Saturday, August 30, 2008

Another day on the other coast

I'm totally failing in fulfilling my activity list. I have gotten in a TON of reading though...just finished book number 5. I should probably get out more.

I managed to stay up until 4:00 am again reading, and only got up because my mom was yelling at me. Just like old times. We hopped in the Miata (which I think is really funny, by the way), put the top down, and drove the hour and a half to Snake Guy's house. I fell asleep. Checked out his collection (which was awesome), my mom picked a new baby out that she will get in a couple weeks, I got bit by one of the babies, we played with his dog, and we got back in the car. Stopped to check out a pet store (it's kind of our thing, checking out new pet stores), got some lunch and sundaes at Dairy Queen, and hit the road back home. I fell asleep again, and now have a lovely crooked v-neck sunburn on my chest. With a big white spot in the middle where I must have gotten some lotion or something on it.

We got home and I jumped in the pool to try and get away from the heat and humidity and did some circle swimming because it was too short to swim laps and I have been sucking at turning around bouys in races. It was entertaining for a little while. Then I found another book, ate dinner, finished said book, and will probably go to bed soon.

It's wild times over here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"Day 2" OR "The Excitement Continues"

All those things I said I was going to do today? Not so much. I started reading book number 3 last night, went to sleep at 5 am, and didn't get up out of bed until about 2 pm after I had finished said book. Whoops.

We are going to see snake guy tomorrow for sure.

Today we decided to drive to Penn to go to some pet store my mom wanted to check out but there was a car accident so we sat on a bridge for something over an hour waiting to see if the traffic might clear up. There were lots of birds to watch and we looked for bald eagles and it was kind of pretty so we didn't mind. Miatas are very small cars though. When she called to find out the store's hours we were told that particular store didn't exist in the town we were headed to. There was another store in that town, but they closed at 6:00 and it was 5:36 so I suggested we just turn around. We went and had dinner instead and I explained track racing and bikes (what little I know of both subjects) to my mom. People in Maryland eat an obscene amount of crab.

My best friend from junior high had a baby today. That seems weird to me.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 1 in Maryland

Ordinarily I probably wouldn't bore anyone with my play-by-play that did not include racing, but the time difference means people here are sleeping and I'm awake and bored. Kinda sucks for you, huh?

My flights here were pretty uneventful. Flew from San Jose to Minneapolis and got stuck sitting next to a guy who ate about three pounds of candy, topped it off with a beer, and proceeded to burp a lot. Gross. Read most of book number one. Got told that I was "too pretty to be walking by myself and frowning" by some random guy. Too bad I was traveling alone and not feeling like smiling at nothing like a moron. Mind your own business random guy!

Two hour layover in Minneapolis, had greasy dinner, bought book number two. Flight was a little late taking off. Plane to Philly was pretty empty, but my reading light wouldn't stay on so I had to lean into the (empty) middle seat. Finished book number one, started on book number two. Got a phone call that my mom was stuck in traffic, so I hung out at the baggage claim waiting, and finished book number two. Got in bed somewhere in the 2 am hour.

Today I got to meet all the new horses (my favorites being the drafts and the pony - who are very good friends and funny to see together), play with the very new puppies, check out the 100 year-old barn that has bats in it, search for turtles in the marsh, find a turtle in the pond, go grocery shopping, and get introduced to random people. I saw my first fireflies too!

Apparently there is a big heroin problem here. The next door neighbors' son broke into their house and stole some jewelry this morning. Good times. My mom wants to introduce me to the guy who works at the liquor store because his girl requirements are "good teeth and no track marks". I'm totally in.

Tomorrow I'm going to go for a run in the woods behind my house with my Garmin so I know how far. I'm hoping to drag my mom out either running too, or on her bike to keep me company/from getting lost. We are going to try to go to the "snake guy"'s house to check out his collection. I have a strange desire to give some of the horses baths, so I might do that. There may also be an evening trail ride (on horses) because the fireflies in the woods should be good.

Big days here in Maryland!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Busy, busy, blistered

Some time in the last week I grew a schedule that included more activities than Olympic-watching.

On Thursday I "raced" a Splash and Dash in Livermore. It was supposed to be a 1500 meter swim and a 5k run, but my friend and I got there just as they were starting (and still had to change and register) so the race director told us to just jump in on the second loop of the swim. Since I wasn't really in contention for anything I decided to just fool around, test the duct-tape-as-blister-prevention theory, and generally be lazy. There was some giggling in the middle of the lake, I'm not gonna lie. We are intense racers. For the record, duct tape doesn't stay put when swimming. Once I got out I reapplied the tape (because I didn't have socks and didn't want to give my blisters blisters), waited for my friend, and ran with her because it was more fun to talk. I exerimented with holding my hands in different positions so as not to accrue more T-Rex-looking race pictures. More giggling. I made up some nicknames for us, but I was asked not to share hers. We finished the race together, partook of the free pizza (there was beer too but I wasn't feeling it), and drove our happy butts home. Good times.


This morning I did the Mount Madonna Challenge, a 12k trail run up Mount Madonna (of all places!) The website said there was 1100 feet of climbing. If this number was accurate (I think there might have been more), it felt like we did 900 of it in the first mile and a half. It was STEEP. It was a fun run though, and the fact that it was all foggy and misty made it feel all jungle-y. I got second in my age group - I think there were three of us - so I was pretty happy with my first running-only race in like three years. And we'll just say my slow time was because of all the heinous climbing, k?


I talked to my mom today. I have tickets to visit her at the end of what I thought was September. Turns out they are for August. So I'm going to Maryland on Wednesday. Good to know.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Heart Ogden

The trip to Utah definitely paid off. While driving for 26 hours through the uh...classy state of Nevada over a weekend is not really my idea of fun, racing in Ogden was awesome.

I left home at 4:45 Friday morning and headed east, stopping for a power nap somewhere around Auburn (caffeine hadn't kicked in yet). Lots of gas/food/potty breaks later, I got to Ogden, picked up my race packet, and got body marked. Had dinner with my friends who flew in earlier in the day, and met up with my host and his girlfriend at their house. They went out so I was able to get settled and ready for my race...except that I lost their dog for about 15 minutes and managed to spray water all over their kitchen. Oops. I cleaned up and the neighbor brought the dog back so I didn't have any awkward explaining to do.

Salt flats on the drive to and from Utah.

Actually got a little bit of sleep, and left the house around 6:00 am to drive up to the race site. The drive up to the venue was gorgeous! A windy road through a tight little canyon took my up to the lake, with this little waterfall at one point.

There were separate transitions for this race, so I got my T1 set up, then drove to T2, set up, and took a shuttle back to T1. Forced down some food, went for a little ride to get warmed up (where I noticed my front wheel was not exactly round...probably should have had it checked out after the crashfest that was Snow Valley), squeezed into my wetsuit, and swam around a bit.

The swim was two 750 meter loops with a short run in the middle of the loops (first time I had done a run like that). I'm not sure if it was because it was a bigger race than usual or because I didn't stay on the outside of the group, but it was the most aggressive swim I have done in a long time. Before the first buoy I had people touching me on both sides, feet in my face, and people trying to climb between me and the people next to me all at the same time. I never got hit or kicked, but if I had been claustrophobic I would have had issues. Felt good on the first lap (didn't really even notice the altitude), did the little run, dove back in, swam some more. The whole horizontal-vertical-horizontal body position element of running between swims is heart race went crazy when I started the run and it took a bit to settle back in to swimming. My second lap was slower than my first lap, probably largely due to the fact that I swam waaayy off course at one point. Need to pay attention better!

Finished the swim, got ready to ride, packed up my transition into a big garbage bag to be transported to T2.

I LOVED this bike course!!!!!! It kicked my ass, but it was a total blast. Tons of climbing, about 90% singletrack, fun swoopy just-technical-enough descents, and spectacular scenery. I didn't have any crashes this time...must have gotten enough out of my system in Snow Valley! Most of the climbing was pretty enjoyable, with the exception of the jeep road from hell that they snuck in toward the end. The gradient of the hill would have been painful enough on it's own, but it was also covered in 2+ inches of cocoa-powder silty dirt, making maintaining traction near impossible. So I pushed my bike up it. Other people were too, so I feel justified. Eventually the traction got better and I got back on, but the hill just kept going so I found myself singing a rousing verse of "This is the hill that never ends...yes it goes on and on my friends..." a la Lambchop's Sing-along.

Anything to keep the entertainment level up there.

Happily the climb was followed by another awesome singletrack descent, where I managed to pass the people who had passed me on the climb. While I was riding the singletrack I noticed my bike being excessively loud. The trail was rocky and bumpy so a certain amount of bike noise is to be expected, but this was getting ridiculous. When I got into transition I was greeted with a bottle cage clinging to my bike by one bolt, swinging around in my frame. At least the bottle was still there....

The run was actually not that bad, when considered as a whole. The first part sucked because we had to run up the steep, silty, never-ending hill again. But when we got to the top, the course ducked into some singletrack and stayed there for a couple miles. We were in trees which I appreciated as I was getting a little burned. It was pretty rocky again which was nice because it was different than typical runs, but I was pretty beat at this point and paying attention to my footing took some effort. At one point I tripped on a rock and fell, landing on both knees and sliding a little on my side and arm. Got up, checked for injuries (mildly bloody knees, some scratches on my arm, and a scrape on one knuckle), kept trotting along. Tripped a couple more times, but managed to stay off the ground. Met up with one guy who declared the race "the hardest non-iron distance race" he had ever done. The last mile or so was downhill so I tried to catch a woman in front of me (who I think was actually doing the short course...oh well). I got within a few feet of her right before the finish, almost fell again, and she just beat me to the line.

Hit up medical to clean up my knees, took a wet paper towel bath in the (fancy) bathroom at the finish, and loaded all my crap in the car. I followed my friends/XTERRA "parents" to some fast food place where we proceeded to gorge on ice cream and fried foods (chicken tenders and fries for me!) Went home, showered, and took a nap before the awards ceremony.

The awards ceremony was held in the Ogden Outdoor Amphitheater and was really well done, with free food for all racers from an assortment of local restaurants. Medals were handed out ( a red one for me!!), a short video from the race was played, and a live band took over for the night.

I got up in the morning to breakfast courtesy of my hosts (SO nice!), got in the car, and drove the 13 hours home. Good times.

The best part of the whole weekend: this race qualified me for the XTERRA World Championship in Maui in October. So excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic Addiction

I have watched more tv in the last week than I have in the last month and a half. Since it's the Olympics I'm thinking it's ok. I like to think of it as training by osmosis.

It could work.

On Friday I'll be driving to Utah for a race. Twelve hours there, race, twelve hours back. Wee!

Bike in the back seat, bags in the front. iPod, cell phone, and snacks. I've got it pretty well dialed by now.

This week I get to do some last minute cram training, which happens to be my favorite type of training. Ride yesterday, swim/ride/run today, swim/ride tomorrow, run/? Wednesday. Love it.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hair cut

Yesterday was my day off and I decided to get my hair cut. I'm very impulsive when it comes to hair cuts, once I decide I want one, I want it NOW. I had been thinking about getting mine cut for like two days...very patient in my book.

The place I have been going was closed, but it normally costs me like $50 to get a cut, so I decided to shop around. I called around, but everyone was either booked for the day (interfering with my "NOW" plans), or too much money (ummm...$60 for a hair cut? Just to make it shorter? WTF?)

I decided to go with the cheapy chain place that you can just walk right in. The one closest to me happens to be geared towards men, but whatever. I'll watch football, I don't care.

The lady who did the cut was weird.

She wasn't going to cut as much as I wanted (five inches) because she thought I was 18. I don't look 18.

She acted like she was going to pawn me off on her 19 year old son (who won't move out and plays computer games all day...HOT)

I told her I work at a bike shop. She asked if it's temporary (because it's not a real job and all). I said it helped with my bike racing habit. She called me a tomboy ("but it's ok, I race motorcycles, I'm a tomboy too.")

I don't think racing makes me a tomboy.

She tried to talk me into getting a "girly" haircut at the other salon she works at. With highlights and everything. Because her sons like highlights.

I fixed the spots she missed with scissors this morning.

Probably won't go there again.

Monday, August 4, 2008

XTerra Snow Valley Race Report

Round four of the XTerra madness for the year. Going into it I wasn't expecting to do big things what with the two weeks of drinking in CO and the week off of athletic activity when I got back. Definitely NOT going to do that again. Ouch.

Drove down to SoCal on Saturday where I stayed with Nick, my friend/personal gear carrier and photographer. Had him drive to the race so I could sleep. I'm happy with that decision.

This race was at altitude at a ski resort. The distances were a little short compared to the rest of the races I've done this year, but in retrospect, this was a very good thing.

Swim: 1000 yards, two laps, split into two waves (Pros + under 35, and everyone else). TINY tiny lake. I felt like crap for the first part of the swim, I think mostly because of the altitude. Started to settle in about halfway through the first lap, and stopped most of the mental whining. I had mentioned that I don't have any swim pictures of myself to Nick, so he followed me around the lake (it was that small) and took a billion pictures. Good way to analyze my stroke! I ended up being the fourth woman out of the water (3rd amateur). Not so bad!

This is my favorite picture from the swim. There was weird algae at the swim exit that felt like hair and it got caught on everyone's faces. Here I am talking about it to my new friend.

Bike: 11 miles, one and a half laps. Holy. Crap. Aside from the initial "I suck at this game and my seat is too low!!!!!!!" temper tantrum I always have, I did pretty well on the climbs. Nick had commented that I should do fairly well on this course because the descents were technical. Not so much. I crashed four times on the first lap. All while descending. Even got a nice little endo in there which knocked the breath out of me and did a little rib adjusting. I managed not to die, and made it to the big long climb where I proceeded to get a flat. It was my second mountain bike flat EVER, so of course it was during a race. And of course I couldn't get my tire off and had to wrestle it for a while. It went back on very nicely though. Once I got going again I caught up to one of the guys who had passed me and we started talking about crashing. He crashed in the same spot in Temecula that I did. He broke his finger and DNF'd, I thought I broke my pelvis and DNF'd. As we discussed this, I went ahead and crashed again. We were climbing so it was slow, but I managed to find a nice pointy rock with my butt cheek. Yay. I got up, dusted off (again), and walked down all the stupid stuff to avoid any further crashes. Started to play leapfrog with a girl who would later be my running buddy for a while (she passed me on the descents, I passed her on the climbs). When I got off the bike I was bleeding from all four limbs.

Before the carnage.

When I showed up to T2, I discovered that I had managed to set up at the same rack as Corad Stoltz, current XTerra World Champ and a guy whose blog I sometimes read. I was bloody and disheveled. They were done. I think I acted like a dumbass. Because I'm smooth.

Run: 4 miles. Course map looks like it was drawn by a small child. Most of the run took place in a giant field. To make it interesting/an actual course there were little "gates" made of orange tape that you had to run through. I would have gotten really confused if it weren't for my bike buddy. She used the word Fuck alot. It made me a little bit happy. The climbs on the run were like stair cases, except instead of stairs you had sand and rocks and pinecones. I decided to walk those, and even they hurt. I was wishing I still had my cycling shoes so I could kick my toes in and use the stiff sole to my advantage. I ran the descents and the flat stuff. It was hot and miserable.

I ended up getting second out of two in my age group, which is not impressive, but does get me more points to go to Nationals and keep my points leader status.

There was a push-up contest to win a free race entry. I lost miserably and am now sore about the armpits. Probably should have skipped that one.

Got stuck in traffic on the way home. Feel like I got beat with a baseball bat. Road (rock and sand?) rash on both elbows, one knee, and one butt cheek. I count at least four deep bruises on my legs.

I'll probably do it all again next year.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I think I got sponsored today.