training flexibility begins to get creative when you have a small infant. all of his awake time is precious time, so training falls during the hours where he is asleep. that means early morning runs, cycling to and from work, swimming at lunch, running at night, etc. that also means that rest is a precious commodity. the solution is to sneak into people’s offices and sleep on their chairs when they’re off at meetings. just don’t get caught.
i typically don’t do the ‘resolution’ posts or the ‘look back on x year’ posts, but i was just thinking about 2007 and what an amazing year it was. i think topping it will be hard. i mean, for good reasons, 1994 was an epic year. but the gestalt version of 2007 is pretty impressive.
first off, i ran my first 50k ultra in february, the twin peaks ultra, which was huge horizon expanding experience.
then tri season kicked in, and as i began ramping up my training for an intended fall ironman, i raced wildflower, my first half iron distance event, and successfully attacked the swim.
then late spring rolled around and the whole world changed with the birth of our son, thunderclap newman. i’ve tried to put into words how incredible the experience has been and the closest thing i can compare it to is mountaineering. the blood, sweat and tears necessary to get to the summit of a mountain are rewarded by a sensory overload of joy and beauty.
to finish the year off, i ended up with my first set of stitches due to kissing quartzite while trail running in the arizona desert.
i can’t think of a year that has been more jam packed with amazing experiences. that really sets a high bar and i’ll do my best to at least meet, if not exceed, it this year.
this past weekend we headed up to santa barbara to stay with our friends and race the sb tri long course on saturday. we headed out on thursday evening, just after we gave tc his last feeding for the day and ended up making wonderful time up the coast. traffic is so ridiculous now that you have to drive late at night or early in the morning to avoid the craziness in la and ventura.
anyway, we kicked around on friday, i picked up my race packet and we carbloaded with a wonderful pasta dinner. i opted to sleep on the couch friday night, since tc had been grunting most of thursday night and i didn’t want him to keep me up. that was the wrong call for two reasons. first, the cats were playing with marbles on the tile floor all night and second, while the couch is comfortable, it doesn’t provide the back support necessary for a relaxing night sleep. i woke up feeling okay, though, and was ready to head out come saturday morning.
i showed up at the transition area by 6am and started setting up my gear. i got everything all laid out, hit the honeybucket one last time and headed down to the start. i was really excited about the swim, since this was going to be my first legitimate open water ocean swim during a race. the swim in pendelton had been in a boat lagoon and didn’t have waves or current to challenge you. the water seemed pretty calm, though, and there was no wind, so it looked like it wouldn’t be too rough.
our wave started and i charged the surf and dove in quickly. and was shocked. i’d been doing weekly ocean swims in corona del mar and the water had been in the 70′s, but a mere hundred miles up the coast and the water was really chilly. in the high 50′s, the water quickly chilled my face. the skin got so tight and numb that it felt like i was wearing something on it. after a few hundred yards, though, i generated enough warmth for it to not bother me.
the swim was one of the roughest i’ve ever done, though. it was the washing machine, the whole way. just when it’d start to ease up a bit, i’d either swim into another group, or the leaders from the next wave would be catching me. there were only a couple minutes between waves, so for the mid-back pack swimmers, we were caught by the leaders of at least two waves. i didn’t let it phase me much, though. i eventually tucked behind another swimmer that was a tad bit faster and i drafted off of him all the way to the turn around point. it was the first time i’d ever drafted in the water, and let me tell you, it’s great. no sighting necessary! i was able to just keep my head in the water and focus on mechanics.
i popped out of the water after the mile swim in 34 minutes, a pr at that distance for me. i was ecstatic! yes, i’m a slow swimmer, but i was really pleased to have done so well on my worst leg. i headed into t1 feeling great, and was quickly on the bike with only a 2 minute transition.
the bike leg was great. i flew along and hit the really tough hills hard. there were several climbs where everyone was out of the saddle and creeping up the hill at 4-6mph. those steep climbs were grueling, but fun! i was taking accelerade on the bike, since the company provided me with product to test. this was the first time i’d ever used it while racing. training rides and runs with it had been fine, but i’d occasionally fell a tad crampy following a workout. i never really gave it much thought though.
as i neared the turn around point on the course, i noticed two things. first off, my back was really tight. this, despite my use of the aero bars and using proper body positioning. i couldn’t figure out why i was so sore when i’d been doing harder rides without any back problems. the second thing i noticed was that my stomach was starting to act up. again, odd on the bike, since i’d never had problems while cycling before. as i rolled into t2 after the 34 mile leg, my stomach was feeling REALLY rough and i was trying to manage keeping from throwing up. i mean, i felt great, was alert, felt really well hydrated, but just on the verge of spewing.
t2 was quick again and within 2 minutes i was out on the run course. the legs felt okay, but i didn’t want to move too fast for fear of losing breakfast and everything i’d eaten and drank on the bike. i moved along at a quick but conservative pace and skipped the fluids at the first two drink stations. by the third, i started in with water and eventually was able to drink gatorade. by mile five, i took my last gu and then hit the turn around point on the run.
kevin and loganzilla were out on the course, playing photogs and support. i’ll tell you what, they REALLY know how to support a racer. they were estimating pace and distance and showing up at every spot they could hit. kevin shot tons of pics and loganzilla was all over the course with his cowbell. i’d be running along and hear the cowbell coming from behind me and they’d drive past slowly, with loganzilla hanging out the window ringing the thing wildly.
by mile seven, i was starting to come back around. as i ran across the bridge and through the park, loganzilla paced along side me, ringing his cowbell. it was the perfect pick-me-up and as i hit the road again and the long downhill to the finish, i started picking up the pace. it was a little late for me to really affect my time much, but it felt good to finally be running what i considered a decent pace. by the time i hit mile nine, i was finally feeling myself again and was hitting a pretty good pace. i ended up finishing strong and felt that i could have kept going at that pace for a while. while i didn’t want to eat anything right away, the muscles still felt pretty good.
i finished the course (1mi swim, 34mi bike, 10mi run) in 3:45:16. i initially said i’d be happy to just complete in under 4 hours, but would have been ecstatic with a 3:30 finish. there’s always next year! this race marks the end of my tri season, though. i’ll do a sprint again on thanksgiving, but from here until next february it’s all about getting the trail miles up and working on climbing long on the bike.
still, even with the stomach problems at this race, it was a great way to end the season. a beautiful course, a great event and the best support. what more could you ask for?
i continue to get in training where the schedule will allow and have actually been able to put in some pretty decent workouts lately. i’m consistently getting double digit long runs in on the weekend with the occasional foray onto difficult trails and i’ve been focusing my cycling on challenging mountain routes. last weekend, i was able to get out and do a 30 mile ride up glendora mountain road. it was a gloriously steady climb for the first eight miles and then rolling climbing up to the 15 mile spot where i turned around. the ride down, though? epic. twisty, fast, technical. i’ve never ridden down anything like that before and it was the most fantastically uber thing i’ve experienced on a bike. i’m hoping to get back out there this weekend and do the mt. baldy loop. that’d be fun and challenging.
but that’s not why i’m here blogging today. time is scarce in the hipster household, what with wonderful tc being the focus of our lives now. speaking of which, tc and i went out shopping this week and bought his chariot. i actually just got back from his maiden voyage in it, but that’s a story for another time, after i’ve taken pictures and whatnot.
today is about swimming.
swimming in the ocean.
i’ve expressed my deep seated fear of swimming in the open water and how the thought of being below something on the food chain has me significantly freaked out. the week before last i was swimming the buoys at corona del mar again and with the water being super clear, i saw my first shark. he was a tiny little sand shark scooting along the sandy floor about 100y off shore as i was swimming back to land. no big deal, and it didn’t spook me at all. but it reminded me that they’re out there.
and then there was yesterday. a couple weeks ago i met another swimmer named kurt. now kurt is a strong swimmer and a pretty groovy guy. we swam together on the day i saw the sand shark and he had tried to talk me into swimming from the buoys, out of the beach cove, past the rocks over to little corona. i passed last time. but yesterday when i arrived at the octc meeting spot, there was kurt, happily ready to swim long. i couldn’t resist his enthusiasm and i agreed to swim over to little corona.
we hopped in the water, hit the first buoy and then swam to the end of the buoy line. from there, it was a straight shot through really open water to the next line of buoys, maybe a little more than a quarter mile. so, i took a big gulp of air and headed out after kurt. we cruised along comfortably for a while and i was able to keep up with him for the most part. until i saw it.
well, not a tree, but what looked like a tree. sticking up from the dark depths below. green and leafy. and floating all around it’s top were bright orange girabaldi. i was spooked but fascinated. i must have paused for a second at the interesting sight, because when i sighted again, kurt was about 20 yards ahead and to my left. my heart rate shot up for a second and i pulled hard to catch back up to him. and as i cruised along, i saw more trees. and then i swam through one. i plowed right into my first growth of kelp. i stifled panic as i tried to shake it off while i crawled through it, and then again as it tangled around my legs as i left it behind.
my heart was racing at this point as i struggled to catch up to kurt, but at the same time avoid what was now becoming numerous stalks of kelp rising up from the deep. i continued to see schools of brightly flashing fish and more girabaldi and the occasional thought of shark popped through my head and fueled my racing heart. eventually, we made it to the little corona buoy. i was managing my panic, but i had not enjoyed the foray through the kelp. i was glad to have done it, though.
we rested for a second and then headed back. i was surprisingly more relaxed on the return trip, although the sight of those kelp strands sticking up still gave me the heebie jeebies when they’d appear out of nowhere. i eventually made it back to the 4th buoy and then swam back to the first and back to shore. the whole while i swam along the kelp free buoy line i was much more relaxed, able to swim head down and strong. i think it was because i knew what it was like out further and that i didn’t have any of that to worry about along the buoy line. the trip out through the unknown had actually made me relax more along the area that i was familiar with. go figure!
so, as i sat here debriefing the experience, i decided to look up sharks indigenous to california.
names like ‘peppered catshark’, ‘lollipop catshark’, ‘sleeper shark’, ‘nurse shark’ and ‘cookiecutter shark’ made me relaxed and anxious to see some of these oddities. and then i saw the names that made me wish i’d never looked at the page.
leopard and tiger sharks
and the one that has got me questioning whether i’ll ever go back into the water…
MEGAMOUTH shark. MEGAMOUTH. okay, tell me i’m wrong in fearing something that someone felt it necessary to name MEGAMOUTH. colour me yellow.
i kid. i’m loving it out there, and as long as i continue to keep all my limbs, i’ll be back and occasionally braving the kelp.