Monday, May 14, 2007

More Hills

Some TRIgirls and Maramarc folks headed for the hills again this Saturday. (Mis)led by coaches Mark, Ed, and Blake, our sixty mile ride stretched into seventy! Wow. The fifty-miler we'd ridden a few weeks ago had been my longest bike to date.

Once again, Cyndi carried me and my bike up into the mountains. This time her husband accompanied us, as well. We departed the commuter lot at six am and returned at five thirty pm. Not just a morning ride. Some Canadian bikers along the way asked me how many were with our group. "Not as many as last time."

The thirty-five miles out was really a pleasant ride. The only thing I didn't enjoy about it was the realization of the reverse route.

There were a lot of interesting creepy crawlies on the ride. Shiny black beetles, thick segmented worms, fat colorful caterpillars. Totally different from any I come across here in town.

Part of the ride seemed more pasture than mountain, complete with grazing cattle.

Several vultures took air as I approached them. I couldn't see why they were there, but I could smell it.

I drank a twenty-ounce Coke at the turn-around. It was truly the nectar of the gods.

My chain fell off once. I had grease not only all over my hands, but subsequently all over my face. Does that make me look more or less professional?

A cycling tan is like a trucker tan, only different.

It's interesting to me how the highs and lows during an intense endurance activity mirror the highs and lows of everyday, only the intensity level of them reflects the level of exertion. I'm frequently emotional during long rides or runs. In the Blue Ridge, these emotional highs and lows are inversely proportional to the hills themselves. Going uphill, I curse myself, my bike, my coaches, the mountains. I vow to quit. Downhill, I could go on forever. This is the best ride of my life.

When I finally finish, six hours or days or years later, everything is different from when I started. The temperature, the air, the mood, me. The physical exhaustion leads to emotional exhaustion.

I'm proud of myself.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I swam two miles today.
Farthest swim distance ever.

I joined the JCC today, bringing my workout bag into the membership office with me. That's how much I was looking forward to this swim.
In the interest of full disclosure, my family belonged to the JCC when I was small, and I actually swam on their team for two summers back when they had only one pool. My mom taught water aerobics there, as well. They let anyone join the team. I never got out of the "novice" category in anything but backstroke, and I was used to bringing up the rear in any heat.
So, the facility looks really different...

I loved my swim! As many "issues" as I have with the swim portion of the tri, they all surface in race situations, or occasionally when I'm swimming in a crowded lane and start thinking about race situations. Swimming in the Smith Mountain Lake Sprint Tri last Saturday was my first swim in over a month, so I'm sure that added to my unease.

But today, I spent around seventy minutes swimming up and back and up and back, just thinking some and counting a lot. It was totally relaxing.

I was so pleased with my swim today, I'm on that high that comes after a first race mixed with the commitment of New Year's Day.
Or, you know, when you join a new gym.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Smith Mountain Lake Triathlon

Haven't participated in a tri since October 15, so I was ready to kick off the season. Felt very prepared since I'm training for much longer distances.

Smith Mountain lake is beautiful, and our accomodations, graciously provided by my TRIgirl little sister Jennifer and her family, were fantastic.

Nutrition and Hydration
During and right before the race, I enjoyed Clif Shot Bloks, Kashi bars, oatmeal, water, and Gatorade. The evening before the race brought fresh red snapper with coconut macadamia crust and a spicy pineapple salsa. The Strebel's postrace cookout was divine--especially the deviled eggs! The margaritas were delicious...

My first swim in a wetsuit, although not my first open water experience. I've completed two Sandmans and one Naylor's Beach, so the lake water was quite calm and inviting in comparison to the Atlantic Ocean and the Rappahannock River. Even the wetsuit provides warmth and flotation. That being said, I still experienced my traditional shallow breathing, not-putting-my-head-under-the-water breaststroking. Totally inefficient. Also quite frustrating, because although I know it's all in my head and I "just need to relax," um, okay. I even think I'll be fine prerace. One day...

First bike with the aerobottle. What a great invention. Felt pretty good on the bike--rolling hills, no real climbs. Stayed in the large chain ring for the most part. There was a bit of traffic on Smith Mountain Lake Parkway that interfered some--had to hit the brakes to avoid rear-ending a truck at one point.

Standard out-and-back. Sharing the road with not only other runners, but also the last cyclists, which made for a more congested course than I've seen on a tri before. Three water stops, which was really nice for a sprint distance. I felt good here and had no problems with a negative split.

1. It is so fun to race as part of a training team. Of course, we have the best jerseys and wetsuits! And we get the name recognition--hearing "Go, TRIgirl!" while wearing a veritable disguise of swim cap, goggles, and wetsuit is very encouraging.
2. Hmmm. This was the first race that had bakery cake at the finish line. I ate a rose.
3. I registered for this race as Athena (first time to ever do so,) which is a category for women weighing over 150 pounds. I thought I may have a shot at an award by doing so, but not among these fast women! There were eight Athena entries, and I finished fifth out of six Athena finishers. I would have been nine out of fifteen had I registered in my age group. My brother thinks the whole Athena/Clydesdale (men over 200 lbs.) is kind of silly, and I kind of agree. But I also think Ironman is kind of silly, and I'm signed up for that, too. Sigh.
4. I like racing.