Saturday, October 14, 2006

Treasure Island 2 Embarcadero Y Swim, 10/14/06

So this morning my radio alarm went off and proceeded to get louder and louder (that's how it gets me out of bed because I don't want to wake the rest of the house up). I stumbled across the room to shut it off and saw that it said 4:30 AM. "Now why in the...?" I began to think...'OH! I HAVE MY TREASURE ISLAND SWIM!" I had nearly forgotten about it! So, packed up my bag, grabbed the wetsuit, made my PB&J sandwich and out the door I went. As I left the parking garage at the Embarcadero in SF, I thought "'s still dark. Why am I doing this again?" Strangely enough, the guy walking in front of me turns around and says "we're crazy, aren't we?" I just kind of mumbled "mmmhmm" and put my headphones back in. I don't talk to people in the morning, especially at 5:30 when I haven't had any coffee yet.

I walked into the welcoming doors of my local YMCA ("you can get yourself clean! you can have a good meal! you can do what-ever you feel!" Oh, Village People!) and was instantly greeted with directions on where check-in and bag storage was. Following my settling in, I was immediately pleased to find out that they had free Starbucks coffee there all piping hot and ready to go!! AWESOME!

Before I knew it, an hour had passed and there I was in the briefing room, being told to stick toward the Bay Bridge, because if we swam a straight line from Treasure Island to Pier 14, we'd run into a barge that was sitting in that direct line. Instead, aim for the Gap Building and once you pass the barge, turn right in toward the balloon arches. "So if you remember one thing, remember to stay toward the Bay Bridge." Okay. Sounds easy enough. "The fastest people will make it in by about 25 minutes, and the rest of you somewhere between 40 and 60." I wondered where I'd fit in.

As I looked around the room, I realized this was not a group of triathletes. These were swimmers of all ages and sizes. There would be no rushing to get out of the water and get the wetsuit off and hop on the bike. No setting up for the long stretch ahead. Just a swim! The energy was quite different - remarkably so. There was little tension in the room, and in fact, more of a subtle excitement seemed to permeate as I observed the 250-odd people crowded into this small gym. People chatting quietly, most with wetsuits, some brave souls without. Not only did people seem to be excited, but there was also a gentle calm. These people KNOW how to swim. They're not triathletes who have focused on the bike and run and squeezed in a few laps at the last minute, hoping it would be sufficient enough for an open water bay swim. Taking some deep breaths, I found myself remarkable calm as well, and in fact, began to look forward to it!

After the briefing, there was a giant exodus from the gym and down the stairs, heading outside and onto the Blue & Gold Ferry, where we would later be jumping off in front of Treasure Island! Once on the boat, I met up with two friends from my tri team, Michael and Matt, where we chatted about strategy, triathlons, and my latest forward about 'dating a triathlete.' The minutes ticked down quickly and the time had come to take the leap. They were having people go 3 at a time, so the three of us decided to jump together. It was so much more fun jumping off the boat with my friends than when I had done it alone at the Escape From Alcatraz!

The feeling of jumping into 60F water is difficult to describe. It instantly takes your breath away for a few seconds, and it is especially difficult to keep your face in. When your face hits the water, it's like your body immediately reacts to get your face OUT of the water. After a few gasps of air and dog paddles, I began to settle in a bit. Still chilly, but I took a few more chances to put my face in and try to adjust to the icebox I had jumped into. My toes began to cramp up, but I wiggled away and after about 30 seconds, the cramps began to subside as well. The one thing that wasn't happening was that my left goggle kept letting water in. Annoying. The start hadn't quite 'started' - they wanted everybody off the boat and then they would do the official start. I still had a few seconds to adjust. I kept pulling my goggles off and back onto my face, then putting my face in to check if it was right, but for some reason, it just wouldn't fix. "What am I going to do?" I thought. I couldn't swim crazily with my head out of the water. I knew it had to do with the added thickness that my thermal cap was providing, but there was nothing I could really do about it. "I suppose my eye will just get used to it," I thought. Hoped so.

All I knew was that the horn had gone off and it was time for me to start swimming. F*** the goggle, I had a crossing to swim! So, I just ignored it and started swimming. Amazing how your body can and will adjust in certain situations. I just dealt with it and kind of forgot about it. The rest is, well..not that exciting! At one point I thought "I must at least be 25 minutes in by now." Nope - 18 minutes! "Dang!" At that point I knew it was time to stop messing around and really start swimming. I was warmed up, in a groove, and hey - "I'M UNDER THE FREAKING BAY BRIDGE!!!" I breathe bilaterally, so every other breath I'd look up and see the bridge above me and think "wow, I've got a whole new perspective on this thing I go over every day."

Other random thought during the swim: "well, in the case of an earthquake and the bridge went out, I now know I could swim back!" :-)

So, as I enjoyed the sight of the bridge amidst the gray San Francisco sky, the nearing downtown skyline (which is AWESOME TO SEE FROM THE BAY!!!), the minutes ticked on and I was happy. I enjoyed the feeling of pushing through that water and seeing my progress along the bridge. There were a lot of various smells I encountered as well. At one point it smelled like diesel fuel. That went away. Then I encountered a fishy smell that only lasted for a couple minutes. Nothing for awhile, and then more diesel. Pretty soon, as I took a breath to my right, I noticed that barge they had talked about in the briefing. "So after this barge...I think I should turn right."

It was now that I realized that nobody had passed me...but I'd passed a lot of people. To that extent, there was really nobody directly in front of me to sight off of. It was me, myself, and I (as Jason M. would say!). I would have to make the executive decision of when to turn in, and realized that I could potentially be affecting anybody who was behind me. "Hope I make the right decision!", is all I could think.

Sure enough, though, as I turned in, I could see the balloon arch and the far-off splashes of swimmers up ahead of me. Great! I'm on course! As I got nearer and nearer, I began to sight a little more often to make sure I was staying on track. This isn't so big in the beginning, but as you get closer, even a few strokes in the wrong direction can really get you off course. After a few minutes, I began to hear cheers faintly in the distance. "Time to pick it up, Sarah! Move those arms and kick those legs, girl!" The balloon arch was now completely in sight and I was getting excited - so much so that I began to sprint! As I began to approach the pier, I thought "is that...BARBEQUE I smell??? No way. Couldn't be!" (Later on, both Michael and Matt said "did you smell bbq at the end?")

The cheers were louder now and despite it being so gray out, I still thought that SF skyline was a gorgeous sight. After being alone for quite awhile, I was now converging onto the pier with a bunch of other swimmers as we neared the steps to get out of the water. The cheers inspired me to keep on keepin' on and I was determined to get there as fast as possible now. Pretty soon, I looked up and there was the turn for us to make to get to the steps that would lead us out of the water. Making the right-hand turn, I picked my head up and heard lots of people cheering, clapping, and saw right in front of me people getting out of the water. "Hooray! I did it!"

Upon stepping out of the water, I raced up the steps and toward the timing mats as fast as I could. "Wait a minute. Sarah. It's not a tri. You're done!" I really did have to kind of remind myself of this, sad to say! As I stepped onto the mat, I looked left, and there was my mom and my stepdad! "HEY YOU GUYS!" I beamed a big smile as I looked back at my time - 40:29! WOW! That's awesome!

As I went over to talk with my mom and stepdad and wait for Michael and Matt, my mom immediately said "Sarah, your left eye is so swollen and bloodshot!!" The goggle. Dang that goggle! "Yeah, that would be what extended exposure to salt water can do to your eyeball," I said. After rinsing it thoroughly with bottled water, the swelling began to go down. Mmmm, just love imagining all the yummy chemicals and salt that my eye was exposed to. :-P Besides being greeted with the wonderful view of having my family there, they even had a hot cup of coffee waiting for me. They totally rock!

Pretty soon, Michael Manning was out of the water at 42 minutes, and Matt came in around 51. "What happened to you?" I said. I knew Matt's swimming had improved, so I had expected to see him sooner. "Aww, I was sightseeing for a bit. Took my time, enjoyed the view!" Fair enough!

So, normally the story would end there. But after a nice hot shower and sauna, putting on warm clothes, and heading downstairs, I paused to look at the results: 40:29, 54th overall out of 176 people. Cool! What I was surprised to find was that there was a '2' next to my age group listing. "Wow...I got 2nd?" I thought. I approached the medals table and said "Do you guys give age group medals?" They responded with an enthusiastic "we sure do! Did you place?" "Well...yes, I think I did!" Sure enough, I'd gotten 2nd in my age group!

In the end, I walked away from the Embaracadero with a whole new perspective of the Bay Bridge and City skyline, and a medal! Not bad...and onto Foxy's Fall Century tomorrow!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Yeah yeah...been awhile

This weekend I'm posting everything - race reports from Vineman and Santa Barbara, which totally KICKED BUTT (as you can see from the picture on the right of Heather and I)! I can't wait for next season. Right now I'm focusing on recovery and eventually base building. Working on periodization for REAL this year. The race reports for Vineman and SB will be short but include highlights and my main thoughts about why I loved these races and why they were truly the best two of the whole season. I think distance really is my thing. I love this sport.

Oh, and in just a few short steps I'm taking the first steps in becoming certified to teach spinning classes!

That said, some things to read in the meantime:

>This is an amazing story and I had tears clouding my vision as I read it. I wish everybody could read this and be inspired. This is what true love is all about:

>Then, once you've wiped your tears, read this: FREAKING HILARIOUS!!!! Oh man...I think this is the real reason I've had trouble with dating. :-)

"Dating A Triathlete"

"I am an outdoors type of person."
Really means: I train in any type of weather. If its raining, snowing, 90 degrees w/100% humidity, or winds gusting at 30 mph. I don't want to hear any complaints because I will still train in it and you're just a big wuss for complaining about it.

"I enjoy riding my bike."
Really means: with or w/o aero bars, alone or in a peleton, I don't care. If you can't do a spur of the moment 30- miler then you're not my type. I will let you draft, but if you can't hang and I drop you - I will see you later. I am a capable mechanic, but don't expect me to change your flats or tune your bike. You need to learn that on your own.

"I enjoy jogging."
Really means: Let's run hills until we puke. I have just as many shoes as you only mine are better because they are functional and all look the same.

"I enjoy dining out."
Really means: I enjoy eating out, in or anywhere else I can find food. Don't be shy because with the amount of food I eat, you can have that main entree instead of a salad and you will still look as though you eat like a rabbit in comparison. Don't get your limbs too close though as I may take a bite out of you. Most importantly don't expect any taste off my plate unless you can bring something to the party like more food. Eventually though if you're not burning 4,000+ calories a day you're going to plump up and have a terrible complex due to watching me eat deserts and not gain any weight. Friends and family will eventually decide not to dine with us anymore due to my horrid table manners. Oh, and don't ask me any questions during breakfast, Mid-Morning Lunch, Lunch, Afternoon Lunch, Dinner or Recovery Dinner as it does not lend to efficient food intake.

"I enjoy quiet walks on the beach."
Really means: Walks on the beach warming up into an 8 mile run and then plunging myself in the ocean for a 2 miler. If you get in my way you're going to find out what mass start is and let me assure you that you don't want to find out.

"I find fulfillment in charitable work."
Really means: If I am not racing, I am volunteering and I expect you to be there along side me as I stand out in 90 degree weather for 8 hours handing out sports drink to cyclists going 20 mph. Just stick the ol' arm out there and hope it doesn't get taken off.

"I enjoy sharing quiet moments together."

Really means: It's taper time. Just back off because I am strategizing and in a pissy mood because I am worried about my "A" race and can't workout.

"I am an active person."
Really means: Aside from my 40 hour job, and the 8 mandatory hours of sleep a night. 10 hours a week are devoted to me during the off-season and 20 during race season leaving us 4 hours. 2 of which are spent inhaling food and you not talking to me, so let's make the best of the 2 hours we will spend together on average each day. If you are a licensed massage therapist or doctor this would make the most optimal use of our time together. Nutritionist is also acceptable, but I probably already know just as much as you.

"I enjoy road trips and leisurely drives."
Really means: You have your choice of Wisconsin, Idaho, Florida, California, Arizona, and New York, but don't expect to do much sight-seeing. If I get enough support from you we might be able to include Hawaii in there.

"I enjoy sight-seeing."
Really means: Lets grab a mountain bike and get our HR's up to 90%. There's plenty of time to look around on the descent as trees and bushes whiz by you at 40 mph.

"I like stimulating conversation."
Really means: while we are running, we can talk about food. Then we can talk about how we decided what to wear on this run based on the temperature at start time versus the temperature at the time we expect to finish, how horribly out of shape we are, how many miles we did last week, and how many we will do this week and next week. Then we can talk about food.

"I enjoy relaxing soaks in the tub."
Really Means: I'm going to stop on the way home and buy two bags of ice, throw them in the tub with some water, and sit in this torture chamber for 30 minutes.

"I'm interested in photography"
Really Means: My camera is permanently perched a tripod in front of my trainer. I obsess over taking photos of my bike position and analyzing them to get the perfect setup.

"I'm into in technology"
Really Means: My HRM and bike computer are my best friends. Until you can give me some hard data that can improve my training, don't bother trying to buddy up to me. You could one day break into the top three if I find you as entertaining on long runs and rides as my mp3 player.

Okay, I'm not this bad. But...I have to laugh because there is a certain kernel of truth in some of them. ;-)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Donner and Pre-Vineman

It's been far too long, but quite a busy month.

I wanted to update and say that Donner went pretty well. I improved my time by 14 minutes from last year and still placed 12th in my age group. The real bummer came from the fact that with 0.4 miles left in the run, THREE women from my age group passed me! I tried to kick it up and catch them, but I was shot and there was no way I was going to sprint for nearly a half mile. Sounds silly to say, but at 6,000 feet and almost three hours after I had begun - sprinting seemed like an impossible feat.

I'll write more about this race later, because I definitely have a half race report going, but I don't have time to finish right now.

Also, I've got my Half-Vineman this weekend. I'm now 10% anxious and 90% excited (up through yesterday it was 20% anxious/80% excited). I've done quite a bit of visualization and feel really ready to go out there, kick some butt and HAVE FUN!

Write more later...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Peaking too soon?

I hope not.

Thing is, I feel great. I mean, really, GREAT. On the other hand, I had three, count them, THREE days of rest last week. Oh, the shame! "What a SLACKER I feel like!" I thought to myself. Thoughts like "my training is going down the tubes," "you're being so LAZY, Sarah," and my personal favorite, "How can I make this up next week?" were flowing through my head constantly. Between cat-sitting, feeling exhaustion from my double on Monday, horrible cramps (sometimes, being a woman does have its downsides), and the upcoming conference for work, I was one ball of exhaustion. I knew it would not behoove me to go against my instincts and work out (that is, if creating time for such was actually a feasible thing), and it is a rare moment when I actually think "no, I really don't even have enough energy to work out and I will NOT feel better after exercising."

And thus, Friday and Saturday ended up being rest days. Saturday was not a restful day in any way, shape or form, though. Conferences are tough work and when it isn't physically exhausting to be running around, standing and setting up/breaking down all day, it is mentally exhausting to be 'on' from pre-start to post-finish. I had planned on running Saturday evening, as I thought it would provide a nice release after such a long day, but all I could think about doing was eating dinner, having a glass of wine, and falling into a deep sleep.

The sleep may have been deep, but it is always too short. I love sleep. I think I've mentioned that before in this blog. The nice thing is that it generally comes easy for me as well. As long as I'm sufficiently tired, sleep will ensue (provided I haven't ingested coffee past 3 p.m.).

I woke up early (far too early) Sunday morning, nice and blurry-eyed and ready to ride! Departing from Lee's at 6:45, we did a great 50 mile ride on one of my favorite routes, which was part of what the 1st stage of this year's Tour of California encompassed. We rode out toward the ocean where it got progressively foggier (but so beautiful!), and right around Valley Ford we began to notice people zooming by with numbers on their bikes - a race! Intrigued by what race it was, we stopped at the general store to find out, and were told it was a biathlon: bike from Santa Rosa to Marin, then run (not sure exactly where). Lee enjoyed the idea of that, as swimming isn't his favorite. The pace of the whole ride was great. Nothing crazy like the week prior, but not too slow, either. I love riding up there. I certainly took some opportunities to attack hills as I felt the motivation, which I did - I felt great on the ride.

Later that day, I certainly felt sore. The impact from the climbing we did (~2200 ft.) had set in, and I had a good feeling I might be feeling tired the next day...

or not. I don't know if it was the recovery day(s), the recovery drink, or a combo of both, but at swim practice Monday evening, I felt FANTASTIC! I was on fire! Got a good night's sleep, woke up bright and early on Tuesday, though admittedly as I arrived at the gym all I could think about was how nice a hot cup of coffee would be. Christine and I lifted weights (focused on back and abs), and upon finishing, I headed out to the track, somewhat dreading it, as I knew my friends out there would have a great (read: HARD) workout in store. After a warm-up mile (which I ran at an 8:04/mile pace quite easily - was very surprised), I greeted Owen and company and said, "so what's the lineup?" "6 x 1 mile, with rest intervals at 1/4 the mile pace, and running speed at your 10K race pace," he said in his British accent with a smile. I had actually planned on doing something similar, so I was somewhat happy to hear it, though I knew not to be fooled by the seemingly easy tone of the regimen. That sixth (or fifth, in my case - I knew I'd only have time for 5) mile was going to kill.

I was alarmingly surprised when I began to consistently run my laps at 1:52, 1:53, 1:54 somewhat comfortably. I say that loosely - 'comfortably' meaning that I wasn't gasping for air. I was running roughly a 7:30 mile with consistency and not dying at the end of each one! I rested for 1:52 between each one. The very last lap I completed in 1:43, which made me happy (and dead...).

That was yesterday. Today I woke up at 5:15 and met up with Leo at 5:40 for a 23 mile bike ride, and I felt SO FANTASTIC!!! I was totally spinning up Tunnel Road, felt great attacking Eunice even after a nice break at the Cheeseboard for scones and coffee (now that's rare - that climb is typically hard as hell after I've taken a nice coffee break), and in general, felt like a fantastic rider. However, as I realized how fantastic I felt, that's when I began to pose the question, "am I peaking?" I really, really hope not, since Donner Lake isn't for another couple of weeks. Hrmmmmmmmm.

The other possibility is that I had two days off to rest, and this is the result of such. Chances could be that if I taper properly the week prior to Donner, I'll be feeling like this or better. In any case, it feels good to feel so...good. I'll take it!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Apparently, Fitness Journal DOES INDEED have a planner function where I can set out my week's plan! I stood to be corrected (and I was). Well, it's even better than I thought.

There's a food journal function on there as well, but I'm not so good at keeping track of that even though I'd like to be. I just don't have the desire to log every single thing. Maybe I should try it for a few days.

The other thing I like about it is that it differentiates between, say, stationary bike, actual spin class and road cycling; running and running on a track; swimming in open water v. pool - very cool. You can be as detailed or as vague as you want in recording your workouts, and there's a place to record how you felt, and make other notes. For example, on my track workouts I use the notes section to write what the actual track workout was.

Finally, the neat thing is that it tallies everything for you so you can look at a week's totals thus far, a month's totals, etc. It also tells you when you log in how many days you have until each event. That's good and scary. :-)

Go Fitness Journal!

Falling off the wagon blogging!

I've got to get back on it. I was blogging pretty regularly for awhile, but things have been so crazy, I haven't had a lot of time. However, I am NOT falling off the wagon training!

I'm using Fitness Journal to keep track of my training now so I don't have to use this much to record what I did, which is part of where the lack of blogging comes in. Fitness Journal is great because it does a nice job of summarizing your week and lets you have a nice view of the variety of things you do. I haven't used too many of the other functions yet, but again, it's nice to have a place to log distances, and the other bonus is that it automatically calculates your pace. For example, I did a 44 minute run yesterday and used Gmap pedometer to calculate that I did 5.279 miles. I entered this in to Fitness Journal and it said I was at a 8.29 min/mile pace! Great!

The one thing Fitness Journal does NOT have, however, is a place to lay out your plan for the week, so I'm going to continue to use this forum for writing down my plan for the week. That way I can stay on track and have something to be accountable to.

Finally, regarding my feelings about the upcoming races...Donner, I think I'm really going to kick butt. I feel strong. Running has gotten better. Cycling is super strong. Swimming is good (same old). Vineman 70.3...I'm a little scared. We did a 56 mile ride last weekend on the Vineman course and I rode really well, but I thought "crap...I'm going to have to run 13 miles after this! Damn!!!!" Worse yet, it'll be HOT. However, that's the wrong attitude to have so another thing I'm really going to work on is maintaining a positive mental attitude and do some visualization work for the race so that I go in more confident than I feel.

Okay, that's all I have time for now. Plan for the week:

Sunday, 6/18: Rest Day
Monday, 6/19: a.m. - ran 5.279 miles for 44 minutes; p.m. - swam 2500 yds for 60 minutes
Tuesday, 6/20: unintended rest day :-) chose to sleep in
Wednesday, 6/21: a.m. - bike ride; p.m. - swim
Thursday, 6/22: a.m. - lift/run; p.m. - spinning
Friday, 6/23: a.m. - swim
Saturday, 6/24: early a.m. run? NBTF Conference that day but we'll see...if not maybe a p.m. run
Sunday, 6/25: 60-70 mile ride up in Santa Rosa w/the guys

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Getting back on track to train...

Okay, so it's 2 days out. Time to start constructing a game plan for the week. I glimpsed the title of an article I printed out last week that I've not yet read, which said "Are you training or working out?"

Good point. Do I really TRAIN, or am I just working out each week? Planning on reading more about how to properly train for the rest of my races. So far I've done reasonably well given the time I put into this, but I think my time could be better constructed and I could train smarter than I am. I do think I lean more toward 'working out' as opposed to serious 'training,' and that could be a severely limiting factor in my performance and could possibly be what's keeping me from moving up just a tad.

That said, this is kind of a recovery week so I'm just going to focus more on working out and letting my body put itself back together as I read more about how to get myself ready for Donner Lake Triathlon (July 16) and VINEMAN (July 30). I just want to perform to the best of my ability and truly make the best use of the time I devote to training.

Week ahead:
Wednesday, 6/7: swim at 6 a.m.
Thursday, 6/8: lift at 6 a.m., run on the track
Friday, 6/9: swim at 6 a.m.
Saturday, 6/10: stretch/ab work if I can make some time for it - will be in Las Vegas at a conference all day for work
Sunday, 6/11: late afternoon bike ride/run

That's it for now. Working on the race report from Alcatraz...

Monday, June 05, 2006

I ESCAPED!! (mini race report - long one to follow)

*Photos courtesy of the SF Chronicle (

The 2006 Accenture Escape From Alcatraz - DONE!

Yes, that's right. I swam my way from the San Francisco Belle in 44 minutes (though I had 42 minutes by my watch...), ran 1/2 a mile down to the transition zone to grab my bike and go on a very technical, very hilly, very NARROW course that traversed the Presidio, Great Highway, GG Park and back for 18 miles in a time of 1:04, traded the bike shoes for running shoes and ran for 8 miles along Crissy Field, under the GG Gate bridge, down to Baker Beach, back up the Sand Ladder (for anybody who's curious about what the Sand Ladder is, there's a great video of people climbing up its 400 steps here:, and back down to the finish line in a time of 1:13, for a grand total finish time of 3:11 and placing 16th in my age group of 73 women. Phew!!

Did I love it? It was fun, fast, and a great race to be a part of. I was really happy to be one of the competitors and I will say that the overall level of fitness of the athletes who participated was far higher than what I've experienced at other tris. I'm normally used to passing tons of people on the bike and even a fair amount on the run, and that was definitely not happening to the degree it normally does.

Personally, I think I found it more grueling than anything. The swim was really neat, but about 20 minutes into it the fog rolled in and the Palace of Fine Arts (what I was sighting off of) disappeared!! So, that kind of sucked and it was a little scary. The bike lane was SO narrow, it made it difficult to pass people especially since everybody was vying to pass everybody else - I'd try to make a pass but inevitably ended up cutting more than a couple of people off by accident. I felt bad about it. Then it was just like "up and down, up and down...enough with the climbing already!" As much as I feel weird saying this...the run was my favorite. It was a cool run and I really got energized at the 4 mile mark. Unfortunately, those first 3.5 were really difficult and it took a lot longer than usual for my body to kind of 'click-in' to the run. Usually only takes about a mile or so.

Would I do it again? Probably at some point, and it's a really neat race to be in, but it's not going down in my book as something to do every year. Maybe every few years.

My friend Sherreme took this picture of me at the beginning of the run. Thanks, Sherreme! Go Lombardi Sports!!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

In the thick of it

Have I mentioned I'm going nuts training? I have mental arguments with myself these days:


Tired Sarah: "Ohhhhhhhh, but I ALREADY lifted and ran this morning! I don't WANNA swim tonight!"
Athlete Sarah: "You're swimming. Shut up."
Tired Sarah: "awwww, come ON!!!! Muscles HURT! Body TIRED! So sleepy!"
Athlete Sarah: "Not gonna work. You're swimming."
Tired Sarah: "Do I really have to? I really don't want to!!!"
Athlete Sarah: "Too bad. Going swimming."
Tired Sarah: "Fine, I'm too tired to argue with myself. Going swimming. *sigh*"

See? I'm going nuts. It was that way after my bike ride on Sunday regarding doing a brick and going running. Didn't wanna run. Sooooooooooo did NOT want to run. But...I did. To make matters worse, I TRICKED myself!

I said to myself "just get out there. Get those legs moving after that ride. 10 minutes is all you have to do. That's IT!!" Tired Sarah: "wellllllll, okay...if 10 minutes is all...I can handle that."

I get out there, start running down Euclid, and 6 minutes into it say "awww, screw it. Just go down to the end of Euclid at Hearst." So I ran 19 minutes total, nearly killing myself going back up that gigantic hill. Tired me was *not* happy about being tricked.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

WARNING: LONG race report.

If you're short on time, skip to the run. That's the good stuff. :-)

On a normal day, I imagine Lake San Antonio is a quiet, calm blue lake much like Lake Berryessa – large, expansive, filled with boaters on a sunny summer day and surrounded by rolling hills with trails to hike and mountain bike on.

On this day, however, all of that changes. As I ride my bike down Lynch Hill at 8:15 a.m. on Sunday morning, the noise of a crowd draws nearer. Of course, there is also a crowd around me. All of us triathletes are making our way down to the transition zone to set up and prepare for our race. The voice over the loudspeaker gets louder. The tunes from the music begin to sound familiar. With my bag on my back, wearing my lucky fleece reindeer pants and flip flops, I pick up speed on my bike and smile as I neglect to remember that this is the very hill I will be challenged with upon my start of the bike course.

Why am I smiling? Because I feel ‘it.’ The excitement and the energy of everybody around me, of the crowd, from myself – it’s too much not to smile. Up until now, I wasn’t necessarily dreading Wildflower, but I spent last week fretting slightly and worrying about my preparedness. I spent the last few months wondering what I was getting myself into for another season. I spent the last month and a half realizing that I had slightly burned myself out and triathlon season had not even begun! Now, though…now it’s different. I’m here. I’m going to race. And I’ve finally realized that no matter what, the point is to just have fun and enjoy the experience.

Fast-forward to one hour, forty-five minutes later. The boys have started their race. Now it’s the women’s turn. One by one, five minutes apart, the waves go off into the water. I stand excitedly with some friends in the sea of women in wetsuits who are chatting nervously, laughing, cheering and preparing themselves for their races. I begin to wonder if not wearing a wetsuit was a mistake. “Everybody else has a wetsuit. Dammit! Why didn’t I wear one?” I think. I remind myself that I’ll save at least a minute in transition, and I am a good enough swimmer that I don’t need to be buoyed by a wetsuit. Let’s not even get into how refreshingly GREAT it feels to be swimming in the open water of a lake.

The grey caps are up. These are the women in the 20-24 age group. I begin stretching, swinging my arms, and making my game plan. I will not start up front. Instead, I make the decision that I will start in the middle of the pack. There, I’ll have no pressure to be the fastest and if all works well, I’ll not have the panic attacks I’ve become so familiar with at the beginning of a race and I can start with a good pace. Before I know it, the horn sounds and the women are off.

The yellow caps (that’s me!) move forward and we run into the water to get a couple minutes of warm-up. Ooooooh. Kind of, um, chilly. “It’s okay, Sarah. Think of your cold showers. Cold shower, cold shower, oooh, yes, it feels good. Refreshing! Mmm, how REFRESHINGLY COLD IT IS!” The power of thought is amazing and before I know it, I realize this water isn’t actually that cold at all, and I tell myself over and over how good it feels. Suddenly, I hear concerned voices to my left. “You can do it, honey. It’s okay. Just do some breaststroke. That’s it, take a deep breath.” I look over and see a woman from the previous wave who is having a lot of difficulty feeling comfortable. I swim over to her and do my best to help out if I can. “You’re okay,” I say. “Just take a nice deep breath in, deep breath out. Good!! Now do it again! There you go…now see if you can put your head down. GREAT! You go girl! You’ve got it.” She seems to be doing better, and I realize that I’m pretty much the only one from my wave still out in the water. “Crap, I need to get back there. I’m starting in 2 minutes.” I swim toward the starting line and realize I’m not so nervous anymore. This really is going to be an AWESOME race.

The horn sounds and we’re off. Water splashing, arms flying, feet kicking – the hallmark of triathlon swimming. Still, I’m not afraid. I breathe every other stroke to my right. I concentrate on moving forward, finding a spot for myself among the wetsuit-clad women that surround me. I occasionally feel feet and arms on my legs but let my legs go limp as it happens and wait to make sure nobody’s face is in my range before I begin kicking again. Finally, I pick up the pace as I get a rhythm going. I start passing people with yellow caps and I begin feeling comfortable enough to breathe every three strokes. I reach the second red buoy and I’m feeling great. The grey caps start coming into view and I begin to gain on them as I pass yet more yellow caps. “Sweet! I must be going at a reasonably good pace!” I think. More time passes, and after rounding a few more buoys, passing yellow and grey caps, and feeling generally great about my swim, the noise of the triathlon gets louder. I am, in fact, nearing the finish of the swim. I even start passing some pink caps who were from two waves ahead of me. I think of Alice and Jessica and how I’m going to do them proud when I tell them I kicked butt on the swim and stuck to the true open-water swimmer’s philosophy of foregoing the use of a wetsuit. Here it is. The land is approaching quickly, and I decide to swim up as far as I can go before standing up, because it’s just faster that way. “Stand up, Sarah! You’re here! GO!!!!”

I look at my watch. 29:11…what? Wait. Really? No. Run, Sarah, don’t think about the time. Just go. Swim cap off, get to that zone and find your bike and go. “But damn…the swim…I could’ve sworn I was faster…ugh, oh well. It’s done. Focus on the bike.”

I find my bike, rinse my feet off, put my socks and shoes on, grab my gloves, helmet, bike and away I go. Still slightly dizzy but I know that will go away. Again, the smile is on my face. Damn, I LOVE THIS!! YES!! I mount my bike and start pedaling fast, and upon exiting the transition zone I hear “Go Sarah!!!” Mike Khazalpour is standing on the sidelines and I give him a thumbs up. How cool is it to have somebody cheer for me? I love it and it energizes me even more. I know what’s coming – Lynch Hill. The infamous, most talked about hill that any Wildflower veteran seems to mention with dread. I’m expecting the worst…only to find that I zip up it, too excited, too thrilled, too ENERGIZED to stop and think for a moment how bad it might feel. I stay to the left because I begin passing one, two, three…more and more people who are doing their best to collect themselves and get up that hill. The competitive side in me is only more amped. “Ha! This is NOTHING like what I thought!” Adrenaline is pumping through my body and I’m on a mission to make up some lost time.

Once I reach the top of Lynch Hill I raise my gears and continue to pedal hard. It’s not long before a 31 year-old woman catches me. I decide to use her quickness as inspiration and gain on her and pass her. We play leap frog a few times, but I think she’s decided she’s warmed up and charges ahead. I’ve been left in her dust. Wow. You GO, WOMAN! Using the momentum I’ve gained, I forge ahead and try to keep Jay’s words in mind (even though I have no cyclo-computer on my bike): “never go under 90 rpm’s!” At one point I decide to calculate my rpm’s and I’m right on the money. “Okay, this is what 90 rpm’s feel like – don’t go slower than this,” I tell myself.

10K…15K…20K! I reach the 20K mark which is the turnaround point. I’m smiling AGAIN because damn…I feel GOOD! I feel strong. I feel fast. I look at my watch but it’s not making a lot of sense at the moment and anyway, who cares. I know what I feel. Unlike the swim, I know when I’m going fast on the bike and the fact that only two to three people have passed me tells me I’m hauling ass. They’re handing out water bottles of Gatorade, and I suddenly realize I’m somewhat thirsty. The old adage “if you feel thirsty, it’s too late” flashes through my mind. Nevermind that. Drink, Sarah. Up until now I’ve wanted to stay tucked into my aerobars and remain focused on my pedaling, too stubborn to stop and take some sips from my water bottle. I’ve got a Clif Bar in my tri jersey back pocket, but who has time to unwrap that? I take some sips from my water bottle. Better…

I decide that the out part is easier than the back. Some of those sweet descents that I experienced riding out are now annoying uphills. It is a tough course, and these are more than just the typical rollers. They’re more like quick, big hills that I’m trying to ascent as fast as I can. I press on, too focused on not allowing anybody to pass me, not losing ground and keeping up a good rpm. As I go up a hill, I begin to feel slightly…tight? Fatigued? “Maybe this is where some of that lost bike time is catching up to you, Sarah,” I think to myself. Could be. Doesn’t matter. I take another few sips from my water bottle. 30K…I suddenly ‘feel’ my back. No pain. Just more of the fact that I notice it. It’s there. Maybe I should come out of my aerobars for a bit to stretch out my back. Ahh, okay, better. I know that at the very end I’ve got the descent on Lynch Hill to look forward to. That is going to be soooooooooo sweet. Keep going! Only 10K left! Go! Go! Go!

Before I know it, I’m rounding the corner that will bring me around to the straightaway that will lead me to Lynch Hill, which will bring me right down into the transition zone. I gain some speed and move fast. This is it. Get going, Sarah. You are kicking some serious butt. Suddenly I see Trent on the sideline. He’s clearly looking for people he knows so I wave. He spots me and as I fly past I hear “GO SARAH! YEAH, SARAH!” Then I see James and one of the other guys from the team I can’t identify. More shouts to root me on. Yet another big toothy smile spreads across my face and I am *so* excited.

Down the hill I go. Speed is my friend and I pass yet more cyclists and runners at the end of their race. The familiar noises and sounds of people, music and excitement once again get louder and my anticipation gets bigger. Oh my god. It’s two-thirds over. I look at my watch and nearly do a double-take. What? How can this be? I’m only at 1:56. One hour, fifty-six minutes. Wait, wait, WAIT. My goal was three hours! I said I would be happy with three hours! At this rate…I’d have to TRY to come in over three hours! I mean…we’re talking…geez, wait. Think, Sarah. Holy, CRAP. I could come in around the 2:40’s zone. I could do this in TWO HOURS AND FORTY SOMETHING MINUTES. OH MY GOD. With that, I run into the transition zone to excitedly prepare for my run.

“Only a 10K left, Sarah!” are my thoughts as I rack my bike. I lift my right leg to pull my bike shoe off. *PAIN PAIN PAIN* Ouch. Ooooooh, right quad, pain, put your leg down. It’s okay. I’ll get stretched out and it’ll be okay. I continue to try and move quickly. I see the Gu I have on my towel, and debate ingesting it. I remind myself of the impending cramp in my leg and quickly down the Gu followed by a swig of water to wash it down. Shoes on, hat on, sunglasses, race belt – I’ve got it all. Suddenly I realize I never bothered to find out where the ‘RUN OUT’ sign was before the race started. ‘Shit, Sarah, you’re supposed to do these things BEFORE the race!’ I look toward the ‘BIKE OUT’ sign. Nothing. Scanning from left to right, I look to the opposite end of the transition zone and spot the exit. As I leave my area, another woman in my age group is right on my heels. Competition! I’m secretly hoping she’s not a really fast runner, but only the next 50 minutes will tell.

As I begin to pick up a run, my legs are screaming at me. Noodle/jelly/spaghetti – any one of those words could be used to describe how my legs are feeling. Oh, this is bad. Is it worse than other races? I can’t really remember. I need to focus on here and now and getting the task finished. As the thought of “oh, this is going to be a looooooooooooooong 10K” flashes through my mind, I use my mental strength to lecture myself. This is not about the next 10K. This is about THIS kilometer, here and NOW. Oh, but I want to walk. Just a little bit? Just for a second? NO!!! No matter how slow I’m going, I can’t stop running. I HAVE to run.

After what feels like the longest kilometer ever, I finally reach the 1K sign. My legs are beginning to feel adjusted, ever so slightly. The terrain is still on a hiking trail, and as I navigate my way along the path, I begin to pass spectators. Many are sitting on chairs or picnic tables, drinking beers, lounging in the shade under a canopy of trees as they cheer us on. Oh, to be one of them right now. “Actually,” I think, “I DON’T want to be one of them! I LOVE being a triathlete!”

And while I try to focus on that positive mental attitude about how great this is, I’m beginning to feel uncomfortable. It’s hot. Hotter than what I’m used to. I feel that warm sun beating down on me, and the sweat from my head is soaking my hat. For some reason, my right ankle is bothering me. Not just bothering me, it’s hurting. As I begin to let these thoughts cloud my mind, I look ahead to see another hill in front of me. Paying these previous worries no mind, I hunker down and push up that hill.

The run continues this way for another couple kilometers. It’s more climbing than I realized it would be, but I know how to handle hills, and while it is in no way easy, it’s nothing I can’t do. I CAN do this! I WILL do this! I smile as I think about how strong I am and how great I’m feeling now.

Suddenly, my left quad tightens a bit. My gait shortens as I try to feel the impending cramp and hope that it passes. I continue to run, but the tightness becomes more severe. Before I know it, I’m running up the hill with a full-blown cramp in my left quad, and my right quad is beginning to follow suit. Ouch. I’ve never cramped like this before. I breathe deeply and intensely. Keep running, Sarah. Just keep going. Finally, though, I just can’t. Both quads are so tight I can barely stand so I go off to the side of the road to stretch against a tree. It’s not helping me much and as I look at my watch, I decide that I have to finish this race, and it must be done in under 3 hours. There’s nothing else to do but keep going.

I’m running slowly but surely up the hill, and suddenly my side becomes tight. My breathing is labored, and it’s not long before a fellow runner notices how cramped I am and tries to ease my pain by saying he’s cramping, too. Finally, it’s too much. I stop to walk because my body won’t let me run anymore. I want to run SO BADLY. I just can’t. Suddenly, the right side cramp moves around to my back. It’s as though somebody has put some sort of harness around my torso and tightened it to the point of making breathing and movement difficult. I know there’s an aid station at the top of this hill. I know what I have to do. Using everything I have, I pick up a slow jog again.

The sight of overweight college girls in bikinis running around with water and Gatorade has never been such a sight for sore eyes. Maybe it’s because all I really notice is the water, Gatorade and hoses they have in their hands to spray people down. Initially I don’t really consider stopping but for a brief moment to take a swig of Gatorade and water. Suddenly though, the pain overwhelms me and I have tears in my eyes, trying my hardest to take a deep breath but every time I attempt it, a sharp pain needles me in the side. Breathing is difficult, shallow and audible, and I am quickly noticed. “Get her a banana!” one of the college boys yells. Somebody hands me a banana, and my fellow runner who was cramping before runs up. “I NEED A BANANA!” he yells in a panicked tone. I quickly break mine in half and hand it to him. As much as I would love to just lie down and take a nice 10 minute break, I know this 40 second break is over. I’m still fighting tears and for the first time in the entire race, all I want is for it to be over with. I’ve had it. And you know what? The faster I go, the sooner I’ll find that finish line.

I can’t decide what’s worse – the quad cramps or the side/back cramps. Either way, I’m learning to deal. After my brief rest stop, I’m feeling better. I can still do this in under 3 hours. This is my goal and I’m going to do it, no matter how much it hurts. The next 3K are easier – still filled with hills, and I stop to walk for a few seconds one more time. Finally, the number of spectators increases and I begin to hear encouragement and shouts of “you’re almost there! Not much further! You’ve got it!” Somebody sees me and yells “Go Lombardi!” I smile. I needed that. There’s one final hill in front of me, and as much as I want to walk, there are too many people around and my ego is too big for that. I suffer up the hill, energized by the cheering and clapping that surrounds me.

Finally, I begin my descent of Lynch Hill. Matt and Luly’s words of “sprint down that last hill!” run through my mind and I smile as I think “ha. Yeah, right.” That said, I know I will not be walking. There is no more of that, and as I continue my labored run down the hill, I am still passing people who can hear me breathing (or attempting to), and they shout “good job!” I manage to eke out a “thanks, and you too!” I’m almost there.

Normally, I love to sprint that last 100 yards before the finish line. Today, though – today is different. I’m using everything I have just to stay running. Suddenly, this young woman comes up next to me and with a big, bright smile and spark in her eyes, she looks right at me and says “Come on! Let’s sprint it!” How can I refuse that? She was one of the many blessings I had on that run. Using her inspiration, I sprint through the finish line at a time of 2:56:14 and as I wait for my timing chip to be removed from my ankle, I stand there (just barely), trying to breathe, hurting everywhere, and as a cold, wet towel is placed over my shoulders, the tears come pouring out. I hurt everywhere. I made my goal. I can’t breathe. Matt is right there, surprisingly enough, patting me on the shoulder and asking if I’m okay. I manage a smile, shake my head no and with a half laugh-half cry, say “I will be. Not yet.”

One of the things I tell many of my cancer patients and their families is that in adjusting to life post-surgery and post-treatment, you have to learn how to accept a new ‘normal.’ If you keep trying to get your life back to what it was before the diagnosis, you’ll be wasting a lot of energy and emotion on something that isn’t realistically achievable. I found that in this race, the interesting thing about pain is that once you accept it as ‘normal,’ it becomes much easier to handle. I kept wanting the pain to go away and thinking about how horrible the run was going to be if the pain continued on. The pain in my ankle never really subsided. The quad cramping never went away, and by the halfway point, things had only gotten worse. Once I realized that I was going to run this race no matter what (the thought of not finishing never even crossed my mind – it was more a matter of getting it done sub-three hours), I accepted the pain. It didn’t make me any less upset about what was happening to my body, but it did make it easier to push forward. It made it easier to see my goal as achievable. What happened on that run, while upsetting, was very powerful for me, and it reminded me once again of how mental strength is just as important as physical strength.

Am I disappointed in what happened? Even a week later, still a bit. Have I learned some lessons? Absolutely. I need to pay more attention to my refueling methods and take it more seriously. I need to make sure I don’t push myself beyond my limits in a fit of over-zealousness. Again, I am so amazed that I still managed to average a 9:13 mile in the midst of the most pain I’ve ever been in. That’s what I love about racing. It pushes you far beyond the limits of what you’d normally achieve in training and when you walk away from it all, you’re a stronger and more confident person because of it. You find out what you did wrong and where to improve, gather those lessons and your newfound strength, move forward and never look back. Alcatraz, here I come.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

so awesome - Jessica escapes from Alcatraz!

While I was doing Wildflower on Sunday morning, Jessica was swimming her 'Round Trip Alcatraz' (out to the Rock, around and back) swim! I just thought this picture was so cool I had to put it on my blog (with her permission, of course). Alice also did the RTA on Saturday morning. They are so inspiring. You go, girls!!

Back to the grind

I'm back at it, albeit slowly. Working on a long race report.

Just thought I'd log in what I've done so far and the rest of the week plan:

Mon/Tues: Felt like a train wreck (mostly just on Monday), but did a LOT of stretching on both days. Drank 3 beers on Tuesday evening w/my tri team buddies and it was LOVELY!
Wed: Swam at 6 p.m., ~2500 yds
Thurs: Ran 5.203 miles in 46.09 min, gmap pedometer here:; stretched afterward
Friday: Ride bike in the a.m., do a quick 10-15 minute run right afterward; swim at 6 p.m.
Saturday: Ride or swim...not sure
Sunday (Mother's Day - I LOVE YOU, MOM!): Bike ride w/the guys!

Next week I'll be ramping it up to build for Alcatraz. Probably do some stadiums, back to lifting, lots of doubles and bricks, track running as well.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Race report to come soon...results here

I DID IT!! I completed Wildflower, and under 3 hours to boot! I must say, I'm really proud of myself. The perfectionist in me is, of course, frustrated with the slow swim time and the agony I endured during the run (more to follow in race report), but nonetheless, I am proud.

Total time: 2:56:14
Place in age group: 32 out of 265 women in 25-29 age group
Place overall: 601 out of 2584 athletes
Place among female athletes: 130 out of 1038

Swim: 29:11 (19:27 kilometer)
T1: 02:41
Bike: 1:24:35 (17.5 mph)
T2: 02:33
Run: 0:57:14 (09:13 mile)

As I said...the perfectionist in me was unhappy with a couple things, namely the run, though my swim could've been a bit better. Perhaps wetsuits really should be a consideration for me...

More later!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Stop and smell the flowers...and taper.

I'm totally busy right now, so why am I writing? Just so much going on in my head. Taper this week...scared/excited/scared/excited about Wildflower. Had a team meeting last night with my teammates from Lombardi's, and happened to sit next to a guy who's new this year whom I had not yet met. It turns out he's a physical therapist for Presidio Sports and has been doing tris for the last three years, but started road bike tris last year - in which he started out with a half-Ironman and then went for Ironman! Talk about jumping in feet first. Geez. Anyway, the point of my writing about this is that I began asking him a lot of questions and he started flooding me with information. I think I must have had a rather overwhelmed look on my face because he said "I'm sorry, I'm totally going off on all this tri-geek stuff you probably don't care about."

I shook my head and quickly said "no! The problem is that I love finding out new stuff, but you know, sometimes it's nice to go about all of this with my head slightly in the sand. Find out stuff as you go...ignorance CAN be bliss, you know!" He smiled and nodded encouragingly, and I went on to say that there is SO MUCH that you can learn about this sport that sometimes it can just be so overwhelming, and that you can easily become obsessed about searching for the right information and the quest for doing everything 'the right way' that you then forget why you were doing it in the first place, which for me was to have fun, enjoy myself and challenge myself. Sometimes I like not knowing everything there is to know. The pleasure of learning as you go, stumbling upon life's (and triathlon training's) little lessons can be more enjoyable than the lessons themselves that we sometimes rush to find out sooner than we need to.

As of late, however, tri has really put a lot of pressure on me and has begun to interfere with a lot of things in my life that I'd like to be doing. In all honesty, I think I'd get just as much or more satisfaction if my summer schedule were lined up with a few century rides and a big bunch of open water swims. I won't get to swim Donner Lake this year...well, maybe I will. It's the weekend after Half-Vineman, so it all depends on how I'm feeling. I'm just starting to become bitter about how I never feel like I'm doing enough and yet I'm already having to sacrifice things in my life for this sport. So I asked Jay (the guy sitting next to me), "how do you do it all? How do you have a life outside of tri training?" He didn't really answer. I took that as an "I don't. This is what I do." I don't want to be that. Then I said "How many hours of sleep do you get?" Jay: "5." UGH!!! I refuse to do that. (As an aside, good for him that he loves to do that - he seems passionate about it. It's just not quite my cup of tea!)

That said, I've made a commitment. I've signed up, pledged my word, signed a team contract and here I am. So instead of bitching and moaning about how horrible it all is, I'm going to take that and turn it around to excitement about the summer. I'm excited about reaching out to my teammates and about what I can possibly learn this season about nutrition, fitness and competition. I'm excited about getting to know these really cool people better. I'm excited to find out what else I can achieve. I'm excited to take on the challenge of truly living my life in moderation and keeping this balanced with everything else. Right now, the scales seem a little tipped. I need to work on that. But there are a lot of positive changes happening all around me, and I'm going to do my best to embrace all of them and learn from them.

So finally - what did the subject have to do with all of this? I guess one of the positive things that happened this weekend (as a result of a negative thing that sucked, but oh well) was that I was forced to to give up my car for a weekend (actually until Tuesday) due to a fuel leak they found. I literally stopped to smell the flowers as I walked from downtown Berkeley back home! I also realized it's not that far from downtown Berkeley to my house. It only took 25 minutes to get to downtown Berkeley BART from my house this morning, including a quick stop for coffee. It was so invigorating to spend some down time at home, spend time walking and thinking and just, well...stay put. I was a little saddened by the thought that it took my car breaking down to MAKE me slow down (that I couldn't do it on my own accord), but glad that I could be reminded of what it feels like to take a walk instead of take more time to do things like these. I've been more on time all weekend because I allowed myself more space and time to get to places instead of trying to squeeze so much in. I wasn't annoyed by Berkeley drivers. I didn't spend money on gas (though did spend money on BART), and I utilized BART in ways I never thought I would. I also realized my friends are more than happy to drop you off from BART or walk with me even if they have a bike to ride! It was a nice realization.

I also slept really, REALLY well.

Here's to smelling the flowers (which are SO GORGEOUS right now!). :-)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One Bear route info

I saved the gmap pedometer route info here.
18.92 miles. I had hoped to have done a little bit more in that amount of time. Roughly 14.2 mph, with nearly 2000 feet of climbing. that I could get a little better at and DEFINITELY a nice little route and a nice departure from Tunnel Road!

Triple ring or double?

I am still debating this. I mean, there has been ONE time in the entire time I've been cycling that I thought "yeah, I could use a granny gear right now. That would be nice." Well...that and at the very top of Mt. Diablo, when you have that very last hill which is simply impossible with a double crank after you've just climbed 14,000 feet. Your legs are spent and basically say "um, no."

The triple crank proponents say "good for those longer rides when you need to save something for the 85 mile mark and you have another 2000 feet of climbing." I agree with this theory. However, I have yet to ride beyond the 72-mile mark. Granted, I will certainly approach this mark and go beyond - far beyond, I'm sure - in the next year. Keeping that in mind, I may want to opt for the triple crank.

Then there's the competitive side of me. The one that says "you've made it this long with a double. Why wuss out and opt for triple?" The one that enjoys the sense of pride I feel as I roll past people up a hill with my double crank, thinking "yeah, that's right. Double crank, baby!" I know, it's a lame way to think. It's a completely macho, totally unnecessary and utterly ridiculous way to think. And yet...I still can't help it. *sigh*

Why do I ask this? Just was thinking about that as I went up Wildcat Canyon this morning. Thinking "wow, this wasn't as bad as I remember it. Wait, only went up one of the three Bears this morning...the last time was after a full Three Bears circuit. Do that and THEN see how easy it is." Maybe I will. With my double ring. And I'll love every pedal stroke of it!

So workout was once again modified slightly, but that was only because I ended up swimming in the 1:25 lane last night and all 2400 yards completely kicked my butt. Ohhhhhh, but it felt so good. I LOVE swimming. Have I mentioned that before? When I am 95 and I can barely walk, won't be able to run, and don't quite have the strength for mashing up hills on my bike, I will still be free-styling my way down the pool lane. Slow as I may be, I will still be enjoying the refreshing feel of the water on my skin, the underwater view through my Swedish goggles and the empowerment I gain from using the strength of my body to push through that resistance, gliding forward until it's time to take one last breath before I flip, then feeling myself glide forward again with force from my push off the wall. Then I get out of the water. Suddenly everything is clearer. If I was feeling cloudy-minded, be it from waking up in the early morning or feeling the post-work drag and the accumulated lethargy from the BART ride home - it is completely vanished. In fact, I feel revived, energetic and awake. Ready to begin the day with a hop in my step or end it on a relaxed and strong note. The best way I can describe swimming, whether it is in a pool or out in the open water (a completely different beast altogether, but yields similar results), is invigorating. Life-giving. Refreshing. Most of all, I feel strong. Even in my dreaded backstroke, which is my slowest, I still feel strong. In swimming you don't just use your legs, or your arms, or your core. You use ALL of it. You use your entire body from your toes to your head. You use your mental strength as well as your physical strength. And in return for all that strength you use, your body thanks you. What could be better?

All that said, I didn't swim this morning. :-) I was sore from my oh-so-invigorating swim last night. The plan was to do a bike then swim. But I woke up at 5:45 a.m. and I thought "oh nooooooooooooooo." Just wasn't happening. I knew if I went with said plan I would be a) hurting even more and b) wasting my time because the laps I would log in the pool would simply be junk laps. It wouldn't feel good, I'd be slow, and my muscles would hate me. So no point.

Instead, I did this:
Slept for two more hours. Woke up, donned my bike shorts and jersey (yup, no leg warmers, no arm warmers, no vest, and no wool socks!), slapped on some sunscreen, grabbed my bike and sunglasses and headed out. I had one hour and twenty minutes. I'll be honest - if I do another Tunnel Road ride I am going to scream. SO tired of that ride. So...I thought "what could I do that would be a good hilly ride and get a little distance in?" I knew I didn't have enough time for Three Bears (route here), but what about One Bear? So I did. And you know what? It took exactly one hour twenty minutes!! I need to figure out distance and elevation gain, but I was proud nonetheless. I went up Euclid to Grizzly Peak to Wildcat Canyon Rd, down Wildcat Canyon, crossed San Pablo Dam Rd. and onto Bear Creek Rd., and up Papa Bear. Got to the top of Papa Bear right at about 42 minutes into the ride and turned around. The sun was shining, there was some nice cool air on my arms and legs as I descended Wildcat and Papa Bear, and a big fat smile was plastered all over my face. Even climbing back up Wildcat, I smiled a bit. It felt *so* great to be out in the sun. To not have any sort of 'warming' clothing on. I did find that it took about 20 minutes for me to warm up and find my riding legs, but once I was just marvelous. Swimming may always be my first love, but one thing riding has on swimming - you can't swim and look down and gaze upon lush green rolling hills that lead down to a beautiful reservoir, smelling the different flowers and grasses that have finally begun to spring forth from the dirt below. What an amazing way to start my day. And to think I almost went swimming INSTEAD of riding!

That would have been a travesty.

The remainder of the week:
Thursday 4/20: lift/run in the a.m., 30 minute swim at 6 p.m.
Friday, 4/21: bike ride in the a.m.; swim at 6 p.m.
Saturday, 4/22: part of me wants to say swim at 7 a.m., but you know...with Revive the Vibe the night before and the fact that I do need to get a rest day in after a particularly taxing week, I'm gonna say REST DAY!
Sunday, 4/23: Big ol' bike ride. :-D

I love this sport.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Quick minor adjustments to the week plan


Monday - only stuck with the 30 minute run from the morning, no swimming. I was feeling really tired and I still had taxes hanging over my head. I knew they wouldn't take too long (I'm still young and poor, though the IRS apparently doesn't feel I'm poor enough to not owe EVEN MORE MONEY, so now I'm poorER as of 8:30 p.m. last night when I gave them the information they needed to access my checking account), but I still wanted to get to bed on the earlier side. So I did, though sleep quality was only so-so. I didn't stretch when I woke up this morning, but I should have. Damn!

Tuesday: Did 50 minutes of spinning. I needed that SO BADLY. The odd thing is that I felt more fatigued at a lower heart rate, which signals to me that my body is still fighting off a cold and that I was probably tired. Damn! Oh well. It was still good quality spinning, worked the legs, trying to keep those bike muscles in shape. Lifted with Christine with a focus on shoulders/deltoids. Feels good!

Tuesday eve: will go to swimming from 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. Stretch right after, then also will stretch before bed. Will try to be in bed by 9:30 p.m.

Wednesday: same - will bike ride from about 6 a.m. - 7:15, and then swim; will ride my bike home after an hour of swimming (that should be fun...some nice little hills to get back home...)

Thursday: a.m. - Will lift from 6:10-7:00 a.m., then run; p.m. - swim for about 30-40 minutes depending on what time Kendall and I are meeting

Friday: a.m. - Bike ride; p.m. - swim

Saturday: IF I can wake up, I'll go to 7 a.m. swim practice; otherwise this will be a total rest day (with lots of wine drinking - my mom's big surprise 50th bday celebration!).

Sunday: LONG BIKE RIDE!!!!!!

I'm so happy the sun is out. I'm so happy my taxes are done. Now I have to pay my car registration. Fun stuff.


Monday, April 17, 2006

I feel SO GREAT!!

After the last post, I felt great about getting all of that out. Writing all of that really helped me to flesh out what was important and realize where my priorities need to be at this point. I also thought "well, maybe I haven't completely gone about training in the way that I should be, but you know, I still feel pretty good." I'm bummed that I haven't had as much bike time as I would have liked to, and haven't been able to get out on the track at all, which is another thing that would be good (kind of difficult with all of the rain).

So right now I'll recap the weekend, talk about why I feel so great, and then go ahead with the week plan. THREE WEEKS UNTIL WILDFLOWER! I am *so* excited.

Friday 4/14: Swam about 2200 yards - got to workout late but it was still a good swim
Saturday, 4/15: Intended bike I got my arse out of bed at 5:20 a.m. and hit the road by 5:55 so that I could be at Lee's by 7 (in Santa Rosa). Even as I woke up and looked out toward Marin, I had this sinking feeling that rain looked imminent. Still, so as not to incur the wrath of Lee in the follow-up email on Monday, I was up and at 'em, determined to show up with a smile on my face and ready to ride! However, right as I finished crossing the San Rafael bridge, buckets of rain began hitting my windshield and I was forced to turn my wipers on their maximum speed. "No way," I thought. I didn't even have my rain gear with me, so riding in weather like that was completely out of the question. I called Lee and told him I was turning around...because it sounded like the ride was definitely being called off! I later came to find out that they did 30 miles and 750 feet of climbing in a mix of sun, clouds, wind and some rain. Oh well. I still got a workout in...

I returned to Berkeley and did the following:
2400 yards of swimming from 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Roughly 7 miles of running post-swim for 59 minutes
30 minutes of stretching post-run

The swim was great and so was the run! Got caught in the rain for the last 10 minutes, but that was okay.

I felt slightly sore on Sunday but I actually think that was due more in part to the stretching than the running. I've been stretching upon waking in the mornings and right before bed, as well as post workouts and I really can feel the difference. I feel looser and my muscles don't feel nearly as tight. I haven't had any plantar faschiitis pain at all because I've been taking care to really stretch the bottoms of my feet every day. Even though my sleep amount has been slightly less than desirable, I still feel very refreshed, and I do believe the stretching has a lot to do with that.

Sunday 4/16: Nada. Easter Sunday and I volunteered at Glide Methodist Church in the a.m., had breakfast afterward and then drove up to Napa to hang with the fam. I stretched again before bed but that was it. It was a wonderful day. I really love my family!

Monday morning, 4/17: Walked for 10 minutes, then ran at a moderate intensity for 20. Stretched afterward. Napped for 10 more minutes. Feel great.

I can't figure out why my mood is so positive right now, but I just feel good. I feel good about the exercise I did this w/e and I'm really happy that I started this stretching. Good food helps. I had good food yesterday. :-)

Plan for the week:

Monday, 4/17: Evening spin or swim, I can't decide yet...(prob swim)
Tuesday, 4/18: a.m.: Lift with Christine, then run; 6:30 p.m. swimming
Wednesday, 4/19: a.m. bike ride (5:50 a.m. - 6: 10 a.m.) followed by an hour swim from 7:15 - 8:15 a.m. (I get to go into work later today)
Thursday, 4/20: a.m.: Lift with Christine, then run (maybe on the track?);
Friday, 4/21: a.m. bike ride, p.m. swim (don't have to be in SF until 8:45 p.m.)
Saturday, 4/22: BIKE RIDE I HOPE!! (is now a rest day)
Sunday, 4/23: BIKE RIDE I HOPE!! Probably will try and fit a short swim in there as well.

Hmmm...that's 7 days straight. Ummmm...I could see making Saturday a rest day, especially after a late night Friday night. Yep, Saturday = rest day. I just haven't been riding enough! I could see doing a nice easy spin for 45 minutes just getting out there on the road on Thurs evening before I meet up with Kendall. That could work.

And tonight's agenda (after the swim)...I have a hot date...

with my taxes!!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Something's gotta give

I don't know how many times I've heard my mother say in her sternest voice "Sarah, you're just burning the candle at both ends. You need to SLOW IT DOWN or you're going to get sick! You wonder why you get these little colds all the time, and I'm not going to feel bad for you!"

Okay, Mom. Okay okay OKAY - I'm finally going to concede, throw up the white flag and say "you're right." (She never reads this blog anyway, so it's safe to say that here!)

This week kind of sucked for me in some ways because it forced me to take a good look at my calendar and realize that I'm just not doing the best job that I can in terms of training. I'm not taking this seriously enough and I definitely don't want to be disappointed at Wildflower. I've stayed up late nearly every night this week and I hate that feeling when you have to wake up and you just don't want to. Or after lunch when all I can think about is crawling under my desk and napping for a nice 20-30 minutes. That's not from eating too much at lunch time. It's from not getting enough sleep.

The thing about all of this is that it's somewhat of a Catch-22. If I get up early in the mornings to exercise, it allows me a few hours in the earlier part of the evening to go out and be the social butterfly that I enjoy being. As long as I'm disciplined and make it back home around 9 p.m. then it's all good (in the hood). If I stay out a little later though, then waking up is a TOTAL nightmare and if I oversleep it means that I'd need to work out in the evening. The problem with this setup is that if I have a week like this past one, I've allowed no wiggle room in my schedule - Tuesday was a little happy hour with my co-workers that we've had planned for the last 4 weeks or so (couldn't miss that!), but then I went out with a friend for Burmese food and ended up staying out until what should have been 11 p.m. but I SLEPT THROUGH my BART stop and ended up at El Cerrito Del Norte so I didn't get home until about 11:40 p.m. instead; Wednesday was Passover and while I'm not Jewish, it was Ben's family's Passover and they have the BEST Passover around and it is simply a night NOT to be missed - I was very grateful to attend, but once again - bed time didn't happen until 1 a.m.; Thursday I went to the Giants game and actually made it to bed by 10:45 p.m. so that was good. Still, though, my plans for the week in terms of workout have gone to the birds and this is just not a way to set a precedent for my season.

The problem is that I am so used to going out after work for a couple of hours, but really, there are going to be some weeks where I'm going to be working out in BOTH the morning and I need to get used to having a lighter social calendar. As the subject says, something's gotta give, and it's certainly not going to be exercise.

The one thing I do have to give myself credit for right now is that I finally started stretching. I stretched yesterday morning, last night before bed, and this morning upon waking. I did some specific stretches to stretch the plantar faschia, and WOW. My left foot is definitely headed toward plantar faschiitis-ville. I could really feel the difference in the stretching. That was another wake-up call. Guess I'm completely awake by now.

So...the social calendar for next week only has two things: Thursday evening I'm hanging out with Kendall and we're going to catch up and also talk about things for my bike. Friday evening is...

The 2nd Annual REVIVE THE VIBE!!

An evening to promote awareness about brain tumors and raise money for the National Brain Tumor Foundation, this event is going to be AWESOME!

Details (in case anybody is reading this and wants to join in the fun, you are SO WELCOME to do so!):
Where: The DOT Lounge, 1625 Post Street, San Francisco, CA
When: Friday, April 21, 9:00pm - 2:00am
Cost: $15 will be collected at the door and 100% of the proceeds will benefit NBTF
Questions? Email

Okay, now that my shameless plug is out of the way, I still think I'm going to refrain from posting a training plan for next week just yet.

Why don't I try for the next 3 days...
Saturday: Swim/Spin, maybe even a light run afterward, just to get that whole spin->run transition in
Sunday: I'm volunteering at Glide Memorial for their Easter breakfast from 6 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. Then I'll head up to Napa and if it's not raining, maybe bring my bike and go for a nice ride up there. Otherwise maybe just a run up there. I'd love to ride my bike, though.
Monday: Swim in the a.m., ride my bike in the evening? I think that would be neat. I'll be honest and say that I'm already sick of riding around Berkeley. I think I'm totally spoiled by those North Bay rides with the lack of cars.

That's all for now. Just going to take a deep breath and try to slow it down a little. My mom would be proud (if she actually ever read this).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Today is my rest day

My body is most certainly fighting a cold and I realized that if I don't stop and take a day in the middle of this insane week to just let it do its thing and fight those nasty bacteria that are attempting to invade my nose and throat, it will most certainly lose that battle. That would suck. I just needed a day to sleep in a little more and let my muscles have a break. I'm really going to have a couple of intense weeks coming up so that I can have a nice period of tapering to let my muscles repair and be ready for the big day.

I also decided I should post the race schedule. The races listed in purple are ones that I've already signed up for; the races listed in green are ones that I am still considering.

May 7, 2006: Wildflower ( in Lake San Antonio, Monterey County, CA - Olympic Distance (0.92 mi swim; 40K bike; 10K run)

June 4, 2006: Escape from Alcatraz ( in San Francisco, CA - Olympic Distance though slightly off the standard (1.2 mi swim; 18 mi bike; 8 mi run)

June 25, 2006: San Jose International Triathlon ( in San Jose, CA at Lake Almaden - Olympic Distance. My very first tri that I did last year and a really fun, fast race. Definitely see it as a possibility.

July 16, 2006: Donner Lake Triathlon ( in Truckee, CA at Donner Lake - Olympic Distance. By far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and one of the most rewarding. I seriously can't wait to do it again.

July 22, 2006: Trans Tahoe Relay in LAKE TAHOE, CA!!! Team Tequila Goggles will once again traverse the beautiful blue waters of Lake Tahoe, in addition to the Lone Tequila Shot, Alice Wong, who will be doing it SOLO! You go, girl. We've already got the cabin!

July 30, 2006: VINEMAN (
in Santa Rosa, CA - Half Ironman Distance (1.2 mi swim; 56 mi bike ride; 13.1 mi run). I am half excited and half scared beyond belief. That's one long ride...followed by one long run. My stomach is turning as I write this.

August 5, 2006: Donner Lake Swim in Truckee, CA - 2.8 mile swim across Donner Lake. My most favorite open-water swim (Trans-Tahoe doesn't count b/c that's a team effort, totally different thing). This is a maybe because it will truly depend on the state of my body one week post-Vineman.

Maybe one other race after all of that? Santa Cruz Sentinel, perhaps? Something further down south? If I do a race after that, it probably wouldn't be until September. I'm going to talk around and see what others are doing.

So there it motivation all laid out in front of me!