Monday, June 27, 2011

In Which I Lose my Head on my First Paceline and Run a PR in the 5K

To Do This Week: 

I'll be setting up donation portals, among other things, to figure out how to make it easy to help you help me benefit two fabulous causes, Concerns of Police Survivors and Episcopal Relief and Development.  I have one person already who has some frequent flyer miles, and a place to stay some of the time in DC.  I'd love to stay in a race hotel (to get the shuttle) the night before the race, if that's possible.  But now my big thing:  figuring out how to get my Beloved Bike from here to there, and get it tuned up.

I think I might go full one-piece trisuit this year, and perhaps sleeveless wetsuit.  I liked my trisuit from last year, but I am almost ready to try the bibs concept.  I was sold by the guy who mentioned that bibs eliminate muffin rolls and I am extremely vain.

The Weather in Eugene

The most confusing part about moving to the Pacific Northwest so far has been the weather.  Oh, sure, I'm usually used to the weatherpeople on TV not quite getting it right.  I mean, one of my uncles is a weatherman, and he's able to tell me exactly why weatherpeople are not infallible.  Something about weather constantly changing.

But Eugene is extra odd.  Sometimes, in the morning, I wake up to this and go riding in weather so thick that the local turtles are practically swimming in mid-air.
This is the same bike path as from a few weeks ago, when I could see the Sisters.

And three hours later, it's glorious and blue and clear and sunny and everything is sparkly.

Same day, same bike path, just a little later.  Insane, right?

I'm not quite used to the morning being quite so devious.


This week, I learned how to paceline, on a tri club ride on Mackenzie View.  That's right, I rode my very first ever paceline.  This is a cyclist term where a bunch of people ride together to make it easier to ride into wind.  It's actually illegal in tri, but we were just on a fun ride.  Pacelining is very cool and snazzy, and only really hot cyclists get to do it.

J in front of me had been "pulling", which is what cool people call it when the person in front takes the full force of the wind and makes it easy on the rest of us.  She waved me on with the cyclists' secret gesture and I got ready to take over.  The idea is that the person pulling goes to the side and the rest of us pass her and she gets back on at the end of the line, while a new person pulls.

So I took over the front.  And there I was, at the front of the paceline, for the first time ever, cutting the wind for everyone and bravely leading my team.

Naturally, I buckled under the pressure and went into a full-out sprint.  I pedaled like they were trying to rob me.  "Fast!" thought I, "Fast is fun!  Everyone loves fast! Must... prove... myself... to ... team..... Fast!  Faster, or my true identity as a ruthless sandbagger will be revealed!"

A few miles later, we hit our planned rendevous point, and had a nice chat about pacing and not running away from the team.  We like paces.  I like paces, too.

They actually let me lead again later.  I behaved myself, then.


Crossfit had a 5K this week.  I'm finding Crossfit to be a blessing and a curse.  I'm skipping heavy lifting days and bargaining down the adding of extra weights, and adding on extra running whenever I can.  The sprints seem to really be helping me, but I can't do the heavy lifting and still maintain form on runs and bikes.  I'm looking at subbing Crossfit Endurance workouts, but finding it a little confusing...

But when it came to 5K day, I was SO THERE.  The coaches were sitting in heaps at the couches, trying to tell me they just aren't good at the endurance work.  (Ahem.  I think they both turned in sub-30 minute 5Ks.  Good on you, guys.)  But most of the Crossfitters are 5K sprinters.  I wanted to try to maintain consistent pace, and finish strong enough to do more.  (Since an Olympic is a 10K, after all.)

I turned in a 31:49 5K, which is my new personal record and my time to beat forever more.  This was most respectable for me.  I think I might be getting a little better at the running.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Running Around in Circles

This year, since I am not doing the tri with Team in Training, I am working on my own for training.

About 10 minutes from my house on a bike: this is a bike path with the most incredible view.  Workout candy!  It doesn't show in these pictures, but you can see Three Sisters from here.  Big mountain!

I'm trying to draw up a week-by-week plan, yes.  But more importantly, I'm trying to balance Crossfit with training.  As in, one day Crossfit, one day tri training.  (Tomorrow will be a tri day.)

Today was a Crossfit day.  The coaches have agreed to work me on lighter weights so I don't bulk up or get too muscley while I work to get leaner so I can be faster.

I guess I am building up speed since I consistently beat M on the run part today.  Yeah, I said it.  Once, he was quite a bit in front of me and I ran after him and caught him and beat him in.  And on the last lap, he was checking out the rear view all the way, because he never caught me at all.

I am Betsy the Rabbit.

Of course, M then went into the gym, picked up the weights, and proceeded to crush me by lifting bigger weights faster, and jumping on a higher box.  I had to go to a shorter box after I couldn't jump high enough and clunked my foot on the side and knocked myself over.  So he's way stronger.

He is M the Mighty Man.

I'm hoping these short explosive workouts balance the long distance building stuff to help me build speed, and also to burn off some fat.  I'm feeling a serious need to whittle off some of this CT Pudge so I can look that much more badass in an all spandex suit.

To help out with that, I'm eating a lot more veggies, cutting out most carbs, grains, and dairy, and adding a ton of protein.  There's actually something special going on, but I'll save that for a month or so before I know if it's actually working.  Cutting carbs has helped my energy even out a great deal, I've noticed, so I'm not getting the energy spikes and drops.  (It also makes those church dinners totally guilt free.  Tres Leches cake?  Don't mind if I do have a tiny piece since I haven't had any bad carbs for a week!)

The Schnoz.  Classic.  Roman.  Sculpt this, Michelangelo. 

The dairy free thing also seems to help on a problem that has plagued me for years on my bikes and now on my runs:  the nose.  You see, being of Mediterranean descent, I come equipped not with a nose, but with a schnoz.  They make statues in museums to celebrate this nose.  It is a "classic Roman nose".  In grade school, other kids used to draw me as a witch with a wart due to the large prominent facial feature that took me well into my late teens to grow into.  Adrian Brody would be my nose buddy.  If I ever met him, he'd look up at me as I walked by, and smile knowingly with a small nod, gently tapping his own schnoz with deep understanding.

Apparently, many endurance athletes suffer from a problem known as snot nose. They make gloves with extra big "snot rag" areas.  Some of us have actually been known to carry "bandanas" or "hankies" tucked into our jersey pockets.  (Now you know why all my jerseys go straight into the wash after a ride!  Yes, they do.)  A few people think they are really talented because they can do a "farmer's hankie", and to that I say, "EWWWW!! Take the 30 seconds and go to the woods and get a tree leaf or something!  You are GROSS! EWW EWW EWW EWW!"

I have discovered that eliminating dairy has helped to almost totally eliminate that problem.

Shocking, amazing, and very, very handy.  Sad that I may never again drink chocolate milk which I love with deep love, but great for the Campaign Against Unnecessary Grossness.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tri Club and Oregon Open Water

So, since one thing I haven't done a lot of here is swim (well, haven't swum at all in months.  Uht oh!) and I am slow as mud in the water, I need to work on my swimming.  And the most important part is to swim in open water since that's what we'll be doing in the actual race, or at least, in the races I've raced so far.

Yesterday, I joined with my new club teammates for the first open water swim in Oregon.  We swam at Richardson Lake.  Some people swam 2 miles.  I swam 1/2 mile.  I am still slow as dirt.  But it was really delightful to get out in the water.  It was about 65 degrees, and the cleanest, coolest water I've ever been in.  I felt I could drink it, practically!  (But I didn't.)  When I swam the Potomac, I was sneezing brown all the rest of the day, and I washed brown silt off everything when I got back to the hotel.  Here, the water was sparkling.

Richardson Lake and it's sparkly clean waters!

And on the way home, there were rainbows!

And in open water, we need a wetsuit.  I am no fan of cold water.  In fact, I typically shriek like a little girl as I enter all water temperatures.  This year, I'm thinking of getting a sleeveless one for those times when I don't need to be AS warm.  Besides, my new teammates in sleeveless look totally badass.

It's all about appearances.  I would like to be a badass too, thank you kindly.

I joined a tri club here- The Multisport Advantage club.  They meet for group workouts several evenings a week.  I considered their training program, as well, but the 6AM start time ALL WEEK LONG felt a little daunting.

I'm not a morning person.  Bad, bad, bad.  So I talked to my Crossfit coach and we're going to try Crossfit Endurance with me for a bit.  It means he still gets to wreck me a little, but will focus more on bodyweight and gymnastic movements instead of heavy, heavy weights, and he'll make me do a lot more running.

They still have these crazy ideas like women having actual upper body strength, and they have me lifting actual heavy weight, and getting stronger.  I think they think that I'll be doing pushups someday.

Seriously, Crossfit has been great because I'm actually starting to look forward to the runs.  It's how we know the workout is really hard, when I say, "OH, a 400 METER SPRINT!  WHAT A NICE BREAK!"

Well, it's Saturday in Eugene, and that means one thing:  meeting friends at Saturday Market. 

As far the Nation's Tri, I have my organizations on board, and hope to announce a donations link soon!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tri Club, Tri Training, Coaches

So, last year with Team in Training, I had coaching included.  Sure, I paid for my gym membership (and have since Seminary- since I'm cheap, I find I am most responsible when I'm paying for something), and used the pool for swimming and went to yoga.  By the way, even gym pools get gross when there are little kids in them.  Blllllech.

At any rate, I now have motivation to find a pool quickly for swim workouts, and to get cracking on some real tri training.

Enter dilemma.

We joined Crossfit when we arrived, and the guys are really nice, and they push me hard.  They push me way harder than I would push myself.  I've definitely gained some fitness.  I haven't lost weight, which is annoying, because I feel like I've put ON some muscle.  This is really frustrated, since I'm hardly a small girl.  But the price is right, and the same all year round.  And they are great to work out with, as a woman- I like it when someone pushes me without treating me "like a girl".

Then I found a tri-specific gym here, with a focus on endurance and body-weight training, so you get a strong core, but a leaner body and tons and tons of tri-specific workouts.  But they do charge extra for things like a nutrition consult, and their price goes up in the winter.  You do get to workout with the club.

I could also join just the club and try to do my own training, or to see if the Crossfit guys want to hold me accountable or to work with me on a tri training plan, or give up Crossfit in favor of tri-specific training, or put Crossfit on hold until winter?

I dunno.  I will be talking to the Crossfit coach on Friday and in the meantime... what would YOU do?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Nation's Tri!

So, here's the big news, race-wise:

I was accepted to get into the Nation's Tri in the category of First Responder.  They opened the category to police, fire fighters, EMS, and "other first responders".  When I wrote and explained the sort of work I did, they were very happy to accept an emergency services chaplain.  M insisted I sign up that day!

Of course, here's the kicker: I get the most energy out of races when they are done for the benefit of someone else.  (Also, they are too expensive to go to very many!)  So if I have just one big race a year, it better be an awesome benefit.  Long-term followers will remember the famous Team Ben last year and how we blitzed our fund-raising goal.  I thought about doing Team in Training again this year, as I had such a great experience with them.  In the awesome news section, Ben has been in remission for months.  He and his wife are enjoying some very well-deserved recuperation and relaxation time.  Well, SHE is.  HE is attempting to revert to his hard-working ways.  Ahem, Ben, we're watching you, buddy!

And this year, the race is being held in DC, on 9/11.  10 years ago, I'd just started Seminary.  I will never forget the roars of the fighter jets.  I had never heard sonic booms, and to this day, it chills me that we had to have jets scrambled over American soil.  Over the next few years, it was my very great privilege to serve with the COPS conference and the Alexandria and Arlington Police supporting survivors.  My favorite survivor of all is a sweet guy from NYC- he lost several buddies in the World Trade Center.  The first year I met him, he was angry and defensive and didn't want anything to do with the COPS conference.  I gave him directions to the "fun" stuff in DC and let him go.  He kept coming back, and the fifth year out, he did the Police Unity Tour with my chapter.  He was starting to remember how to have fun and why he became a cop in the first place.  He was starting to remember what it felt like to help people and to do good.

So this year, in honor of all the awesome emergency workers I've worked with and will continue to serve, I am going to be doing this Tri for them.

I'm going to be talking to some folks to get a donations account set up, and intend to donate 50% to COPS and their awesome work, and 50% to Episcopal Relief and Development.  These organizations care for the people and the communities long after the fires and ash have burnt out, and long after the gunshots have faded into memory.

I'm also asking if anyone has any frequent flyer miles they'd like to donate to me.  I'll be joining a new tri club here and will work the discounts, but if anyone would like to help me with the flights or the cost of a hotel room for right before the tri and right after the tri, I would be so grateful.  I've already put $190 towards my own efforts (for registration), and for every flight and hotel room people donate, I'll be able to put an extra donation towards COPS and ERD.

This'll be a major personal project this summer, and I am so looking forward to the Potomac River neti pot effect.  This year, I want to not get lost in the swim, and to shave some time off my run.  Oh, and to not be the last first responder to cross the line.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tri Season and Eugene Bike Exaggerations

For the record... I have applied to get into a certain race under a certain category that I might or might not qualify for, depending on the race organizer's definition of my job and whether all my time in BDUs and boots (or scrubs, or bike gear and bulletproof, or business casual and funny purple latex-free gloves, depending on the day) is the same as mine.  More to come.  If I get in, it'll be awesome.

In the meantime, I have been riding around Eugene.

Eugene is really awesome.  It's sort of like a biker chick's dream town to live in.  Do they make heart-Oregon stickers for my bike, too?  However, among other things, I have learned that Eugene might have a fibbing problem when it comes to bikes.

It started with stuff like my normally sweet and innocent parishioners saying things like, "Oh, I'm just a casual around town rider".  And then you find they are super-commuters who are so tough that rain itself stops in their general vicinity and yields the bike lane to their awesome commuter super-powers.  Or the one who said "Oh, I have a few tools and I like to tinker" and proceeded to give my road bike the best damn tune up it's ever had in its short life.  (That bike is riding AWESOME right now!)  

The other day, I took M out to a ride on the famous River Bike Bath.  It borders the Willamette River and goes right by McMenamins, which is now dear to me for introducing me to my new favorite junk food- cajunized tator tots.

Several people have told me that the River Path is 20 miles.  We rode it end to end, and barely scraped up 11 miles.  That was a rather infamous ride, as M took off on a little speed-demon trip to show me how fast he was.  Sadly, he missed a crucial turn and we got separated and mildly lost and by the time we found each other and our car, I had gotten seriously rained on.  Plus I was worried about my missing beloved.  And really, really cheezed off that he'd ditched me.  Ahem.  Wives are pretty much on par with cats when they are both wet and mad.  Somehow, I think he'll be developing his "looking behind him" skills a lot.

Also- there's a hill nearby my house called Green Hill.  I was told it was "500, maybe 600 meters of a nice rolling climb.  There's a few flattish spots to catch your breath."  I wonder if the guy knew he was lying to a priest?

Because Green Hill feels like about 12 miles of straight uphill, 80% grade.  There's a few flattish spots where I can catch my breath indeed- it's pretty flat once you give into to the shaking legs and clip desperately out of your pedals and lie on the side of the road for a minute, heaving precious molecules of oxygen into your deprived body, which is busy screaming "Why, why, you witch, why?"

However, I must say that on the other side of Green Hill, there's the most awesome screaming descent.  I broke 40mph, despite holding my brakes most of the time.  M has the most bizarre ideas about "safety" and stuff.  Secretly, I want to try going all out sometime to see just how fast I can go.

In the meantime, I tell you, I better have the most awesome quads in the world by the end of this summer.  Because WOW, these hills are kicking my squashy East Coast heiny!  Is there some reason I haven't magically become super skinny since moving here?  My legs are slowly turning into steel, but I should be much skinnier, kind of like I was when I lived in VA.  It can't have anything to do with the many fabulous people who give me cake each week, can it?  Oh, new job, you people celebrate so many wonderful things with such amazing cake.  And pie.

And tater tots!