Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Loosely-assembled race report (or something like that)

Since so many people have said "Sarah, you haven't updated your blog!" I'm led to believe that I was wrong in assuming that nobody reads it anymore. :-)

First off, I've had two tris since I last wrote: The Pleasanton Tri for Real (9/18) and The Santa Cruz Sentinel Triathlon (10/2). My performance at the Tri for Real surpassed even my own expectations and a race report of some sort will soon follow this entry. Time hasn't exactly been a luxury for me lately. The end result, however, was that I won my age group!! (click the link for the results page) Talk about surprise. After they had called 3rd and 2nd place, I thought to myself "well, that's okay. I thought maybe I'd placed, but you know, I did the best I could, and I'm INCREDIBLY happy with my performance." Then they announced 1st, and I'm sure there was quite an astonished look on my face, because I was literally stunned. It's taken a couple of weeks for it to truly sink in. I told so many people, not to brag, but to hear myself say it so that I could really start believing it!

Needless to say, my expectations for myself were raised a bit after that for this next triathlon that I was to do. Perhaps a little too much? I didn't expect a podium spot, but I did expect to perform at the best ability I could, and to really practice the mental art of staying focused on what I was doing in each moment. That said...

I wrote something up quickly the other day to send to my cycling group, and it's served as a makeshift race report until I delve into a few more details. Hopefully it will provide a few laughs, as I can now laugh at it, too. Enjoy!

Race Report (or something like that):

2 new tubes: $12
-proceed to change back tire (somehow flat after last weekend, but couldn't find any specific culprit)-
Full tank of gas for drive to Santa Cruz: $38

Bridge toll: $3
Another tube + labor at the Spokesman Bike Shop in Santa Cruz (because somehow, my back tire was flat again - figured being somewhat of a rookie at changing tires, I'd have somebody else do it, maybe I'd screwed up somehow): $13
Dinner and wine with old and new friends: $25
Coffee beans for my coffee maker at the hotel room: $2
Getting my car back from the towing company after it had been towed from a newly paved road with NO MARKINGS on it (which, apparently, was a 'no parking' zone): $240 (ouch)

-pre-race coffee (forgot the coffee beans in my friend's car when I got a lift to the towing place): $2
-excitement upon exiting water and learning I'd done the swim in 25 1/2 min - PRICELESS!
-excitement upon leaving transition zone: PRICELESS!

-look on my face when my back tire went flat AGAIN 3 miles into the ride: probably priceless and somewhat heartbreaking. Still, I was determined to make the most of it, and while I knew I was out of the running for a podium spot, I could still do my personal best and enjoy the race. Then my valve broke as I was pumping up the tire. Changed it again, but pump was broken. Bike maintenance guy pulls up, brings out a pump, sends me off on my way.

-look on my face when my tire goes flat YET AGAIN 6 miles later at Bonny Doon Rd: PRICELESS! No pump. No tube. Just done. Bike dude in the van pulls up again, somehow manages to motivate me to get back on the bike as he pulls out a new tube and tells me I'll love the run. Wiping my tears, I hop back on and try to enjoy the wind in my face and the ocean on my left.

You can only imagine what happens next:

-look on my face when I feel that 'ka-chunk' on my back tire 3 more miles out: well, I don't know about the look, but the expletives that went flying were pretty solid. Standing there feeling utterly defeated and frustrated: pretty priceless, also. Everybody should have that experience of standing there as the LAST of the participants pass you by on the bike.

-getting to flag down a CHP and ride shotgun in the squad car as he takes me back to the transition zone and trying to make idle conversation in between sobs: PRICELESS!

Arrive at the transition zone, thank the officer for his time, and deposit my bike in the stand, wondering if I should even bother running a 10K. Who cares, at this point? I looked at my watch and realized that I theoretically would have been coming through the finish line in about 8 minutes, and there was no way I was going out now, only to be one of the last people in and get the courtesy clap as people are breaking down the race area. hell no! More than that, though, I knew my friend Heather would be arriving any minute, and besides wanting to be there to welcome her back, I just didn't have the heart to go out and run a 10K. Emotionally, I was spent. Physically, I wasn't exhausted, but I was tired. Mentally, I was finished. I looked out toward the run course and thought "nothing's impossible, but the bottom line is that I just don't want to." So I didn't! (in the end, I'm really glad I didn't!)

So...as you can see...it was a pretty costly but priceless weekend. Check off 'have worst race ever' on my to-do list. Still, I write all of this with a smile - add that to my bag of good stories to tell 20 years from now.

There's always next year...!

As for what follows at this point...there's a distinct possibility that one more race looms in my future. We'll call it a chance at redemption, and I've been given the lucrative offer of having half my entry fee paid for (and at a $140 entry fee, that's a pretty sweet deal). Keep your eyes open for confirmation of me participating in the Treasure Island Tri on 11/06. I've maintained a tough schedule this week - swam hard on Monday, spun on Tuesday, and did an hour swim followed by a hefty-paced 40 minute run. My legs are feeling it! But it motivates me to think that there's one more race to train for. *sigh* Mentally, I am exhausted. Physically, well...fairly exhausted as well. I'll need a few more days to sleep on it...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

It's been far too long!

Hi everybody, I'm sorry to have taken so long to post on this! Perhaps nobody's even really going to read it anymore, but I do have some writing to do, if for nobody but myself.

It's been 7 WEEKS since my first triathlon, and my, how time flies. Since I last wrote, I've had an amazing 7 weeks full of adventure, sport, and challenge, and have pushed myself farther than I'd ever thought I'd go. More than anything, it has really, truly been in part due to the sheer mountain of moral support I've received. I have been so humbled and flattered by how many people read my blog, how many people congratulated me, and how many people have simply given me their vote of confidence. These acts alone have given me so much strength and drive to continue on and I don't think I could do it without you all behind me.

To Amalia and Liz - both of you completely flattered me by sharing your newfound goals with me. I wish you both the best and I know you'll do great! Just remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other...as long as the mind has it, the body will eventually catch up. I am so happy I could inspire some athletic goals in the both of you.

The recap:
Donner Lake Triathlon, 7/17/05: DONE!
Details will follow in the next blog post, but the writing sample is this:
"Absolutely the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. 8 hours later, I was already looking ahead to next year. :-)"

Trans Tahoe Relay, 7/23/05: DONE!
One of the most fun weekends I've ever had, and I can't imagine a better group of women (and some of their significant others) to spend it with. Pictures can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/strejo/sets/640443/. Team Tequila Goggles swam the 11-mile width of Lake Tahoe as a group and had a fabulous time doing it. I'll do a short write-up of this one as well.

Donner Lake Swim, 8/6/05: DONE!
This was my second year for swimming Donner, and I loved it even more. I can't wait to go back and do it again. What a beautiful lake. It was an amazing weekend, but the swim itself - well that just rocked my world. I think this picture shows just how happy I was. :-)

"So what's next, Sarah?"
Well, glad you asked. Here's the remaining season schedule:
8/21/05: Tour d'Organics 65 mile ride through Sebastopol/Santa Rosa
9/18/05: Tri for Real #2 (Sprint Tri) in Pleasanton, CA
10/2/05: Santa Cruz Sentinel Olympic Distance Tri in Santa Cruz, CA!

I think that's going to be it for the season, though I may be able to be convinced to do one more thing, but we'll see. Perhaps a 5K or 10K run, but that's about it. The series of events I've just completed have left me a little, shall we say, exhausted physically and somewhat mentally, so I'm attempting a 'mid-season break.' I'd like to perform well at the upcoming Tris and in order to do that, I'm told that actually taking a break can be more beneficial than training hard week after week. What a concept.

I'll be updating over the next week or so with the race report details. THANK YOU AGAIN, everybody, for your support, in all the forms you've expressed it. Words cannot describe my gratitude, but they'll have to do.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I did it!! The race report edition...

2 days post-race...and with the exception of a little sore throat...I'm feeling fantastic.

It's difficult for me to describe the emotion I've felt over the last couple of days. I know this is going to be a bit saccharine, but I finally got a taste of what those people who do Ironman must feel as they cross that finish line. It was the most exhilarating, joyful, and fantastic feeling for me. The sense of accomplishment and pride I had as I sprinted to the finish was incredible, and I had a perma-smile for the next two hours as I reveled in what I had just done. The ultimate satisfaction came from the fact that 10 months ago triathlon was a vague thought in my mind. One day I said to my friend Kendall, "you know, I think I might consider triathlon." His response: "Sarah, you're doing so much already! Girl, you don't even own a bike!" An appropriate response at the time, though it may have been the thing that gave me the extra push to just go out and do it.

Not only did I really do it...but I performed well! You can find results by clicking here, but if you don't feel like it, I can tell you that I placed 8th in my age group, and had an overall finish time of 2:41 - which far exceeded my own expectations (hell, I was just in it to have fun and wasn't sure WHAT was going to happen). Here were the splits:

Swim (1.5K or 0.92 miles): 24.48
Bike (40K or 25 miles): 1:16 (19.6 mph avg)
Run (10K or 6.2 miles): 51.50 (8:21 min/mile!!!)

Wow. In the training I'd done up until then, I'd been pacing more of a 9 minute mile run. Must've been the adrenaline.

I had so much fun, I've signed up for the Donner Lake Triathlon on 7/17, and now that I feel rested and ready to jump back on the training circuit, all I can say is "bring it on!"

Also, I must take this time to thank the fabulous Jayne Williams. We've only run together once, but she has an amazing spirit and energy that I really took to. The author of the best-selling book Slow Fat Triathlete, she isn't about getting into the crazy race mentality that so many people do and become obsessed over. She does it because she loves it, and it has been inspiring to follow in those footsteps - thanks, Jayne!

The race report follows (WARNING: it's long - skim if you need to - I just wrote down everything I could remember):

I arrived in San Jose on Saturday evening, 6/25. Got to the lake at about 6:30pm to pick up my race packet so that I wouldn't have to stand in line the next morning. I eyed the lake suspiciously, as there seemed to be a rather 'fishy' smell emanating from that direction. I suppose that's where wetsuits might be an advantage, as I had a sinking feeling I would be feeling a bit like the Lochness Monster by the end of the day. Still, the park was pretty, and was surrounded by a lot of brown, rolling hills and a lot of Oak trees. By the time I got back to my car, I was starved and wanted to just get set up in my hotel room so I could focus on relaxing and preparing mentally for the next morning. However, thanks to Yahoo Maps! I had the wrong directions and it took me a good half-hour just to get where I needed to be. Driving the freeway networks of San Jose is strangely similar to the freeway networks of L.A. - between the drivers who can't drive, the various interchanges and junctions, and cars that seem to be everywhere, with the surrounding mountains, to boot. A bit disconcerting, I must say.

By the time I was set up in my room and ready to venture off in the direction of something to consume, it was already 8:00. Great. Fortunately, there happened to be a gourmet market nearby that specialized in delicious pannini and salads (if you're in the San Jose area, be sure to visit Zanotto's). I grabbed a chicken pannini, some bean salad, a bottle of wine, and a yogurt for the next morning. If you're wondering about the wine part - of course I didn't drink it all, are you kidding? However, I did feel that having a glass or so would help calm me, in addition to it being something I drink almost daily - so why should this be any different?

Eating my chicken pannini, sipping wine, listening to The Gypsy Kings, and flipping through a Triathlon magazine to look for any last-minute tips seemed to be perfect at calming my nerves. Afterward, I drew a nice hot bath and set up my things for the next morning. Despite the horrendous driving I had endured hours earlier, I felt incredibly calm and collected as I soaked in the tub and mentally ran through a drill for the next morning. By 10:30, the lights were out, and I fell asleep listening to the classical likes of Bach's "Cradle Song."

5:00 am. My eyes pop open, and I feel my stomach start to twinge. Before it can do anything to destroy my calm energy, I hop out of bed and throw myself into motion. My water bottles are set up for me to mix the CytoMax and water; my clothes are laid out; bags are packed; bike is ready; food is set, and by 5:30 I'm loading my things into the car. I've consumed some yogurt and a banana, drank some coffee from the lounge (initially I questioned the appropriateness of this action, but once I smelled freshly brewed coffee, logic went out the window and I made a beeline for the urn), and with my directions in my right hand, window down, and radio blasting Gavin DeGraw's "Chariot," I feel the cool air of the morning on my face, and it's all I can do not to smile - so I do. In fact, I let the smile spread across my face and feel a thrill run through my body. This is it. I'm really here, I'm really doing this, and dammit, I'm going to have so much fun. I've trained hard, and I'm here, by myself, doing this for nobody but me.

I am glad that I've gone the day before to pick up my race packet. I am familiar with the grounds, know where I'm going, and can focus on getting to the transition area and setting myself up. I'm just about to leave my car and ride over to the lake when my phone rings. (Mind you, it's about 6:00am) It's Trent (Trent is a volunteer in my office at the NBTF, and his girlfriend, Jean, is on the UC Davis Triathlon team; Trent had participated in the Mountain Bike Sprint Tri on Saturday morning, and Jean was racing in this morning's event). "Hey Trent, what's up?" "Where are you?" he says. "Just leaving the parking lot headed for the transition area." "Okay, call me when you get here, I'll help you set up - I've just finished helping Jean." Sweet.

I arrive in the transition area only to what seems to be mass chaos - or so it seems. Then I hear over the loudspeakers, "Folks, we are running out of room. For those of you just arriving, head to the east end of the transition area and find a spot for your bike among the club areas." Great. And I thought I was doing so well on time! I calmly walk my bike past rows and rows of bike racks filled with bikes, shoes, people frantically setting up their towels with equipment and helmets and energy gels and who knows what else, noticing quickly that I'm not finding an empty space anywhere. Hmm. I get to the far end of the lot, and finally see an unoccupied bike space. "Is this spot taken?" I say to the gentleman next to it. "Nope, not that I know of." My phone rings again - it's Trent. "Hey, I'm at the far east end - the very last row." "Okay, I'll be over there in a couple of minutes" he says.

I set up my towel and lay out my bike jersey, shorts, bike shoes, and Trent walks up to help me out. I hold up my timing chip. "How the heck am I supposed to wear this?" "They didn't give you a belt to go with it?!" he exclaims. I shake my head and then ask him about where to put my number. He tells me he'll go get a belt and some safety pins so that we can pin my number to my jersey, and I walk over to the BODY MARKING tent and get in line. Once I'm next, the volunteer asks for my number and age, and proceeds to stamp 1300 down both arms and the number 24 on the back of my right calf. I'm set!

What follows next is somewhat of a blur to me, though I find that if I keep a clear mind about my goals and pay no attention to what's going on around me, I stay calm. Trent had done a great job of setting up my towel - my red and white Lombardi Sports jersey laid neatly on my bike handlebars; two Gu packets with the tops torn off, ready to be ingested; helmet upside down, ready to be thrown onto one's head, bike shoes with socks in them, and my running shoes sitting to the right, laces untied and ready to be thrown on. (I must make an aside comment that I was feeling quite color-coordinated - red bathing suit; red and white Lombardi Jersey with black bike/run shorts, and red helmet! This was not intentional, mind you, but worked out well!)

At this point, it's 6:45 am, and the first wave of Elite and Collegiate division will be starting at 7:00 am. I have made the executive decision not to wear a wetsuit - it would only hinder me and most likely only slow me down. I know I'll be most comfortable in my two-piece racing suit and will swim well in that, not to mention faster in the transition zone. I quickly walk over to the shore of the water, kick off my flip-flops, and jump in for a short warm-up swim. REFRESHING (though still slightly fishy)! The water is crisp and everything I expected it to be - not cold. I swim for about 5 minutes, and decide I'd better get out and head over to the starting line of the swim. As I attempt to find the shoreline, I'm a little to the left of it and as I lift my left leg to find ground to step on, my knee hits a rock. Ouch!

Upon exiting the water, I inspect my knee. No blood. Feels alright. Phew! I deposit my flip-flops next to my bag, grab my forest-green cap I've been given to wear, pick up my goggles, check my set-up one last time, and leave the transition area, excited by the thought that the next time I enter will be post-swim.

As I reach the shore with the rest of the 1400 other participants, mostly clad in black wetsuits and caps of various colors, my left knee suddenly feels a little...swollen...and tight. Not good. "CRAP!", I think to myself. Well, what am I going to do? It's mind over matter at this point. Stretch as best I can, and then forget about it.

7:20 a.m. - 2 minutes before my wave leaves
I'm in the water, goggles on my face, and instead of placing myself in the middle of the pack as I usually do with open water swims, I have decided that I am probably a better swimmer than many of these young women, so I am in the front of the group. Slightly nervous but not really, I try to just remain calm as the ticker counts down to our start.
"TEN SECONDS, LADIES!" "10...9...8...7..." I count to myself. Here goes. **BOOM** The gun fires, and we're off. As with any normal mass start, feet and arms are flying, water is splashed everywhere, and it's all I can do not to swallow half the lake. I feel feet in my sides, on my legs, arms bumping into me - 'this is a lot worse than USMS open-water events' I think to myself. No offense, triathletes, but y'all need to learn how to swim straight. I spend the next half mile fighting off people who keep bumping into me and who try to sprint to pass me, then tire themselves out as I pass them yet again. Sheesh. I remain calm...in fact...'Wow...I'm feeling really REALLY good.' My strokes are smooth...long...and I feel myself swimming faster, with the need to breathe becoming more infrequent. I can take nice long strokes and get into my groove of breathing every three. I don't have to sight so much, and can keep my head down for a good 6 or 7 long strokes before raising my head to be sure I am swimming straight.

Before I know it, I see the finish straight ahead. I'm tempted to sprint, but decide that conservation of energy is important - no need to tire myself out. I'm already at an advantage, since a 0.92 mile swim is merely a warm up for me. In fact, I feel a burst of energy as I think about hopping on the bike. In the words of Napoleon Dynamite (again), 'Yessssssssssssssssssssssss.' This is great!

I hop out of the water and run to the transition area, with people cheering all of us on. Their energy seems to infuse me even more, and despite my elevated excitement, I am calm and focused. I look at my watch. 7:47 a.m. Great! Wow...I did that swim in like...oh crap...can't think...trying to focus and do math and be calm...um...like 24 minutes or something...sweet...(Perhaps too calm - it turns out I took FIVE MINUTES in the transition area - three minutes would have been a better, more respectable time) The transition area feels like a ghost town in comparison to its pre-race scene. The collegiate and elite bike racks are empty, and people are scattered in various places, all hurrying to get themselves on their bikes. I get to my spot and pull my jersey on first over my wet top. In the process of pulling my shorts on, my foot lands onto one of the open Gu packets, and banana-flavored Gu gets all over my towel. Damn! Just pull your shorts on, Sarah. Get the jersey on. Helmet. Sunglasses. Crap, my feet are a mess. I pour water over my feet and step on my towel, racing to pull my socks on over my wet feet. Difficulty ensues. Just hurry up, Sarah. I velcro my bike shoes. I ingest the remaining Gu that hasn't squirted out of the package and take a big swig of water, spilling it on myself in the process. Oh well, I'm already wet. Am I missing anything? Umm...no. Okay, I'm good. Let's go!

7:52 a.m. The song "Video" by India Arie is playing on the speakers and I smile as I run out with my bike and think there couldn't be a more perfect soundtrack to that moment (for lyrics to the song so you know what I'm referring to, click here). As I exit the transition area and mount my bike, I get excited all over again and think 'here we go!' I ride along the main road, and there are policemen stopping traffic for the race, families and couples stopped along the sidewalk cheering us on as we begin the second leg of the race. It's a good feeling, and I smile at them. Two miles into the bike ride, I notice a funny sound. I look down and see that the cheap velcro straps I purchased to hold my bike pump are failing me, and the pump has slid down so that it's catching in the gears. Man! I make a feeble attempt to pull it up, but no luck. I look down and try to ride slowly so that I can unhook the velcro and stuff it all into the back pocket of my jersey. Not working. Crap, people are riding past me. I'm going to be in their way, too. I guess I should pull over and take care of this. I pull off to the side, dismount, and quickly remove the straps and pump, and as I place them in my back jersey pocket, I hear a voice yell out, "MECHANICAL?" - it's a minivan with two guys, and on the back window, in taped letters it says "BIKE HELP." "NOPE, BUT THANKS!" I yell back. Well, at least they have people to help you if you get a flat.

I jump back on my bike and get going. I've got a bit of ground to make up. My legs feel a bit slow to start with...as they usually do whenever I hop on. So, I just keep pedaling one foot after the other. The knee hurts a little, but I pay it no thought. I've got a race to ride. People pass me by, which doesn't intimidate me, but it doesn't make me happy, either. I want to be faster. I notice a lot of people have aero bars. Maybe if I put my hands on the drop bars, it'll be more comfortable. I lean down and put my hands on the drop bars. I start to gain some speed. After about 2 more miles...it clicks. I've found my riding legs! My legs start pedaling faster, and I am gaining more speed. Before I know it, I'm starting to pass some of the familiar jerseys that passed me earlier. I catch up to the chick with the 34 on her calf and the blue Velosport jersey. I remember her. A small hill (or 'bump', shall I say) approaches. Sweet! Here's my chance to gain some ground! I love hills. I pass a bunch of people and speed down the other side, catching another chick I remembered passing me by earlier. Suddenly, I feel a strong headwind. I hunker down and just push. It's not so bad. Just keep pedaling, and remember to bring those feet up and over - forget pushing down - pull up and around. It's working - I'm still gaining speed. The group rides out another 8 miles or so and then turns around - thank GOD! The headwind is now a tailwind. "Now we're talking!" says the guy next to me. He's absolutely right. I drop my gears and pedal fast, and continue smiling. Oh yes, I've been smiling a lot. I LOVE THIS.

The bike ride continues much of the same way - I keep up with a few people and we play catch-up with each other through the end. Kind of nice to have familiar jerseys and helmets around you, and in a way, it keeps you consistent with your cadence and speed. The ride itself was beautiful - a lot of rolling hills surrounded me, and it seemed very countryside-ish - not at all like I was right in the middle of busy Silicon Valley. Just as I start to wonder where the heck we are, we turn right onto Almaden Way and I realize I'm about 1/2 a mile from the lake. I look at my watch - 9:08 a.m. Wow...that's it? I could've sworn it was going to take longer than that.

I dismount before the line at the entrance to the transition area, and run my bike back to my spot. I quickly deposit my bike into the stand, remove my helmet, rip off my shoes, don my trusty yellow Cal baseball hat, and throw on my tennis shoes. Jayne was right...elastic laces would've been good...now I'm going to waste 45 seconds tying these damn things. I ingest my second Gu packet, drink as much water as I can, and take off to begin my 6.2 mile run - 9:11 a.m. Sure enough, my legs feel a little like limp noodles, and I follow the advice I'd been given to just keep putting one foot in front of the other - eventually my body will catch up with my mind and get with the program. Once again, that pesky left knee is whining for some attention, but once again, I block it out of my mind and tell myself to suck it up - I'll deal with it later.

The first mile is somewhat tough. People are passing me. I know I'm going slowly, but this was how the bike ride started, too. Better to start slow and speed up than outdo myself in the beginning and have to drag myself to the end.

Right before the first mile, there's a water station with a bunch of 12 year-old volunteers, their small but loud voices shouting out in different tones, "WATER!" and "AMINO!" (The energy drink Amino Vital). I reach out and say "Water!", and proceed to pour the cup of water over my head. To the next kid I say "Amino" with my arm outstretched, and take the cup and attempt to gulp as much as possible. I spill about half of it on myself and the ground, but it's refreshing to taste anyway. This becomes my routine for each water/amino station at each mile. Water for refreshment and cooling, Amino for drinking.

9:36 a.m. It's only 9:36? But I just hit mile 3...that means...crap...wait...9 times 3...well...oh my god I'm running faster than a 9 minute mile. How is THAT happening?! I'm in disbelief right now. I've never run faster than a 9-minute mile in training. And I've just swam and biked. What's going on? Must be that amino. Or the enjoyment of passing people. Or a bum knee? Oh wait, it was the wine! Whatever it was...I am burning it up...and feeling fantastic. Except for the chafing that's happening under my arms. That kind of hurts. Oh well, I'm at a good pace, and I'm not going to let anything stop me now - after all, I'm halfway through this run!

It's difficult for me to explain my feelings on the run. I won't say I loved it the way I loved the swim and the bike. But I certainly wasn't hating life (except the chafing - I hated that). I never felt incredibly exhausted. I kept a pace and stuck with it, though I'll admit that I was so motivated at mile 4 to know that I only had 2 miles left that I picked up my pace just a little. As I began to pass people I got hooked on it - I wanted to pass more! I think that's what got me through...knowing that after everything I had just done, hell yes I could run 2 more miles!

Mile 5...yes! This is it, Sarah! The home stretch, girl! You did it! I pick it up just a little...let's see, maybe 10 more minutes of running? That's it! I smile again and although things are finally starting to ache just a little, and the chafing under my arms is burning, I've got this wrapped up. Finally, I approach the finish. I hear cheers, cowbells, music, clapping - it's all quickly becoming louder and I get excited at what I see. There, in front of me, is a large archway with the words in big, bright blue capital letters: F I N I S H

Oh my god. I really did it. SPRINT, SARAH, SPRINT! You're there! I sprint to the finish, hear the beep from my timing chip, and finally stop, breathless and drenched with water, amino, and sweat, all running down my forehead and down my neck. Wow. Words cannot describe the euphoria of that moment. The extreme emotion of joy and pride and happiness and accomplishment. It was even better when I realized how fast I'd run the 10K. As I take one more step, it hits me - the left knee has taken its revenge. Swollen and stiff, I limp over to the medic tent to get some ice. Oh well - could be worse, right? As I sit in the chair, I try and get used to the strange feeling of not moving. The medic ices my knee and I just sit and revel in my moment, arms burning, sweat still rolling off me, but happier than I can really remember.

SO there it is, in all its glory - the race report, full and unabridged, pages long, but I'm happy I wrote it all down. If you actually read it, good for you. If you skimmed it, you're smart to do so. If you didn't, that's okay, because this is more for me than anybody else. I am so proud of myself and after two days of rest and sleeping in, I'm ready for more training to begin, and more motivated and excited than ever.

Thank you to everybody who's been there for me for your support and confidence in me. Looking back, I don't know that I would've ever expected this of myself two years ago. Amazing what you can do when you really want something.

Until next time...


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

4 days until my first Tri!

Okay, it's been awhile. I've been busy - training, for one. After Berryessa I decided it was time to step it up and be serious, as I knew there were only 3 weeks from that point until the San Jose International Tri.

So...am I ready?

In the words of Napoleon Dynamite, "Heck YES I am!"

I've done my bricks...eaten well...invested in a heart-rate monitor (oh come on, half the fun of all of this is the toys you get to invest in)...went and observed the Escape from Alcatraz Tri two weeks ago so that I could watch what the pros did in the transition area...kept my ears open but haven't attempted to read every word on the subject...

I think that's about all I can do. I'm beginning to get those giddy butterflies in my stomach, but really, more than anything, I'm excited. I want to see what I'm capable of. Maybe I'll be slower than molasses, who knows? But I know that I love swimming, I love cycling, and I like running now. I'm itching to know what it's going to feel like in the transition area as I attempt to remain calm and collected, but move about quickly and efficiently. I'm craving to see what that rush will be like as I hop on my bike, still wet from the swim, changing mental and physical gears in anticipation of 26 miles of fast pedaling (thank you, spinning class!). I'm dying to know how bad it's going to feel when I get off that bike and tell my legs to carry me quickly for 6.2 miles.

Hello, lactic acid.

Despite all of that, I know I can do this. It's just a matter of how much I'm willing to push myself. It's interesting because it's such a different feeling than when I was prepping for my first open water swims.

At this point, I am now tapering. Didn't swim today. I might do a light swim tomorrow morning, and then will just go for some walks on Friday and Saturday. It's difficult to stop yourself from exercising when it becomes such a large part of your day.

Going this evening to obtain a wetsuit (even though I feel like a WUSS, it's what you do in tris, since a wetsuit gives you an advantage, and I'll admit, you use less energy because you're not having to try to stay as warm). I think once I have that, I'll be set.

Speaking of swimming in open water, I swam in the Bay last week - 54 degrees! I was so proud of myself for being able to overcome the cold and stay in. I wore a thermal cap (no wetsuit - just swimsuit) which helped big time, since you lose a lot of heat through your head. Made a big difference. After about 35 minutes, I was ready to get out. Unfrotunately, it was afterward that sucked - it took about an hour to warm back up!

So...that's all for now. I'll try to log an entry the day before. That's all for now!


p.s. I've registered for a couple other events:
-Tour d'Organics 100 mile ride on Sunday, 8/21 in Sebastopol, CA
-Santra Cruz Sentinel Olympic Distance Triathlon on Sunday, 10/2 in Santa Cruz, CA

Still under consideration:
-Donner Lake Triathlon
-Pacific Grove Triathlon
-Treasure Island

Thursday, June 02, 2005

2 days until Lake Berryessa...

I know this is a blog about triathlons. I'm writing about an upcoming open-water swim. "What gives, Sarah?" you might ask. Well...Berryessa is an exciting and fun event that was what kicked it all off for me last year. I attribute a lot to that first open-water swim. I did the 1-mile because I knew it was something managable and not beyond my ability. I LOVED it! There is something so thrilling about being out in that open water, no lane lines to brush your shoulder (granted, I've neglected to mention the occasional foot you encounter or elbow in your side...), being in the midst of a beautiful environment, and swimming with a purpose other than logging some laps.

From Berryessa there were other open water swims...Lake Sonoma, Donner Lake, Quarry Lake relay (not so beautiful, but fun). What a fantastic summer that was! Over the past winter I began to contemplate what Summer of 2005 would hold. More open water swims? Longer swims? Some ocean swims? I'd love to do Alcatraz. I entertained the idea of the Santa Cruz Pier-to-Pier 10K, from Capitola to Santa Cruz. That's quite a ways. I'm still unsure, and at this point I'm beginning to doubt that one.

As I started thinking about what goals I was going to set for this summer, I was feeling very inspired by Jessica, Alice, and Amber, who are serious distance swimmers. These three fabulous women are swimming in the Maui Channel Swim in September (http://www.mauichannelswim.com/), and I am honored to be part of their crew! Nonetheless, I began to ponder how committed I was to the idea of going down that road. Swimming 10 miles? In shark-infested waters? Lynn Cox's book, Swimming to Antarctica (click here for more info), was quite the inspiring read as well - talk about amazing tales from a serious long-distance swimmer!

Despite all of this wonderful inspiration, I just wasn't entirely convinced that this was the challenge I wanted to present myself with. I happened to pick up cycling in December and found I really enjoyed it. The more I did it, the better I wanted to be. I began to crave it. I noticed, with amazement, that I had never felt this way about any other activity besides swimming! I had found something else that I genuinely enjoyed! In my pursuit of cycling, I realized something quite obvious: for many triathletes, swimming is the dreaded piece of the puzzle they loathe, and many struggle at the last minute to improve their stroke and train for a longer distance. Here, I was at an advantage - running is my least favorite, not swimming. I CAN swim! I CAN cycle! And actually, I can run - I just favor the other two. These thoughts, combined with the fact that I seemed to be overtraining in the swimming department, gave me a thought: "maybe I'd make a better triathlete than a long distance swimmer."

Unfortunately, when it comes to distances, in my own swimmer's opinion, swimming gets the shaft. Take Olympic distance, for example. 0.9 mile swim...held up to a 26 mile bike ride and a 6 mile run? Somehow, that is NOT proportionate! 0.9 miles would take all of 20 minutes to swim, and for those of us who specialize in the swim department, not that much energy, either. Now it just sounds like I'm whining. Anyway.

So Berryessa: 2 days away. I'm doing both 2-mile and 1-mile, and why is beyond me. I hate to say "because everybody else is!" but that's kind of it. Not so much because I didn't want to look like a wimp, but my thinking was that if so many people are doing both, it can't be that bad. Right?

Started to taper yesterday, and actually went for a nice 40 minute bike ride climb around my house after work. Did spinning and swimming this morning, and tomorrow will be a day off for rest. I don't know what I really think about carbo-loading, but it can't hurt, right? I think it's a little stressful because unlike the tris, I have a summer of open-water swims behind me - hence - this is the summer to improve my times!

We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Too much training on the brain?

I think it's good I decided to take today off. I went out to a play with Noelle last night and didn't get home until about 11:45pm. Falling asleep didn't prove to be too difficult, as I was already feeling somewhat sleep deprived and exhausted. In fact, sleep came so easily but leaving it was the hard part - I overslept until 8am!!

It's one thing to wake up from a nice 8 hour rest feeling fresh and ready to go. However, I had somewhat of a nightmare, so I woke up feeling groggy and out of sorts.

In the dream, it was the day of the Lake Berryessa swim. I (coincidentally) overslept a little, but was already at my mom's house in Napa, so I wasn't too worried. For some reason, however, I kept piddling around and realized that it took longer to get there than I had planned, and that by the time I made it up to the lake and found parking (it's a pretty big event), I would never have time to check in and make the 10am start time. So I missed the 2-mile swim, and then for some reason that I can't remember, ended up not making the entire thing. I felt so upset! I had missed both swims, missed out on the fantastically fun BBQ that my teammates were enjoying, and was out $40. Then I woke up.

Talk about taking it all too seriously. Lighten up, Sarah! I think I'll go on a walk this evening...

Ciao for now!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

First Post! Let's review the details so far...

Well, here I am, blogging it up 2 years later. Sadly enough, this is not to document my adventures through Europe. Hopefully it will be just as exciting, though! I was telling Ben about my decision to sign up for triathlons and he said "you should make a blog about it!" The more I got to thinking about it, the more I realized what a good idea it is. This way I don't have to bore everybody with details by word-of-mouth and you can read along when you feel like it. Aren't I nice?

So, first thing's first. The first triathlon I've signed myself up for is the San Jose International Triathlon (http://www.japroductions.com/sjit/). Talk about expensive! These things cost a lot more than open-water swims. $100! Nothing like shelling out one hundred smackers to make you motivated to train well.

Some people have recommended doing a sprint Tri for Fun first. I think I might do this, and that one's a bit less expensive -$45.

For those of you not too in tune with triathlon distances, here's the lowdown:
Ironman (um, no way jose) 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, marathon (26.2 mile) run
Half-Ironman (i'm still thinking no, not yet) 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13 mile run
International (also referred to as Olympic and okay, more reasonable)
1.5k (.9 mile) swim, 40k (approx 24.8 mile) bike, 10k (6.2 mile) run
Sprint (something I could do tomorrow, but still not super duper easy) 1/2 mile swim, 10-18 mile bike, 5k(3.1 mile) run

Here's the potential lineup for summer:
6/18: Tri for Fun #1 - sprint distance - Pleasanton, CA
6/28: San Jose International - Olympic distance - San Jose, CA
7/10: Tri for Real #2 - Olympic distance - Sacramento, CA
7/17: Donner Lake Triathlon - Olympic - Truckee, CA
8/7: Tri for Real #3 - Olympic - Sacramento, CA
8/14: Escape from the Rock Triathlon - Olympic; I'd love to do this one because of the location, but it's also $190!!! I can't afford that!
9/10: Pacific Grove - Olympic - Pacific Grove, CA - BEAUTIFUL!!!
11/5: Treasure Island - Olympic - middle of the SF Bay, CA. We'll see how much it costs...

I know, that's a lot of tris and a lot of money. I'm hoping to get some funding from supportive family members (HINT HINT for those of you reading). We'll see. Those are the ones I'm interested in doing, in addition to a few key open-water swims that are always awesome (Lake Berryessa, Donner Lake, Lake Sonoma, etc.). I'll probably end up doing 4 or 5 of them.

Phew. Talk about sounding like an overachiever. Oh and did I mention that in August there's a century ride I want to do over in Sebastopol? It's called the Tour d'Organics and it sound fabulous! http://www.tourdorganics.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1.

But that's in August. Back to the matter at hand, which is training. I've joined an informal traithlon team with Lombardi Sports but have yet to practice with them. Timing hasn't been right. Hopefully I can get my act together and make some time for them, at least once a week.

Right now I've just been training on my own, and from my swims yesterday and today, I think I'm completely overtraining at this point. When you've been in the pool for 10 minutes and your muscles are already screaming at you that they're tired, that's a sure sign. I want to get in some good bike rides this weekend, especially since next weekend is the Lake Berryessa swim and I'm doing both the 2-mile and the 1-mile. Next week is taper time for swimming! I think I might take tomorrow off to rest. I never realized how difficult it can be to tell yourself to rest, but I'm having a hard time acknowledging it.

Well anyway, that's good for now, I think. I'll write bits and pieces when I can. If you have any good triathlon tips to share, websites of note, or books to read, please post them! I'm trying to get as much useful information as possible.