Sunday, September 6, 2015

Crazy Is As Crazy Does

There may not be a force on earth strong enough to fix my cycling skills in time to race Mt. Tam next weekend, but I signed up anyway.  Haha...  Wish me luck!

I'm a Fixer Upper

Red Kite Racing hosts cycling races all year, but most of them take place on Sundays and, unfortunately, BART doesn't run early enough for us to make it to Pleasanton in time for the 8am starts.  The championship, however, is a *two-day* event where the Women's Cat 3/4 final falls on a Saturday *and* since BART has morning service starting at 5am on Saturdays...

Flash forward to September 5th at 5am.  We were wishing we had never even heard of cycling.  It was more like a race to the snooze button.  LOL

Billy and I were still rubbing the sleep out of our eyes when we got to the Fruitvale BART station and almost had side-by-side matching his-and-hers heart attacks because the BART station signs were displaying the wrong destination for the southbound train.  We breathed a simultaneous sigh of relief when doors opened to a Dublin/Pleasanton train.  Phew!

I'll admit that the start line for this race might've been the most intimidated I've felt on my bike to date.  All the biggest dogs in the pack were there donning team threads and looking pretty mean.  Then there was me in my short shorts and streamers (which I removed as a precaution - wah!).  Turns out that day I didn't even come close to breaking my top two times around this flat smooth one mile loop around the Clorox campus.

I was feeling pretty comfortable hanging on to the back of the pack for the first eight laps.  After a little break away, trying to get into the group another cyclist piped up to reprimand me.  She was like, "You cornered waaaaaay better that time."  Since what she said was actually super constructive and nice *and* she delivered it in a British accent it was actually kinda wonderful hearing from her!   I'll take what I can get!  Hehe.  However, for my next race I think I will install a comment box on my bike in the shape of a middle finger.  What do you think?

Thirty minutes into the race.  We've gone around in circles ten times....  No crashes.  No flats.  I wasn't dizzy, tired, or winded!  My legs were going, "Would you go already!?!!"  Oyoyoy.  A friend made her move to the front of the group, but I wasn't on her wheel.  In that moment I was 100% sure that if I wanted to have a chance at the top five I needed to be up there with her, but I just didn't go for it.  I was afraid if I moved from the back of the pack, I might not make it back in with enough time to corner safely.  Ugh!

I got 10th.  Here are the official results:

With 54 points overall I am actually 24th out of over 100 cyclists in the series even though I only raced twice.  So, that ain't bad, but better luck next year, right?!?!  Ahaha.  So, I guess I'm a bit of a fixer upper:

Friday, September 4, 2015

Oakland Triathlon Festival :: Race Report

Conversations with friends the week leading up to this race mostly aimed at answering the very difficult question of which cause to support on the podium if, I mean - ahem, ahem - *when* I won...  Oh, you know, things I truly believe in like:
1.  Helmets
2.  Bidets (unfortunately I couldn't come up with TOTO merch in time for the race)
3.  "Save the whales" (went out the window when local news broke last week...)
4.  SweetWARE (nah, we don't have hats)

Well, on Friday while packing up a beat-up backpack with race day necessities guess whose warrior eyes were staring up at me from the bottom of my t-shirt drawer???  That's right...  This guy:

"Worf be with you".........  "And, with you."

What?!?!  It's not like I yelled, "Prime directive!" as I crossed the finish line or anything...  Okay, okay, I *did* have a speech prepared in Klingon...... but I guess speeches when you win your age group is not a thing so Qapla'!

Anyways..........  As most of you already know, the buildup for this race was kinda insane.  ALL YEAR, yes, that's right - *all year* - I've been working toward this goal and I didn't even have a bib until the day before the race.  Haha - crazy right?!?  The wonderful people who run the Oakland Triathlon Festival made an exception and allowed me to transfer a bib from another OTC member over to my name last-minute.  Woot!

Everything was going according to plan.  Bib, check.  Wetsuit rental, check.  Clean bike, check.  Well-rested, well-nourished, check, check.

The morning of the race was like clockwork.  Pre-race was a breeze.  I even pooped on schedule.  Ha!
Sorry, TMI.

It was pitch black when Billy and I rode down to the start and it was still mostly dark when I set up my transition area.  We were both looking around, like, "Holy shit, is it raining??"  We could barely believe it!  It was, indeed, drizzling....... in Oakland...... for the first time in almost a year.  That's supposed to be *good* luck, right?!?!  I'm pretty sure that at that point everyone racing was thinking the exact same thing:  "First rain of the season = bike course slip-n-slide."

Billy walked down to the start line with me.  Time to get my wetsuit on!  That's when it really hit...  that oh-so-familiar-you're-about-to-swim pit in my stomach.  I burped/whispered to Billy, "There's a lot of fast people here."  He kept me thinking positively though, like always, making me laugh and putting my thought process back on an upward trajectory.  Before too long I was like, "I'm glad I went to the course previews" and "Hey - I get to ride my bike after this!"  Billy is the best.

The ramp down to the dock felt super strange.  Did anyone else notice that there wasn't a realistic sense of urgency to get in the water???  Maybe it was just me, but it seemed like there were a TON of people just standing around arms crossed with expressions on their faces like "Someones gonna have to push me in 'cause I ain't gettin' in that water."  Needless to say, that group was still swimming up when the horn blew for the start.  Yikes!  I was one of the lucky ones who got between those buoys just in time to pee my wetsuit.  YES - winning again, see?  Pattern.  ;)

Okay, this is where I actually do a race report, I swear.

Swim (Distance .6mi :: Time 23:52 :: Mantra "It's not....  about... the whale.")

The next twenty-four minutes was a total nightmare!  I've already tapped most of it out (with my sissy who just learned EMDR - perfect timing btw).  What I *do* remember is a faint feeling of....... eternity??  There were moments when I considered just turning around and going back, or swimming to shore, or hitching a ride on a nearby boat.  I was aware enough to try to draft off fast people a few times, but I couldn't keep up steam long enough for that to work effectively.  About a quarter of the way through I started breaking into breast stroke every 200 meters or so just like "UGH!  Why am I doing this again???"  At one point - about half way through - a guy swimming diagonally across the course straight punched me in the face.  I was like, "Wrong sport, dude!"  Owie.

I *may* be making this sound slightly worse then it was.  I don't know.  I was trying *so* hard to tire out my arms without hyperventilating it's possible that I actually hit a stride...  Other positives:
1.  I didn't swallow very much water.
2.  I was able to breathe bilaterally (kinda cool)
... and most importantly!
3.  I made it to the dock.  Ahahah!

Ramp, shoes, go!  Billy and Keenan were cheering for me right before the pedestrian overpass.  Billy yelled, "10!"  Best husband.  He had counted the number of women with my color cap ahead of me.

Time to start taking numbers...

Bike (Distance 12mi :: Time 35:20 :: Mantra "I've got a perfect machine.")

Yes, bike hug!  I started over-taking people right away (even though the course was slick).  A guy peeled out right behind me on the first turn, so, that was a good reality check.  I slowed waaaaaaaaaay down for most of the corners.

Everyone was feeling the rain.  There were a lot of cold volunteers out there that day and someone told me there were something like 20 crashes on the bike course.  Oy!  The conditions slowed down a lot of otherwise very fast people.  No surprise that the woman who won the sprint was from Great Britain and going to school in Boston - so probably the most comfortable with rain...  Excuses, excuses!  I know, but seriously though, you could tell who the Californians were because we were riding around like "What's this wet stuff?"  Ha!

I averaged 20mph according to my garmin.  A little extra oomph from Billy and Keenan rounding the corner to T2 and, boom, 5k between me and the finish line, baby!  This transition was quick as a wink.

Run (Distance 3.1mi :: Time 22:13 :: Mantra "Elbows back.  Knees up.")

So I have this goo...  Cue the over-analysis.  What now?  WWWD (What Would Worf Do)???  Aaaaargh!  I ate some goo and then obsessed about what to do with the sticky half-eaten packet in my sweaty little palm for the next 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, my legs felt like two piles of bricks and the only people in my sights were men and U20 girls.

Back to the mantra.

I was feeling good about my pace when my GPS beeped (2 miles down, 1 to go) and two women blew by me like I was standing still; first, a 31-year-old wearing a black top and black compression socks and then a 27-year-old in a bright orange top.  That's when I heard Christina yelling from her car window, "Goooooo, Amy!!!!  Woooooo!!!  Goooooo Amy!"  My legs had just enough left to get up and down those stupid stairs and sprint the last 200 meters.  After crossing the finish line, I looked and looked for this woman in black but I could not find her anywhere.  I figured she must've just kept running like Forest Gump or something... She's probably half way to Texas by now, and such a pity - honestly - because I wanted to ask her about what kinds of steroids I need to start taking.  ;)


Anyways, the unofficial results said I got first in my age group!  I didn't argue with anyone when they called me up to the podium, but I know in my heart that there was a 31-year-old who beat me!  I was partly relieved when I saw her name above mine in the electronic results...  Not crazy.  You're not crazy.  Who are you talking to??  [looking around] Oh me?  What?!?!?  No.  Totally sane here...............

So, I don't know what happened to Kris Blum, but I guess I got 2nd in my age group and 13th overall.  Weird results, but I was satisfied with the race!  It felt great to be up on the podium and surrounded by my biggest supporters (Billy, Mom, Dad, Chrissy, Sarah, and Henry!).  We all high-tailed it to Hob Nob in Alameda after for bottomless mimosas and banana pancakes.  YUM!  I'd been looking forward to those pancakes all year...  They taste *so much* like, oh, how you say??  In my country we call it.... ah yes - winning!  Hehe.

A loooooong list of unofficial coaches guided me this year and I'm grateful to all of them.  The OTC coaches *especially* have made me fear the water less and less.  Many OTC members were in the top three for their age groups for the Sprint and Olympic distances and that's enough to make a local girl's heart sing the TNG theme:

Other standouts from Saturday:
1.  The woman who got second overall in the Sprint was 54!  Amazing, right?
2.  Check out these two ladies (Mary Cantini Norkin and Betsy Bikle - both in their 70s - what?)!  Can you imagine being 72 and finding out that you *didn't* win your age group?!?!  Eyeye...

Well, that's about it!  If you enjoyed reading this, click "Join this site" on the right side toolbar above and specify whether you want emails or a weekly digest from yours truly.  If you're already subscribed, I feel sorry for you, but thank you anyway for reading all my blah blah blah.  You'll be hearing more from me in the coming weeks regarding adventures in nutrition, tri training, racing my bike, and more!

Okay, that's all for now.  More later.

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 water 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 Alpe 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...