ mile ride that Beth had specc'ed out... I did not want her to be forever waiting for me to drag my slow ass up the hills... since with 5,000ft of climbing, there would be hills.
Thankfully, we balanced each other out fairly well, as my *heft* allowed me to catch up on the downhills, after Beth spun away from me on the uphills. Our ride took us up, down and around Mt. Bachelor. It was a quick ride out of town and then we were on very quiet roads... so quiet that Beth and I could ride side by side pretty much the entire way... not that we were chit-chatting... we were focused ;) Bend was experiencing hotter than usual summer weather last week (mid 90s) but we lucked out with cloud cover on the mountain the day we rode... or maybe, it was bad luck since I need all the heat training I can get for Hawaii? I survived the ride and we actually kept the watts up and the pace fairly hot right until the last couple of miles into town. Beth hit the treadmill for some *easy* 7min/miles while I did some functional strength work on my back... I was surprised but happy that a t-run was not on my schedule... and I'm not one to seek *extra credit* when Ironman training.

Thursday was my big/double run day and I started off by driving out towards Bachelor and hitting some trails that would lead me down to the river trail. I was hoping for wide, flat trails (along a river, right?) but it was a bit more rolling and single-tracky that I had bargained for. Not 10mins into my 90min run, I tripped and found myself falling towards earth... but somehow, with large strides and arms flailing, I saved myself right before I hit the deck. Phew! I was just congratulating myself on the *save* when I tripped again and this time face-planted quite hard on the trail... so hard that I felt rather winded. It was a dusty, sandy trail, so I was covered head to toe in dust when I pulled myself up. A ridiculous sight. Thankfully, the injuries were just a few superficial scrapes and I was able to continue my run, though I used up 3/4 of my water bottle rinsing dust out my scrapes.

After the run adventure, I drove to the pool and met up with Beth for a midday swim (so luxurious to swim outdoors that I swam every day in Bend) before hitting the treadmill for my second run of the day... 45mins of building pace to tempo. It was very refreshing to run in the temperature controlled gym since the temperatures outside were well into the mid-90s by this time of day. I know, heat training outside might have been better but I was also licking my wounds from the first run of the day.
Kids play area adjacent to the Juniper 50m pool
Friday morning came around far too quickly and I was sad to bring my traincation to a close... though not before hitting the pool for an easy 3k. Post-swim was a fantastic breakfast at Chow (delicious food and they grow their own produce right out back of the restaurant) and then the challenge of packing up my belongings into the car and hitting the road for the 499 miles back to San Francisco.

The early miles of the drive were pretty as the route skirted around Mt. Shasta in Northern California. The entire drive was incident-free with the exception of one event about halfway through my drive. I-5 is a two-lane freeway (runs north-south through CA) with a 70mph speed limit. There was traffic on the roads but it was not too busy and cars were moving close to the speed limit. I was driving around 60mph in a line of cars as we passed an on-off ramp. I spotted a police car stopped with another vehicle on the side of the road (possibly an earlier accident or a ticket?). The cars ahead of me slowed down but not so dramatically that anyone was slamming on the brakes and I felt very comfortable slowing to match their speed... unfortunately the car behind me must not have been paying close enough attention as I suddenly hear a screech of brakes and I see in my rear-view mirror that the car behind is fishtailing and then completes two 360 degree turns. I braced myself for an impact in all of this and my heart was beating faster than during any training session that week. Remarkably the car behind came to a complete stop in the wide center median without touching another car. I kept on driving, along with the rest of the traffic stunned at what had just happened but relieved that no one was harmed.

I made it home in time to greet Blanco off his HKG-SFO flight, very happy to be reunited with him but sad to be back in foggy, cold San Francisco summer weather.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Traincation part 1: Lake Tahoe, CA

Post Vineman 70.3, the plan was always to launch into *focused* training for Ironman Hawaii. The last few months of training have had 70.3 specificity with less focus on LONG (4+hrs) rides and longer runs.

With my husband away for 2 weeks on a business trip, rather than ride and run the same old routes around Marin County, I decided to take my training on the road and escape the summer fog in the city... Side note: that reminds me of my favorite billboard around town right now.. "Don't call it Frisco... Or summer..." :)

Lake Tahoe
The first stop on my traincation was the Lake Tahoe area. I've been coming to Tahoe in the summers to train since I first qualified for Ironman Hawaii in 2005. The access to quiet roads to ride, great trails to run and open water swimming in Donner Lake are great and the training benefit is further heightened when you consider the 6,000ft elevation.

My friend, Mimi, not only offered to host me for a long weekend, she was also a willing partner in my training plan since she is training for Ironman Lake Tahoe AND Ironman Hawaii right now! Since she's on the IMLT plan, last Friday she and I met up with a fellow Olympic Club member to ride a loop of the IMLT course.
Dean, Mimi, Jordan at Squaw
Wow! The race is going to be a toughie... we were lucky enough to have access to Martis Camp (private road) and were able to ride an entire loop of the course (note: actual course is 2 loops plus a bit) and there is a lot of climbing. There is a small climb within Truckee (along back roads and bike paths) but the real tests of the course will be the climb up Martis Camp (~800ft) followed quite quickly afterwards with a climb up and over Brockway summit (~1,000ft) where the altitude tops out at 7,120ft. I would typically race the Ironman bike leg focused solely on watts, but the altitude makes a huge difference, especially as I am coming from sea level. If I were racing, I'd be paying quite close attention to heart rate as well. After our little trio finished the ride (we staged out of the Squaw parking lot), I went for a 20min run on the IM course. The course starts with a gentle descent so it could be a nice way to warm up the legs coming off the bike in the race.

On Saturday Mimi and I decided to ride the loop of Lake Tahoe... a 72 mile ride that hugs the Lake's shoreline and offers spectacular views. It's one of my favorite rides and I'll be back to ride it again later this summer! We made the smart decision of staging at Sunnyside (on route 89 a few miles south of Tahoe City) so on our return, we did a quick soak of the legs/body (closest thing we were going to get to a shower) in Lake Tahoe before joining some friends for a late lunch at Sunnyside. They had just competed in the Trans-Tahoe swim race across the lake so after lunch they offered to take us out on the boat for a quick swim! So fun to be in the middle of the lake on a boat :)

Sunday morning's training plan called for open water swimming so Mimi and I launched from the east end of Donner Lake at 7am for an hour long swim.
Mimi & Jordan at Donner Lake
Even though we wore wetsuits, the water is currently a balmy 73f, so we could probably have survived without them... if we swam briskly! Post-swim, we took off for a 90min run around the lake (~1.5 laps).

Monday morning was a travel day for me as I embarked on the 2nd part of my traincation... but before I left the Tahoe area, I snuck in a 3.5k swim at the Trout Creek rec center in Tahoe-Donner. I was happy to have the pool pretty much to myself.
Trout Creek pool

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A weekend in the Sonoma vineyards...

Well, Vineman did not go at all to plan. Admittedly, I had been feeling a bit *blah* all week but I was hoping that it was the taper and that I’d get a little bit of Race Day Magic to give me that extra spark to go sub-5hrs there.

Swim –33:54 was exactly the same time as two years ago so I wasn’t psyched to see that time as I do think my swimming has improved in the last 18 months… BUT everyone else seemed to have a slower swim (from the pros on down), so I’ll take the swim as a positive! Blanco used to outswim me by 6mins and our gap on Sunday was only 4.5mins, so perhaps another indicator of a decent swim? The one bummer of my swim was that I was completely solo… the front group(s) seemed to get away and that left me swimming solo with just yellow caps from the mens’ wave ahead to swim through.

Bike – 2:37:39 was my fastest ever for the Vineman course and 3rd fastest of the AG, though I was amazed when Cherell Jordin blew by me. There was no way I could have stuck with her. She ended up riding the best split of the age group with a 2:31. Speedy! I was definitely working on the bike but all my typical checks were that I was spot on… watts, heart rate, able to get food down, plenty of Nuun drunk etc.

Run: 1:48:27 - I ran the first couple of miles in 7:4X but then had absolutely nothing… It’s as if the lights went out. My legs felt heavy and dead and I struggled to turn them over and push any sort of pace. By the last few miles of the run, 8:30 pace felt hard! This was my WORST run ever on the Vineman course. It was much slower/worse than an easy 10+ miler I ran last Sunday at just over 8:00 min/mi pace. Fuelling was consistent with other recent races and I did not have any nutritional issues… so I don’t have many answers to what happened?

Total time: 5:07:55… my slowest time there in a LONG time… maybe ever…

Here are my ideas for why it was such a bad race…

Option 1: Just an off-day

Option 2: I biked too hard

Option 3: I’m not fit

Option 4: Life stress

I’ll catch up with coach tomorrow as the next race up is Ironman Hawaii… not being fit for Kona is NOT an option!

Post-race, it was fun to catch up with friends and hear about so many successful races… the highlight was of course, Meredith’s defense of her Vineman title.

Some words on Mere… the girl does WORK! Meredith puts the time and effort into her training and it is so rewarding to see her commitment bear fruit, even more so after the recent adversity… she is ALWAYS the first in the pool in the mornings, swimming 1500-2000yds warm-up before Matt Dixon starts the workout. She completes every repeat that Matt instructs us to do on the runs, even when it seems 2-3 more than we feel capable… and she rides each bike interval down to the last second countdown, even if it means she has the towel between her teeth to avoid biting through her bottom lip. It’s inspiring to be able to train alongside (or a ways behind!) Meredith and it’s motivating to know that she cares how the folks around her are doing, whether it’s a pre-race good luck text from her or a post-race congrats and her wanting to know how MY race went.

My other hero of the day was Blanco. The guy has the most positive attitude about everything in life of anyone I know (well, he could be tied with Mere for that title!)… it’s awesome to have him as my number one supporter in racing and of course in life J He had a solid race and scored 3rd in his AG and brought home a nice bottle of La Crema wine.


We have a busy few months ahead of us as we complete the renovation on the house we bought last year and move in… and build up the training for Ironman Hawaii in October.