Monday, August 26, 2013

Epic riding...

Last week I was fortunate to be based in the Lake Tahoe area for an entire week of cramming focused training as Kona is now less than seven weeks away. While the week was comprised of lots of swims and runs, the real joy for me is the mileage I was able to put down on the bike... about 400 miles in total!

The first of the big rides was the "Gold Lakes Loop" out of Sierraville, a small ranch town in the high desert plateau 20 miles north of Truckee. This ride gives you a flat and fast 5 mile warm-up before heading uphill, climbing 1700ft to the top of Yuba Pass. It might have been my best ever ascent of this climb as I followed coach's strict instructions and maintained my target watts. Yay! Unfortunately, you give up all that altitude on the descent to the teeny town of Bassetts which connects you to the Gold Lakes Highway, where you climb once again! But you are rewarded with great views...
Climbing the Gold Lakes Highway with the support of SagMonkey

While the first half of this ride is all climbing and descending, the second half is practically flat and usually quite windy... perfect for some Kona TT training! Coach's orders were to hold IM watts as long as possible... suspecting, quite rightly, that the wheels might come off towards the end with all the earlier climbing. By this point, I had caught Mimi and we rode most of this section together...
Head down TT-style - cute kit courtesy of Betty Designs
The second planned big ride of the week is quite possibly my favorite ride of all time... a loop of Lake Tahoe. By this point, Beth and Luke had joined Blanco and I in Tahoe and were excited to explore some new roads (to them). I decided to tack on one of the Ironman Lake Tahoe course climbs (267 to Brockway summit) to give our SoCal visitors a feel for the difficulty of the new Ironman course. I believe I did say "I f@#%'ing hate that climb" when I reached the top! The roads around Lake Tahoe are not always the greatest and the traffic can be annoying in places, but I just love that the only thing you need to do is "keep the lake on your right"... and some of the views are spectacular.
Luke and Beth with Lake Tahoe on their right
The last 20 miles of the ride are usually my favorite as you descend from Emerald Bay and ride the west side of the lake with a prevailing tailwind... I love to ride along the flats at 27mph! Unfortunately, on this day, we were treated to a major electrical storm and really bad traffic. By the time I hit Tahoe City, our quartet had splintered and I found Blanco sheltering under a gas station canopy.
On this day, we controlled neither the wind, rain, hail or lightning!
The third epic ride of the week was intended to be 5 hours plus on the Ironman Lake Tahoe course, battling my nemesis: "the Brockway summit climb". But the smoke from a nearby forest fire has made the air quality around Truckee and Lake Tahoe rather noxious. Blanco and I decided to return to the Bay Area and tackle a notoriously challenging local ride: Point Reyes Lighthouse.
No matchy match.

We began the 100+ mile round trip ride under the blue skies of San Rafael but I dressed for cooler weather as I knew that misting fog was more than likely the weather of choice as we rode out to the westernmost point of Marin County. After leaving the small town of Inverness, the road is remote with just a few spare cattle ranches along the 16 miles of undulating road to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. On this day, the view was not worth the ride. ;)
The lighthouse is off in the foggy distance.
I had forgotten how challenging the last 5 miles to the lighthouse are. I always forget how challenging the last 5 miles are... I am writing it here so I will not forget! Coach's orders had been to ride the first 3 hours on the easier side and then to bring it home strong, with some specific quality intervals... ouch! Thankfully, we would have a tailwind so a negative split ride was a sure bet.
The wind is picking up this sign - tailwind!
My intervals were further assisted with the lure of a stop at the Busy Bee Café in Inverness Park on the way home. I would need fuel for a transition run...
I nailed my paces... need a slice of quiche at Kona!
Now for a few days of recovery before taking our training on the road once again... destination San Diego for a family Labor Day gathering... Blancopalluza!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

An early Thanksgiving...

I'm a fiercely independent person... I was pretty much single (dating) for most of my twenties and thirties, getting married at age 39, so I had a lot of time to practice taking care of myself, never asking for help. Not even really knowing how to ask for help...

4+ years ago I met my soulmate (Blanco) and over the past few years, he's softened my edges, taught me to let my guard down and acknowledge that I cannot (and do not have to) do everything. These lessons have come in handy recently. I seem to have asked for a LOT of help in the last few months.

For the past 15 months, we've been remodeling a house... It was due to be finished in late June/early July. The residential construction industry is notorious for being over budget and never on time. Why did I believe our project would be the exception? We had an August 15th deadline to be out of our rental but with October 1st the *new* expected completion date for our own house, we were staring down 6 weeks of homelessness... in a very tight SF housing market!

Some serious life stress on top of the training stress, as Blanco and I prep for Kona. Add to this fact that Blanco is carrying a lot of work stress too, traveling out of the country for the better part of July and August. It meant that I was flying solo on managing the construction project, assuring our anxious landlord that we'd move out in time... all while finding us a place to stay.

I asked for help.

I am beyond grateful that my friend Monica reached out to offer us space in her home for 6 weeks. I'm also appreciative of all the other suggestions friends offered. Yesterday, I packed up and moved most of our stuff into storage but kept everything I thought we might need between now and our trip to Hawaii in early October.

With all the move craziness over the past week, I've been uncharacteristically scatterbrained. On last Saturday's ride, I missed a turn and inadvertently tacked on an extra 20 miles to an already long ride. Poor Meredith was about to jump in her car to hunt for me when I finally found my way back to the car! Thank you Mere for your concern over my whereabouts... It's just not like me to get lost!

Of course, I made checklist upon checklist for our move this week... What can go into storage and what we need over the next 6 or so weeks for work, upcoming trips/races and of course, the big trip to Kona. I was so annoyed when I realized I had not packed my swimskin. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but nevertheless a potentially costly mistake by my scatterbrained mind! Once again, friends leapt in with ideas... Thanks to Audra, Jen, Caroline, Meredith, Hailey and Kristin for your offers of swimskins... I am now all set with one... Just need to continue working on the swim to do the suit justice.

One thing I did remember to do this week was to apply to the Betty Designs "Are you a Betty?" Brand ambassador campaign. What a fantastic opportunity that Kristin is offering... There's still time to apply... Sep 1st deadline!