Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Buckling Down

The Oakland Triathlon Festival is less than a week away!  Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It's way past crunch time.

When we returned from our vacation in July, I sat down with a calendar and a pen and planned workouts for the next six weeks (with bolded margin notes for an elimination diet and exclamation points indicating a *very* generous taper to look forward to).  Hehe...  Last week, when I wasn't training my tail off, I thoroughly snooped all the best times in my age group from last year.  With the added confidence I gained from that, I've finally started telling people my goals (manifesting my desire to win): make it on the podium for my age group and/or set the course record on the bike (breaking 37:13).  I feel ready!

This Sunday marked my last open swim before the showdown.  I met up to swim (sans wetsuit) in the Oakland estuary with a group of other grown women who will cry - LIKE ME! - if they don't win!  Ahahahah... The water was totally great!  Even warmer than the water at Crab Cove or Aquatic Park (possibly due to radioactivity??   Not sure).  Ha!  

The rest of this week I have easy runs and rides with mini intervals at race pace to remind my body to get ready to go fast on Saturday morning!  Off time will be spent practicing transitions, eating clean and dreaming of the top of the podium.  Oh!  I also have to clean my machine...

Blah blah blah here is the schedule of events in case you would like to join the festivities:

Saturday, August, 29, 2015 – Race Day

5:00am Transition Open
6:46am Sprint Race Start
7:00am International Race Start
9am-1pm Expo, Food, Beer, and Live Music
10:30am Sprint Awards Ceremony & Raffle
11:30am Olympic Awards Ceremony & Raffle
1pm Post Race Party Complete

Maybe I'll see you at the race?  :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Swimming Milestone #3

In preparation for the Oakland Triathlon Festival (coming up August 29th!), last Friday I swam a half mile in open water at the Dolphin Club in San Francisco.  A half a mile!  Yay.  Sure, I stopped to cough up water *and* caught myself swimming in the total opposite direction of where I wanted to go a couple of times, but all in all, it was a success!

This workout starts with a 4 mile bike ride from the Embarcadero BART station along the wharf.  The touristy hustle and bustle down there is always entertaining and merits a mention on this blog because it's a segment that I always look forward to riding for various reasons.  From Pier 29 to Ghirardelli Square, the sidewalks are flooded with droves of tourists from all over the world walking around taking pictures and noticing everything (which turns this run-of-the-mill ride into a kind of parade of urban American traffic).  Instead of cutting off tour buses, I all of the sudden feel like waving to them (Miss Oakland style of course: elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, middle finger... ooops! jk).  One time I was overwhelmed with the urge to just start chanting USA USA USA!  Haha....  Anyway, I don't know why I'm so weird, but I enjoy the idea of sending tourists home with crazy cyclist stories.  :)

Back to the swim though - the first time I went to the Dolphin Club was before my second tri and I barely made it to the first buoy and back.  The second time, two Fridays ago, I went with a friend who encouraged me the whole time.  She was like, yay, first buoy!  Yay.  Second buoy...  ONE MORE BUOY!  ...and so on and so forth.  She helped me prove to myself that the distance was possible.  So, this last Friday I finally did the whole 1/2 mile by myself.  Definitely a milestone!  So that felt great.  Woohoo!

I love the Dolphin Club so much now!  The water is 68 degrees and has an absolutely gorgeous view of the Golden Gate bridge.  Also, in addition to the beautiful swim and the wild ride that gets me there, the sauna there is incredible (that is a story for another blog post though - hehe!).  I'm hoping a few more open water swims is enough to get me ready for race day.  The Oakland Tri Fest Sprint has a swim of .6 miles which will be the most swimming I've ever done in a race!  Eyeyey.  Oh my gosh...  I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it!

Alright - that's all for now.  More later!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mt. Tam Calling

Oh, Amy?  Here...........  It's for you...............  Oh, it's no big deal.  It's just Mt. Tam.

Climbing Mt. Tam was a lofty/unrealistic goal Billy and I set for ourselves back in 2012 when we first started riding bikes more seriously together.  That year we ventured to do a few slightly less leisurely rides like climbing up to Skyline and riding the American River Trail from Sacramento to Fair Oaks to visit my parents.

We have hyped Mt. Tam FOR-EH-VOR.  We watched youtube videos.  Discussed getting our brakes changed.  Went back and forth about tentative dates.  And thoroughly psyched ourselves out completely about this 12 mile climb until finally Billy got it out of his system the day after Thanksgiving 2013.  I remember him skype-recapping this experience with mixed emotions (smiling and swearing and smiling again...).

Since returning from France I've invested even more time in the saddle alongside Billy and dreamed of making the Mt. Tam trek...  to the point where it seemed like every time I crossed over the Park Street bridge I heard Mt. Tam whispering my name in the wind... "Amy!  Amy!  Come ride me!"  Ha!  Maybe I built it up a little too much???  Well you can imagine my surprise when an impromtu Saturday morning ride with a friend who races for Dolce Vita turned into a group ride up to the *tippy* top of Mt. f#$^*ing Tam!  OMG

So.......  I get off BART at 16th & Mission Street to meet my new *fast* female friend who I had been emailing with all week about doing a long-ish endurance ride (3 hours/50 miles-ish, but I was thinking easy, maybe Tiburon loop or something like that).  Uhhhh.... First thing she says to me is "Did you get my email?!"  I was like "I'm sorry I didn't" thinking to myself "Well, *that's* because you were in bed like a granny at 8pm last night," so.....  She was like, "Well, Mei - [Ding!  Bright orange synapses fired full-speed strava signals to my pleasure center like I'm about to meet a celebrity...  ALL HAIL!  Mei, queen of San Francisco segments!] - invited us to join her on the Bespoke ride, but they are taking off from Pac Heights in fifteen minutes."  Well, ignoring every alert my body was sending to go ahead and abort this mission I jumped on her wheel and we jammed up the wiggle to meet the group.

When I squeaked up on my ten-year-old death-metal-bumper-stickered Specialized tank to 20 geared-out astronauts in their fancy pants kits straddling some of the nicest bikes I've ever seen I looked like such a newb and - I tell ya - the oops-I-pooped-my-pants smell coming from my worn out spandex didn't help much.  About ten seconds after we arrived, Justin, the apparent leader of the pack started to explain the route.  He never actually said "Mt. Tam".  Oh no.  While he dropped names like "Pantoll" and "East Hills" and "wait - did he just say Alpes d'Huez - what?!?"  I focused most of my attention on keeping my breakfast down...

We took off and, oh you know, just that feeling when you are all the sudden on a group ride and you have to quietly ask your friend if he was talking about GOING UP TO THE TOP OF MT. TAM!?!?!


Once we started climbing we didn't stop.  The road just kept going up.  For an hour.  Between expletives I managed to cough questions at cyclists passing me by about how much further it was to Pantoll.  They just laughed or told me to not worry about it or pedaled faster to clear the stench.  I couldn't even believe it when I arrived at the top, though - I gotto say - can't beat the view!

While the rest of the group rode down to Stinson Beach and back, I climbed at a conversation pace the rest of the way from Pantoll with a few other ladies who agreed that tacking another .5 miles of vertical climbing was insane (but not Mei - no way!).  Haha!  The three of us split up about half way down the hill and my new friend (who turns out is the sweetest woman in the world - and she speaks French!) picked up lunch and a coffee together in SF.  I didn't get home until after 4pm!  What a beautiful ride though.  Oh man.  Though I was overwhelmed and beat, I actually don't think I've ever felt better.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

See Amy Run

I ran my first half marathon!!  With a time of 2:02:25 at a 9:20 minute mile average pace, I placed 38th in my age group and 143rd overall.  Here are my results!

I went to the registration/packet pick up Saturday in Jack London Square after my bike race in Pleasanton.  The See Jane Run staff made an exception to their non-transferable rule to give me Catherine's bib (an OTC friend who had to leave town unexpectedly).  #1819  Woohoo.  This is going to hurt tomorrow...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Crazy Critter!

I fished a daddy long legs out of the tub yesterday morning and it didn't dawn on my until just now how my little power animal was paying me a visit before my big race.

With all the foot problems I've been having this year it made sense for me to focus my energy on cycling for a while so I did my first Criterium race a few weeks ago.  I got a flat on the second to last lap and my front wheel was a mess, oh man, but boy was it exhilarating to be out on a closed course with a bunch of other fast females!  So inspired!

After a disappointing DNF I finally built up the confidence to sign up for another Crit on Saturday, June 20th.  My goals, in order, for that race were as follows:

1.  stay upright
2.  stay with the pelleton (ie don't get dropped from the group)
3.  suck wheel
4.  maintain a competitive position into the last lap
5.  sprint last 200m at 30-34mph

Sarah graciously let us borrow her car so Billy woke up at the crack of dawn to get me to the race in Pleasanton with just enough time to register and attend a clinic where seasoned Berkeley cyclist Meredith Nielsen was instrumental in helping me find the right gear and avoid crashing!  This race was Cat 3/4 combined, so I didn't experience the same problem with overlapping wheels (because the field was so much faster).  It was an eventful race with a crash and a flat.  I accomplished all my goals, but didn't finish even close to the podium...  15th out of 28 riders.  :(

But, hey look, I'm on the board!

Crit racing has humbled me on the bike for sure.  Crits are risky business and winning requires strategy, skill, and speed.  Road racing season is right around the corner and I kinda can't wait to sink my cleats into those!  I've got about a month to work on my front wheelie.  ;)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Swimming Milestone #2

This Monday marked the first OTC swim practice *ever* that actually felt like a recovery swim.  I swam 1500m (including a warm up and cool down) and I was never really winded even though we did four 200s at 70% for the main set.  All this can be attributed to the Total Immersion online swimming tutorials and the outstanding OTC coaches at these Monday night Mills practices.  

Oh - haha - something hilarious happened at the start of this workout.  There was this little boy (maybe 6 years old??) getting out of the shallowest lane and I asked him if he was done swimming there (I knew he was - I just felt like modeling politeness for some dumb reason).  He was like, "You shouldn't swim here.  It's better practice down there where you can't touch!" LOL...  Doh!  I was like, "Okay.  Thanks!"  ...and then slunked into the kiddie lane anyway.  Ha!

It's true that it's pretty lazy to stay in the stubby shallow end of the pool, but OTC considers it the "slow lane" and I'm preeeeeeeetty sure I'm the slowest swimmer there, so......  PLUS, I rely on the floor of the pool to be there for me if I need to stop swimming to cough up a mouthful of delicious pool water or whatever (yes, of course, this still happens occasionally).  I intend to get into the deep end soon, but *that* - my dear little boy - is a milestone for another day.  ;)

The next swim goal on my horizon is to swim continuously for 10 minutes. That may entail getting into some open water soon where there's nothing tempting to hang on to....  Eeeek!  Alright.  That's all for now.  More later!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Today, I set out to break my time up Snake (a steep 1.5 mile climb up to Skyline Boulevard in Oakland).  My first attempt was just last week and I really went for it from the start, but then lost steam at the top (shooting for under 10 minutes I barely made it in under 12:30 - Oyoyoy!).

Today I was determined to try a new strategy.  I held back the reigns for the first half of the climb (up to Colton) and then really let loose on the last quarter mile (after Thornhill).  This strategy paid off as I shaved 45 seconds off my original time (11:34).  This made me particularly happy because I'm now barely hanging on to the tenth spot out of all the women who have climbed that segment on strava (woohoo!).

I'm already pumped about improving my time next week.  Here are my ideas!
1.  Climb with cleaner lines (cut corners smarter and make straight shots up the squiggles)
2.  Use a nasal decongestant strip (an experienced cyclist recommended this to me for getting more oxygen into my bloodstream - still need to try it!)
3.  Start attacking the hill from Shepard Canyon downhill (this is a little cheap as a tactic, but it will bring my average speed way up if I can get a running start into that first steep climb)
4.  Sprint - slow to fast - sooner (Instead of gunning it and having to back off later, steadily build speed from Thornhill up to 15mph and then stand up to sprint all the way through Colton)

Ohhhh can't wait to do this again!