Saturday, September 29, 2012

Plans for the Fall

Well, it's one week post race.  The first few days I just did a massive amount of sleeping.  Then I worked a few 12+ hour days due to some very exciting things happening at work (like installing the Boss as Priest-in-Charge and pulling off a massive party!), and spent part of my "day off" catching up.

For the record: I do think self-care is important, and I'm usually pretty careful about taking my day off.  But sometimes (like in the start of the program year), I need to work a little extra in.  It's not a frequent occurrence, and because of this, it doesn't bother me.  This Friday I was working on lesson plans for confirmation class and studying a Spanish sermon.  The lesson plan shaped up nicely, but I'm afraid I was defeated by the Spanish sermon, and will turn it over to one of my congregants to read.  *deepsigh*  Ah well.  That is why I'm heading to Mexico at the end of this month.  I need to study more!  

As far as plans for the fall, I think I will be working on my flexibility and core strength.  And doing some mountain biking, and trail running.  And if a century comes up on a free Saturday, I might not say "no".  I would love to get a 100-mile ride in on my BMC in its first season, and I know I've got the miles in these legs.  Even after 70 miles up a mountain in Bend, I could have kept going!  (Have I bored my readers- all three of you- with my constant proclamations of how much I love that bike?)  

Basically, I am going to go trail running because I get bored so easily while running and I am amused by leaping over roots and rocks.  

And mountain biking... well, I tend to find I get more comfortable with bike handling when I spend more time on trails.  After a few road crashes, I've gotten a little nervous with the falling thing!  MTBing freaks me out... in a good way that pays off on the roadie.  

As far as the flexibility and core strength- I really haven't spent much time on the mat recently.  I'm feeling about as fit as I've felt in a few years, and I would love to capitalize on this.  I think I'd like to work on speed this winter... and that's not going to happen if I don't lay some groundwork of getting back in the habit of the massive stretching and core work I used to do in Arlington!  There was a reason I used to be able to pace 15-17 mph... on a 37 pound hybrid over 50+ miles.  

In the meantime, it's also a crazy busy fall at work, so I imagine that posting may be less frequent than it has been during the summer.  On one hand, without a race to prep for, there's less for me to obsess about.  On the other hand, it's just so busy right now!  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Race Report: Leadman Tri Epic 125

Note: No Pictures.  I just haven't had time and I am swamped with work.  So I'm posting this before I forget and so you rabid fans of a crazy priest can see what I did Saturday.  I might edit it later! 

I was in bed by 10:00PM the night before the race.  I was thrilled to have a suite with a kitchenette so I could heat up the food I brought from home.  I indulged in a small beer and about 1/2 an order of onion rings from the hotel bar.  A little grease calms the antsy stomach.

I set three alarms and a wake-up call for 4AM.  Before my brain had fully accepted it, I was up, out the door, and on the bus heading to the swim start.

Race Day

Race day was far from dawning.  At 4AM, it was cold and dark, and I was very thankful for my sweatshirt.  There were a lot of cold triathletes on the bus- did someone leave a window open?  At least the cold water would feel warm in comparison!  I hate jumping from warm air into cold water, but I love cold water in cold air.

I settled myself into a seat on the bus... and who sits behind me but the Fat Cyclist himself.  The poor guy had been stalking me all weekend, so I throw him a bone and say hi.  We chatted a little about being nervous before a race.  I tried to choke down a PBJ, usually my favorite sandwich.  I managed to eat a few bites and consider that heroic.

The Swim- the High Point and Low Point of the Race

Big kudos to the Leadman people: they run a tight ship.  We started right on time.  Before I knew it, my swim wave was called, and I surged into the water to get acclimated.  Problems started right away.  I've been working super-hard on my swim, all summer, and was really nervous to know if the hard work would pay off.

Unfortunately, I was so nervous I started hyperventilating as I headed out to the start. I couldn't get out to the left where I like to start.  I couldn't seem to calm down despite any of my normal tricks.  I felt like I was minutes behind everyone else, even though I was in the midst of the crowd.  As the swim started, I started strong... too strong.  I was right in the middle of the group, and immdiately got kicked in the head by five or six girls, crawled over by another, and another one grabbed my foot.

Note: none of this is a bad thing, or illegal, or means that anyone was trying to gain an unfair advantage.  It's just the way a swim start is.  

I got so upset and nervous that I actually threw up.  I tried to crawl stroke again, but each time I put my face in the water, I'd hyperventilate... and the men in their wave were coming up fast!  So I turned over, and started doing the backstroke.  Oddly, I discovered quickly that very few people passed me when I was doing the backstroke.  I had a great view of my competition, and plenty of air.  I was even sighting like a champ over my shoulder.

I ended up backstroking all but the last 200 meters of the swim.  I didn't calm down enough to crawl until the very end. Even then, as I stood up to exit the water, my foot caught on the carpet, my leg spasmed, and down I went.  I was able to hobble to the wetsuit strippers who basicially threw me on the ground and stripped off that suit in record time.  My leg started to unkink, and I limped over to bike.

Oh, by the way, as I've been telling this story, people have asked about the wetsuit strippers.  This is the first race that I've had strippers.  They are nice volunteers who grab you as you exit the water, unzip your wetsuit and pull it off you, and then throw you on the ground and pull it from your feet.  They help you up, hand you your suit, and off you go.  And yes, you wear your tri suit or swimsuit underneath.  Nudity is against the rules!  Trust me on that.  

Bike Ride- 70 Miles of the Most Fun Ever

The bike is my happy place.  Thanks to my strong swim, I came out with a ton of bikes still on the rack.  In fact, only one girl on my rack beat me out of the water!  Yeah!  As I started my ride, I took a second to enjoy the morning light and the breeze in my eyes... um, breeze in my eyes?  I realized I'd lost my goggles!  Thank goodness a spectator had seen them go flying and came running out to hand them to me!  Thanks, stranger dude!  

Once on the bike, everything feels better.  I could stretch my tight leg. I started to push nutrition, and because I was in my happy place, I could chew and swallow normally.  For the first 20 miles or so, I was hardly ever below 20 mph, zooming over the rollers.  It was cool to be far enough up in the race that I could see the pros from the 250 go zooming past me.  I saw Jordan Rapp pass by, and McKenzie Madison looking super strong on her BMC.  I only saw three BMCs (including mine and McKenzie's, and I'm pretty sure the last one belongs to Ben Metcalfe, who also lives in Eugene) all day, so I felt nice and exclusive.

This was definitely a tri-bike dominant race.  I counted maybe four other road bikes, so I'm guessing that maybe there must have been maybe 10 of us on road bikes.  There's certainly a camaraderie between roadies in triathlons- whenever I passed or was passed by another one, there was usually a head nod or a shout of "Road bikes rock!" I've also heard that the winning relay team rider rode a straight-up road bike, because she is amazing, that's why.

It was definitely a climbing-dominant race.  I was very grateful to live in the hills where I can do hill workouts every day!  So as that 20-mile mountain climb started, I found myself powering by a few tri bikes and some roadies.  I heard later that some people had to walk up that hill.  I'm proud that I didn't walk a single step.  In fact, I only stopped three times:  once for a potty break, once because I dropped my chain with a clumsy shift (and was back and moving in under 30 seconds!), and once because my left leg cramped up badly again and I had to stretch it out.  But it was otherwise a real 70 mile bike ride for me.

The 18 miles of downhill into Bend was worth the pain.  I achieved a top speed of "Don't Tell My Mother" on that swoopy downhill.

 The Run- According to Plan

I had a little advantage this running race- I knew about the hills.  I was surprised to find out how many people were expecting a flat run!  I was so ready for these hills.  I had planned to walk the uphills, run the downhills, and jog the flats, and just go aid station to aid station and knock those miles off one by one.

This is pretty much what happened.  I grabbed my arm coolers (best things ever) and pulled them up as I headed out of T2.  After a quick flat (good for getting our legs) we headed off pavement onto trails!  It felt like a really weird cross country race for a while there as we leaped over trails and jumped embankments.  I'm pretty sure I ran across someone's front yard.  At each aid station, I would slow down, pour a cup of water over my arms to keep the arm coolers wet and cool, and dump another cup over my head.  I'd drink a cup of Heed.

The run is the only place where I think I didn't go as fast as I could have... I could have pushed the run a bit more if I'd wanted to.  I was afraid of blowing up.  I found out later that the next girl up in my age group was exactly one minute ahead of me.  I saw her and chatted with her on the start of the run.  She was battling.  She earned that spot, for sure!

The End

Once I hit mile 8.5, I knew I had this thing in the bag.  At 9 miles, I started pushing my pace as much as I dared.

The awesome volunteers were closing intersections as I came along, which felt really cool to have cars stopped by volunteers wearing yellow vests and carrying official stop signs.

Soon, I was forward mobilizing along the final stretch, and as I turned towards the finish chute, I could hear them announcing my name and saying something about how I looked strong.  I have no idea how did they did that.

As soon as I came through, they gave me the medal that is big enough to be a cheese platte and shoved me into the waiting arms of the medics.  The medic asked me a bunch of questions, none of which I can remember right now.  I remember a sensation of great pain, and being curious as to why she kept asking me how I felt.  I hope she did that for everyone, because otherwise, I must have looked just terrible!  I finally convinced her that I wasn't going to keel over.

I was all done.  And all that was left was to find teammates and celebrate.

The end results:
-Our team's shop owner and coach and all around super person won the 30-34 age group in the 250.  She fought through a lot of pain for that win!
-One of our guys came in second in his age group.
-One of the girls came in first in the 30-34 age group in the 125.
-My team is so hardcore and fast.
-Matt Lieto stated his top speed on the downhill was only 51mph.  My top speed was 45+, so I figure I have just 6 or 7 miles to equal Matt Lieto's speed.
-The above was a facetious comment.  I will never beat Matt Lieto in speed.  But he does have a cute puppy.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pre-race Report: Pulling My Act Together

So it is over and done!  

At the beginning of this year, I decided that this season would be a great year to jump up to the half-iron distance.  Sadly, nothing fit into my schedule!  Until one day, I read a post on one of my favorite blogs, The Fat Cyclist, who mentioned the Leadman Epic series.  Bingo: Saturday, and within driving distance of home!  Better news: the swim and bike were much longer than a regular half-Iron, yet the run was several miles shorter!  It was music to this weaker runner's ears.

I mean, seriously, the ride looks like this.

Was I worried?  Heck yeah.  This race got into my head big-time. Between fears that I was so slow I would time out of the race and worries about the altitude, I was a total wreck.   

Pre Race Meeting
As I checked in, I saw some of my teammates.  Teammates always make me feel better!  I am both an extrovert and a lemming.  I followed them like a lost puppy pretty much all weekend.  The Multisport Advantage is full of incredibly nice, incredibly tough people.  They are all totally on my team next time I put together a Twister tournament.  

I made it to the pre-race briefing to get last- minute info and course changes.  I noticed it seemed like many of the questions were repetitive, and then I found myself asking a repetitive question as well.  Maybe other people were as nervous as me!  The race director was funny and patient, though, so he must be used to people like us.  

I was so nervous that I didn't notice a thing unusual until two blonde women changed seats to sit next to me in the shade, and I saw their Fat Cyclist t-shirts.  I realized I was sitting next to the Hammer, who is one of my personal heroes.  I said hello.  The Fat Cyclist was sitting behind me.  

On Meeting Fatty and Family, and Other Tri Celebrities
Fangirl meets personal hero (The Hammer) and Fatty and The Swimmer.
Also currently about two feet from Matt Lieto.  Tri Geek heaven.
Suspect Fatty was totally thrilled that I am shorter than he is.

In the hubbub after the meeting, I went about my business.  This is a good time to mention that this race had me freaked out, since I haven't said so yet.   As in, so-nervous-my-hands-were-shaking.  I was having a hard time overcoming the nerves to eat, so I decided to force myself to eat a sandwich.  Just at that moment, the Hammer showed up and asked to introduce me to Elden (the Fat Cyclist).

I am not at all sure what I actually said but it came out something like, "I'm sorry, I'm buying a sandwich".  (It's the new "I carried a watermelon".)  After about a minute, I realized how horribly rude I'd been and introduced myself properly and behaved like a civilized adult.  

I was quite tickled to meet Fatty and family.  I can confirm that The Hammer is one of the nicest, sweetest ladies alive.  She was so great and encouraging!  And her daughter was also upbeat and positive.  And Fatty is also extremely nice. That guy really, really loves bikes.  He just radiates bike love.  

 He was also totally excited to meet Matt Lieto at the awards ceremony.  He's a geek that way and it's fun.  

I was too giddy about being two feet away from Matt Lieto to say a thing.  If I could have spoken, I'm sure I would have spoken utter gibberish, punctuated by adoring noises at being in the presence of greatness.  I mean, Matt Lieto was greeted at the finish line by his puppy.  How great is that??  

Oh, and he's blazing fast. As in, an 8:32:57 for the 250.  

T1/T2 set up
This is the first race where I had two different transition areas.  This is one way that this race TOTALLY MESSED with my head!  I had packed everything neatly into my luggage, figuring that I would go through it and calmly select the items I needed the night before, laying things out and checking them off my checklist, like I always do.  

Nope, that was not gonna happen.  I had to set up everything the day before, even laying out my shoes!  So the afternoon found me frantically pulling out different items of clothing from various bags for the big day.  And I couldn't find my checklist!  

Racked and ready for its overnight.  Bringing bags to keep stuff dry is a trick I learned in Nation's.
Not so necessary in the high desert of Bend!  

The worst part was the food.  My tummy was already all butterflies.  How would I decide if should leave myself a Picky Bar or Honey Stinger waffle or a Clif Bar or a Hammer gel, when all I really wanted to do was throw up? 

In other news, my BMC continues to get envious looks and fondles.  That is a hot little machine.  

And is it even possible to say enough nice things about LifeCycle and Justin and Gilad who got me on this bike and spent so much energy fitting it this summer?  I swear, when it was in for its pre-race check-up, they must have crooned lullabies to it, because that pony just wanted to run, run, run, all day Saturday.  

Coming Soon: 

Race Report.  How it all went down.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Post-race Report

Have no fear, I am working on what might be a two-piece race report.  There's the whole mental aspect that went with this race- the fear, the trembling, the meeting the Fat Cyclist and his awesome family, the driving home across the old 242, and then there was the physical aspect- the swimming, the (honestly) epic bike, the run.

And while I work on getting that into coherent order, I am sitting on the couch slowly devolving as I drink my Ninkasi and eat my Ben and Jerry's and bake my eggplant for a nice eggplant sandwich.

And that is likely going to be all that I accomplish tonight, other than finally getting my race numbers off.  I even packed my laundry into a separate bag before I left Bend, so all the stinky stuff is in a bag that gets tossed whole into my laundry sack.  

The view from part of 242, in the Lava Field.  It was so nice to drive on a clear day and check out the view!  (Last time I was up here, it was rainy and cold!)

The finish line area, on Friday, before the race.  Cool, right?

The amazing hotel suite that a good friend helped me score.  It was about 20 minutes from the race site, and SO comfy, with a kitchenette so I could eat the food I brought.  HUGE help!

Some of the swag we got- a jersey!  Yeah! 

My Badass Mountain Climber, getting a well-earned ride home.  HUGE, GIANT thanks to Justin and Gilad at LifeCycle who got me on this machine, fine-tuned the fit, and gave it a pre-race checkup.  ZERO mechanical problems, and a happy, comfortable ride.  The only thing that hurt on this ride were my legs, from pedaling so damn hard.

They make me feel like a real racer.

Oh, yeah, and I DID pass a few people on that climb.  Rawr.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Beans, Beans...

Considering that I'm probably super slow compared to most of my team, if not to most of the field that will be out there, I know I need to work hard on Saturday.

So I decided I'd bring my own food to Bend for a pre-race dinner.  I usually do this for events, anyway, make a load of PBJ's, and pack some nuts and fruit and stuff, but this race has a huge 20 mile climb in it.  So I figured I'd made a boat load of beans, and "conveniently" forget to bring any Beano.  And by race morning, the "bonus"... um... tailwind should make that uphill super-speedy.  At the least, it'll mean that no one will be hanging out in my draft zone.

Bwa ha ha ha ha.  I am so mature.

Seriously, I have a few dark green veggies that are seriously considering giving up the ghost, scrubbing their mission to fill me with delicious vegetarian iron sources, and turn into compost in my fridge.  I have just a few days left to save them.  I have always loved search-and-rescue stuff*, especially as a chaplain, so Chaplain Cuddles is going to find and save all the veggies.

I've found a system that seems to work pretty well for me.  I cook up a few double batches of rice, and a huge batch of beans, and I portion the plain rice and plain beans into a bunch of sandwich bags of beans and rice that I then stash flat in my freezer.  And I freeze the daylights out of them.

Then in the evenings, all I do is chop up a bunch of veggies, get them seasoned and throw in some flavorings, and toss in a packet of rice and beans.  Presto- rice and beans with very little waiting!

Trust me, there's rice in there.  It's just underneath and I haven't tossed this yet.
Also two types of beans, two types of olives, parsley, spinach,
onions, and Italian-type spices. 

If you hate rice and beans, you will hate this.  I used to hate rice because I associated it with Uncle Ben's Dry Pellets of Misery, until M started making me rice.  And he turned me onto moist, fluffy, fresh rice.  And a year into our marriage, I finally got us a rice cooker.  And ever since, my go-to lazy, cheapskate dinner has been rice and beans.

*Have I ever mentioned my cool older brother, the Paramedic?  He does that saving-people stuff for a living.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Race Week

So it's race week.  When I'm not working like a madwoman to get a bajillion things done including ALL the news I need to give my colleague by Wednesday for inclusion in the October newsletter, I'll be sleeping extra hours and goofing off.  My BMC is at the mechanic getting its pre-race massage by the mechanics, so no big bike ride for me this week.  I'll miss you, Hutch's Ride!  


Drinking like a fiend.  I'm going to make my favorite homemade sports drink, with a little trick I discovered.  It calls for dates.  I've found if I soak the dates overnight in the citrus, they blend up so much better.  So I will be making a few little jars of the concentrate up so all I'll have to do is blend it in the mornings.  Once in a while I think ahead.

Foam rolling.  Here's hoping I can loosen up the slightly tight right hip.  Back in the day, I used to take ballet while doing the long rides, and I never had hip issues.  Um, duh.  I can't afford ballet at the moment, but no reason I can't do the barre stretches and routines I already know.  I doubt I'll be throwing full splits down, but I'll be pleased if the tight hips loosen up a little.

Watching junky TV.  I had a delightful weekend watching football.  Comcast stymied my hopes to watch my beloved Ducks demolish Tennessee, but I contented myself with a really nice, tight technical game by Stanford who beat USC.  That cheered me up.  I trained so hard over the summer that I really haven't watched much TV at all.  I'm going to catch up on all the shows I've missed.  My secret guilty pleasure is The Voice.  And anything that stars Richard Dean Anderson.  What can I say?  I've had a major crush on McGuyver since I was a little girl.

Laundry and packing.  That's right.  The checklists are coming out.  If you are one of those people who went on pilgrimage with me, you experience the Vagabond Checklist System.  It involves spreadsheets, ziploc bags, and delightful lists to check off.  I've never forgotten an essential ingredient in tris so far, so you can laugh at my system all you want.  I can take it.

Six days to go!  Well, five days, 1 hour, and 49 minutes.  Whew....

Saturday, September 15, 2012

"When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong"...

Everyone in the universe should know that Dirty Dancing is one of the best movies there is.  Long story short: boy meets girl.  Subplot: minor love triangle in which boy was suspecting of getting another girl pregnant, requiring first girl's doctor father to save second girl's life.  In the final scenes, Patrick Swayze swaggers in, glares down Baby's parents, and declares, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."  He sweeps her away for a mambo, and as the entire room dances the night away, Baby's father comes over to the couple and tells Johnny Castle, "I know you weren't the one who got Penny in trouble.  When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong."

And everyone lives happily ever after.

A few weeks ago, I nailed Hammer to the wall over Heed and Perpetuum.  I maintain that those two products are the most awful thing I have ever attempted to ingest in my life, including coconut-flavor laughing gas (to this day, I don't like daiquiris).  I will carry my own Gatorade on the course.  I will not be taking any Heed during Leadman because I want to live.  (And not yack on the course.)

But Hammer has redeemed itself.  So for the times I said that Hammer was the worst nutrition company in existence, I must say I was wrong about that.

Hammer has created a line of gels that I not only tolerate, I really like.  Even Clif Bar and Honey Stinger gels can't compare.  I have hated gels for years.  Most gels are just too sicky-sweet and make me gag a bit as I suck them down, so I save them until I am about two steps away from bonking and then suck them down (while hacking a little).  They were stuff-of-last-resort.

Hammer gels have changed everything.  They have less sugar and they swallow easily.  So far, I haven't met a flavor of Hammer gel that I don't like.  Trust me, as a long-time gel hater, this is as astounding to me as to anyone else.

I think I WILL do the run on just gels and water.  I've been practicing that this last week- both runs and swims on gels and water, and not ONLY do I feel fine with no gut issues at all, I am actually perfectly fine with taking more gels.  In other words, I don't have to force these gels down like I always have before.

For last minute things: I had to do an errand at Target, and took the opportunity to pick up some new socks.  I had so many socks with so many holes in them, and some others that were so stained that no amount of bleaching could save them, so it was time to get new socks.  And there was this huge clearance section.  So I got CLEARANCE socks, 6 for $3!  They even have a little compression arch support.  Why, yes, I wear socks when I do tris.  To each her own.

I did my last open water swim yesterday with a teammate who is prepping for a half-iron in Georgia. I wish I knew how far we swam, because we both felt we were booking it.  I've been practicing everything M taught me- he wanted me to work on keeping my midsection taut so I could "not wiggle so much", to kick so my legs stay on top of the water, and to do this weird thing with bending my arms so I am scooping towards my chest.  Apparently, I was using my arms without any bend at all, which made me look like a swimming version of those lawn-ornament pinwheels.

I dropped off the BMC for its pre-race checkup, and we are going to fine-tune the fit later this week.  It's T-6 days now.  Wish me luck!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bib # are out!

I got an email from a teammate today where I learned that bib numbers are out!

I'll be #401 in this crazy adventure next week!

Over the next week, I'm going to drink like a fiend (water and stuff like that!), but lay off the caffeine so I can shock my system a bit on race day.  I've done that before and it works well, for me.  Your mileage and GI system may vary.  :-)  But I know I have to get lots of good hydration in!

I've already started doing the laundry and have just a few things left to do before it all gets real.

Next friday, I'll be attending the Interfaith Breakfast (it's a work thing, and while Fridays are my day off, I think that interfaith relationships and conversation are really quite important.  Essential, really, in our day and age).  And after I get a little protein and carbs, it's me and my Beetle and my BMC, off to Bend.

Yesterday, I did a little light trail run up Martin Street.  I only slowed to a walk twice!  And that elevation profile from Martin St. to Fox Hollow is killer.  And then I threw in an extra mile down Fox Hollow to Dilliard.  The extra challenge was nice, except for the part where I got a little over-enthusiastic and jumped over a tree root instead of swerving about a foot out of the way.

I jumped that root like Superman leaping tall buildings, and then promptly jammed my right foot, big toe side, into this large knobbly rock on the other side of the root.

I saw red.  I said some words you guys don't think I know and that I don't use in front of my mother.  And last night my toe was purple!  Thankfully this morning, it's just a little red.

I might leave the jumping-over-trail-roots for the really hardcore people.  I swear I heard that rock and tree root high-fiving each other as I ran away, saying "Got another sucker who thinks she's all hardcore.  wha ha ha ha ha."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Granola Bars, homemade

It's no secret that my meat-eating experiment came to an end sometime in July and I was reunited with my eternal love for tofu.  As I ramped up the training for Leadman, I focused really hard on getting enough protein and enough calories.  I'd been vegetarian since I was 14, and it worked so well for me, that I hadn't realized that the calories that were enough for me when I was on dance ensemble just aren't enough now when I'm doing so much distance stuff.  (Seriously, dance is hard, hard work, but it's not the sustained long effort of a long bike ride.)
What kitchens look like when crazed triathletes decide carbs are essential to existence, RIGHT NOW. 

The questions I get the most often are "how do you get enough protein" and "are you really hungry".

Protein: I'm taking my tips from nomeatathlete.  At night, I try to put together complete proteins for dinner.  The rest of the time, I'm just thinking of "add one more protein source" to everything- Add an egg.  Toss on some almonds.  That kind of thing.

As far as "am I hungry", oh, holy heck, yes.  I think I am frightening colleagues at this point.  I brought my Bishop frozen yogurt for a meeting we had.  At clergy lunch today, I *think* the bread basket hit the table before I made it mine-all-mine, but I think there were a few colleagues surprised I could move that fast.

Sorry, girls and boys.  They were carbs.  I'm in taper.  It's nothing personal.

So on, I found a great formula for energy bars and I've been making those all summer.

But today I wanted something different.  Maybe it's that fall is rolling in.  As the temperatures drop, I start wanting things that are toasty and baked.  I really don't like oatmeal.  I prefer oats in a crunchy cookie form.  Mmmm, cookies.

I found a recipe for a chewy granola bar.  I've made homemade granola bars just like you have, the ones that come out way too crunchy and break all over the place.

These started out with baked garbanzo beans.  I have never had these before, and ohmigawd, where have these things been all my life? You roll them in cinnamon and sugar, and bake them and shake them a little, and let them go anywhere from 20 minutes or until they are as crispy as you want them.  They were a little chewy inside with this slightly crispy exterior.  Holy heck.  Wowsers.

Roasted garbanzo going into the granola bar mix.  After I stole a few.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Adventure in Tube Changing

I have had a slow leak in my front tire for a month now.  If I pump it up right before a ride, it seems to hold.  But the second I take my eyes off my bike, the leak... leaks.  If I leave it over night, my front tire will lose pressure down to about 20PSI.  Left for a full day, it'll be entirely flat.  Even by the time I finish a ride and get my bike off my rack at home, I'd notice a softening.

Since that could be a problem, I decided to change my tube so I wouldn't have to worry about that on race day.

Now, I've been having tire adventures all summer.  I started off running my tires at the same pressure I'd run my last bike at- 90PSI.  And it was ok.  But then I talked to other people with cool bikes, and a few people thought that was ridiculously low.  I was actually setting myself up for pinch flats!  So I increased it so now I've been running at 105PSI, and that seems to be good.  I may go with 100PSI for the race because I want to be sure I'm stable on those descents, but I'll take advice on that one.

My rims are also the first set of really good wheels I've ever had.  I've always ridden on stock wheels before, because a priest just can't afford a $600 and up wheelset... at least, not as long as she is paying off student loans and a car.  I mean, I buy bike stuff by saving up my "allowance" every week, like a little kid.  But when I bought this bike, the fabulous owner at LifeCycle threw in this gorgeous set of Airgo wheels.

Ok, ok, I understand they are just "ordinary" regular high-end fabulous wheels, but they are my first set of regular high-end fabulous wheels.   It's not like they were made of carbon fiber and Bumbleflex.  Still, I really notice the difference between my old stock wheels and these.  Though I'm considering buying the stock wheelset as well to have "heavy" wheels to ride on the trainer all winter.

But because they are my first set of nice wheels, I am petrified of doing something terrible to them.  Part of me was convinced that if I took a tire lever to them, I'd knock them out of true.

Biker friends promised me I couldn't do anything bad to my wheel.  Go for it!

So this weekend, I screwed up my courage and took a tire lever to my wheels.  The tire popped off pretty easily! I still need to practice, but it was doable.

The tube, on the other hand...

First, I discovered a huge air blob in my wheel.  Bike friends reassured me this was fine.  Then my valve was too short.  So I had to go visit the guys at LifeCycle.  They are so awesome.  Finally, I had the right tube in hand!

I put it in, pumped it, and today it is still holding pressure, 24 hours later!  Now to ride it!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Test Ride, Category Ohmigawd, and Hammer: Redemption

Since I had been largely paralyzed by fear of the upcoming altitude and incline, I knew that my teammates offered good advice when they suggested I take a trip out to Cultus Lake and ride some of the Mt. Bachelor loop course to see for myself how bad it got.  I mean, we live only 2 1/2 hours from the race course.  Most of the world would consider us super-lucky.

It was good advice, and I carefully checked my schedule, found a day when I could shoehorn the trip in, and made plans.

And then I spent the rest of the time reconsidering that bright idea.  I had myself completely pysched out.

What if I went out too hard and blew myself up and ruined my taper period?  

What if I got hurt and couldn't heal in time for the race? 

What if I got a mechanical miles from my car and had no rescue?  


I was seriously afraid.  As in, filled with fear.  As in, scared to go.

Being a priest, I did wonder for a little bit if perhaps God wasn't filling me with fear on purpose to send me a message, like "Doooon't gooooo."  And then if I did go and flat and get hurt, how stupid would I feel for ignoring a message from God?

I checked the weather, which was perfect, down to a complete lack of wind.  I was stiff waffling on go-no-go when I went to bed last night.

So I used my "go do a workout" trick that doesn't fail too often.  I set my alarm clock for 6:05AM.  I hoped that my well-developed sense of guilt would kick in.  This is exactly what happened.

At the end of the day, I am so glad I went out.

The day was picture perfect- the sort of ride you read about on bike blogs.  The weather was gorgeous. The wind was constantly at my back.  It was sunny, but not too sunny.  It was cool, but armwarmers-off weather.  There was even some sort of a big race going on- as I was descending, I got to see the leaders working their way up.  I even pulled off the road to let the lead packs go by, which was cool.  I don't know if anyone famous was riding, but there were some VERY chiseled bodies going by me, extremely fast.
Sparkling waters.  Super blue sky.  Green alpine meadows.  Yeah, I live in this state. 

As for me, (far from chiseled, and not really fast)... the incline never got unbearable.  Granted, during the top of my ride as I got near my turnaround point, it was a little tough.  The air was a little thin and the road suddenly became hideously steep and I thought I was about to hit the wall.  So I pulled over and ate a snack, three miles ahead of my schedule.  And suddenly the road reduced itself back to a perfectly climbable grade and the air filled up with oxygen again and the unicorns returned to gamboling in perfect green alpine meadows.

I don't know if this is Mt. Bachelor, but I kept riding towards this, and it kept getting shorter, which means I was going consistently up.  

Lesson learned:  Keep ahead on nutrition!  Eating will be crucial in this race.

In other news:  Hammer redeems itself!

I took a few Hammer gels and a Hammer energy bar.  The bars are still not my favorite thing ever, but I find they are quite edible.

The gels... well, gels and I have had a rocky past.  They are essentially the consistency of a loose cake batter and are usually sicky-sweet.  I usually avoid them like the plague until I am desperate.  I've eaten two gels in my time so far, because I hate them so much.

Today: Hammer gels officially made me happy.  They have less sugar, so they aren't sicky-sweet, but they are still sweet.  The raspberry flavor tasted like the sugar-free raspberry jam that I get because I don't like sweetened jams.  It made me think I was sneaking off with something that could be on a peanut butter sandwich.

I think I might even be able to do the run on just gels and water.

As I came back to the end of my bike ride (downhills, you are so awesome), I rolled into the parking lot and saw three women setting up bikes.  They had wetsuits draped over their car.  I walked over to say hello and discovered we are all doing Leadman on the 22nd!  So I've already made new friends.

This race is going to be awesome.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Driven by Fear

The race anxiety dreams have started.  I get them most every time.  Usually, it involves things like dreaming I am still at the hotel when the starting gun goes off, or being unable to find my bags in transition, or trying to do the swim in my bike shoes.

This time, they all involve gorgeous scenery of warm, green, endless forests, bisected by a smooth road that rolls endlessly upward.  I climb and climb until I can't anymore.  In one dream I clipped out and put a foot on either side of my bike and started shuffling upward like an old-fashioned walking bike.  Last night, my pedals got heavier and heavier until I realized I was wearing my duty boots from my police chaplain days.

I think I'm a little worried about the bike portion of this race.

I was "talking" via Facebook with one of my teammates yesterday.  He was trying to reassure me that there are no 24% grades in Bend, and that at worst it gets to maybe 10 or 12% plus a bit of altitude at the very top.  Essentially the air gets thin and you ride up a hill.  He characterized it as "challenging", I think.

This freaks me out.  My teammate is about 7 feet tall and runs 6 minute miles and bikes an average of 27 miles an hour.  Really, he's tougher than me.

My teammate tried to reassure me, talking about this being a mental game.

He's entirely right.

Tri is a hugely mental discipline.  At some point every race stops being about what you are physically capable of and it becomes a mental game.  It's about you convincing yourself to just "go".  Sometimes it's about looking into the dark fear place.

Sometimes I think I like tris because it gives me a real tangible way to conquer the fear.  Or at least to put some things into perspective.

I think I've always been a fearful person.  As a kid I never liked under the bed.  To this day, I turn on lights in the bathroom at night.  And I still cannot sit through The Shining.  In fact, the only horror movies I know anything about are those that were spoofed on The Treehouse of Horror.  (The Shinning.  "Hush... do ya wanna get us sued?")

Sometimes I wonder why I have so much fear about things like biking up a hill.  As a chaplain in emergency services, I came across some pretty scary stuff.  People with knives in the chapel.  People with knives in the dark.  A lonesome out of the way family room filled up with drama queen family members next to a trio of drunken frat boys.  Plane crashes.  Calls to the psych ward.  Visiting clowns in the hospital.  Especially the clowns.

Sometimes I think that things like this are the real fears in the world and I wonder sometimes if I used up all my worldly allotment of guts by standing in elevators with surprise clowns or by ordering aggressive mountain bikers out of the ED.  (The biker thought he was my buddy because he'd done some mechanic work on my former bike, and did not take it kindly when I informed him that he wasn't welcome in the trauma pod.  There was some aggression involving a MTBer who was bigger and taller and more muscly than me.  And I won.)

So when I need guts for things like climbing up a mountain on a bike, I am afraid that I don't have the guts for it.

I suppose that tris give me a way to push my comfort zone a bit and to find those guts.  I think I'm just going to have to go for it on this one, and push onwards and upwards, as hard I can for as long as I can and to not quit until the race directors drag me off the course.  Or until I cross the finish line.

Whatever happens first.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Day 1, Hammer Nutrition Review

So today I decided to start trying some of the Hammer nutrition.  Hammer is sponsoring the nutrition at the aid stations for the Leadman.  When a company sponsors the nutrition, it means that you can travel lighter and just plan to pick up food at the aid stations.  If you don't like their food, though, you are better off carrying your own.

This is usually a problem because you end up stuffing your jersey pockets, and on a tri jersey, this pulls an already tight garment even tighter, and threatens to expose unflattering views of your squishy middle.  

I have been lucky in food sponsors so far.  Clif sponsors the Nation's Tri, and I love Clif, so that is basically a rolling buffet.  All I ever carry for Nation's is a single pack of Margarita Shot Blox because they don't always have my favorite flavor.

The Cottage Grove Century was sponsored by the Cottage Grove Rotary, so not knowing what they'd have, I jammed my bento box and seat pack and jersey full of Clif and Honey Stinger (my two favorite on-bike foods ever), and then discovered they had the best aid stations in the world.  Bowls of trail mix with cereal and M&Ms and nuts.  Bananas.  Sandwiches.  And pie!  In fact, when I had my unfortunate crash, as the paramedics were strapping me in and rolling me away to go to the hospital for X-rays, the Rotary was wrapping up pie for me and M.  It was delicious.

Leadman is sponsored by Hammer.  Since I wasn't all that familiar with it, I bought a few options to taste test.

When taste-testing nutrition, it is advisable to try new things first in a controlled setting, in case it upsets your stomach.  Then you can get to the facilities in an expeditious manner to expel offending manner.  (See what I did there?  I used big words to explain the process of what happens when you eat energy food your body doesn't like.  You're welcome, internets.)

So I took Hammer stuff to work today.

I started off with the Hammer energy bar, a gluten-free, vegetarian bar made with stuff like cashews and dark chocolate and quinoa-  all stuff I really like.  The bar was really sticky and hard to get out of the package.  I prefer energy food that takes very little brain power, and I don't like to get sticky.  Hmm.  But once it was open... it was pleasantly chewy without sticking to my teeth.  I would have preferred stronger flavors, but it was perfectly fine, I guess.

Verdict: Not nearly as good as a Picky Bar, but if someone handed me this on the course, I'll eat it.

Hammer Heed.  This is the Hammer version of Gatorade.  This made for a sad hour of taste-testing.  The flavor of lemonlime Heed tastes just like feet.  I don't actually know what feet taste like, but I suspect that if I took day-old dishwater and soaked my feet in it for an hour, it would taste just like this.  I consider it a victory of an endurance event in itself that I choked down an entire sample packet of this.

Verdict:  So disgusting that I have decided to make small baggies of Gatorade and refill my own bottles on course.  The only part that worries me is what to do on the run.  Do I carry my Amphipods?

The reason why this is so important: I have a hard time remembering to drink enough, and I usually have to force myself to keep drinking.  So I really need something that really tastes good to encourage me to drink enough.  Not only does Heed not encourage me to drink more, I have to force myself to drink at all, usually while gagging.  Total fail for a big event.

Hammer Perpetum chewable energy.  As I opened this product, I was greeted with a sicky-sweet waft of something that smelled like bath bubbles.  I shook out a large table the size of two or three Tums stacked together.  I bit off half of the tablet, and began to chew.  (reaction to tablet edited for innocent internet eyes.  But it was not good.)  The flavor and consistency is pretty much exactly like musty cardboard.

Verdict:  Finally, Powerbar is back in my food graces.  Perpetuum has taken the top of the podium for my least favorite thing to consume in the history of the entire universe.  In fact, I am pretty sure that if I go to Purgatory, I will be fed Perpetuum tablets.  Oh, my, Hammer, I want to be nice and kind, but this stuff is an abomination.  It was so bad, I ran to the kitchen and grabbed this off-brand, stale sandwich cookie out of our emergency coffee hour supply just to get the taste out of my mouth.  Gack, gack, gack.

Is redemption possible for Hammer? 

Well, Hammer makes Endurolytes in a tablet form, which I tried as well.  There are no leg cramps or bloating, so score one for them.  I've been drinking the Fizz tablets for ages and like those just fine, because they DO have flavor.  But I won't be drinking any Fizz or carbonation at altitude.  And I also have a few other bars and some gels to try out.

It is possible I may find some redeeming qualities of Hammer and a few types of stuff that I like enough to eat, but all in all...

Hammer is a distant fourth to other foods I've tried.

Picky Bar makes much tastier and better packaged bars that aren't sticky.  Plus, they have a cute motto. ("It's freakin' science, dude.")

Clif Bar probably tops the pyramid as having the most options of extremely tasty stuff.

Honey Stinger is hot on the heels of Clif Bar.

Gatorade still makes the only sports drink I've tried that I am happy to keep drinking.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Here's hoping this is possible...

Maybe someday I will learn to choose a major race at a different point of the season than "right after the start of the program year".

This month is insanity-spaghetti, topped with crazysauce.  What it means is that I feel a little like I'm failing utterly in training AND in my job AND in my personal life.  Nothing is getting the energy or focus I should be giving to it, and thus I fail humanity, yet again.

I spent most of last week being horrified that September was actually here.  Not to mention that my parents were visiting for their first trip to the Pacific Northwest ever and needed to go to cool places and my M finally got a break from his fellowship to come home for a visit.  And I have just a little more time left to build my fitness so that I don't die at altitude before I go into taper for the race.

Perhaps it's not all that surprising that yesterday was the first day I'd gotten out to the grocery store in about two weeks.  (For the record, my parents went to the store the day they got here, because they feared they were going to starve to death.  When they asked what I had and I pointed out dry beans and rice and a pack of tofu, they high-tailed it to Fred Meyers and came home with things like cereal and yogurt and milk and chicken.  I stuck with the vegetarian thing, except for the time when my mom insisted on the adventure of a trip to Jack in the Box, which I have never been to.  At that location, it was chicken or starve.)

I started soaking beans last night and pressure-cooked three batches of beans and made some rice-and-beans for a nice picnic tonight.  And then I froze the remaining beans for later use.  So now I have lots of rations.  Bonus, our weekly grocery bill for M and me together was $70, mostly veggies.

This week, I hope to take some time to go to Bend to pre-ride the worst of the race course to see exactly what I've gotten myself into, and to knock off my greatest fear: the altitude.  I'm a little afraid... ok, scared spitless... that I will be so badly affected by the altitude that I will run out of air and keel over on an uphill section of the course that has a 24% grade, where I will then suffer from a non-stop bloody nose and get hauled off to the medical tent by kind race officials who will slap me with the dreaded DNF.  (Did not finish).  That would make me cry.

In the meantime, I went to REI to pick up some Hammer nutrition, since I discovered that the aid stations are NOT Clif, like I thought they were, but Hammer.  And considering that Hammer did not make my tummy thrilled at Tri in the Grove, I'd better start working out with Hammer stuff so I'm not surprised on race day.

I've got Perpetum chewables, which look like giant mega-size chewy tablets.  God only knows how I will chomp that sucker down.  Hammer apparently doesn't make gummie chews.

I've got Endurolytes, and I actually look forward to trying those.  Will Endurolytes solve my long-standing leg cramping issues?  (In a related issue, some serious foam rolling seems to help the deep knots in my calves that form during those cramp sessions.)

I have drink mix in two flavors.  I hated HEED previously.  Now I get to find out if it is really that bad or if the volunteers just mixed it poorly.

And I have gels.  My nemesis.  I know gels are one of the fastest ways to get much-needed calories to screaming blood cells.  I just dislike the gooey sweetness.  So I am going to conquer the gels.  Hopefully, I'll find a few flavors that I can live with.

In the meantime, aside from a swim for technique and form, a long run, a short run, and a hard intervals bike ride, here's what else I did last week.  

Crater Lake, which I would seriously love to ride.  (It goes up higher than Bend does, so if I survive Bend, I'll survive Crater Lake.)

The Space Needle!  Ooooo.  Bucket list item=crossed off.