Friday, August 29, 2008

Athletes live here

In the Round House, we have a cabinet dedicated to sports nutrition. All of the bars go in the little plastic drawers for quick access, while the overstock goes on the top shelf that I can't reach. My cocaine, er...I mean, powdered nutrion, is on the middle shelf.

And some may be questioning why Nestle's Chocolate Quick is in the sports nutrition cabinet. It's because chocolate milk is what I use as a quick recovery drink after long runs. Studies show it is a good recovery drink, and cheap. Who am I to go against "studies"?

The latest in trail fashion

All of this riding on the AZ Trail has put any future pantyhose modeling career in jeopardy. So I decided last weekend to wear the latest trail fashion creation on my ride.

Meanwhile, Zac tried out the new DeSoto "Cool Wings."

And here's where we rode. We tried the Italian Springs side of the AZ Trail, and found out this is best done as an out & back.
View from the trail.

And another AZT sign while Zac tries to figure out where we are going.

Today's ride was boring. Just a quick jaunt up Redington Road up to Mile 10, where we turned around and came back. I wasn't feeling it today, nor was my stomach. While we checked out the map (I like trail maps) I chewed down half a Cliff bar, which felt like rocks in my stomach. I decided it was best to turn around before things got worse. We still got in 24 miles of riding, and lots of climbing. All this climbing training better pay off at Tahoe.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I'm going to XTERRA Nationals in Tahoe!!!!

The letter has arrived! Would it be silly to print it out on pretty paper and frame it? Eh, who cares...I'll do it anyway. ;)

Dear XTERRA Competitor:

Congratulations! It’s my pleasure to invite you to compete in the 8th annual XTERRA USA National Championship race in Lake Tahoe on October 5, 2008.

As a leading regional points scorer, you have earned a slot at this prestigious event, where the title of National Champion in your age group will be up for grabs. The field is limited to those racers, like yourself, who have qualified in the eight XTERRA regions throughout the country.
Not only will every multisport and tri magazine be there to cover the event, but a full one hour television show will be taped as well.

Combine a real chance for a National Championship with an epic course on the Tahoe Rim and Flume trails plus television coverage and a couple of wonderful parties and dinners, and you have a weekend you can’t miss.

To register online please use your exclusive PIN code (below) and follow the registration link.
We need to hear from you by the deadline listed above. If you decline the invitation, we will roll your slot to the next, most qualified athlete. If we don’t hear from you by the above deadline we will assume you are not competing and roll your slot.

Remember only invited athletes can compete in the Championship race. If you have a friend who wants to race, we have XTERRA Nevada a non-qualifiers event on Saturday this is open to everyone.

Dave Nicholas
Managing Director, XTERRA

XTERRA USA National Championship

Date: Saturday 23 August, 2008 : 06:23 AM

I'm still in the points lead for W30-34 in SW, and Liane is in 2nd in W35-39. So we are all set to go! I have our place all booked up in Tahoe.

I'm just hoping to survive this course and not be an embarassment to the Southwest region. Because it's the national championship, the course is much longer with a 1500 meter swim, 32 K bike, and 10K run. But it's the Flume Trail and all sorts of other cool stuff. So hey, if I suck at least I'm on awesome trails with a beautiful view.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A fight with a cat, or a bike ride?

Saturday the training plan called for a 3.5 hr ride, so around 7AM Zac and I left from our front porch and headed to Redington Rd. We climbed and climbed and climbed. What is it with Saturdays and climbing lately? The climb didn't seem too bad compared to Mt. Lemmon. And it's nice that Redington Rd has mile markers. The not-so-nice part is that they roll by slower on a MTB.

The road isn't in too bad of shape, and traffic wasn't terrible. We did pass a truck that was hauling dirtbikes and quads several times as they stopped every 20 feet to check their tie-downs. Around Mile 6 we hit the shooting area, and my pace quickened as we rolled by the shooters on the side of the road. I could just see getting hit by a stray bullet. That would be a good excuse to end my workout early. We made it through unscathed and were greeted by a nice breeze at the top of the hill as we rounded the corner. The fields and hills were amazingly green from all the rain we've had.

We climbed until Mile 12.5, where we hit the intersection of the Arizona Trail. We didn't have enough time to do the Italian Springs side, so we decided to hit the Bellota side and take that trail to FR 36, which would bring us back to Redington Rd. The AZT was all singletrack, and about 4 miles long leading to FR 36. After over 12 miles of climbing, it was SO worth it! The trail was a blast! Honestly, if you have not hiked, ran, biked, or ridden a horse over a section of the AZT, you are truly missing something awesome. We are so fortunate to have such a cool trail in AZ. As we rode, the wheels were already turning in my head to figure out a way to start at our house and ride down to Liane's house on the AZT (except where we can't go in Saguaro East). We would then shuttle back to our house, as Liane would have to come and get her truck because she'll be coming with us. She just doesn't know it yet. He he.

The Bellota stretch of the AZT was quite overgrown with grasses. Ankle-high and I figured no big deal. Then it got to mid-calf and I was starting to notice. Then we got to waist-high and I was just hoping I was still on the trail and not disturbing any sleeping snakes in the grass below. The cat claw and other stickery bushes and trees were also growing into the trail, so we did our share of trail work by pushing them back with our arms and legs while riding. Needless to say, we got a bit cut up.

The AZT intersected with the FR 36, and we decided to head back as it was getting really warm out. The climb up the 36 SUCKED. Holy crap it was steep. I was beginning to think it would be better to continue on the Bellota trail to Milagrosa. It took us 20 minutes to climb to the intersection at Redington Rd, and then we were able to enjoy the downhill. Because it was close to noon, there was much more traffic out. Two older guys on quads pulled out in front of us and peetered along. I got tired of being behind them, so I hammered on the downhill and passed them. Awesome! They, of course, caught us on the uphills. But after Mile 5 it was all downhill and we were able to dust them. I hit a max speed of 28mph on the road down.

We hit the pavement and Zac and I had about 4 miles to our house. We turned onto Wentworth, and Zac pretty much died there. I think he's realizing that nutrition plans matter. So I waited and he finally appeared, and we rode the final mile back to our house. 33 miles and 4 hours on the bike. Not bad for a long trail ride. We inspected our arms and legs and realized people will probably think we own very mean cats. This is how my friends always know I've started riding my mountain bike again.

This coming Saturday we are planning on getting up MUCH earlier and riding up Redington to do the Italian Springs side of the AZT.

The start of the Bellota section of the AZT:
I love the AZT signs and how they made them in the shape of the state. And of course, idiots have to shoot at them. This is a really cool map. We can find our intersection where our house is on it.
Me heading down the trail. Grass is only ankle-high at this point:
View of Mt. Lemmon from the trail. Hi roadies!
Zac on the trail in calf-deep grass:

Scraggly trees (Zac is a fan of scraggly trees):

Zac rolling by some cool rocks:

This ride may have compromised me modeling for Leggs pantyhose:

Monday, August 11, 2008

This week's planned training

Monday - 8/11/08:
Rest day

Tuesday - 8/12/08:
AM - Run = 40 min w/ strides a
PM - Bike = 1 hr MTB ride a

Wednesday - 8/13/08:
AM - Swim = 1 hr Master's swim a
PM - Bike = 1 hr trainer workout w/ Spinervals + Core workout a

Thursday - 8/14/08:
AM - Run = 1 hr 20 min hilly run a
PM - Swim = 1 hr Master's swim a

Friday - 8/15/08:
AM - Rest
PM - Swim = 1 hr Master's swim a

Saturday - 8/16/08:
AM - Bike = 3 hr 30 min MTB ride (riding from house up Reddington & doing the 4417 loop) a
PM - Rest

Sunday - 8/17/08:
AM - Bike = 2 hr road ride (Saguaro East), Swim = 1.5 hr TTG swim a
PM - Rest

Weekly totals:
Swim = 4.5 hrs
Bike = 8 hrs
Run = 2 hrs
Total = 14.5 hrs

Whoa! Did I click on the wrong link and suddenly end up back on the IM training blog? Yeah, it almost looks that way. Believe it or not, this is an "intermediate" Olympic plan from Beginner Triathlete that I'm following to get to Tahoe. I'm just switching out some of the road rides for mountain bike rides. But 14.5 hrs is what I used to pull down on a regular basis in IM training. Oh well...I did it before and I can do it again. That was pretty much the only thing good that came out of training for IMAZ this year, which was to learn the discipline to follow the training plan when I need to. Which means when I'm not following a plan I'm pretty much just screwing around with swim, bike, run. Thankfully, this plan is only 10 weeks long (and I started a bit late due to Snow Valley, so it's actually 9 weeks for me), which is half the IM training plan. I remember I was feeling pretty good about 10 weeks into hard training, so hopefully the same will repeat itself in training for Tahoe. I'm not going to win anything at Tahoe...just hoping to make all the cutoffs and survive the course. Even with all this I'll most likely finish at the bottom of my age group in that crowd. Yep, I gotta work this hard to be mediocre. ;)

Saturday's ride serves 2 purposes. 1) Long time in the saddle and lots of climbing on the MTB, and 2) Check out some of the MTB portion of the Rock Y Road 50/50 course. That race is on 10/18, and I'm actually considering it. If you haven't noticed, I'm not right in the head, which is why a race like this makes perfect sense. The Cliff Note's version (for those that don't click on links) is that it's a 50 mile mountain bike ride followed immediately by 50 miles of road riding, and McDonald park is the transition area. But wait! There's a catch. These aren't just any 50 mile rides. The mountain bike portion has a ton of climbing and goes down La Milagrosa, one of the most technical and difficult trails in Tucson. I've done that trail from the Molino side as a shuttle, so at least I know what that part looks like. Then the road portion goes up Mt. Lemmon. That's right...climb from the bottom up to Palisades and come back down.

So yes, it's a crazy hard race. But I figure there's no 2.4 mile swim to disorient me before the ride, and no marathon run afterwards. Score! Who knows...Chad may figure out a way to add those in the future. And the bonus is, this race is FREE. So if I attempt it and DNF, I won't be out any coin.

Today's PSA: If you do an Ironman, you start to look for more insane things to do afterwards. Ironman is evil that way.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Snow Valley naked transition guy

Here we have a pic of Liane headed to T1. Nothing out of the ordinary, right?

Wait...what's that large pink area in transition?
It's naked guy!

According to the husbands, this guy came into transition and sat down on his towel and took his swim trunks off, and put a hand towel over his crotch. Of course, this didn't cover the crackage going on in back, to which an elderly lady exclaimed "Oh my!" and had to wait until her husband said "It's safe to look" before she could gaze in that direction again. The guy put on his bike shorts sitting down, and was on his way. This race was part of the XTERRA points series and is sanctioned by USAT, so I wonder if the hand towel kept him within the nudity rule.
So a PSA: Folks, if your race is USAT sanctioned, don't get naked in transition.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More from Snow Valley

Liane has posted her Snow Valley race report, and Nate's pics.

Notice how we are always looking confused.

It's because we were trying to follow this map:

Ah well. With my 2nd place points and Liane's 3rd place points, we are sitting well in the standings so far. I'm 1st in W30-34 and Liane is 2nd in W35-39. We should be getting word on the XTERRA National Championships in Tahoe by the end of this month.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Race Report: Snow Valley XTERRA

It's always great to start off a trip with chaos. During the week, Zac decided to do some work to the RV. Only it wouldn't start. A quick check under the hood revealed the ignition module had been chewed by pack rats. He ordered a new one from Checker, and once he fired it up, the dash lit up like a Christmas tree with warning lights. Brake lights, daytime runners, cruise control, speedo...that and much more all didn't work. The pack rats had gone to town on the RV. Unfortunately, the wires Zac had to get to that ran to the rear of the RV were along the top of the fuel tank. So the day before we were supposed to be leaving for California, Zac was removing the side panel, exhaust, and gas tank from the RV. Oh, and it had just been filled with 30 gallons of fuel. Fuel got offloaded to my Jeep, Zac's car and truck, all of the motorcycles, and all of the 5 gallon gas tanks that we own from the throttle-twisting race days. While he repaired the RV, I packed and did laundry. He repaired all of the wires, got the RV back together, and didn't go to bed until 4AM. I got to bed at 2AM. So we didn't leave at 7AM on Friday as planned. We got to the San Bernadino mountains at 7PM, just in time to meet Liane and Nate for dinner. Saturday we did a quick pre-ride of the course, then went to bed early to catch up on sleep.

Snow Valley is a ski park located 7,000 ft above sea level in the San Bernadino mountains. The road leading to Snow Valley reminded me of Mt. Lemmon, except there was no bike lane, and instead of seeing Tucson below we got a great view of the LA smog.

We discovered this race wasn’t very spectator friendly. To get to the lake, you have to ride up the bike course 1.3 miles. Or hike, or hike with your bike as Liane, Nate, and I chose to do. This was one of those goofy races where T1 and T2 were in different places. We set up our T2 stuff and allowed ample time to begin the schlep of our gear up to the lake. We got there and only 3 other people were there racking their bikes. Hmmm…strange, especially given we had 30 minutes until the start of the race.

I use the term “lake” very loosely here, as really there are stock ponds that are bigger than what we swam in. The other thing was, there was no pre-race meeting. Information was muddled as to if we kept the buoys on our right or left. Kind of key information if you ask me. Just before the race start they yelled instructions to us. Triathletes loose their brains on race day, so giving them important instructions 3 minutes before the start of the race goes in one ear and out the other. At least we learned we were supposed to say to the right of the buoys. The race was a 2 wave start with 34 and unders going first and 34 and overs going in Wave 2. Don’t ask me…I don’t know why it was this way. So when the horn blew I jumped in the lake behind a bunch of guys and started swimming.

I made it to the second buoy before I heard the horn blow again, allowing the second wave to go. I got to the 3rd buoy before the pro men caught up and passed by. Oh well, at least I was at the turnaround. The swim was pretty uneventful for me, other than the water tasted funny. My jokes the day before about this looking like a mining tailings pond may not have been far off. It was advertised as a 1000 yd swim, but I came out at 18:52, about a minute faster than the 800 yd swim at Deuces. So either my swim has gotten better, or the course was short. I’m going with the better swim. Just go with me on this.

I ran up the dirt incline out of the stock pond and got to my transition area. My husband Zac was on the other side of the fence and yelled “You were the 6th red cap out of the water!” “Why do you tell me these things?!?” I yelled back. Oh, and the other thing was, we didn’t have our ages on the backs of our legs, so I couldn’t tell who was in my age group. So all we knew was cap color. Once again we had to bag everything in T2 before heading out. In one swift move I picked up my bag and towel and chucked it over the fence to my husband. I thought my transition took forever, but it turned out to be 2:20. I was sure it was 5 minutes, but I’ll take 2:20. I got on my bike and headed out on the bike.

We immediately started climbing out of transition on a dirt road. We had pre-ridden the course the day before, so I knew where all the sketchy areas were. A billion people passed by me on the climb, but I wasn’t worried. The downhill was coming up and I would get my turn. The climb was boring. Climb, climb, climb, get stuck in deep sand, get off and walk a few feet, get back on and climb some more. Finally I reached the reservoir at the top and started the descent down. Have I mentioned how much I love going downhill on a mountain bike? Downhill is my thing. The jeep trail was rocky and twisty at the top, but I knew where the line was. I flew past people that were having trouble and had passed me on the climbs. The trail wound around and back down to the transition area, where we had to make a sharp right turn. It was really soft in this area, and guys were crashing everywhere. I took the far left line over some shrubbery and out of the deep sand. Find traction wherever you can, and shrubbery offers traction. Passed 3 guys here, one of which fell over in the sand.

The next downhill section was steep and loose as everyone was dragging their brakes down the hill. I went into downhill mode and got my butt over the back wheel and took the far left line all the way down, as everyone was on the far right line. I was going stupid fast, faster than traction normally allowed but the bike was sticking so I had to roll with it. I lost count of how many people I passed here. Heh. Dowhiller’s revenge on the climbers! There was a rough patch at the very bottom of this hill with a front wheel-sucking ditch. I picked the far left line, lifted the front wheel over the ditch, and apexed the corner at the far right as a guy fell over. I was literally thinking to myself “$%&* YEAH!!!” as I cleaned this section.

My downhill fun was interrupted by another climbing section. This is where I realized how much work finessing a bike down a hill is, as my heart rate peaked at redline when I started the climb. I got off and walked, which in a way was good as I could relax my hands that had been working the brakes and bars hard on the downhill. The climb wasn’t too long, so I got back on my bike and entered the next section. This section was a steep, loose, sandy downhill from about the middle of the mountain down to almost the bottom. It went STRAIGHT down the mountain. This is the one time I was wishing the trail was rocky. Rocks at least offer traction which helps in the steep areas. This was deep sand on a steep mountain face, so the only thing I could do was be careful at picking my lines and keep the weight off the front and over the back tire. All the rides I had done at Sunrise and Globe were coming in handy here. I can’t imagine what the newbie riders were thinking in this area. I cleaned the first section, but reached the steepest and sandiest part and got offline and ended up dabbing. This shot my bike sideways, so I had to get off and walk a few feet to where I could get back on and ride. I didn’t feel to bad as I looked back and saw everyone crashing there. I continued my descent down the hill, picking my line and powering through the water drainage ditches where I could. At the bottom there was a real deep, nasty, drainage ditch that was swallowing front wheels. I spotted a crossover on the far left, where there was a gap but less of a lip on the other side. I took that line and muscled the bike over the berm while passing a girl that was walking her bike over the area while straddling the top tube. Ugh. Recipe for disaster there. I was through the worst part and the remaining trail was back to fast doubletrack as we continued our descent down. I got to the bottom and did a jump over the berm that transitioned from dirt to pavement and pedaled across the parking lot. I passed T2 and continued straight for the second loop. I had gone all of 3 miles at this point.

As I started the climb I could see up ahead runners on the run course. This freaked me out as we were only 40 minutes into the race, and they were already 2.5 miles into the run. I found out from Zac later that there was a trail run-only race going on, and the trail runners had started at 9:30AM. That explained it. I climbed up the road, which was the same access road we had to take to get to the lake. If I’m going to climb, I feel we should get credit for it in the race, not before. Anyways, it was 1.3 miles of climbing back up to the transition area, where we started the second loop. The second loop was similar to the first for me except the really steep, sandy section on the mountain face. My rear tire wasn’t holding traction through here as it was even more sandy than before (if that’s even possible) and the rear of my bike started fishtailing. The rear came around, which caused the front to go sideways and I was suddenly headed for a thick pole sticking up in the side of the mountain. Thankfully the rear end continued around and forced me to dismount. Not too bad, and this was one area where I was happy to be off the bike before hitting the pole. My right glove had filled with sand and gravel, but I got back on and continued the descent. I cleaned the rest of the trail and came flying into T2 in the parking lot.

As I came running around the fenced area with my bike, there were 2 guys standing in the walkway between the fence and the transition racks, and one was holding a bike. I yelled “Coming through!” and split between them. Who the heck stands in the traffic way of the transition area??? I found out from Zac after the race that was Conrad Stoltz who was standing there, showing some guy his really cool bike. Conrad had already finished the race. So apparently I told the World Champion of XTERRA to get out of my way. Hey, some of us were still racing, ok! I got to my rack and there was a bike on top of my stuff and Liane’s stuff. I put my bike on the end of the rack and got my run gear and headed out. 29 seconds in T2. Not bad.

The run course was 4 miles, and headed straight up the side of the mountain. We got to go back down, but it was nothing but up and down the entire time. I walked all the uphills because they were extremely steep, and it gave me a chance to eat and drink. The only positive was that I wasn’t pushing a bike this time. The downhills were just as hard to go down when they are that steep. In many sections there was no trail, and we just ran down the side of the mountain looking for taped off chutes to run through. My shoes became 3 sizes too small with how much dirt they were taking on. The worst climb was the one leading to the water tower. Crazy steep and racers were coming down the other direction. I made the climb and got to the top and enjoyed the fast, rolling descent down to the turnaround point. As I came up, I could see women who appeared to be in my age group. My new goal was to stay in front of them. I came down the crazy steep hill from the tank and saw Liane at the bottom, starting the climb. I told her this was the worst of the hills, if that was even possible to imagine. I had a little bit of flat to run before heading back up the last hill. Some guy passed me there, but I didn’t care as he was a guy. I made the turn at the hill and started the final run descent down. My toes were screaming at me as they were getting pounded into the dirt that had made its way into my shoes, but we only had 400 yards to go. The final part of the run was on a fast downhill, and I was so tired it was hard to control my running. I had my arms out for balance and I looked like some spastic 8 year old in a game of Red Rover or something. I got to the bottom and ran over the timing mats for a total time of 2:36:29.

Zac saw me at the end, but all I wanted to do was take my shoes off. We walked over to the RV and my socks came off with a cloud of dirt. I got into clean clothes, picked up my transition stuff, and saw Liane cross the finish line. We agreed this was one crazy race. I checked my Garmin and the bike course was only 7.37 miles long. So I don’t think I’ll be doing this race again as I prefer longer bike courses (15 miles in an XTERRA is about right).

We waited around for results to be posted and the age group awards. I came out in 2nd place in my age group! The plastic medal I got didn’t say Snow Valley XTERRA on it (nothing a Sharpie can’t fix), but for me it was more important that I got those 2nd place points. And this was my first 2nd place in a triathlon! With the 3rd at Four Corners a month ago, this made 2 podiums in a row! So I was pretty jazzed about that.

With the points from this race, Liane and I should be in pretty good shape for getting the invite to the XTERRA USA national championships in Tahoe on October 4th. Woohoo! Nationals, here we come!

Saturday Pre-Ride:
Liane rides while Nate pushes:

There's Nate riding:

Who stole my lungs?

Oh, this is why Liane and I can't breathe. We're on a mountain.

The pond:

Are we in the right place?

We won't be swimming here.Don't fall off "The Edge":

Sunday - Race Day:
Liane thrilled about a personal photo shoot before the race:

Hoping my magical wetsuit will protect me:
While others swim, I decide to bodysurf:
I think I'm in there somewhere. If not, pretend I am.
Get me out!
I am alive...barely.

The mountain we were playing on that day:
Weee! Finishing up the fast section.
Liane finishing it up:

Heading into T2 where I'll scream at world champions:
Liane's done with the bike!

Hey guys! Wait for meeeee!

2nd place! Me with my plastic medal.