A new leaf?

I thought a lot about my race. I know there’s the whole 24-hour, then move on rule, but please, I don’t follow rules.

I realized a few things: I don’t train enough being the key one. I can pretty much guarantee that no one who went faster than me at Oceanside trains less than I do. (Steve says that means I get good bang for my buck. But, I’m pretty sure it means I have a fixable weakness that needs to be addressed.)

I also realized I’m a neurotic mess. It reminds me of the year in junior high when I made the select regional soccer team and was so paralyzed by fear that I would screw up that I just prayed no one would give me the ball.

Then, I read this guy’s blog, who was having some similar thoughts.

I used to know that if I was near anyone with 800m to go in a race, I could beat them. The competition got faster, so that’s no longer true. I also lost my speed. But, mostly, I lost my confidence.

So, I think I’m ready to turn over a new leaf. Maybe. I mean you never know until you actually do. But, I only had one dessert after the race and haven’t drowned my sorrows in brownies. So, that’s a start.

Ok, Whoa. A Race Report.

Ok, Whoa. I sit on my computer every day and type, type, type. Evidently, that typing hasn’t been on this blog. Shocking.

(I said that to one of my high school runners today, who said he was tired after running a bunch of hard intervals. “What?? That is shocking.”)

But, you don’t care about that. You want dirty details about Oceanside.

Yes, I finished. Yes, I finished last in the pro field. Yes, I kinda thought I would finish last, but no, I did not think it would be that goddamn slow. If I had done the time I thought I was going to, I wouldn’t have been last. So.

On the plus side? Eh, I spent a lot of time thinking about the positives. You can’t be a huge downer for that long in that long a race or you won’t finish, so I had a whole conversation with myself in the middle of the five hours about how it was a slow, windy day for everyone. (It was.) About how everyone has bad days sometimes and you just have to keep going forward. About how it was my first actual half with the swim, bike, and run, without being injured and deciding to do it anyway. (As with the previous two.) And, for the first real one, 5:09 isn’t totally terrible. Maybe. I guess.

I swam with Charisa – which was the plan/goal, since she’s a better swimmer than me. Actually, I was swimming right next to her, then I was swimming in front of her and Lauren and a couple other girls, then I was flailing around by myself getting sort of seasick and lost, then I finished exactly with Charisa. You’d think we’d have swam fastish then. Nope. 31 minutes.

Got on my bike and quickly watched Lauren and Charisa and another girl who’s name I don’t know ride away. In retrospect (ah, Monday night quarterbacking), I probably should have at least tried, maybe a little to go with them. But, I’d never really done this before and I didn’t want to explode and I thought I needed to ride my own race, my own speed, focus on nutrition and finishing. So, I rode by myself for a long time. Another girl passed me. She stayed in sight for a little while, then she was gone. About halfway, another girl passed me and at that point I was pretty much in last.

But, I really thought I wasn’t doing that bad. I was holding the wattage I wanted to hold. I was eating — or I was trying to after throwing up twice in my mouth and swallowing it back down. I was on pace at the halfway for like a 2:38, which would have been great. I had no idea that the second half was that much slower than the first.

The second half of the bike felt like it was entirely uphill and into the wind. The parts that weren’t uphill just felt like they were. I struggled. But, I actually held ok watts, just not awesome. I definitely slowed down. I rode by myself, until I would get passed by a group of age group guys from behind (always in a group), then by myself some more, then another group of guys. And, so it went. I just wanted to be off my stupid bike by two hours in, but there was still so much left.

At some point, I will stop thinking about how long the race is while I’m in it and how if it was an olympic-distance I would already be done. Eventually, I will stop comparing the amount of time I’ve been racing to how many shorter races I could have done in the time.

Natalie and Michelle were coming to watch me on the run, so I wanted to get out on the run course and find them — it became a goal. And the first few miles of the run I was so happy to just be off my bike. I think I ran a 6:15 in there somewhere. But, mostly, I was running 7:10 miles or so.

I saw all the girls on their way back. And, I was totally out of the race, yes. But, I wasn’t as totally, disgustingly behind as I became convinced I was during the bike. I felt ok. Considering. Of course, then I slowed down some.

Even though I told myself you’re not allowed to slow down from mile 6 to 9. Even though I made myself promise to push it. I hit the 6 mile marker and it’s not even to the turnaround for the second lap yet and you have to do the whole thing all over again and YOU’RE NOT EVEN HALFWAY. There was about two miles I thought I was going to quit and I slowed to 8:05 miles or something. Ugh.

Then, all of a sudden, I was past that point and it was only five miles left and I tried to push those last miles. I would have sworn to you my last three were as hard as I could go; yeah, they were like totally 7:50 miles.

So, I didn’t walk — that’s a rule for this year. And, I finished my first whole, for-real, not-injured half. And, there will be more. But, first, there will be more training. And volume. So, I stop thinking how goddamn long that is.

Too Many Triathletes

This weekend was sunny, hot, gorgeous and in February! Of course, I headed out for a bike ride. Of course, everyone else who ever owned a bike in the greater Bay Area did too.

It looked like this:

OK, not totally. But, still.

I spent the first two hours thinking ‘my god, there’s too many goddamn triathletes out here.’ All these beginner triathlete, team-in-training, trimore/trinow/tri-harder/tri it now/whatever training groups were out.

That wouldn’t be a problem, except these large, large groups filled the roads, without the requisite skills to do so. Cars would have to swerve wide and nearly hit bikers in the oncoming lane. When you passed these groups, you had to swing wide too and be careful. Sometimes, when you passed a person, you’d look back to find some random guy, who hadn’t said anything and clearly didn’t have the handling skills that you would want anywhere near you, on your wheel.

About 45 minutes into my ride, I hit Nicasio. (Which, fyi, is not an unbusy road. People do get hit while riding out here.) All these cars of all these stupid triathletes were all over the side of the road, half-on/half-off. People were gathering in the street on their bikes. Two women ran in front of me on a transition run.

Besides the fact that working out is my time to not have to pretend to be nice, to not have to make small talk, I was surprised at how territorial I got.

Stop driving into my backyard from San Francisco and taking up the roads. Stop pissing off local residents, who hate cyclists now, by parking in their yards and peeing in their bushes. (I could never figure out why these people had all these signs up about cyclists being quiet while riding, then I figured it out.) I’ve been out here in shit weather — where were you then? I should get a nice day out here too without having to deal with some woman with fake flowers taped to her helmet trying to challenge me when I pass her.

Sigh.

On the other hand, it’s raining again, so I’ll probably be one of like 12 people out. And it’ll be cold and miserable again. Wish granted?

(This is why the best days are really the mid-morning, mid-week, when it’s a little cold and foggy out. And, as you head out, the fog burns off or you get above it, and it’s just you and the all that space.)

 

A four hour ride.

I’m so out of it/busy/stressed that last night I made some cookies, then I stuck another batch in the oven to bring along on my ride today, walked by the oven a couple minutes later and couldn’t figure out why it was still on, turned it off, and three hours later remembered my cookies.

I was hoping today’s long ride would be fun and casual. I’d take some pictures to share, eat some cookies and in between ride my bike a little.

It didn’t quite end that way.

First I passed Skywalker Ranch, where the ewoks live:

No, it would be awesome if ewoks lived there. Really, it’s just where George Lucas makes his movies. You can’t see the buildings from this angle — only if you’re riding down from the hill above.

Then, there were lots of horses. I tried to take a picture of this one, because it was looking at me all crazy, wanting to know who did I think I was, but then it got over it.

And lots and lots of cows.

I rode around the reservoir I ride around every week. Usually it looks pretty and sun-kissed, but today it just looked gray and winter-like (except for one creepily green hill):

Now, multiply that picture by nearly two hours and stick a mister fan in your face and that’s sort of what the ride was like for awhile. Except that at some point just unscrew the top of the mister bottle and dump it over your head. Because that’s sort of what ended up happening.

The mist just got heavier and heavier until it was actual rain.

It, eventually, just got ridiculous. The weather when I left was just cloudy and around 50 degrees. It’s been sunny and warm all week. I was totally, totally not dressed for heavy rain. At least, I decided at the last minute not to wear my summer gloves. By the time I got to Stinson Beach, I couldn’t feel my hands or feet.

I tried to take a picture of myself looking stoic and brave when I stopped for a cookie snack. This is what that ended up looking like:

I had some cookies and just had to head up Mt. Tam and down.

The up wasn’t bad. It gave me a chance to warm up without heavy wind. It was just wet. I pulled my fingers out of the fingers of my gloves and balled them up in the palm of my gloves for a little while and everything was ok.

But, for obvious reasons, the down Mt. Tam was bad, very bad.

My fingers and feet were numb. I couldn’t grab my brakes, not that the wet and dirty brakes were working very well anyway. I was shivering. I couldn’t see at all, because the rain was heavy and blowing into my eyes — I kept almost having to close my eyes because my contacts were getting fucked up. Not that descending in the rain is ever super fun, but this was the first time in a year that I really thought I was going to die on a ride.

Of course, when I got back over the last hill to San Rafael there was no rain. It was just overcast and 50s. Every stoplight I’d stand there shivering violently and people would stare at me like ‘why did that crazy girl take a shower in her bike clothes before going for a ride, no wonder she’s cold.’

I didn’t get any pretty pictures of the beach or Mt. Tam or all the great looking stuff you’d usually see on this ride. So, here is a picture looking down at Stinson Beach from the ridge:

Really, it’s down there.

Oh yeah, a new year

Oh yeah, so like I mentioned the other day, I got a new coach.

The whole working like 70 hours a week and at random hours of the night and managing lots of other people made it hard to also think about training and making a schedule. So, the first few talks with my new coach went something like this:

Him: What are your goals for this year?

Me: Uh, to be fast? And stuff?

Him: What races do you want to do?

Me: Alcatraz. And. Um, others?

Obviously, he thinks I’m a superstar.

Actually, the thinking about this next year that I’ve been able to muster up the brain power for seems like it’ll be a good year. I wasn’t in a happy place about (stupid, fucking) triathlon at the end of this year. I even told Steve I was going to become an ultrarunner instead. Then, he pointed out that I hate having to carry water or worry about nutrition and I refuse to go to the bathroom outdoors and I’m scared of most of nature and pretty much all animals and I hate being in the middle of nature when it’s dark (which is pretty much all ultra races), so that plan was nixed.

Which means, this triathlon thing gets at least one more year.

Here’s what I’m planning on doing. Maybe.

Oceanside 70.3

Escape from Alctraz

Vineman 70.3

TriCal’s San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz

Steelhead 70.3 (maybe)

TriCal’s Pacific Grove Triathlon

TriCal’s Scott Tinley’s

Not sure, I kind of want to do some of the sprint series too. And maybe Big Kahuna or something. I don’t know. Don’t think about it.

So, who’s doing all my thinking for me now? Well, I wanted someone local, so they would be able to see me or meet me for some important workouts and they would know the area and what was happening — no long rides in the middle of floods. I also wanted someone with some kind of expertise to help address my stupid bike fit/physical therapy problems, with the crazy knees and IT band — if we didn’t fix that then there wasn’t going to be a season anyway. And, I didn’t really want someone focused on beginners, because that’s fine, I have no problem with coaches who focus on beginners, but I don’t want to get lost in a crowd and I might have passed the beginner stage at some point.

So, I’m working with Craig Upton. And, it’s working so far. So.

Watch out 2011.

AND I’m done: a race report

Yesterday, I did what I’m pretty sure is going to be my last triathlon of the year. I wasn’t intending for it to be my last, but I don’t think I can do one more much less the three originally planned.

Santa Cruz was my first triathlon ever 5 years ago about 3 weeks after learning to ride a bike. And, on the plus side, I went 20 minutes faster today than 5 years ago. But, I would have preferred more like 25 minutes faster.

I love racing in Santa Cruz. I swim fast there. I like the weather. I thought if everything went right, it could be a great race. Nothing really went right, instead. It was just one of those days that involves a lot of swearing.

The start was delayed because of fog. And delayed, and delayed. Erin and I waited until we could see the fog was clearing to warm up, but we still had a long enough time standing around waiting after getting out of the water for me to start freezing.

The swim started and it felt fine, easy — probably because I wasn’t swimming hard. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Erin or the first couple girls, so I sort of mentally checked out and didn’t even try. I was swimming next to a couple girls with 4 or 5 people in front of us and glanced at my watch at the halfway. I was on pace for a 24-ish. Eh, shit, I can do better than that. So, I made a conscious decision to stop being lame and dropped the people I was swimming with. I, then, swam a zig-zagging line back to the beach. I could see two girls ahead of me and, of course, I was swimming the same speed just farther behind them. Sigh.

I hit the beach and my watch said 25 minutes. SHIT. I have never swum a regular Olympic distance race (like without kelp or anything crazy) that slow, not even when I started triathlon. Then I ran up the long hill — which I had forgotten about — and didn’t get out on my bike until about 29 minutes. Well, there goes my time goals. Sigh.

We biked through a bunch of residential streets for the first few miles and over a lot of bumps and I could hear my brakes rubbing on my front wheel. So, I reached down and opened the brakes up. After a few minutes, it was rubbing again. So, I reached down and pulled the brake caliper to the side. (The brake calipers — the piece that holds the brakes, Mom — had been knocked sideways/loose and were rubbing on the wheel.) And after a minute, it was rubbing again. So, I pulled it to the side again. This went on for like 10 minutes or so. But, I decided I didn’t want to spend the whole bike half-assing it and using this as some kind of excuse. So, I stopped and tried to fix it. One guy passed me while I was stopped, but it mostly seemed fixed. Sigh.

Eh, it is what it is. It’s certainly not the main reason I went slow.

I got back on my bike and tried to actually push it and get in a rhythm. I was kind of up and down and struggling. I couldn’t get comfortable on my seat. I knew I was riding crooked, with my knees pointed all crazy directions. My leg was hurting and not in a good way, in a I think my hamstring is ripping way. And it seemed way hillier and longer than I remembered. It just sucked.

And I saw no one. Not a single person. Where did those girls in front of me go? In a race like this, I would expect that a couple people who swim faster than me wouldn’t know how to ride a bike. They must still be in front of me. I must suck, etc, etc.

I got to the turnaround and there was only Erin and another girl from our team about 3 minutes up on me. Which meant I had made up about a minute, even with all that bullshit. And I thought (mistakenly) that the turnaround was actually halfway, so I thought I was on pace for like a 1:07 bike, which isn’t terrible. So, I started to feel like I could actually do this. I also almost went past the turnaround point before someone was like ‘hey, you should turn.’ Uh, ok.

I felt a lot stronger on the way back. Which was mostly in my head, because in retrospect I really wasn’t that strong. I struggled to hold any decent numbers and there were so many damn hills. I stood a lot on the hills to try to keep my knee from giving out. Apparently, when I passed Steve he thought I was crying, but I wasn’t. It was what it was. Then, when I thought we were almost done, I reached a sign that said 20 miles. I may have almost started crying then; I forgot about this stupid out and back section.

Those last four miles were shit. I don’t even know what I did. At that turnaround, I was still around 3 minutes back on Erin. I was riding so, so crooked, my leg was hitting my chain ring and my knee was hitting my top tube. My knee hurt, my hamstring hurt. I hated my bike.

Tyler Stewart passed me at this point. Which was really not encouraging, since she started 10 minutes behind me.

Finally, after a 1:10 bike split (SHIT! I haven’t biked that slow in a regular Olympic distance race since like my first year of triathlon), I got off my bike and got disoriented. I stopped in the middle of the transition and couldn’t figure out where my stuff was. I let out a string of swear words the likes of which have never before been heard in triathlon. Sigh.

After I grabbed my run stuff, I started sprinting before I had time to think about it. Then, I decided, screw it, I was going to go for it. Run as hard as I could for as long as I could and maybe I’d make it to the finish before that time came. I don’t think I really thought I would actually be able to finish.

I was running fast. Not ‘fast for a triathlon,’ not ‘fast considering the rest of the race.’ I didn’t feel strong and like this was a solid run. I felt like I was in a 5K, where I was about to PR before passing out.

I caught the one girl from my team who had been ahead of me right before the 3 mile mark. Then, I stopped. (Steve has video of this, which he thinks is hilarious.) While I was running, I had no real intention of stopping. And once I was stopped, I had no real intention of starting again. But Steve started yelling at me to come on, I was only a minute behind Erin now. And the girl I passed said, come on, Kelly. So, after 15 seconds or so and some more swearing, I stood up and started running fast again.

[I just thought I was done, ok. I didn’t think I could keep it up anymore, my side was really hurting, I was having trouble breathing, I thought I might throw up. Steve says these are things I should think about while still running. Yes, well.]

I made up about 2 minutes on Erin in the first 5K, which may have been too fast. She still had just over a minute on me at the halfway. But, she picked it up then, and I slowed down a little. It was like now that I could see her, I just wasn’t getting any closer and I couldn’t close the gap. And now that I had decided I was finishing, I wasn’t running with the same abandon. With half a mile to go, I was only about 15 seconds behind her and I should have just gone at that point. Put my head down and kicked as hard as I could. But, I didn’t think I had anything left, I didn’t think I could, I thought we had farther to go, and I didn’t think I would make it to the finish if I tried.

And then the self-doubt passed and she was kicking and looking back at me and I tried to go too, but it was over.

I think I’m done now. I laid down on the ground after crossing the finish line and closed my eyes and just wanted to lay there. In retrospect, my swim was shit, but other people who are similar speeds to me swam similar times, so maybe it was what it was. My bike was certainly not good, but I don’t know how good I could have expected it — maybe 3 or 4 minutes faster. And my run was the second fastest of the day. It was definitely not a fast 10K course, looking at times, maybe it was slightly long? I ran a 41:30, but only Tyler Stewart ran faster, and, well, she’s Tyler fucking Stewart. I was a minute faster than the next fastest run split and some of the people I ran faster than are faster runners than me usually, so that’s good I guess.

Now, I just need to solve this bike/injury/bullshit problem before next year.

It’s NOT January already?

I’m losing my mind. The other day someone asked me if I wanted to help with the Valentine’s Day races and I was like yeah, ok, I guess it’s January already. Then, I was watching TV and during the commercials Steve asked if there was anything better on and I was like probably not, maybe, I don’t know, I can’t remember what we’re watching during the commercials.

So, that doesn’t really bode well.

And I’m still operating on a week-to-week decision making plan. As in, today was ok, maybe I’ll do something again tomorrow.

I went for a run yesterday and I felt terrible, exhausted, thirsty, wanted to take a nap. I didn’t think I would make it all out, much less back, even after I cut it down to 10 miles instead of 12. Then, on the way back, I came to a fork and I couldn’t figure out if it was left or right. I went right and after 100-200m I realized it was the wrong way, but I also realized it was a short-cut right back to my car. I could just take it — no one cares. I was so struggling and just wanted some water. BUT. I turned around and went back to the fork and ran the two miles back instead.

Small victories.

Currently, I’m signed up for Santa Cruz this weekend (no idea how that’s going to go) and then Tinley’s (even less idea what’s going to happen there). Then, I might be done. Do some running races, recuperate. Or decide to do the half in Vegas afterall. Who knows.