Monday, May 29, 2006

I definitely have some catching up to do. At this point, I have three updates to post, and I'm going to just take it one at a time. Yes, I should've had the Mexico report up sooner, but better late than never.

Amanda and I had quite the adventure last weekend, as we traveled to Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. We thought it'd be a fun trip, and a good race to jumpstart us both with the racing. I had been feeling a bit stale from sitting around post-Arizona (I sure did take the resting on my laurels seriously!), and Amanda was just ramping up her training for the year. We flew in to San Diego on Thursday afternoon, and were greeted by our driver, Pablo. He indicated that we were his only pick-up, so we gathered our things, and made our way for his van. En route to the van, we got a call from Jack down in Texas, saying that Desiree Ficker was at the airport as well, and that she needed a ride. She had been waiting for quite a while, so she was glad when we showed up and brought her along with us. Our van was filled up and we were on our way.

We hopped on I-5, and headed south. After thiry or forty minutes, we found ourselves in a bit of a traffic jam. It seemed like the border crossing was a popular activity that afternoon. Hundreds of cars were waiting to cross into Tijuana. After about half an hour of waiting in stand-still traffic, we saw three news helicopters circling above. Then we noticed a camera crew pacing up and down the rows of parked cars on the freeway. Something was up. After two and a half hours of moving an inch or so per minute, we found ourselves directed into a left lane, and we were moving along suddenly. Next thing we know, we're in a U-turn lane, and we're heading back to the USA. What happened!?! Well, the border patrol agents wanting no part of explaining it to us, so we followed the orders, and headed north.

After a quick call to Roch Frey, Amanda's coach, we found a place to stay: with him and his wife Heather. We had no idea when the border would open, and we had enough of sitting in the van, so we opted to try again on Friday.

We had a very enjoyable time hanging out with Roch and Heather that night, and we even got to see our friend Kristin, and her son Gavyn. The next day we did an easy run and swim, before heading back down to Mexico. This time our trip across the border was delayed by the race director calling to tell Pablo (and us!) to pick up two more athletes at the airport. This was really going to be a full house now. We loaded up the others, but by then it was about 2:00pm, and we still had to cross the border. We were hoping there was not going to be another shooting, which, as it turned out, was what caused the previous day's shutdown.

We finally made it to Ensenada, about four o'clock that afternoon. We drove about looking for our hotels, and we ultimately got checked in and settled. Our friend Pablo was kind enough to take us to registration, where we signed up for the race and got our packets. After a decent dinner with Desiree, Amanda and I headed back to Party Central, also known as Our Hotel. We went to bed, and tried to ignore the screaming, singing, and loud partyanimalbeerdrinking. This was an adventure, I warned you.

Saturday morning came way too soon. Amanda was up and ready for a dip in the pool. I was up and ready to go back to bed. After Amanda's swim, we headed out to check out the bike course. I hadn't been on the bike since Wednesday, and my legs tend to tighten up with too much rest. Sounds strange, but it's true. The bike felt good, but I knew my legs were in for a tough day on Sunday.

After our ride, Amanda and I joined Desiree and her father for a quick tour of the bike course, in a car. We had heard the recently changed course included some tough climbing and tricky descents, so we thought we should see it before the race. It was tough: hilly, windy, and a bit scary, when you considered that the lack of guard rails was most likely responsible for the abundance of abandoned (crashed) cars in the ravines off to the (don't look!) side.

By the time our tour ended, it was late afternoon. Amanda and I stopped for a late lunch, and followed that up with a late nap. Next on the agenda was to get the bikes and gear ready for the morning. It was getting late, and we still needed to eat dinner. Let's just say that we were just then realizing that we weren't exactly following our standard pre-race routine. Oh well, ice cream and a later dinner (nearly 10:00pm) couldn't hurt us that badly....

Ok, the race report part of this story: After dropping our shoes off at T2, Amanda and I rode over to T1 to set up the bikes. It was about 5K away, so we had a bit of a warm up. Once there, we set up the gear and opted not to do a pre-race run: not sure why, as it would have helped... maybe. We made our way down to the start, only to find that our start time was pushed back about 40minutes.

By the time the gun went off, I was very hungry. I don't think that's a good thing, but I am tough, and I figured I could overcome that. I had a great swim for about 500 meters. I think that's when the tank emptied out. I was in for it! I made my way through the rest of the swim, and struggled up the LONG transition. I was really in for it! I jumped on my bike, and set out to make up some lost time. I only made it about five minutes before I went for my first Power Bar. Normally I don't eat much until later on, but I was desperate. Before I drone on and on too much about the race, suffice it to say that the bike ride went pretty badly. I was slow on the flats, slow into the wind, and slow up the climbs. I don't think I was particularly fast down hill or with the wind, but it felt a lot better. I was just not in it, and I couldn't make myself get in it. I am a very competitive person, so normally that helps, but on that particular day, I didn't have much umph. Oh well, I still figured I could run myself into the money.

Normally I run quite well after having a slow bike, but this was an exception to that rule. I started out well, but by about halfway, I began to peter out. Partly my muscles were achey and a bit sore, but mostly, I just felt like cruising. I think things would've been different had I not been ten or twelve minutes down... from fifth! I was really in fo it all right!

Ah well, I finished up, and proceeded to the highlight of the race: the massage! I was finished early enough to have two therapists work me over, and they were good: not afraid to work the muscles; no fluff here! I enjoyed the massage and waited for Amanda to join me.

Soon enough she arrived at the finish line, after a very solid nine or ten miles of running. She had been a bit out of it on the swim and bike, mostly because she was terrified on the bike. She's really only brave when she gets the chance to pre-ride the technical sections, and she didn't get that chance. So she started the run a bit disenchanted, but redirected about five k's into the it, and pushed the pace. Way to salvage the day!

The rest of Mexico was fun. We drank and ate (corona and tacos); we tried to rescue a puppy (see Amanda's blog); we hung out with some fun folks (Rhodesy, the Leghs, Desiree); and we enjoyed some incredible lattes. And then we set the goal of getting READY for our next race: Lubbock!

Next report: calf contest and Bolder Boulder! Tune in soon.,

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I'm trying. I'm really trying. If I try a little harder, I might actually get to the blog postings more than once per week. But then again, with my long-windedness, maybe it's better I only post once in a while.

Sitting here at the end of a fun week, I am looking back at what I could have done, and at what I did do.

Early in the week, my plan was to do some racing, in an attempt to get some higher intensity training under my belt. I had a few good opportunities: Tuesday night's Dash and Dine, a local 5K race with a barbeque following; Saturday's 1-miler down in the Springs followed by a 5K; and last, and most certainly not least, the Rookie Triathlon in Austin, Texas. Which one did I chose? My results-scrolling friends surely know the answer: none of the above. It's always 'none of the above', by the way.

And to the why: I really wanted to accept the invitation from Jack and Adam's Austin Bicycle shop to return to my other hometown for a fun weekend triathlon; however, with a trip to Baja for the 70.3 next weekend, I just wimped out. I felt like the travel wouldn't be ideal, and I felt like I'd be better off at home doing some 'regular' training. While the weekend would've definitely offered ample opportunity for good food, folks, and fun (always delivered in Austin!), I chose to stay in Boulder.

So, the two running races? Well, I missed the Dash and Dine because I ended up flogging myself on the bike instead. It was an enjoyable flogging (Super James for the local readers), but a flogging nonetheless. I hadn't done such a power climb in a while, so again I wimped out of the race...

Before I admit to wimping out again, I had better come up with a better reason for not racing the one-miler/ 5k down in the Springs. Well, Amanda and I stayed up late entertaining friends, so we were too tired. Is being too tired wimpy? I hope not.

Regardless of not racing a single event, I did have a great weekend of training. I made it up to the Peak to Peak highway for the first time this year. For those of you that haven't ridden there, waste no more time: it's the best riding anywhere! After the ride, I did my first brick run since Arizona. I've been playing it safe with the recovery--I think--but I wanted to run off the bike at least once prior to racing again. I felt great, and managed to come dangerously close to my best time for my neighborhood 10k loop: not too shabby.

The rest of the weekend was spent building up a new bicycle. No, I haven't taken on a job, and no, I didn't get a new ride; my Barolo did get a new saddle today, though! I actually was in charge of assembling a shiny, black carbon rig for my friend Alex. He managed to crack his titanium bike, just prior to Arizona Ironman, so he was looking to switch frame materials. He resisted me urging him to buy a new Javelin, and settled on a Kuota Kaliber: a nice choice.

My good friends at Austin's most incredible tri shop, Jack and Adam's, were kind enough to accommodate Alex's wishes to be on a new bike NOW! They next-day shipped the frame to Boulder, where I was waiting with parts in hand for the assembly. I forget how satisfying it can be to put together a new ride. And I forget how good it feels to make someone as happy as a twelve-year-old boy in an unattended candy shop. Alex was eleated; the bike was smooth.

On the topic of triathlon retail stores, I must add one final thought. It really is a pleasure to have places of business, like J & A's--and like Inside Out Sports, for the NC crowd--who truly understand the value of good, hard work, and excellent customer service. Having spent several years the industry, it is refreshing to see that there are people out there who care about joing a job and doing it well.

Until next time.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Ok, I thought that the extra time off was going to afford me a bit of time to update the blog more regularly, but it would appear that was an incorrect assumption. It seems that the more time I have to lie around on the couch, the more time I spend lying around on the couch, rather than updating the blog. Go figure.

Since Ironman Arizona, I've had some pretty easy times. The first five days after the race went by without a lick of swimming, biking, or running. It really felt good to sit on my butt, but to be honest, I don't think I could have done much even if I had wanted to. My legs were more beat up after this Ironman than any of my previous races. I realized that the long taper, combined with nailing my nutrition, really enabled me to push myself like I've never done before. And the consequences were two sore legs, and the need for a lot of sleep.

A week after the race, I found myself in the water for the first time. It felt good to move, and I had a decent amount of energy stored up by then. I actually had a great swim, albeit a short one of only twenty minutes. I eased back into the riding and a bit of running the next week, but I was definitely feeling a bit off. My legs were really taking their time to come around.

Three weeks after the race, I was feeling a bit spunky, so I jumped into a local race. I figured it was time to start the speed work, and what better way than to do a little five-miler. Amanda and our good friend Cassie were doing the 30k race, as a training day, so we all headed down to the Rez for some fun. My goal was just to run a nice tempo for thirty minutes or so, and I figured the company would push me along.

I was very unsure how I'd feel, after all, I'd done very little running for three weeks. And my top speed during the previous couple months of training topped out a bit underr six-minute pace. My goal for this season was to do base training from January to April; to do speed work in May and June; and to rebuild the base in July. I figured this would be a nice way to prepare myself for a shorter, more intense block of training for Hawaii. Well, it was time to start the speed training!

5:10 for the first mile. "My" lead biker informed me that I had crossed the mile mark in 5:10. I was in the lead, I had about a 100-meter gap on the next runner, and I was flying. It felt good. I was just thinking about how nice it was to run fast. I was just thinking about how many 5:10's I could do before it started to hurt. I was just thinking how much fun it was to be in the lead again; I was getting used to it! I was just thinking all of this when my legs and arms and hands and wrists and earlobes started to go numb. I belive it was from the lactic acid. I think I got a bit ahead of myself.

I notched it back to a more manageable 5:30, but the damage had been done. I had just run my fastest mile(s) since my pre-Hawaii training.... seven months ago. Ouch.

Ok, so my winning margin was about thirty five seconds: about the same time I put on everyone in that first mile. I suppose it's an ok strategy to win a race, but it wasn't exactly the quality tempo run I was shooting for. Ah well, I enjoyed my return to training, and to pushing the body again.

It's been a week since that race, and I've tried to stay consistent with the training. I have about two weeks until I race again: Baja 70.3, unless I do another speed work race! I'll try to be more conservative; to practice restraint. Who knows, but I am back to training, so I might be back to updating the blog!