Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ten Minute Tasty Asparagus & Brown Rice (in my case, Couscous)

I'm really going to make an effort to be somewhat Devon-like and share some of the tasty recipes I try. I cook a LOT at home. I would say I probably eat dinner out only 1 or 2 nights a week, I eat lunch at home just about every day, and of course, I have breakfast at home every day. Ever since I moved to Santa Rosa and really have my own kitchen (I had a shared household in Berkeley), I find the 'task' of cooking to be such an enjoyable experience. I try new recipes all the time, rarely going back to ones I've already cooked before. There are SO MANY recipes out there, who needs to go back to ones you've already made?

Unless, of course, they happen to be favorites. Then I DEFINITELY go back for more.

It's so awesome when you can sit down to an amazing meal you just cooked up, pair with an excellent wine and think "wow...this is better than going out." That doesn't ALWAYS happen, of course, but I would say I am much more often very happy with what I created than not.

My intent on sharing all of this, then, is that I pick out what the good, quick, somewhat-easy recipes are so you don't have to go try the not-so-good ones.

Last night I finally was able to make something I've been wanting to try for a long time now. I printed the recipe from 101 (a fantastic website for vegetarian recipes - I'm not a vegetarian, but I LOVE veggies) last year and then it sat in my recipe folder, completely neglected. I was going to make it on Monday but I forgot to pick up Tahini sauce at the store so I nixed it. On the way back from yoga yesterday evening I was determined to use the delicious asparagus I had picked up over the weekend, and stopped at the store to pick my sauce.

Below is the recipe. I was hungry after yoga and didn't want to spend the time making brown rice, nor did I have any frozen brown rice as she suggests. Instead, I used whole wheat couscous from Trader Joe's. The other thing I modified was that I also had some really great-tasting green beans, so threw those into the mix as well.

I'm kind of slow with recipes the first time I make them, so this did not take me 10 minutes. I would say it took me more like 30, but just because I'm very methodical and it takes TIME to zest lemons!!

As for how it turned out, I thought it was absolutely DELICIOUS. I LOVED the Tahini dressing. I could've eaten that by itself. I think the couscous went really well with the asparagus and green beans, and the onions are a great addition both for texture and flavor.

I made a Greek salad to go with - sliced up come cucumber, on-the-vine tomato, Kalamata olives, sprinkled some Feta, pepper and drizzled some olive oil and I was set!

I ended up pairing it with a Rosé wine from Blair Estate that I had open in the fridge; it was an okay pairing but I think a great Dry Riesling or a Viognier would go really well with this recipe.


Ten Minute Tasty Asparagus & Brown Rice
From 101

This picture is from the website - I forgot to take a picture of mine. :)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 or 2 14-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch segments
3 cups pre-cooked brown rice
1 cup almond slivers, toasted
fine grain sea salt

Tahini Dressing:
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
1/4 cup tahini
zest of one lemon
scant 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons hot water
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

If you're using frozen rice (did I just say that?), heat it on its own in a pot or per package instructions.

Make the dressing by whisking together the garlic, tahini, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil. Add the hot water to thin a bit and then the salt. Set aside.

Add a couple glugs of olive oil (roughly 3 tablespoons) to a big skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl the oil around to coat the pan, then add the chickpeas and sprinkling of salt. Let the beans saute there for a couple minutes (I like to try to get some crusty color on them). Be careful, they seem to hiss and pop more then other beans over high heat. Add the garlic and onions. Stir for a minute. Stir in the asparagus with another pinch or two of salt, cover with a lid for a minute or two to steam - just until the asparagus brightens and softens up just a bit. Uncover and stir in the rice and almond slivers, reserving a few almonds for garnish. Taste and add more salt if needed (likely). Serve family-style in a big bowl drizzled with a few tablespoons of the tahini dressing, let each person add more dressing to their tastes.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The "C" Race Report

So since it was 'just' a "C" race, I shouldn't spend too much time on the race report, right?

Well...there's not a lot to say, anyway. About the race, that is (which was the Sacramento International Triathlon). But knowing me, I'll make it long.

Still, after every race I'm always left with so many questions.

About racing. About training. About me. About my motivations and always asking myself what the top 3 things I learned about myself were today.

But I'll still try to keep it short. The questions may be left for a different post. Boy, that list of 'things I want to write about' sure is growing!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

3:45 a.m. - alarm goes off. (So it's barely Sunday...but Sunday indeed...). Hit the road by 4:30 a.m. so I can be in Sac-town by 6:15 a.m.

Upon arrival I immediately found my Lombardi Sports buddies: Mike, our Super Sherpa, John, and Jerry, who were both racing. I was on the lookout for Loren and Chris as well, since I knew they'd be there. Never did see them.

We got set up and headed over to the swim start. At the swim start I saw a blonde woman with a ZTeam kit on and I figured it must be Kelly. Sure enough, it was her! Cool! So I finally met a fellow blogger in person!

They had the Super Sprint go, then the Sprint and finally the Olympic distance people at 8:15. No individual age group waves - one big mass start. Kinda nuts. I think they originally wanted everybody to start at the river (canal?) entrance and swim ACROSS the river to the other side, then down the river toward the bridge, back across to the side we started on and back down. But somehow, they messed up and by the time the horn went off we were all on the far side of the river.

Swim was fine...nothing out of the ordinary for a tri swim. I got kicked a bunch, couple times in the mouth but not hard. As usual, I was finding myself in the front of the middle pack, about a minute or two behind the front-runners. Which, I suppose, is fine, really. The way I see it is I can fret a lot about my swim and finally earn those two minutes, or I can pay more attention to the bike/run and earn a lot more minutes. I just try to pace around 1:30-1:35.

The funny thing was that I exited the water and my watch said 21 minutes. HA! I KNOW DAMN WELL I did not swim THAT fast!! So clearly, the length (which was supposed to be 1.5K) was far shorter. FAR SHORTER.

I thought of Courtenay and Loren who probably would have been happy about such a mistake.

I ran to my, erm...rack? Hardly. I wish I had taken a picture - it was hilarious! We had our bikes against a FENCE!! Not to mention the ground was this hay-like grass...all yellow, gets everywhere...what a pain. I didn't want to sit down and get all kinds of hay/grass all over me and then get itchy later, so I was having a hard time w/ my wetsuit. Finally, Mike D. (Super Sherpa) grabbed my leg as I stood up to pull it off and WHOOSH! I fell flat on my butt and he ripped the wetsuit right off. Perfect!

Still, T1 was around 2:40 so not too bad. I put my shoes on there, too!!

The bike was a pain in the ass. Literally. That road was the crappiest road I've ever encountered in a triathlon. I know it sounds like all I'm doing is complaining, but not really. Just observing. And, my friends, I observed that this road SUCKED.

So anyway, the bike went on...and I was reminded that it always takes my legs a good 15 minutes to really truly warm up. Sometimes even 20. Really before I can feel good and strong and not just have this horrible hurt in my quads. The first 15 were like that - quads just burning, aching, my breathing was intense, and I just was hanging on until my body adjusted to what I was telling it to do.

I passed about 5 or 6 women, as well as a bunch of other men. I ended up leapfrogging w/this one guy and this 16 year-old kid for awhile. The kid was on this old commuter beater bike with TOE CAGES!!! He had one of those skater helmets on, too, and was flying on the bike! I was pretty impressed until he started (and kept on) drafting on the dude I was leapfrogging with. He was literally RIGHT ON HIS WHEEL! Finally I yelled at him and told him to ride his own damn race.

But then the 3 of us hung near each other for awhile and I started to feel bad for being kind of a jerk because he was right then I said "you know, it's too bad we can't draft because the 3 of us would make a great pace line." He agreed.

But with about 7 miles to go, the kid dropped off! I had no idea what happened...I noticed he didn't have a water bottle. Maybe he just started losing gas? I never knew what happened.

The other dude finished ahead of me and I was just trying to maintain my power and speed and cadence and just be strong. I didn't pass any other women but none had passed me, either. I counted 4 women ahead of me.

I wasn't sure if i was happy with my bike time or not (the results added in our transition time, so I had it at 1:07:58, which is right around 21.7 mph). I guess I thought I'd be going significantly faster once I got a bike that really fit me right, but that's okay. I have such a better sense of WHAT I want to work on, which is speed and also really maintaining that speed. Holding onto it for longer periods of time. I think the Friday night TTs will help with that.

Enter T2. I might try the elastic laces again. Usually I don't have problems tying my shoes quickly, but today, it wasn't working so well. :-/ Prob lost about 15 seconds or so?

Onto the run. The first mile I actually felt pretty darn good. I was breathing hard but doing pretty well. 1st mile was about a 7:20. Cool, but I knew I couldn't hold that. I backed off just slightly to a pace I could sustain but was still pushing myself since I knew it was only 5 more miles.

They had the markers off between miles 1-2 so I got freaked out that I was totally slowing down, that I had backed off TOO much, so I picked it up again. Then I realized what had happened once I hit mile 3 and knew that I hadn't gone THAT fast.

The aid stations were being run by mostly teenagers. Bless their hearts for BEING THERE on a Sunday morning! Still, they could've used some guidance on what to expect. Of the 6 aid stations I hit, 3 had kids that weren't ready with the Gatorade. Normally it might not have been such a big deal, but it was beginning to heat up big time and I was sweating a lot. I really needed the electrolytes.

As I began to approach the turnaround, I was able to count how many women were ahead of me. I saw Kelly out there and she was kicking ass. She was #3. There was one other woman behind her and that was it. Cool! At the turnaround I caught up w/the guy from the bike. I also saw that there were two women not TOO far behind me. They didn't look like slow runners, either.

At that point, I knew it was game on and I had to really maintain my pace, even push it a little bit toward the end if I could. Only 3 miles to go. C'mon, Sarah!!

Mile 3...good. Mile 4...beginning to ache a little and the last 3 minutes of mile 4 is when I really began to feel myself starting to overheat.

Not bad, but just a bit of chills and feeling like if I pushed too much harder, I could possibly end up like Ben if I didn't listen to what my body was saying. So...grudgingly I let go, just a little.

At Mile 5 aid station I walked to gulp down some Gatorade and pour water over my neck. As I did so, a woman I had passed on the bike ran past me.

DAMMIT!!!!!!!!!!! I felt so helpless. I knew I just didn't have it in me to push it super hard for 1.2 miles. I wanted it but everything was hurting at that point.

Then dude from the bike/who I passed at mile 3 came up on me. He said "oh come on, you're not going to let an old guy beat you, are you?" Dude!!! You did NOT just say that! He was joking but it was SO helpful because it was just what I needed to at least hang on and push through some of the pain.

He said "come on, 1 mile, let's push it." I said "I don't have it!" He said "c'mon. Pick it up."

Even though I couldn't quite pick it up to what he was doing, I am SO THANKFUL he was there. That is one of the things I LOVE about this sport. For such an individual sport, you can totally help each other out there, and people can be so supportive!

So, I finished at 47:35 (results say 49 minutes, but that includes T2). At first I was bummed about that too, but then I realized that it's my fastest 10K I've done in an Olympic Distance Tri, and you know...damn, for me, a 7:40 pace is not bad at all!

Overall, total time was 2:21:51. I finished 6th overall and 3rd in my AG.

Here was the part I got GYPPED on: They handed out AG awards for 10 year gaps - so 20-29, 30-39, etc. As I said, Kelly kicked ass and therefore she was #3 overall and #2 in the AG (but she's 23 so she would've been in 20-24), and so I got 4th.

The kicker is that the woman who passed me in that final mile was my AG. Ouch!!!

Ah, well. You live and you learn. And it was just a C race, right? :)

The most frustrating part, I believe, is being on this 'edge' of 'winning' and just continuing to ask what else I can do to get even faster. What will it take for me to gain more of that speed? For me to HOLD that speed? If it's more hours, I don't really have that. So I have to think about how to make the most of my precious 12 hours I do have during the week.

One of the coolest parts was running to the finish and having my Lombardi peeps there and then seeing Loren with his camera saying "Go Sarah!" It's so great to have people welcoming you back.

Post-race I got to finally meet Loren and Chris, and that was great! Loren did an awesome job in his sprint distance, and it sure looks like all of Chris's swim training is paying off. Nice work, gentlemen!

The other great post-race news was that my fellow Lombardi teammate John Murphy WON THE WHOLE RACE!! I was SO PROUD OF HIM!

The sad/funny part of that was that as he was killing himself to stay ahead of his competitors in the last 2 miles, he kept repeating "I get to break the tape. I get to break the tape. I GET TO BREAK THE TAPE!" He's never won a whole race before, so he was using that as an incentive to help him push to the end. Then he approached the end tape. :( POOR JOHN!!!

We finished the day by heading back to John's motorhome and having post-race beers. I will finish with a photo of proper post-race form: legs up, beer in hand, smiling with the satisfaction of knowing you gave it your all - and there's always more to do. :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Heeding advice and smelling the flowers

So I heeded good advice and said "NO!" to this week's TT. There will be plenty more Fridays I can go taste the warm summer evening air (and all the bugs that come with it) on my TT bike. Why mess up my (slight) taper and as Ben said, have an excuse for why Sunday didn't go well?

I left work at 5:15 p.m. and walked to the downtown movie theater to watch The Forbidden Kingdom.

Now...some of you fair readers might ask "WHY?!?" of my little dirty secrets is that I am kind of a geek that way. I grew up playing with the boys down the street (often we played ninjas, cowboys or G.I. Joe). I had an Atari and a NES, which I used to play Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 & (of course) 3, The Legend of Zelda, The Adventures of Link, Tetris, Klax (now how many people know THAT one? Not many...but such an AWESOME game), PacMan, and my very personal favorite, Metroid. NES tried to re-create the ninja game Shinobi from the arcade, but Sega did it better. Nevermind. I've gone on far too long on this subject. (I could talk video game nostalgia forever...)

So I was an only child for 10 years and these things kept my wound-up mind busy...

Anyway, as I got older, the whole martial arts thing kind of fascinated me. Mind you, not enough to make me want to actually DO it (though after tonight's movie...maybe when I'm sick of triathlon?). I was never quite into action films, but the Karate Kid, Chuck Norris, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and of course as I got older, Jackie Chan all seemed to impress me. Yes, I did say the TMNT. Dude, they like, totally rocked. (oh and yes, I played the arcade game. A lot.)

So I began to enjoy the Jackie Chan movies, though the more recent ones have rather sucked. He partners pretty well with Owen Wilson, though.


I was attempting to decide which movie to watch this evening, because I couldn't see Forgetting Sarah Marshall without Matt. So I had to pick something else.

I browsed Rotten, and you know what folks? There's not a lot out there right now.

Sure, Harold & Kumar are back, doing something crazy. Yeah, Tina Fey's got Baby Mama. As well as some others (but see, my car was at home and the independent movie theater is about another 1.5 miles from downtown - def walkable, but I was preferring to stick to downtown...)...but then...what's this...The Forbidden Kingdom...hmmm...haven't heard of it...

...Jackie Chan? Jet Li? SCORE!!!

So there you have it. The geekiness comes out and I am so STOKED to go see this 5:45 movie.

The reviews all kinda say "well...the movie, okay. But worth seeing for the special effects and Chan & Li."

So that's what I expected.

And you know? Sure, it's not the most amazing plot ever, nor will it win any Oscars.

But is that REALLY the point in these movies? Okay, yes, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was OFF THE HOOK, hands-down INCREDIBLE.

Overall, however, these kung-fu movies are not made to win Oscars. They're to get you to start dodging, kicking, and bouncing around in your seat, silently making "hmph!" and "HUH!" sounds in your head. An occasional "OOOOOHHH, OUCH!" as well.

And that it did. And boy, was I satisfied. :)

I should also say that if any of you ever played Mortal Kombat (I know one reader who did, I'm sure there are others), there are some scenes in this movie that will totally bring out that MK nostalgia, too. (FINISH HIM!)

Then I proceeded to walk home in the final hour of daylight, smelling the blooming flowers, people-watching all of the folks outside, window-viewing the shops of downtown, enjoying the peace of a pleasant Friday evening, thoughts constantly drifting back to kung-fu ass-kicking.

It totally rocked.

I hope Sunday will, too. ;)

Courtenay, I found a bathing suit for you

A teammate had it on this morning! I said OMG! I have a friend who NEEDS THIS SUIT!

Court, you can find it at

Happy Friday. :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Survey says...

I really appreciate everybody's feedback on the "To Taper or Not To Taper" question I posed in the last (lengthy) post.

After a nice chat w/Courtenay, looking at everybody's responses, and weighing heavily on what Ben said, my game plan is that I took yesterday to rest my oh-so-tired legs (just did a light weight lift session yesterday morning) and did an easy 45 minute spin (focused a lot on pedal stroke) on the trainer this morning followed by a short 15-min run that was a moderately fast pace.

Why did it end up being moderately fast instead of slow? It just felt good. I felt good. That's a nice feeling. I can't remember feeling that good for awhile now.

Ah, rest. So frowned upon by us A-types and yet...SO beneficial.

So tomorrow I will do the master's practice because their Fridays are relatively on the easier side with a couple sets that push it harder (perfect for taper). Saturday something similar; just want to keep my muscles primed but also let them recover from the last couple weeks of brutality.


Everybody's input was so helpful last time that I defer again to wise peer advice.

The Wine Country Time Trial is happening on Friday evening. It looks REALLY fun. There will be lots of Fridays to do it (happening every Friday through summer). The question I ponder is, should I start it THIS Friday if I'm racing on Sunday? Could it actually be beneficial since it's only 10 miles and it would be pretty short?
(one of the photos from the website)

Just not sure what to do. Would love more input, please!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Time Deprived

I can't believe I haven't posted since Friday!

Where did the weekend go?

We're already moving on toward Hump Day!

In any case, usually if I haven't posted it means I've actually been busy, which is a good thing, I think.

BTW, I'm SO glad so many people liked the tunes! I'll have to do another post with more...I love spreading the good word of music...

What happened on Saturday? Oh, right...I woke up too early...and after making some coffee and having a brief look at the newspaper and eating a little breakfast, I took my "Cuddle Up with Crosswords" book and crawled back into bed. After about 10 minutes of crosswords, I fell back asleep for a solid 2 hours.

It felt SO good.

Then, feeling refreshed and ready to greet the well-on-its-way day, I got ready for my long run. I know that I posted a couple weeks ago about having a bit of mover's depression - just missing some of the communities I was involved with, not knowing people up here, missing friends. But one of the things I am SO THRILLED about is my 'playground' up here.

An 8 minute drive later, I was at the base of Annadel State Park. I just *knew* it was going to be an awesome run.

Awesome would be an understatement. During my nearly two hours out there, I ran through canopies of towering, majestic redwood trees. I maneuvered through trails littered with rocks just waiting to twist my ankle. I waved hello to trailwalkers, mountain bikers and fellow runners. I felt so free as I wound my way through forests and meadows, charging full force on the downhills and doing my best to quiet my aching quads and stay strong on the (seemingly) never-ending uphills.

My rewards from the climbing were incredible. The views of Sonoma Mountain from the clearings I reached, the beautiful lupines and other wildflowers I saw as I emerged from the forest, and of course, the wild turkeys that I gobbled at (which, to my dismay, didn't gobble back...) all made me so grateful to live in such a beautiful part of the world and to be able to train with such inspirational surroundings.

Then Sunday happened.

My long ride. 50 miles of AGONY. See, I usually like to do the bike on Sat so I can do the run on Sunday and just get used to running on tired legs. But it just didn't work out like that this past weekend.

So, we went out from West Santa Rosa with the intention of about 50 ish miles and some hills. Well, when my friend Tim saw that I just didn't have it, he (thankfully) changed the course. Less hills, same distance. He's the same friend that's becoming certified as a coach, so we talked a lot about training and what my strategy ought to be for that day's ride.

"Your legs are cooked so there's no point in murdering yourself. We'll just focus on endurance for this ride."

The sad thing was that we'd be riding along at what I thought was a decent clip, and Tim would raise the pace. I'd hold on for about oh, two minutes and then fall off. The alarming part was that he told me he was only raising it to about 20-21 mph...turned out my 'decent' clip was only about 18-19 mph. Damn.

But in any case, I pushed through it all, damn well determined to get every bit I could out of this ride and simply see it as part of training, and to do my best in spite of the circumstances. Dear god it hurt SO BADLY.

I had originally planned to do about a 20 minute run after this ride, just to get a little brick in. I nixed that and decided to spend 20 minutes stretching instead. That was good!

Weekend, Part 2
So after a long talk with Tim, I knew what I had to do. I had to buy a trainer.

No, I don't own a trainer.

For a long time I really felt like between spinning classes and teaching spinning classes and my weekend rides, it was doing the job of helping me be a lean, mean cycling machine.

But I think those days are over.

I'm realizing now that my glory days of huge leaps and bounds of improvement may be ending, and it's time to focus on the little things. First three years of triathlon I saw amazing and drastic improvements in just about every area (except my swim...). Previously I was only a swimmer - had never really biked (except as a kid) and had never run (always thought I hated it).

Just about anything I did helped me to get better.

But I need to pay attention to the finesse. My pedal stroke. My bike position. Endurance on the bike. Speed. Run strides. Breathing on the run.

So, I marched myself down to Performance in San Rafael on Sunday pre-Passover seder and bought the trainer (along with other on-sale goodies...).

Today was the first day on it and I must kicked my ass.

I followed a Tim workout and I was made me realize how much work I have to do. It helped me to see the weak spot in my pedal stroke. It showed me instantly what I need to work on.

I'm so stoked!

Other Misc.

n other news...

-I'm racing on Sunday. I still need to sign up! I'm really excited! Just not sure how to really be tapering for what I would consider a "C" race...any suggestions? To taper or not to taper?

-We watched Juno last night. I was originally against watching a movie that sort of made humor on the subject of a 16 year-old being pregnant. I ended up REALLY enjoying it. However, I still worry that this idea that going through pregnancy isn't really that hard (esp as a teenager) and giving your baby up for adoption isn't all TOO emotional are things that young people may perceive. Call me whatever, but I still feel that way.

One of my favorite lines from the movie was actually in an outtake...where the old lady says "oh honey, Jesus likes EVERY color...except Mexican." (I'm half-Mexican, so you know...I can laugh at the Mexi jokes)

-I started a new job on Monday. This one will be a much better fit for me and I think keep me much more intellectually challenged. It also means that I won't really have time to post blog entries at work, which I'm really happy about. :) Hence the time-deprived title of this post and my new need to re-organize my time so I can post from home!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Fabulous Friday

I am so behind in emails to people and I have so many things I want to blog about.

Like a spinoff of Greg's post on healthcare in the U.S. And Loren's post on music to roll to in addition to that wonderful topic of what motivates us.

Not to mention finally posting pictures and recipes of the fabulous things I made (we won't talk about the things that didn't work so swell...though I can tell a bit about that recipe I posted last week on the Shrimp Via Augusta and Spinach Catalan Style - the Shrimp gets maybe half a thumb up...not so hot. But the Spinach - we liked that. That was good!) and sharing them with people so they can go use them themselves (like Courtenay! Then she can know what to make and won't starve!)

But maybe this weekend I will catch up, because the only things I am doing are a) seeing an old co-worker this evening in Berkeley; b) riding a long ride; c) running a long run; d) hopefully some yoga; and E) GOING TO A PASSOVER SEDER (no, I'm not Jewish...I just participate in the fun holidays)! This Passover seder is an annual event held by the family of my college boyfriend, Ben (clearly, we're all still friends :)). Back in the day it was a semi-huge event...but over the past 8 years, it's grown into this huge affair and lots of people journey to their home in San Rafael for the big dinner. Should be good times. Good people.

SO what I AM going to blog about are 3 4 things:

1) Apologizing to Courtenay for giving Greg ammunition to stop your snooze fests. I'm so sorry!!

2) On that subject, I thought I would report how the "Kick Sarah Out of Bed to Break the Snooze Habit" is going. I got up this morning. My second alarm went off, and I began to be pushed toward the edge of the bed. I knew it was inevitable so I just got up. BUT OH MY GOD IT HURT!! It was literally excruciating. I was tempted to just lie on the floor and curl up in a ball and go back to sleep. The thought of sneaking into the guest room and getting into the guest bed occurred to me. These thoughts flashed through my mind and at 5:30 a.m. (an UNGODLY HOUR), they all seemed like good ones. But then I thought "oh, who am I kidding? I'm only cheating myself."

So I stretched for a minute, and trudged into the bathroom to put my contacts in. OHHHH, THE LIGHT! THE BRIGHT LIGHT!

God. The first 10 minutes of waking this morning were so AWFUL. Then I trudged into the kitchen for a pre-swim snack and to make coffee.

Finally, after smelling some beans and eating a little food, I began to realize that I could finally be waking up.

3) Then I threw on my bathing suit and went out the door to swim practice. Which was AWESOME. AWESOMEAWESOMEAWESOME. I LOVE Santa Rosa Masters. Why didn't I join sooner? Why? The coach is amazing and so full of energy, it's incredible. On Wednesday evening I went to their practice, which is more of a stroke clinic; she had us do a lot of drills and gave us a good lecture on how to use our ball joints. It's given me a lot to think about in the water, but I know it will only help.

After practice there was a woman who looked familiar...then it clicked. I said "Do you belong to the Y?" She said "yes, I do!" I said "I think you take my Monday morning spinning classes." She said "oh yes, I recognize you! I LOVE your classes! I used to swim here on Mondays but I like your class so much I decided to go to the Y instead!" That was a nice way to start my day!

4) I was thinking a lot about Loren's post on music. I didn't really care much for the things he listed. But, just like with wine, we all have different tastes. There's not a 'right' kind of music (though IMHO, there IS just 'wrong' music for things like spinning classes...)...just what we like. Like wine, people can be as snobby as they want, but it is truly what YOUR ears tell you they like that matters. (I work for a winery on occasional weekends so I spend a lot of time telling people their questions aren't stupid...just encourage them to seek out and try new things, always.)

When I was doing my hard spin yesterday morning, a couple songs came on that REALLY got me going. I LOVE that! I grew up with music, I played piano for 8 years, I listen to music all day at world is surrounded with music. I like different music for a lot of different activities. When I cook, I often enjoy either listening to NPR or world music. When I run or spin, it's all about the dance music and remixes of 80s tunes. When I work, it's always classical. When I'm in the car, it's usually whatever's on the radio (Quasimoto only has a radio...). When I'm stretching or just kind of hanging around the house, it can range from U2 to Van Morrison to Norah Jones to Paul Simon to Pink Martini (LOVE Pink Martini) to...well, I like to listen to those a lot.

So I thought I'd end my post with my current iPod top 15 songs of the moment (it's always changing):

(I linked to YouTube videos only because that's the only way I know how to put sound clips on...I think music videos are dumb, personally...)

1) Stronger - Kanye West
2) Harder Better Faster Stronger (Alive 2007 Tour)- Daft Punk (the song that Kanye sampled for Stronger) - LOVE THS!
3) What Is Love (Reloaded) - Haddaway (thank you, GREG!)
4) September - Earth, Wind and Fire
5) Take Me To the Clouds Above - LMC vs. U2
6) Now You're Gone (DJ Alex Extended Mix) - Basshunter
7) Reach up for the Sunrise (Jason Nevins Mix) - Duran Duran
8) Spin me Round (DJ Ajax remix) - Dead or Alive
9) Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani
10) Acoustic Motorbike - Luka Bloom (love this song, ESPECIALLY FOR CYCLING! Pedal on...)
11) What a Feeling - Peter Luts & Dominico
12) Girl - Beck
13) The Distance - Cake (I couldn't believe how many people made their own videos to this song...this one was a tribute to Speed Racer...ha!)
14) Tom's Diner - Suzanne Vega
15) It's Raining Men - Weather Girls (this song literally cracks me up every time...Hallelujah!)

Have a fantastic weekend, everybody. Go listen to some tunes. Do something fun. Train hard.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Alarm clocks and Race photos, Round 1

I really don't have a lot to say right now. I had to stay late at work last night finishing something up which made me angry because I really wanted to get to the track since I overslept YESTERDAY morning (I was going to get up SUPER early and finish taxes but then thought 'oh I'll sleep more and just get up for the track workout and do my taxes at lunch'...but then I slept too long.). Then I was supposed to get up and swim this morning but my two alarms still didn't deter me from thinking "I'll just sleep a little longer." I've been asked to please set a more realistic time goal to wake up or I will not be allowed to re-enter the bed once I get up to shut off alarm #2 (across the room). Sigh.

I need this:
"The alarm clock that runs away and hides when you don't wake up. The alarm goes off once, but if you hit snooze Clocky jumps off your nightstand (up to 3 feet) and wheels around your room looking for a place to hide before it sounds the alarm a second time. The snooze time can be set from 0-9 minutes, so if you set it at 0 Clocky runs right away. Nothing like a little hide-and-seek to get you going in the morning."

Okay, this CRACKS ME UP!! I just start laughing when I think of an alarm clock that runs away from you! I was telling my spinning class about it on Monday morning and we were all laughing about the idea of this clock on wheels that hides from you. I originally heard about it from the WSJ's weekend edition where they reviewed alarm clocks. They liked it well enough, but then they said that it could roll under the bed and get covered in dust bunnies. Dust bunnies? Pssh, my house doesn't have those...right...(maybe that would inspire me to CLEAN the dust bunnies from underneath objects with legs!).

I think I'm just exhausted from last week. I put a good 12 hours in last week, inspired by all of the great people whose blogs I read and inspired my all of the great comments people left, not to mention just determined to succeed at Vineman and have an awesome time. While I don't necessarily think I overdid it, I don't think I've been getting enough sleep, which has lead to some real sleepiness days later. I really need to go to bed earlier.

I'm also just generally annoyed because of bad cramps (sorry male readers). Sometimes it sucks to be a woman. That's all I'll say about that. I don't normally whine about this stuff but then, it's normally non-existent for me, so I'm not really used to having to deal with it. I spoke with my doctor and we're going to try a new Pill. I was trying a new one for the last two months, and clearly THAT hasn't worked so well for me. Hormones suck.

SO anyway, besides the alarm clock thing and fatigue and cramps...that's all I've got for now. So exciting, I know. :) I think I've finally narrowed down my race schedule so I'll be posting that on the sidebar shortly. I decided I am indeed going to do the Sacramento International Tri on Sunday, 4/27. It's not too far away, flat course, and I can go visit my grandparents afterward in Sacramento. I was up there last weekend for my grandmother's 80th birthday and didn't really get to visit as much as I wanted to with so many people being there.

I also wanted to post a few pics from the race...I don't particularly love any of them, but they're still kind of fun for me to see what I look like in race mode and the funny looks on my face when I'm not particularly comfortable.

I don't think I've ever seen anybody who took a great 'exiting water' picture. I just think it's so funny to see myself looking so determined to get up that ramp and into T1...

Beginning of the bike. This was where I still thought "this is going to be awesome!" ;)

I like this. The flowers in the background are pretty.

This one cracks me up. Like I'm thinking "OH THANK FREAKIN' GOODNESS THIS *&(*#$# BIKE IS OVER!" Actually, I can also see how swollen my left knee was at that point, too!

I would say I wasn't too happy about the run. I think though that this is the first lap, because I know by the second lap I was actually feeling a little better than it looks like I was feeling here.

"Please don't take anymore pictures"

Monday, April 14, 2008

A great weekend wrap-up

It was a busy weekend all around...IM Arizona...Ice Breaker Triathlon...and as for awesome training weekend and I even had time to fit in a Giants game where we watched them WIN!!**

**As an aside, the amazing thing to watch was this player they just brought up from the Triple-A league. His name is John Bowker and it was only his SECOND day in the major leagues. In his SECOND day he became the first San Francisco Giant to have back-to-back homeruns in his first two games. He also managed to add a run-scoring single and a sacrifice fly that helped the Giants take the lead and in the end, beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-4. Truly amazing to watch! Also, for any non-Giants/baseball fans reading, you should know that the Giants were slated to be the worst team in the National League this year. We went to their spring training games and they just plain SUCKED. It was horrible. They've been playing some of their rookies in these early games and seem to be doing alright and holding their own. Fingers crossed it holds up!

Okay, back to the weekend. So Saturday morning my friends Jim and Lee and I met up at Wolf's Coffee in Santa Rosa. Jim and I were planning on doing a 50-60 mile ride and would break off from Lee at some point since he was going longer (he's training for the Terrible Two). Still had no idea where we were going. My legs were DYING. Thursday I had done my track workout which resulted in severely sore hammies. Then Friday I resumed my weekly weight workout session, which resulted in severely sore quads. Mmmmm...great. Still, I was looking VERY forward to this bike ride where the only extra layers were arm warmers and my wind vest.

Turned out we were heading up to Healdsburg and from there out Westside Road (one of my FAVORITES and about 20% of the Vineman Course) and would continue west along River Road out to Guerneville. In Guerneville we stopped for a quick double shot of espresso and water bottle refill. At that point Jim and I decided to head back and we wished Lee well on the rest of his journey.

Now...before I continue...I must make a confession. Lee is training for a VERY difficult ride that is timed and must be done in under 16 hours. I really admire him for the effort he's putting into this and the commitment he's made to following a very strict plan. That said, he has his own agenda when it comes to speed on rides. He's not trying to play "who can get to the top first," he's not trying to 'man-up' when it comes to seeing who can pull for the longest at the fastest pace, and he's not trying to kill himself in the first half of a ride. He's learning how to pace himself properly and get comfortable riding at a pace he can sustain for a long time.

Given that...I have to confess the first part of our ride had me itching to go somewhat faster (we averaged around 17.5 mph for the first two hours up to Guerneville). In particular, I had a very specific was that FEELING. The new bike fit absolutely, 100% ROCKS. I felt like I was on a NEW BIKE. I just wanted to GO, GO GO! Especially once we got onto Westside Road...I couldn't help myself. I just had to. The line was Jim, me and Lee. Right as we passed West Dry Creek Road...I pulled out and just let it fly. Mind you, I didn't even kick it into the big ring because I didn't want to be a jerk and just race away. But I decided here I was, on Westside Rd (one of my favorites), sun shining (thinking of all my fellow triathletes in those colder states - Katie, I was riding for you!), green vineyards and hills surrounding me, air feeling so pristine, not a car in sight, thinking of Marit's post about how she remembered feeling so strong and powerful on the bike, and I just had to do it.

A huge smile spread across my face as I felt the power in my legs surge my bike forward, the breeze gently pressing against my face and my legs as I gained speed, and thinking about how amazing it truly feels to be connected with your bike and experience all of the sights, sounds and smells that surround you. I sped along and just kept going. The rollers came and I powered over them, my heart rate leaping higher and higher. I kept pushing. Faster, faster, faster!! I wanted to get into the big ring so badly and just HAMMER it, but I knew I'll have other opportunities. Plenty more weekends to truly punish my already-sore legs.

I rounded a corner after one last push up a tiny grunt, so proud of myself for just being unrelenting and committed, and feeling so GREAT AND STRONG on my bike. There was a winery driveway that I decided to pull over and grab a sip of water while I waited for the guys. I knew they couldn't be too far behind.

But I waited...and waited...and finally realized that something must've happened. As I began to pedal in the opposite direction, there they were, coming around the corner. "Where were you guys?"

Apparently Lee had a very close encounter with the gravel on the ground, and as Jim rode up to see if he was okay, his front tire skidded and his right foot popped out of his pedal and he managed to twist his ankle on the ground. Poor Jim! He's so accident-prone!!

So, now that I'd gotten my fill for a little while, we rode together, though I did manage another breakaway with Jim hanging on for dear life near the end of Westside Road. Jim's comment: "damn, girl! You're a rocket today!" I just smiled. :)

Back to Guerneville. We parted ways and Jim and I took off back on River for about 15 miles or so. Unfortunately, however, by that time it was about 9:30 a.m. and River Road traffic really picks up as the day gets on. We had taken turns pulling about 10-minute pulls, and I made sure that our pace was going to be considerably faster for the way home. For one, I wanted coffee. For two, I was ready to WORK for my coffee to get it sooner. I knew Jim could handle it. On my last pull, I just tucked down and pushed hard. I focused on my strength, the power of my legs and how finally, it wasn't being WASTED! The pedals were receiving the power of each stroke and my bike was moving faster.

After awhile of this, I knew a turn off was coming up that I wanted to take. I pulled to the side to let Jim move up to my side and I said "Jim, I'm ready to get off this traffic-y road!" Before I could tell him what my plan was, he yelled "THAT WAS PULLER-IFIC!!!" Best quote of the day, right there.

We rode on through side roads and endless rows of vineyards, soaking up the glorious sunshine. It was a beautiful morning.

Finally, we made our way back to Wolf's, where I later calculated that our last hour and 15 minutes back from Guerneville averaged about 21 mph. Yes! That was a great feeling. I knew all along my power output wasn't being maximized on my bike and Saturday was truly the first time that I felt the potential of what I can do on this bike. It was an amazing feeling.

(Below is a picture of part our day's route from where we picked up Westside road in Healdsburg out to Guerneville and back to Santa Rosa; for Vineman people, the route from Healdsburg to Guerneville is the reverse direction of about 30% of the Vineman bike course)

Of course, with the more aero-ness of it came a little bit of a sore back. Overall, though, I give the new bike fit an A+!!!

Sunday was a baseball game. Then when I got home I went out for my favorite 8.5 mile loop run - out to a beautiful park called Spring Lake where lots of people take their dogs for walks and families take their babies. It's a nice place to go for a standard shorter weekend run where I can gauge my time and pace fairly well now that I've done it a bunch.

The run hurt quite a bit at first after Saturday's ride, but eventually my mind got over it and the body followed suit.

I'll finish up this post with a GREAT story from the Sunday ride that took place among some of my other group members. This was what David wrote:
As we turned on to Dry Creek Road, my chain started to skip. bummer. Then I heard a loud snap. My chain had split in half and was wrapped around my rear derailer. Bent it to heck. I put the chain in my back pocket and tried to figure out how to get home... Of course none of us had a chain tool so THANKS to Tim, Brian and Chris, we madeit in to Napa. They took turns pushing me for 8 miles! they even pushed me so fast that we passed a group of ladies that passed us when i broke the chain. They kept me rolling at about 15-19 mph the whole way. I owe them all big time. I think we all agreed that I have to take off 8 miles from my ride and they get to split the 8 among themselves...
And here was what our friend Chris sent to our list serve this morning (he called it "David's Chainless Adventure")

How david felt while merrily cycling over eight miles on his new ultra modern, incredibly light chainless bike: (make sure to scroll down)

What really happened, and what everyone who passed us saw:

Some choice lines:

- "Blind biker coming through"
- "It was like two angels, who came down from the heavens"
- "I think you are going to have a problem riding that" - Guy at the bike shop
- "Do you have a chain tool?" we yelled to a passing cyclist.. "What is a chain tool?" she replied.AHAHAHAHAAHAHA!!

Jim said "Guess the lesson of the day is that we should be carrying a chain tool."

Now that's what I call teamwork. Good job, guys. :D

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bike fit = Happy Friday

I went to the Hub Cyclery in Cotati today on my lunch break to get my bike fit with Chaz. Apparently, unbeknown to me at the time, Chaz is a bad-ass. Actually, I figured it out when he told me that he had done a race down in southern California, and it was a 500 mile race...immediately I knew then that it could only be one race: The Furnace Creek 508. I was right.

You are a bad-ass if you do that race.

Anyway, I digress. I had heard amazing things about getting a bike fit there, so that was my chosen shop to have the all-important fit done.

I got in there and Chaz first looked at my shoes. "Your cleats are too far up. We need to move them back. Triathletes tend to want them back further because of your aero position - it will help with your power." Oh.

So he adjusted them while I checked out the Clearance rack. (Damn! That reminds me...I totally forgot that I meant to go back and browse the rest of the rack!) Then I got on the bike and spun on the trainer for 5 minutes.

His first impression was that my upper back was too upright for the aggressive position I would be wanting to achieve on this bike and that we would probably be moving my seat forward just a tad. The seat height looked good.

He moved the seat forward just a tad. That actually felt better. THEN we began the handlebar process.

We fiddled with the handlebar height for the bulk of the session. The ultimate result was moving it down about 2.5 cm, which is quite a lot for bike positioning. He thinks we'll want to move it down even more but wants me to give it a try for a couple weeks, see how I feel and allow my back to adjust.

I CAN'T WAIT TO GET OUT AND RIDE TOMORROW! Not sure exactly the route, but we're going to put in about 50 ish miles and I just can't wait to see how this might impact my strength on the bike. I also read that it's going to be a warm sunny day tomorrow, which means that it might very well be the first time this year I can ride without my long pants or leg warmers. Yes!

Have a great weekend, everybody! Happy training to all!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Week is going right...

SO I don't have much time but I've got to get this stuff down so I don't forget about all of the cool things I want to write about. I've really enjoyed reaching out to this tri-blog community because there are so many nice, inspirational, funny and just generally cool people out there and I've often met super cool people at races and thought "gee, it's too bad there's no way to connect with all these people more regularly." So um, it turned out there WAS, I just wasn't part of it.

I really REALLY appreciate the comments everybody posted in response to my last post. I think more than anything I was asking for some perspective in addition to just voicing my thoughts, and it was a really nice thing to receive. A change in perspective is sometimes all that's needed to turn concern into determination, and I definitely got that. THANK YOU!!!

This morning I found a track to run on. It's about a mile from my house at the Santa Rosa JC. Open from sunrise to sunset to the general public. HOORAY! The only bummer is that they closed the 3 inside lanes due to "excessive wear." Boo. But I found a website here from the North American Racewalking Foundation (I had no idea racewalking really existed...though there was that one Malcolm in the Middle episode where Hal takes it up and is determined to catch this guy who's cheating...god i loved that show) that converts your distance on different lanes. It's pretty neat. I also found the website of the Empire Runners Club in Santa Rosa, which is also something I think I'll give a shot at. They do their long runs on Sunday mornings at 8:30 at Annadel State Park, which is one of my favorite places here with awesome trail running and gorgeous surroundings.

I'll be Loren-esque and put a line here about how my track workout went. It was awesome! Hard, but great. I did some 200s sprints and then a couple fast 800s and then heard the bell at the neighboring Santa Rosa High School and decided it was time for me to wrap it up.

The runners club does Track Tuesdays in the evening at the high school track across town. I may try that but I really enjoy running in the mornings. We'll see.

I'm going to try to get a good bike fit this weekend. I'm hoping that will make some improvements in getting the most out of the power I'm capable of generating.

I SWAM WITH SANTA ROSA MASTER'S YESTERDAY MORNING! Oh, let me tell was a B(*&* to get up at 5:30 (and yet...I get up at the same time every Monday to teach spinning...but somehow it's different. Oh yeah, i get paid for that.) and even more annoying to go out into the freezing cold. But once I was in the pool, it was fantastic. They're tapering this week because Pacific Masters Championships are this weekend, so it was a good week for me to ease into it. Lighter yardage, practiced some relays, did some drills and lots of 50s. Really good group of people and the coach was already giving me some feedback at the end of workout.

Coach Hermine: "Has anybody ever talked to you about your head position?"
Me: " never, in all the feedback I've gotten."
Coach H (very matter-of-factly): "Well, that's a shame. You pick your head up WAY too much when you breathe. Your hips drop every time you take a breathe and you lose all that speed you build up."
Me (inside thinking "IN ALL THE YEARS...NOBODY'S TOLD ME THIS UNTIL NOW??"): "Oh. Wow. Well I'm really glad you told me. So um...would you mind telling me what I should be doing to correct that?"
...and so on.

So now I've got more to work on. I love it! I think I love swimming because it's something that is so technical you can ALWAYS work on SOMETHING. Whether it's your rotation, your head, your arms, and on and on and on...nothing's ever perfect. Same is true for running/cycling, but with swimming, speed depends so much on your form that even a few tweaks at the same level of endurance and power can make all the difference in the world.

The other great thing that happened is that I finally received my Team Aquaphor kit in the mail yesterday! I'm so thrilled because it looks even better than last year's apparel (see run photo from Oceanside - I had to wear last year's stuff b/c I didn't have the new kit yet)!! HOORAY FOR NEW CLOTHES THAT ARE FREE!!

Alright, I'm off. Today is Thursday, which means the SF Chronicle puts out its weekly SF Chronicle Food & Wine e-Newsletter. The season ingredient of the week is Fava Beans. I generally enjoy seeing what recipes they give you for whatever that week's 'Season Ingredient' is, but they also do a "Quick Weeknight Meal" recipe. I've made some amazing things from those. The warning here is that their idea of 'quick' for the rest of us who aren't chefs is that it will still take you about a 45 min - 1 hour. Which is fine by me, but I understand that other people interpret "quick" to be about 20 min.

I thought I'd share today's recipe because it looks so delicious and I think I'll probably make it for dinner tonight or tomorrow night:

Shrimp via Augusta

Serve with Spinach Catalan-Style (see recipe). A suggested battle plan for this meal: Get the shrimp into the marinade first and then cook the spinach. The latter doesn't need to be piping hot.

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled but tails left on
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (pimenton de la Vera)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Salt to taste
1 lemon cut into wedges

INSTRUCTIONS: Combine the shrimp, olive oil, shallots and paprika in bowl; mix thoroughly. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to marinate.

Five minutes before cooking the shrimp, preheat the broiler.

Turn the shrimp mixture into a shallow, oven-proof dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Use a spatula to make sure all the marinade makes it into the cooking dish. Place the dish on the highest oven shelf and broil the shrimp for 2 minutes on one side, then turn and broil for 1 to 2 minutes on the other side. The shrimp should just barely be firm; do not overcook.

Remove the dish from the oven, add the lemon juice, parsley and chives and stir well. Add a bit of salt, if desired, but shrimp often are briny enough on their own. Serve with pan juices and lemon wedges.

Spinach Catalan-Style

2 tablespoons golden raisins
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 ounces baby spinach, rinsed but not dried
Salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS: Soak the raisins in warm water to cover for 5 minutes, then pour into a small sieve and set aside to drain.

Meanwhile, using a dry medium-size skillet, toss the pine nuts over medium-high heat until light golden in color. Be careful they do not burn. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Add the olive oil to the skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add the spinach, cover and cook for 2 minutes.

Uncover and continue cooking, tossing the spinach with tongs, until it wilts. This will take only a minute or two.

Remove from heat and drain off any excess liquid. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the nuts and raisins.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Thoughts on what was, what is and what lies ahead.

There is so much going on right now and I have a bazillion things I want to blog about. However, I can't stand writing without a focus, so I thought a list of things going on might be better. Then I can go from there. Might be kind of's one of THOSE posts.

  • Post race feelings & thoughts
  • Mover's depression
  • Lots of cooking!
  • Setting up another training plan and revising with help this time
  • Understanding the motivation behind triathlon
  • p.s. some SUPER COOL NEWS from the weekend

Last week was difficult. Post-race feelings surfaced and I really attempted to understand what was going on that weekend and what I need to do to be ready to kick some butt at Vineman in July. I realized that while yes, I had some things happen beyond my control, there was certainly a lot that I was responsible for. I can recognize that I did a great job in creating a plan based on the Triathlete's Training Bible and mostly sticking with it. For effort I give myself an A-.

However, in the intensity department, I realize now that I give myself a C. My base workouts, even moderate intensity build workouts - those were all great. But for those select few workouts (i.e. breakthroughs) that you're supposed to just GO, GO, GO, where you hurt and wish it would be over, where you really feel it the next day...I don't think I really pushed hard enough in those.

In swimming the last few months, I never had anybody yelling at me to push harder. At least in master's I had a coach yelling at me to keep going. I can still hear Kevin screaming at me, "PAIN IS THE WEAKNESS LEAVING YOUR BODY!" I used to laugh, but now I realize that his presence influenced me far more than I knew at the time.

Similarly, I always counted on our group rides to really push me over that edge of intensity that made my legs turn to jelly, my heart pound so hard I thought it would pop out of my chest and drive me to wonder why in the world I had subjected myself to this. Riding with guys who can ride is great that way. Except over the last 3 months, those 'guys' are all still in their early-season riding, meaning our paces are much slower than in the summer. Nobody's clamoring to be the KOM, and most posts to the list serve go something like this:

"I'm going out for an EASY 40 - as flat as possible, EASY pace. NO sprints up the hill!"

I tried to just do my own pushes on the group rides, but when you're not trying to beat somebody up a hill or lead a blistering pace line at 25 mph, it just isn't the same.

Finally, in the running department, while I had a treadmill to keep me honest, that, too, didn't seem to quite fatigue me in the way that Track Tuesdays with my friend Megan used to. Megan was always a faster runner than I, so I let her inspire and influence me to push myself out there on our sets. I'll still never forget the day we did a set where we ran from the track on the UC Berkeley campus up the hill along Campanile way, up to the Campanile, up the steps, around the clock tower and back down. Then we did that 2 more times. UGH. She always seemed to think I was better at hills than she was and I wasn't about to relinquish that title. I thought I was going to die on those steps by the third time.

I'm competitive by nature. I like how the presence of others gets me to go harder than I ever could on my own. Yes, I'm disciplined. But discipline is no match for competition in my world. :)

Okay, so I've recognized what has to happen in the next 12 weeks - UP with the intensity.

What else happened during the race?

My spirit wasn't there. I knew it wasn't. But why? I love racing and I love training and I love this sport. Hmmm...

I recently realized that I'm fighting a little bit of mover's depression. That is, the dust has settled, the boxes are put away, the routines have started and I realized something: I have no life.

When I left Berkeley, I was leaving behind a community in my master's team; I was leaving an incredible newfound community at the Embarcadero YMCA; I was leaving friends who also worked in downtown SF that I lunched with frequently; I was leaving close friends in Berkeley and Oakland; I was leaving my beloved Berkeley Bowl (best supermarket EVER - Whole Foods Paycheck, EAT YOUR HEART OUT!) & Cheese Board; I was leaving friends that I had just become friends with; I was leaving behind familiarity - knowing the ins and outs of every street in Berkeley and many of Oakland and where to score parking spots in even the most difficult of places; I also left behind one of the most incredible views my lifetime will ever know. (This photo was one of the many sunsets I snapped from my bedroom window)

AND YET - I was ready to move on with my life. I was moving up to the North Bay because I wanted to train more up here. Most importantly, I was done having a long-distance relationship and I was ready to be closer.

There have been SO MANY positives to being up here. Let me make it clear: there are NO regrets.

I was so excited to get up here, so thrilled in experiencing all of these new things and new places up here that I never really missed ANYTHING for the first two months. I didn't look back. I thought "oh, I was DEFINITELY ready to leave." When I drove that U-Haul down University Ave in Berkeley, I kissed it goodbye and said "ha! I don't have to deal with YOU anymore, University Ave!"

It sort of hit me out of the blue a couple of weeks ago. I missed communities. I longed for that giddy feeling I got when I would head to swim practice for a great workout and seeing familiar faces; I felt sad that Sonoma County people don't seem to share the same love of dance music in spinning class that I do. I'm generally a very upbeat, happy person so I immediately noticed when I didn't feel like doing much. When getting up got harder and harder.

Needless to say, I'm dealing with it all. I'm not using this as a forum to complain; merely identifying what's been going on and how much it's impacted me in the last few weeks, how it likely contributed to my feelings during the race. Even seeing my old Lombardi teammates and cracking up just like old times made me a little sad pre-race.

I'm ready to change that! Over the next 12 weeks, besides training, I'm focusing on getting out there: getting into Santa Rosa Masters; perhaps organizing something at the YMCA for triathletes who are just beginning or have questions; and just making an attempt to get to know some of the people I HAVE met just a little bit better.

Just like training, it takes time. I keep having to remind myself of that. I'm always eager for change, but with change brings new challenges and I don't think I'd even quite understood all of the challenges I might possibly be presented with when I came up here. I've got a clearer picture now.

A cool thing happened today...

I think I'm finally hitting my stride with this new spinning group at the YMCA. I was really beginning to think that maybe this wasn't going to be a good fit. I was this chick from SF who had a propensity for loud dance music and making people REALLY wish they'd stayed in bed. I was used to having a packed class at 6:30 a.m. Up here, I was happy if it was half-full. Not everybody seemed to engage, as hard as I tried.

But clicked. It was there, not to mention 85% full. After class, a number of people enthusiastically said "GREAT CLASS!" I thought "yeah, you REALLY WAS a great class!" Kicked their butts but made them feel good. Must've been my remix of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Yep, that did it. ;)

Lots of cooking

One thing I've REALLY enjoyed has been cooking more. Work is walking distance from home so I barely eat out at all these days. It's SO AWESOME. More on that later. I've even taken pictures of my creations!

Let me just say...when I begin to think "eh, I could probably make something better at home...." that is a VERY good sign. I did NOT grow up thinking "I love to cook."

Highlights include stuffed pasilla peppers, vegetarian macaroni 'n cheese, seared tuna banh mi, grapefruit salad...mmmmm.

Training plans

One of the good things that happened this weekend was that my cycling buddy Tim just recently got certified as a cycling coach (he also used to be a Cat 3 racer so he's got a lot of great experience to work off of). We had a great conversation on our ride about how my race had gone, and we're going to do a little trade; me do some website work for him and he'll write a training plan to get my cycling back up to where it needs to be. HOORAY!!

He really hit it on the nose when he said "the nice thing Sarah is that you won't have to be concerned with what workout you're going to write up. You can focus on DOING the workout instead of coming up with the workout. That's really important." Good call.

Why do I do this?

This is a whole other post but I couldn't resist opening the can of worms. It's been on my mind since the race. I'm not a pro. I don't intend to try to get to pro level. I don't know that I really want to try to get to an Elite level, either. And yet...I'll be honest...I don't just go out and think "well yeah, I'm just going to go out there and have fun and I don't care what my time is!" (Maybe if it were a fun race where they didn't have times. Or it was a costume race. Something like that.) Let's put it this way: while some have goals of 'just finishing' (which is FINE), those aren't mine. My first year racing I ended up with some podium finishes. It left me thinking that I really had some natural ability with this sport that I had never had experienced in any other sport I grew up with (well, horseback riding was really the only other but I knew that wasn't in my future).

We can all agree that it's fun to win. But where do I draw the line? If I'm not going to try to get to an Elite or Pro level, then where do I start having diminishing returns on the time, energy, effort and money that I spend on this sport? If I'm not just doing it for the sake of DOING IT, if I'm trying to pull of some AWESOME time that is a competitive time, then when am I ultimately satisfied? I'm always seeking to make improvements. After every race, I always look at what I could've done better. How to be better for next time.

When do I stop trying to improve, though? Let's be real: outside the triathlon world, nobody really cares unless you're going to compete at Kona or in the Olympics. In spinning class this morning, one of my students brought somebody new to class and she told him proudly, "This is Sarah. Last weekend she did HALF-TRIATHLON!" I said with an encouraging tone and a smile, "I believe you mean half-Ironman. Though I don't really think it's half of anything given the distance we cover!" (ha ha ha...elicit laugh so I don't come off sounding like a jerk)

So this is really about me. The satisfaction I get from having that elusive near-perfect (or perfect, if it exists) race. How long do I chase that, though? Where's the balance in sacrifice of time with people you love/other hobbies vs. just doing enough to be satisfied with whatever the outcome of the race is?

E.G. if I determine that I will not put more than 12 hrs/week in because I want to have time for others and other things, will I be able to come off a PR and think "that was SO AWESOME! I am totally satisfied with that!"

I mean, last year at Big Kahuna I had my best race EVER and finished in 5:10 and immediately thought "I am SO doing sub 5 next year."

As I's a different ball game when you're racing as pro or elite. That I get. But in spite of being passionate about this sport and loving it, it can't be my life.

Hmmmm...the questions keep coming. I'm curious how other people battle this. Or if I'm just crazy. Maybe that's it, too. ;)

Onward! A new week, and it's off to a great start.


While driving out to Dublin for First Friday (every FF is girls' night; however FF is now in its 3rd year and us ladies have really branched out from Berkeley...FF tends to be more of a Fri/Sat thing since people have kind of moved to the far reaches of the Bay Area), I was listening to one of my most favorite radio stations, Energy 92.7.

So the deejay says "and for the first time in 17 years, George Michael is coming back to North America on tour! Tickets go on sale on Monday, but I've got two tickets right here for caller #7."

Yes, yours truly scored 2 tickets to see George Michael at the HP Pavilion (San Jose) on June 19.


Friday, April 04, 2008

April Fool's

So I'm super busy and while I have tons of things I want to say that might actually be worthy of a post, I don't have time right now.

HOWEVER, my friend Kristina who is part of the San Francisco Tri Club just sent me her April Fool's joke from Tuesday and I thought it would be worth sharing. Apparently she actually managed to fool quite a few people!!

She sent the following announcement out to the team:
Subject: Wildflower Camping: Tents must be off ground

Everyone heading down for Wildflower Race Weekend -
A friend of mine on another club just told me that there will be a new camping regulation at Wildflower this year. The word is that the park staff has complained that each year it takes months for the campsites to recover from all the damage done to the grass and ground cover by all the vehicle and foot traffic and tents. They've estimated that the extra maintenance they have to do each year after Wildflower costs them in excess of $10,000! Apparently, the park has asked Tri California to either cover this cost or change the camping regulations for all the athletes. In response to this request, Tri California has opted to change the camping regulations. They are only allowing campground access to 20 vehicles per club/team and they are requiring that all tents be kept off the ground. They've suggested that campers either sleep in or on the cars that are allowed access into the camp grounds, or pitch their tents on top of tables. As you know there are usually only a handful of picnic tables in our collective camping area, so given this regulation, most people are going to need to bring their own tables. On their web-site (see below), Tri California has offered suggestions of using massage tables, foosball tables, portable billiards tables, and banquet tables. They are even working with a catering company out of nearby King City to get teams discounts on banquet tables. If athletes are not able to secure a table large enough to support their tent and their vehicle is not one of the ones granted access to the camp grounds then, their next suggestion is that you make due with your sleeping bag and a camping chair. They also put forth that good friends and couples could sleep on top of each other. However, they don't want to endorse anything that may cause injury to athletes, so they do recommend that people limit themselves to triple decker sleeping arrangements.
Now, I know many of you are thinking this sounds ludicrous, and I had started writing an e-mail to our board, suggesting that our club boycott the race this year......but then I remembered our relationship with the Parks Conservancy, and truly feel that our club needs to support the park maintenance staff in this issue. That said, I think we should all round up all the tables we can get our hands on and all the carts and radio flyer wagons we have to cart our gear into the campgrounds and head down to Lake San Antonio and all do our best to have a rockin' time! But don't forget to bring extra ibuprofen!


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

BYOBW 2008: Damn, I missed it again

Photo by Scott Beale

What was I doing on Easter Sunday? Oh, riding around on my bike drinking beer in West Sonoma County.


Oh, that's right...IN SAN FRANCISCO FOR THE ANNUAL BYOBW!!!!!!!!

Geez!! This whole business of having Easter be in March is really screwing me up. I kept thinking it was going to be in April and it wasn't until a friend posted pictures on his Facebook account that I realized "oh...wait, isn't that in April? Oh, is...EASTER ALREADY HAPPENED!" >:-P

As I mentioned in an earlier post, they had announced it would be moving from Lombard street but weren't sure where it would be held. Apparently the neighbors of Vermont Street in SF's Potrero Hill were okay with the idea and it was held at Vermont & 20th street. From the looks of this picture, it looks like it's a pretty curvy, hilly street so that satisfied me as a good alternative to Lombard Street.

So, once again, I am lame and posting others' photos instead of my own. But oh well. You can check out the official website here.

Without further ado, I am proud to announce the annual BYOBW (that's Bring Your Own Big Wheel) Event photos (three of many) from 2008:

Laughing Squid site is awesome for great photos/videos.

Photo Pool on Flickr can be found here.

Some of my favorite photos:

This photo by Scott Beale

This photo by Jim Goldstein

This photo by Jim Goldstein

Sigh...what fun!!!!!

Save the date: Easter 2009, 9th Annual BYOBW!!