Thursday, May 26, 2011

I really like Macca. I just read this excerpt from his new book, I'm Here to Win. I know he's slightly cocky, a little outspoken, and has a tendency to rub people the wrong way. But I really like his confidence. And I feel like we bonded in Kona one year when we both relaxed prerace by the hotel pool. I think he smiled at me. 

He "lost" the first few times he went to Kona. Trouble with the heat and humidity (I hear you, brotha) were realized his first year there, in 2002, my first year there! Of course, I finished up the race with a 5:30+ marathon; he DNFed. Joy = 1, Macca = 0. He "humiliated" himself there the next year with a 9:32 finish time (I know, how embarrassing), but went on to win in '07. Joy = 1, Macca =~5. I happen to remember coming back down Palani -- on the bike-- while hearing his name announced at the finish line. Finishing. He had another rough few years there in '08 and '09 (me too!), then figured his stuff out in time to win again in 2010. He just never gives up. 

I unfortunately don't have the same attitude right now. I don't have confidence anymore, and I don't have the drive to get back where I used to be (mostly because it seems completely unattainable). But I find a lot of inspiration in his story of lots of successes and a good many failures along the way too. He's really not afraid to fail. I need to remember that.

On a completely different note, I learned this week that 1) cactus leaves (branches? stems?) just like these are sold in the produce department in Walmart, right next to the peppers. I have no idea how to cook them, but I do know I need to de-prickle them first. And while this is not my front "yard," it is similar. Just with more vegetation than mine. And much neater rocks.


And I learned that 2) this thing below is called a guava. And here I've been calling it a giant asparagus all this time. Before these bloom, the stalk, which is about 15 feet tall, looks exactly like an asparagus stalk. I read that they only bloom like this once in their life, after living 5-35 years as a small pointy succulent.  That's a way to retire for sure.

Consider yourself a little more educated. 

This weekend holds the excitement of a good friends and good food in Santa Fe. Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A race in Lubbock

Lubbock was a very easy 5 hour drive from our house. Part of the ease for me was due to Jeremy driving the whole way, but also because we took one road all the way there. First we went over the mountains to Mayhill, where we rode last weekend. This week, it burned. Lots of ashy ground and black trees lined the highway.


Below is a campground where we even stopped last weekend. I got some grass stuck in my chain that came back with me. The rest of it is gone. I think this fire was reported to have started due to some power lines caught in the wind. But remember Smokey Bear, and how YOU can prevent forest fires. On the way home we saw some Forest Service trucks stopped along the highway dealing with some active fire. The guy standing by the truck was smoking a cigarette. 

Across some plains, some oil fields, and a lot of flat flat land we drove and arrived in the metropolis of Lubbock. Buffalo Springs Lake is a few minutes out of town, so we surveyed the course Saturday afternoon. This is the same venue that the famous BSLT 70.3 takes place on. I expected the lake to be bigger. The hills I expected to be smaller. 

We knew the bike course had five hills on it. They were exactly correct. The rest was flatness and maybe a little false flatness thrown in for good measure (or was that just the wind?). But the hills were long and steep, into and back out of the canyon. Nothing to be worried about; it just slows everyone down a bit.

Race morning we were not prepared for the cold. Actually, Jeremy had brought no long sleeves or pants, so a run to Target Saturday night provided him with a sweatshirt. A much needed one. It was 53F in the air, 58F in the water, and thank goodness I just bought a new wetsuit. 

This was a small race, but not without the usual crowded bike racks. The evens were on one side, and odds were on the oth... oh no, wait, some odds were on our side too. I noticed the two sets of everything lined up neatly in a row next to my bike when #23 (which I've always known as an odd number) mentioned how crowded everything was. I tried to explain to her that it was more convenient for her NOT to have to duck under the bike rack with her bike in T1. But she argued that in all the races she'd done, she'd had that little space of real estate directly behind her bike. So this girl has rubber bands holding her bike shoes in perfect position, but she can't figure out which side of the rack to use? I just left her alone after my gentle advice didn't sway her, and found she'd moved before the race started. 

I was shivering before the race just standing in my wetsuit, so there was no way I was going to warm up in the actual water, or even stick my toe in for that matter. The cannon fired before the "ready, set" was voiced, and we all jumped a mile. At least that got the adrenaline pumping. The water was COLD. Sticking my face in caused a shriek and a few gasps, and the panic didn't subside for about 1/3 of the swim. I did notice a guy near me walking along chest deep, so I even tried that for a few steps. The chop was coming straight at us, so by turning, I found some relief, and coming back in was almost pleasant (oh it's all relative). 

The water calmed down a lot after the race.


Standing up onto the ramp, there was a line of volunteers. The first one pulled me out, the next one unzipped me, another unvelcroed me, and still another helped pull my arm out. All as I was running by. What a team! I got the suit off and realized that I was not willing to leave my new (ok, lightly used) wetsuit lying on the ground, so I ran over to the nearby fence and hung it up. Then I started to put on my jacket but it stuck so badly on my wet skin I gave up the fight. Ok, it was actually because I saw mis-rack girl with a jacket on and decided to be tougher than she was. Then I straightened up my area, folded my jacket, dusted the dirt off my feet, and decided it was time to go ride.

Hill #1 starts immediately outside of transition, but it was an excellent place to warm up. Then I'll just sum up the bike by saying this: 4 more hills, lots of headwind.

My right foot didn't have any feeling until 3 miles into the run. But it was perfect running weather, and I enjoyed doing a race in the proper order. Jeremy officially beat me for the first time, and by a lot. Except on the run, where I got him by 10 seconds. I was thrilled with my run until 1) I realized that he'd run almost as fast, and 2) he convinced me that it must be a short course. 

I got 3rd place after coming out of the water pretty much last for all women, then not getting left behind on the bike, and coming back to get the fastest run of the women. 1 and 2 only got me by 2.5 and 1 minute, so if I could just not freak out in the water... There's always next time.

In other news, I have a tomato bandit in my yard. This was my first tomato a few weeks ago. It had grown to tennis ball size, with some very early ripening color on it. Upon arrival back home, I immediately checked the garden to find it missing. Not a bite taken out or the whole plant destroyed. Just one missing tomato, as if it had never been there. I now have bars of soap hanging from the wires around them. I'll go to more aggressive measures if this happens again. It's just a warning, oh sneaky garden predator. 


Sunday, May 8, 2011

No more trail running

We are having quite the opposite problem of y'all in the southeast. The extreme drought conditions on top of the always windy springtime has made forest fires a big issue. On our way back from Tucson last week, we could see the fire on the Organ Mountains, just across the basin from us. Here you can even see some flames if you look closely.

This has closed a few hiking areas that Jeremy and I have either been on or scoped out, including Baylor Pass, which goes across one of the lower points. The reports say the missile range, which is on this side of the mountains, is to blame. The last report yesterday said while it's still burning, it is 100% contained.

Wednesday of next week will be the last day the Lincoln National Forest, MY forest, is open until sufficient rain has fallen to decrease the fire danger. I think they could just threaten punishment by death to anyone using fire or smoking in the area. I'm really sad about this, since what will be closed are ALL the trails and forest roads through the park. We can still ride on the highways, but no more trails. Monsoon season should start in a couple of months, but how much rain will make up for such a lack of it this winter and spring?

After hearing the news of the closing on Friday, I made Jeremy take me up on the mountain not once, but twice this weekend. Saturday we rode a longer loop with smaller hill grades. We were excited about the easy climbing until the headwinds hit. Uff. Then today we went to two different trails. The first neither of us had been on-- the Osha Trail. It was a short loop, but had a couple of trails diverging from it that we had to check out. The running was slow, even on the downhills, due to the rockiness. I slowly developed my mountain goat skills as we ran. And now I'm sure my stabilizer muscles will be hurting tomorrow. Nice views.

Next we went to Cougar Track trail (so named by yours truly) so I could show Jeremy Bridal Veil Falls, which, even in this drought, is still flowing. It was cool and clear, and I just wanted to get in it.

We found no tracks, and I tried not to obsessively look for them.

It was amazing the contrast in the trails. Up at the top, you're in a forest of firs. Go down a few thousand feet and you find red desert dirt trails that run along a flowing creek.

So that was our last weekend in the forest for a while. No more of this:

Or this...

...until somebody can send us some of that extra water from the Mississippi. We'll gladly take it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Last weekend we went to Tucson to race (or for me, "participate in") Duathlon Nationals. I'll just summarize my race by saying it was a pretty sad effort. Jeremy and I had very similar runs, but he beat me on the bike! I was off in lala land most of the time; I forgot to even look at my splits. I was too concerned with how freakin fast those 48 year old women were! I did actually earn a spot at Du Worlds in Spain in September, but running twice is really painful!

But after the race, we had a great trip. Just north of our hotel about 2 miles was Catalina State Park, where we hiked to burn off our In and Out Burgers (which made the race totally worth it).


Spring has definitely come to the desert, even without rain since last fall. We had a cold spell while we were in Tucson, and even back at home in NM. But not to worry, it's warming up again quickly. It's quite a contrast to flooding Memphis this time of year!

 I even had to take some pictures around the neighborhood of all the interesting flora. I'm still amazed that cacti bloom!