Monday, April 27, 2009
On Sunday we drove down to Lake Patagonia with our inflatable kayak. Zac would stay next to me in the kayak to help me navigate, and prevent boats from running me over. During our last trip to REI we purchased the stabilizer backbone and 2-person spray skirt for it. So this would give us a chance to try out the new kayak accessories.
Zac inflated the boat while I engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the wetsuit to get it on. Having sleeves is a pain to deal with. I finally got the suit on and helped Zac carry the kayak down to the water. I got in the water and held the boat for him while he got in, and then I pushed the boat into the deeper water.
The water was a little chilly at first, but not bad. I told Zac that I wanted to swim for 1 mile total, so I planned to swim for 15 minutes and turn around. I got my face in the water to get over the shock of cold water, and started swimming. Zac had my Garmin on, so he could track the distance for us. I slowly swam along, getting the feel of the new suit. There was a lot more resistance to overcome with my arms, but after awhile it was like regular swimming. We stayed on one side of the lake not too far from the shore, and I passed a lot of people in boats that were fishing. I was the only one swimming in the main portion of the lake. We made our way to the other end and passed some pilons that said "Fish Sanctuary" on them. I could only swim for a little bit more before my hands were hitting the muddy bottom. Time to turn around.
On the way back, once in awhile Zac would pull in front of me, so I guessed that was the signal for me to follow him. There were more boats on the lake, so he was keeping me away from them. Thankfully our kayak is bright orange so it is easy for boaters to spot. I was also getting warm at this point. Sleeves make a difference, and the suit was borderline too warm for the lake. I'm guessing the water temperature was at least 65, maybe more. This is why I'm keeping my sleeveless wetsuit, so that I can pick the suit to wear in races depending on water temperature.
I swam in to the swim beach area and stopped my watch right at the 35 minute mark, and Zac said we had gone exactly 1 mile. I helped him carry the boat back up to the parking lot. While I got out of my wetsuit, he put the second seat in and the spray skirt on. We grabbed our lunch bag and strapped it to the front and headed back out on the lake.
This time we decided to go west, since we already knew what the lake looked like to the east. We wandered around rocky coves and found a good spot to pull up and park the boat. It was only a 10 minute paddling trip, but we were both starving. We found a shady tree for our picnic spot. After lunch, we headed back out onto the lake and paddled to the other end. It didn't take very long, even with the headwind we were battling. No one was skiing in this area, but we did have to watch out for faster boats. After checking out the dam and spillway, we decided to head back. Overall it was a 40 minute trip back to the car. The lake isn't very big.
Next time I'm thinking we'll head down to Parker Canyon Lake as it has more coves and should have less crowds. The lake was crowded that weekend and since it's only 18 miles from Nogales it draws a lot of people. Parker Canyon is in the opposite direction, so I'm hoping it's a bit more quiet.
A cool wood sailboat that was cruising the lake:
Our kayak with the new spray skirt installed:
Where we parked for lunch:
Our shady lunch spot:
View from our kayak as we headed west on the lake:
Zac in the back:
We parked at the trailhead that is just south of San Pedro vista. I changed my running shoes while Zac got his bike ready. "See you later" he said and took off on the trail. What? Does he seriously think he'll stay in front of me? I started walking to warm up, which was good timing as the trail went straight up from the parking lot. I passed Zac since he was pushing the bike, and started the run.
The trail started downhill, so I let Zac pass so that he could ride it.
Although it was short-lived. There were some logs down and some areas that were pretty sketchy.
The climb out took forever! I really couldn't run in several spots, so it was more of a fast hike. The last mile was brutal as that was the steepest part. I also stumbled onto a different trail. The surroundings looked different and I didn't see Zac's tire track anywhere. I used the "Back to Start" feature on my Forerunner 305 to get to the turn. It doesn't have the best navigation feature, but it's enough to get back to the start. Sure enough, my little map showed where I missed the turn and headed down a different trail. I got back to the turn and saw why I missed it. The side trail was much more defined, whereas the trail I was supposed to be on was after a turn on a hillside.
Cool rocks on the trail:
Rock formations on the mountain side:
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Because races are so much better when dressed as a pirate. (I am anticipating your question of "Why are you guys dressed as pirates?").
Zac and I watch The Amazing Race every Sunday and make fun of the racers for the idiot choices they make. Why do they always change from one task to the other when they started the first task and think the other will be quicker? It never is. And no, Zac and I will not be auditioning for the show. There is always an "eat something foul" stunt and being vegetarian, we would most likely be out. You know, like how many bull anuses you can eat in an hour and whatnot. My answer is zero.
The New Belgium Urban Assault Race came to Tucson as the first stop on their tour this year. It promised scavenger hunting and obstacles and bike riding in between. We are so in! Now, the key with crazy races like this, and the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, is to wear a crazy costume. It makes it SO much more fun. We were pirates at the 24HOP, so we upped the professionalism a bit and ordered matching Team Pirate jerseys. Way cool. Zac was reluctant at wearing the hat again. "Shuddup you're wearing the hat" I said.
The Thursday before the race they posted a link to an online quiz, and how well you scored put you in your starting wave. There were 20 questions, so Zac and I split them up and started Googling like mad (never you mind that our office has 2 PCs and a laptop running at all times, with my PC having dual monitors). Some questions were un-Googleable, so we had to guess at those. I clicked "submit" and we got a score of 82%.
Also online was a link to a crossword puzzle, and the answers added up to the first mystery checkpoint. There were 5 regular checkpoints and 2 mystery ones. We didn't solve the whole puzzle, but got enough clues to figure out we were going to A mountain first. After that, we would be given clues to the next mystery point, or we could continue on to the 5 regular checkpoints which were (in any order we wanted): TriSports, SummitHut, Himmel Park, Tahoe Park (I didn't know we had a Tahoe Park), and Fairwheel bikes. We could plot any course that we wanted to get to each in the fastest time. I set to work with Google Maps and determined our course, complete with turn-by-turn cue sheets. Yes, these kind of races are candy to those that are Type A like me. I gave Zac the cue sheets, but had the routes memorized.
The day before the race we got lost downtown trying to find packet pick-up. Yes, let's just get the "getting lost" thing out of the way now before the race. The problem was, they were setting up for club crawl and a bunch of streets were closed. We finally found Maynard's Market and parked not far from the bus depot to walk over. I noticed all sorts of art things along the way, including a sign for Mary's fishies. The fishies were asleep though, so we proceeded on to the pick-up. We got our stuff and headed home for some much needed rest.
The next morning we hit the GABA bike swap, then parked for the race and got ready. We opted for our cyclocross bikes with road slicks as our bikes of choice. There were a lot of people on mountain bikes. We parked the bikes and got in our wave. The highest score on the quiz was 90, so since we got an 82 we were in the first wave. We took off at noon on the first day in Tucson over 90 degrees. Wee! Everyone was, of course, heading straight to A mountain. We would race between stoplights, only to have other groups catch up at the lights. We finally hit the mountain and started the climb up. When we got there, we got our first bead to prove we had made it, and the next clue for Mystery point #2. The clue just said "Find this" with a painting of a person with a spoon stuck on their nose. We hopped on our bikes and headed off back downtown. Turns out getting lost downtown the day before was helpful! I had seen the picture and remarked about it to Zac as we had walked to packet pick-up. I just had to remember where we parked. We rolled up to the back area behind the Chicago Store, and sure enough there was an EZ up and John Shouse standing under it with a bag of beads. Mystery point #2 was done! Now on to our regular race route.
We had decided on doing the furthest checkpoint (TriSports) first, and the closest one last. We wound around as we made our way to the bike path. "You really did memorize all of this!" Zack remarked. Duh! Of course! We hopped on the bike path and rode over the snake bridge. There were cyclists in the race passing under us, so we yelled "ARRRRR!!!" down at them. As we exited the snake, it rattled at us. We had never ridden over the bridge before, and I had vaguely remembered a story about how the snake rattled. We went over the basket bridge and then joined in on the Aviation bike path. I used to commute down to UA on this path from Rita Ranch to go to swim practice, so I new this area well. It was Zac's first time on the path. We rolled over the flag bridge on Palo Verde and headed to TriSports.
Being a Tri Girl, I go to TriSports a lot. Well, Zac briefly ignored the navigator and followed a group of racers into the turn lane at Columbia street. I yelled at him, but he didn't hear me, so I had no choice but to merge, yell at him and get ahead to the turn on Coach. We rolled up to TriSports and the back parking lot where the obstacle was setup. It was the bigwheels! We each grabbed a bigwheel bike and rode a serpentine cone course, finishing off with a powerslide a the end. It was so cool! We filled up on water at the checkpoint, got our bead, and headed back out. (Oh and check out this pic they caught of us on the UAR blog. We were at Trisports heading to the bigwheels. Zac is very focused on scoping out the bigwheels at that point.)
Our next stop was Summit Hut. We yelled "ARRRR!!!" at all the racers going the other direction. At one point we were waiting for traffic to make a right hand turn and a man pulled up in a car and yelled something to us in Spanish. I assumed it was something good because he was smiling and laughing. I just gave him the thumbs up and we rolled on.
At Summit Hut, the obstacle was for one person to wear blacked out goggles and the other to jump on their back piggy back style. The person on the back had to give directions to the blind person on navigating a twisty course. I let Zac have the pleasure of risking pink eye and hopped on. I gave him very simple, clear directions like "go straight" and "U-turn to the left" whereas other teams were saying things like "take 3 steps forward." We did good at passing teams, and Zac mentioned he was totally lost. "It doesn't matter, we're passing confused people" I said. We got to the end, got our bead, and took off for Himmel Park.
At Himmel it was a 3 legged race. You had to take off your bike shoe, put on one shoe that was tied to your partner's shoe, and there was a frisbee tied to the top with 3 tennis balls inside. You had to walk 3 legged style around a cone and back without spilling the balls. We did pretty well at that one. Water at that station was getting low, so we only refilled 1 bottle each. Off to Tahoe Park.
At Tahoe, you had to stand behind a flag rope and toss rope rings around 4 beer bottles and ring each bottle once. This took us about 5 minutes, with me getting 3 roped and Zac getting one. But we got it done and headed down Campbell for the last obstacle stop at Fairwheel bikes. Here you had to put a bowl on your head (while wearing your helmet) that had a cup stuck on the top. You had to fill the cup with water, fill your partner's cup, and ride your bike up and around the parking lot and back before you could dump your water in a bucket. Well, since we had pirate hats on our helmets, we couldn't do up our chinstraps on the bowl helmet. But the tops of the hat were round and the bowl fit down over them. We carefully rode around the course with water dripping everywhere. That kind of sucked because it would drip down your sweaty face, collect the salt, and drip that into your eyes. I finished that one half blind. We got our bead and headed to the finish.
At the finish back at Maynard's, there was one last obstacle. We had to park the bikes, pull our bike shoes off, and do a giant inflatable obstacle course that had water running through it. It was awesome! Totally like American Gladiators. I hopped out the other side with Zac just behind me, and the finisher's table was right there. We finished in 2 hrs 27 minutes, got all 7 checkpoints, and had traveled 27 miles around Tucson while dressed as pirates.
After the race we got some food, participated in the costume contest where we won some cool New Belgium socks. Since we had already won some schwag, we headed home. Later, we checked the results online and had finished 22nd out of 90 or so teams in the co-ed division. Overall it was a blast! The race should be coming to Tucson next year, so if it does, sign up early because it will be very popular. And the pirates will be back. :)
Our wave took off, and we started climbing on a Jeep road that led into the forest with more climbing. We hadn't pre-ridden the course, so didn't know what to expect. We finally hit a small downhill section before climbing again. In this area, a girl passed me and immediately fell over, causing all of us to have to dismount and hike-a-bike. This was in the middle of a hill, so getting started again was tough. We weren't even 2 miles in and I already wanted it to be over. I had to get through 3 laps of this, and I wasn't even done with the first one. Not good. We climbed and climbed and climbed and finally hit another downhill section by some power lines. It was short lived because we went back to climbing. After the race I looked at the elevation profile from my Garmin, and the entire course was either up or down, no flats to recover on at all.
Since we were waiting for Zac, we had plenty of time to wait for awards. Somehow Liane and I ended up in the top 5 of our age groups. Note the several layers we were still wearing at that point in time. The high that day was only in the 50s!
After the awards, Zac rolled up after having been on the course several hours with the injured guy. There's an MBAA policy that riders need to stop and help fallen riders, and since Zac did, they would be compensating for his next race fee.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
On to the race report for the Tucson Tri that took place on March 29, 2009.
The confirmation e-mail for this race made me laugh. It was something along the lines of "You turned in an estimated 800 yard swim time of 13:45. Our records indicate the last race you did with us was Tinfoilman 2004 and you swam a 19:45. Please ensure your swim time is correct." Heh. Tinfoilman in 2004 was my first sprint tri ever. I could tell the e-mail was one of those auto fill field e-mails since the race director also directs the summer aquathlons, and knows I swim faster now.
I had done Firecracker in 2005, and that was the last sprint I had done. It's been 4 years since I've done a sprint tri. Since my focus this year is XTERRA, I need to get back into doing short, fast races to work on speed. I'm still doing endurance rides (as you can tell from previous blog posts) but need the speed now.
Since it's been so long, I didn't know what to expect for a finish time. I put together some goal times for each leg including transitions, and determined it would be somewhere around 1 hr 20 min. I wanted to end up in the teens, even if it was 1:19:59, so that was my time goal. And to show you how Type A I am (can't believe I'm admitting this), I went back over the past year of results for my age group for the Tucson Tri series, kicking out those that have aged up and adding those that would be joining F30-34. I deleted anyone that wasn't around my finish time and analyzed the results for the top finishers. Depending on who showed up, I would be somewhere around 6th place if I met my time goal. So my goal was to be front-of-pack of my age group and top 6. Yes, this is all in a spreadsheet. Yes, it is insane. Don't you judge me! ;)
I picked up my packet the day before the race and found out I was in Wave 7 of 10. I had graduated to a fast swim wave! (I don't count Wave 10 as that is all crazy fast dudes and no chicks. Wave 9 has people like pro chicks and stuff. So Wave 8 is where I start counting). Just that alone made me happy. I can remember when I was in the very first wave.
I got up crazy early the morning of the race and made my way down to the UA. I found Julie in transition and setup next to her. Always set up next to someone that is in a different wave than you. I knew she would be out on the bike by the time I got in the pool, so we wouldn't be in each other's way. The other Tri Girls showed up, so we made room on our rack for them. Andrea brought purple balloons and set them up on our transition racks. We had Tri Girl Row all decked out. Then some random guy came in and racked his bike right in the middle. We made fun of him. Here there were a ton of girls wearing matching clothing and chatting it up, obviously with a team dynamic going on and the guy thought it was a good idea to join right in. He was a wanna be Tri Girl.
I had lots of time before my swim wave, so I was able to cheer for the Tri Girls that were in the pool. Each wave had someone to cheer for. Zac rode his bike down to the UA so that he could drive me home, and showed up as I was getting ready. My parents also showed up to watch the race. The last race they had been to was Ironman Arizona, so this was a little more spectator-friendly for them as they could see the whole thing.
I got my swim gear on and wandered down to the pool. Shari and I hung out and cheered for Andrea before our wave was to go off. Then it was time to get in the pool. I jumped in and swam a quick 50 just to get the goggles seated. We got a short countdown, then it was time to go. Everyone took off in a flurry of whitewater. I swam the first 100 and could feel my breathing getting out of control. I had to slow down and get it settled or else the bike and run would be a disaster. Zac was taking my splits and each 100 after that turned out to be really consistent. I kept track of my laps and towards the end it seemed like everyone was getting out way before me. I tried not to worry and just focused on getting the swim done. No one was next to me anymore, and I felt like I was the last one that was going to be getting out of the pool. When I reached the end I hit the Split button on my watch so that I could record my own transition times. There was a guy at the end of my lane and asked if I wanted help out. Sure! I wasn't going to turn that offer down! I grabbed his hand and got my foot on the ledge and was on the deck. I ran through the lobby and out to the transition area at a full sprint, taking my goggles, cap, and ear plugs off while running.
I got to my rack and Shari and Mea were already there. I could hear Leslie announcing the race for us. "Who's gonna get out of transition first? Shari or Elaine?" she yelled. "Elaine! She's too fast!" Shari yelled back (she had forgotten to undo the velcro on the shoes). I laughed as I got my socks and shoes on (utilizing the Sock Trick). Sunglasses on, helmet on and clipped, and I grabbed my bike and ran out of transition and jumped on the bike at the mount line. Once I was on the bike I hit the split button on my watch to end my transition time. 1 minute 2 seconds for T1. A new record for me!
I carefully merged onto Campbell and joined the bike traffic of the race. I was still feeling crazy anxious, so I focused on spinning my legs. This is why I don't like the shorter races. No time to settle down and get into a pace and eat and drink. Just go, go, go. I had a water bottle on my bike and got some fresh water down to clear everything out. I got down in the aerobars and started focusing on picking people off the bike course. I didn't care what lap they were on. They were in front of me and were a target. Broadway was an absolute blast to fly down in the aerobars. Then there was Euclid. "Please don't pinch flat, please don't pinch flat" I thought to myself as I rolled through the rough stuff and trolley tracks. It was torture in the aerobars. You loose all of your front suspension not being able to bend your elbows. I could feel my rear wheel coming up over some of the rough sections, but I kept pedaling. Oh, and it's slightly uphill. I forgot about that part. I turned onto Speedway and got more water and stayed in the aerobars, passing people as quickly as I could. Campbell was a fast downhill and gave me a chance to crank it out hard. I could see everyone standing on the sidewalk cheering, but had to focus on looking forward and passing cyclists.
On my second lap I played leapfrog with some guy until Campbell, where I killed him in my aerobars (he had regular drop bars). Then, staring my third lap, a green truck decided to get in the race lane and turn right onto 8th street. I had to snap up and grab the brakes. I yelled and waved at the guy because it was really close. Later, I hear similar stories of close calls from other Tri Girls. Cagers are idiots.
My 3rd lap I checked to make sure no one was behind me, signaled that I was turning into transition, and checked way ahead to make sure no spectators were crossing. I slowed down for the turn into the parking lot, and there was a guy right in front of me. Oh yeah, he is so going down in transition! I made the last turn and hit the Split button on my watch to record T2. The guy in front of me made a complete stop to get off at the mount line. I saw Leslie pointing out the line and did my flying cyclocross dismount and hit the ground at a full sprint and ran over the line, passing the guy. Heh! It was cool. Plus I could hear Leslie yelling "That was awesome!" and that gave me a boost. I racked my bike, tossed off my helmet and shoes, got the running shoes on, grabbed my hat and race belt and ran out of T2, showing my race number as I ran past the timing station and onto the run course. I hit Split on my watch and looked down. 29 seconds for T2. Adding T1 to T2 meant only 1 minute 31 seconds of my race time was in transition. Time to run.
I put my belt and hat on on the run course and started focusing on running. It felt like I was moving so slowly! How many bricks had I done lately? Oh yeah, none. That may be why. I didn't look at my watch as I didn't want to be depressed at the numbers. Instead I tried to run and breathe. I saw Katrina and Wendy at the first turn onto the mall, and Katrina was doing her kicks and dance moves. "This sprint stuff hurts!" was all I could barely manage to say to them as I waved and ran by. I was now on the mall and it felt like forever to do 1 loop. I saw Zac at the end of the mall and he cheered for me. I reached the other end and one of the volunteer girls there was cheering for us. All I could do was wave. I couldn't talk at all. My breathing sounded like I was a smoker for 20 years suffering from ephysema. There was a guy running next to me, obviously pacing off of me. I felt bad for how much noise I was making as it sounded like I was dying out there. But he chose to stay next to me, so oh well.
I got down to the other end of the mall on the second loop, and Zac wasn't in his spot. Had he already moved to the finish? There were fire trucks at the end of the street in the intersection, and I saw Zac standing on the corner looking at the ground and holding...a red bike. Oh my god it was Shari! Somehow my breath and voice came back and I screamed "ZAC!!!" but he couldn't hear me. All I knew was Shari was behind those fire trucks. I wanted to know what happened, but had no choice but to continue on. Continue on and wonder and worry what happened. Was it a car? A bike? Was anything broken? Was she ok? The last mile seemed to take forever. The finish line was where all the news was so I had to get back to the finish. We made the turn onto Cherry and the guy that had been running with me took off. I finally hit the last straightaway and ran as fast as I could, but it felt like I was stuck in singlespeed mode. I crossed the line and stopped my watch. 1:20:25. Maybe my watch was off by 25 seconds? It wasn't. I had just missed the teens. Oh well.
I walked for a bit and Jess got water as I couldn't talk because my mouth was so dry. Zac was there with Shari's bike and I got the news she had been in a collision with a non-race cyclist who had ridden down the mall. We found out later all x-rays came out good and nothing was broken. I knew she would be pissed. She was on her way to doing well in that race and beating her previous time. But she is on the mend and I know she'll be gunning for it at Deuces Wild.
I took some pics with the parents, got cleaned up, and waited for the results to be posted. Yep, 1:20:25 was the official race time. They didn't have age group results up yet, so we went home and I passed out on the couch for a nap. Later that evening the results were posted and I came in 4th in my age group! I was pretty happy with that, given my lack of speed work and it being the first tri of the season. This was also 8 minutes faster than my previous sprint time from 4 years ago. The 3 people in front of me were the exact 3 I had predicted in my spreadsheets that would finish in front of me. ;) The 5th place person was just 30 seconds behind me. It's those fast transitions that make a difference I tell ya. :)
Welcome to Tuson Tri Girls Row:
My swim (me in the purple):