Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'll just take the metric version

This may become a new trend. Whatever distance Jeremy does in his Ironman training, I'll do kilometers to his miles! I think it'll work perfectly. 

This past Saturday was the 10th annual Tour de Ruidoso, which hosted a 100 miler and a 100K. This is the city up on our "big" mountain (I know I keep calling it that, but it does go up to 11,000ft, which is over 1000 higher than the one just up the road from us). So we trekked up to the cooler weather, where I decided at the last minute to shed the arm warmers. The sun was coming up and standing at the car felt warm. I regretted this decision for about 2 miles. I told Jeremy to get up there with the front group when we started, and realized that I was so concerned about him that I forgot to position myself accordingly. I know I'm slower lately, but I should still beat some of the mountain bikes and guys in cotton t-shirts. Plus it would be nice to have somebody to draft off of. The first 2 miles I worked by myself up a little incline, trying to catch the pack that had formed in front that Jeremy had gotten onto in time. Not wanting to go out too hard, but not wanting to ride completely by myself, it was a tough decision, but I kept pushing. THEN, we made a turn onto the highway which went straight uphill. 

Ah ha, it was the beginning of what had been described on the registration form! 
Beginning with a climb from 6840 to 7485, a downhill and a climb back to 7482 and then dropping down to 7257 ... and this is in the first 6 miles!

Of course after the hills started, everyone spread out and the usual happened. I would make up ground on the uphills, people would fly by me on the downhills. I was being particularly careful with my downhill speed due to this whole pregnancy thing-- I really don't want to fall-- so I was getting left behind. Every so often the road would flatten a bit and I would ride with a few others, or a small group. There were several groups of Mexican cycling teams, and I think they particularly appreciated my Los Locos kit. I got at least one chuckle. 

I rode in a nice little paceline for a few miles with about 4 men. One was of the t-shirt wearing type, and he was all over the road. You know those people who can't be still to save their lives? He was fidgeting all over the bike. I think he burned three times as many calories as I did per pound. After each person had had their turn behind him, someone finally broke away off the front and let him scare the next group for a while. 

Losing those guys somewhere between the braking on the downhills and passing on the uphills, I found myself mostly alone again, until a few hills later when I passed a guy in white. Some people don't say a word in passing (especially when being passed on an uphill by a girl), but Juan Carlos was not one of those people! We started chatting from the moment I pulled up beside him, and he had a lot of encouragement to give. It turns out my new friend is a former pro cyclist from Columbia. He says he was much smaller back in the 80s when he was racing (he weighed about the same as I do now), but still, I kept up with a Columbian pro! He let me go on one of the climbs, and I said I'd see him later. 

I knew we were getting close to the airport, with one more hill to go. As I crested one and made a turn, a lone crow the size of a bear cub, cawed at me as I passed. I could tell exactly when Juan Carlos and another guy passed. I think he was cheering us on. 

So back to this flat section that I'd been looking forward to. The straight on headwind that we turned into made my speed much slower than I'd expected. The most brutal part was that I could see several miles ahead of me, and I knew that it wasn't ending anytime soon. I later described this "flat section by the airport" as the worst one for me. I was told it "wasn't exactly flat." 

Garmin tells me they were right: 

As a side note, this reminds me of how mean I am. There's a section on our "flat ride" from home that I always get onto Jeremy for going so slow on. I had in it my head that he had it in his head that it was actually an uphill when it was clearly not.
Again, Garmin was there to settle it: 


Yes, I'm mean. Or just really bad at judging grade. But back to the ride. I did take a break at the final rest stop for a delicious PB&J, and I figured it might be a long time getting home. As soon as I saddled back up I saw Juan Carlos up the road just a bit and hoped to catch him for a nice draft. About 5 miles later, I finally got within his view, and I think he slowed down for me. And he left me draft! But it ended quickly as we got to "the final downhill." A very nice volunteer lady cheered us on and told us it was all downhill. This being JC's specialty these days with the extra weight, he took off. But around the corner we found that the nice lady lied. Twice. My Garmin had called it quits for the day at about 54 miles, and left me by myself for those last few hundred feet up and thankfully down as well.

Finally finished, with nothing to do but eat green chile burgers and wait for Jeremy, but not drink the free beer, I found some good people to chat with, I won a recycled bike chain bottle opener (to match my recycled bike chain picture frame), and even saw some football. 

I'll let Jeremy describe his long, flat tiring (haha) day with a few more thousand feet of climbing thrown in there. But I want to remind everybody that he only carried himself over that course, while I was biking for two. :)

P.S. Does anyone else have a 405 that only holds a 100% charge for 3 hours??

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Smells Like Ironman Season

I really love this time of year. It's Ironman season! I love the excitement surrounding Ironmans and the last few weeks of training and taper when you either know you have this one nailed, or the nervousness is setting in about the weather, the heat, your bike being in the shop, or your tendinitis acting up. 

So far the season is well under way, with IM Coeur d'Alene, Lake Placid, Louisville, Canada, Wisconsin, and Wales over. First timers like Keith had solid first races and got hooked, and veterans like Damie overcame tough conditions to finish with a great race. I've personally only done 2 IMs earlier than October, so I feel like we've still got a lot of excitement coming. 

Around these parts it's quite different from what I'm used to. Normally it's me, just me, leaving piles of dirty laundry and water bottles everywhere. I'd scrounge for my own meals in the late evening after a long mid-week brick. But not this year. I've never had a husband train for an Ironman before (or even a IM-training roommate for that matter), and while I'm not giving him his specific training plan, I still feel somewhat responsible for how he races on Nov 20th. I want him to succeed almost as much as I always wanted to, but it's mostly out of my control. That's a weird feeling! I think some of my own "I didn't do a far/ fast/ hard/ windy enough swim/ bike/ run" guilt feelings have been rubbing off on him. It could be for the better, but I know I can be particularly OCD about that, and I hope it doesn't affect him negatively.

My responsibility should be providing nutritious, delicious foods for him, washing 3 loads of laundry a day, moving all 12 water bottles from sink to dishwasher daily, and possibly doing yardwork and extra cleaning for him (ooops, he just mowed the grass; maybe next week). I keep putting that stuff off until 1) my job ends in 2 weeks, 2) my appetite returns from the land of morning sickness purgatory, and/or 3) I figure out which of his athletic clothing actually goes in the dryer (I'm sure I'll shrink something to cut-off 80s tank length). 

He's really being a good Ironman athlete so far. He's not complaining too much; only rarely does he admit to tiredness. Despite my heightened olfactory senses, he really almost never smells after working out (I need to start using his deodorant more often). Since I'm only doing partial rides and runs with him, he lets me sleep in most weekends and picks me up for the second loop. He hasn't complained that I rarely cook these days; he doesn't mind the occasional Sonic or Taco Bell run (ok, yes it's more than occasional). 

I do need to work on my spectating endurance, since I know an all day Ironman spectathlon is a tiring, energy consuming event. Last weekend I practiced with a half, but it honestly seemed to fly by. I was ready for it. Double the distance will take some work, but I look forward to having friends there to sherpa me through it. Luckily I have 9 more weeks of training.

And now to leave you with our featured Ironman athlete, finishing off his last race with a bang head-first slide.

Immediately from stepping over the finish line, to a full speed dive onto this:

Don't let that Garmin get submerged in the...! oh, well, that's ok, it'll dry.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The open trails

I had the afternoon off yesterday (have to take all my vacation time before the job ends this month), so I left town at a few degrees over 100 and intensely sunny and headed up a few thousand feet to the trailhead at the top of the mountain. It was drizzling rain and my car reported that the outside temp was 55. In degrees Farenheit. I waited a few minutes until the rain slacked off and headed out to the trails. It definitely didn't feel 55 degrees cool, but it was such a relief to shed the sweaty clothes and breathe a few breaths of moist cool air. 

I went to the Trestle trail where I'd been once before with Mom and Dad last fall, but wasn't sure where I'd go after. I hadn't really explored the area, but ended up finding intersection after intersection, all well marked and pointing me to familiar places. 

I had forgotten my trail shoes and foot calluses, as it has been several months since I've done any trail running up there (the forest has been closed!), and wound up with a few blisters, but it was so worth it. I kept finding myself just smiling about being out there on the trails. I'm sure the few others out there hiking thought I was a bit psycho, but then again, maybe they understood. I kept marveling at the smell of trees. There are mostly pines up in that area, with a few aspens thrown in for fall color, and I couldn't get enough of the smell. I just wanted to bottle up the air and bring it back down. 

I didn't carry any animal repellent this time, since I was staying so close to the highway, but I did get to see a tiny snake and what I am positive was bear poop. I almost took a picture of the poop, but instead just stood there trying to figure out what it had eaten instead. I'm not a poopaphile, I just like knowing what lives on those trails besides deer (which make themselves very known). 

Apparently I went down down down many hundred feet at the beginning of the run (I have sore glute meds to prove it), because that last mile and a half was all uphill. I may have even interspersed my running with a few seconds of walking so as to not make it a complete zone 5 effort. When I got back to my car, it told me that the temp was up to almost 80, which felt much more realistic. For some reason I always expect the basin to have cooled off while I was up on the mountain cooling off, but it has yet to happen. So it was back to August and bright sun. It was a nice little vacation though. 

I have GOT to make this at least a weekly trip, and with all the time off I'm about to have, it may be a realistic possibility.

Here's my trail, but last year, when it was sunny and dry.

This little snake didn't move a millimeter even when I got up right next to him to check him out. I think he thinks he blends a little better amongst those rocks than he actually does.