Monday, July 26, 2010

Green Mountain trail run

This summer is heavy on the Lemmon, with the Easy Peasy Lemmon Squeezy rides on Saturdays for 6 weeks in a row. I usually need to get some sleep after a week of training, so not getting up at 4:30 AM on Sunday means heading to higher elevation for later morning trail runs. On Sunday, I was able to convice Zac to come with me for a trail run on Mt. Lemmon. We had ridden to Windy Point the day before as part of the EPLS ride, so the legs were definitely tired. I promised him it would be an easy pace, and probably more hiking than anything.

The original plan was to park at the San Pedro Vista (the destination for next week's EPLS ride), and run the Brush Corral trail. However, as we drove up the mountain, we noticed dark clouds overhead. We got to Rose Canyon and it was sprinkling. By the time we got to the San Pedro Vista, it was pouring. We looked around and there was no sunlight in sight. I really didn't want to get drenched for an hour, so we turned around and headed back down the mountain. We decided to try the lower Green Mountain trail. It's nice that in just a few miles on Mt. Lemmon you can have completely different weather. At the Green Mountain parking lot, it was just cloudy and still cool enough for a run.

Normally mountain bikers travel this trail in the opposite direction to make it mostly downhill. We would be starting at the bottom, so for us it would be a climb up and then a run back down. The weather was great, and we just had a light sprinkle during the middle part of the run. It was sunny lower on the mountain, so the clouds overhead in this area were perfect. The trail is quite technical in spots as you climb up, with a ton of undercut water bars and granite rocks. For us it was mostly a hike, with a few sections of running thrown in when the trail flattened out. We turned around at the 1.5 mile mark and headed back down, which was a heck of a lot easier. But it was a nice break from running the road and the desert trails at the lower elevations.

I've perfected taking pictures while running and riding. :)
Zac and I trying not to fall of the rock.

The "green" portion of Green Mountain. This part we could actually run.

Hard to believe this is just a few miles from Tucson.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


There are many internet articles about singlespeeding. They go into how deep it is, how rich of a feeling you get experiencing the ride, how simple it is and in that simplicity you can unravel the complexity of life, etc. I don't know how singlespeeding can stop a war, but these folks feel it can. It can also solve world hunger. And do your taxes.

Personally, this is not how I arrived at the door of the singlespeed world. My hardtail mountain bike has been getting less action lately. This was my first real mountian bike, and it's about 10 years old. I keep it around as a back-up bike, and to let friends borrow to see if they like mountian biking. But as for me, I just wasn't riding it as much. The drivetrain and other components needed to be replaced. I just couldn't see spending money when I wasn't riding it that much. Then I got the idea...turn it into a singlespeed! I don't have a singlespeed, I had never tried it, but what the heck. The hardtail would be perfect for it. So for a whopping $35 investment in parts, it was converted over.

I took the bike out for it's first ride as a SS last night. It's nice to have the old parts that were giving it problems removed. No more gummy shifters. No more tweaked and worn out derailleur. I need to put a different seat on it since the old one is worn out and uncomfortable, but other than that it's working pretty well. I just tooled around the neighborhood and river path, so I'd like to take it out to Fantasy Island to see what it's like on a real trail system. I think it will give me a fresh look at Fantasy Island too. I've done so many miles out there that it became boring after awhile. But now I have something new to try!

I'll let you know when I've solved world hunger.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Picacho Peak Time Trial

One thing I've noticed in the difference between training with a coach and training on your own is that a coach comes up with training ideas that you'd never try on your own, because normally you think those ideas are crazy. Like running the Saguaro East loop, for example. I feel the loop should always be done on a bike, but there it was on the the loop. So I ran the loop, and survived despite wanting to steal people's bikes as they rode by. The downhills are way more fun on a bike.

So I pulled up my training plan for the week to see "Picacho Peak TT? Let me know if you want to do this" on my plan for Sunday the 20th of June. A time trial? Me? On the ROAD?!? Wait a sec how is this supposed to help for XTERRA training? "Good baseline for fitness." Well, I had just picked up that aerohelmet at Deuces Wild. I should probably put the thing to use. Besides, other Tri Girls had done the previous race, so maybe I'd see some of them there. *sigh* Fine. I'll do it. If it involves a bike, I'll try it at least once.

I got up crazy early on race morning and drove to California. Well, actually Arizona City which may as well be in California when you're coming from NE Tucson. Arizona City, by the way, is just south of the Casa Grande outlets for those wondering. Yes, I had to look it up on the map.

I arrived at the race, wondering how this was going to go down. Each aspect of cycling has it's own culture. The downhill mountain bikers usually have one-word sentences involving a lot of "Dude", "Whoa!", and "Awesome!" and they are all about the beer and sometimes the "herbal supplements." They do a run on their bikes and then it's all about the partying. Sometimes the partying hinders the riding. Then there's the cross country mountain bikers, also very concerned about beer and parties and, most importantly, schwag. Free socks? They're in. Roadies I can't comment on as I've never done one of their races. But the triathlon crowd I know a lot about. Most think they are the uptight ones. They are all about body mass, body image, complex carbohydrates, peeing on the bike, and where to put the M-dot tattoo. On the XTERRA side of triathlon I can say the mountain bike influence takes over and they are much more laid back. But the TT crowd made triathletes look like the downhill crowd.

As I drove through the parking lot looking for a parking space, I began to take it all in. People were setting up their own little areas by their cars. They pulled out EZ ups, trainers or rollers, and starting riding nowhere. For 40-60 minutes they rode nowhere in a parking lot in Arizona City. My trainer was at home, where it belonged because it was no longer winter and dark out. I parked my car, signed up for the race, paid my $30, and wandered around. I actually ran into people that I knew from work or, oddly enough, triathlon message boards. I said hello and that it was my first race, but holding a conversation was tough. Everyone was very focused on getting ready for the race and riding nowhere, so I felt like I shouldn't bother them and cut the conversation short. Except for Andy, who I know from the aforementioned triathlon message board, and he was willing to chat a bit. I overheard others in the parking lot discussing the wind. Apparently the wind was a big factor. I looked and the trees in the parking lot were dead still. I went back to the car and fiddled with my bike and was relieved when the TriSports rig pulled up and Shari hopped out. Oh thank goodness! Someone to talk to!!! Otherwise I would have spent 30 minutes awkwardly fiddling with my bike for no reason.

I have no idea how they determined the order riders were going in, but I was at the back of the 40K group. We had the choice of 20K or 40K, but I didn't drive all the way to the other side of the world for 20K. I tooled around up and down the road in the opposite direction from the race course, then lined up. The people around me were dressed in their outfits, which are meant to maximize aerodynamics. Everyone was in a onesie, because you know, the seam between your shorts and jersey would be too much drag. Everything was skin tight. Sperm head aero helmets were everywhere. And people were wearing booties, but not to keep their feet warm. Nope, the velcro on your shoes could be too much drag, so you have to put an aerodynamic bootie over it. I was lucky to be wearing my TTG cycling jersey, only because Joyce had warned that it's against the rules to be in a sleeveless jersey as her husband found out. I had also stayed up late the night before doing important pre-race prep of putting pirate girl stickers all over my new aerohelmet. If you're going to look goofy in a sperm head helmet, you may as well rock it with some awesome stickers.

I rolled up to the starting line where there were 2 officials. One guy was there to count down and wave his hand in front of you "5...4...3...2...1" and then you go. Reminds me of Wayne's World..."you didn't say 2 or 1." And the other guy awkwardly holds the back of your bike so that you can be clipped in and ready to roll when the finger guy drops the "1" finger. I say awkwardly, because it's weird to have someone hold your bike from behind when you're over the age of 5. I have pretty good bike handling skills and can roll really slow and trackstand for short periods of time (not the minutes like Zac can) and not fall over. But this guy grabbed my bike and it had a slight tilt to the right, so that I was leaning to the right. I couldn't wait for the hand to drop just so I could start rolling. The finger guy did his thing and I was off.

What I can say is that the next hour and some odd minutes were the most boring of my life. The 5 or so people that were behind me passed me in the first 5 minutes, so I was alone. You go in 30 second intervals, so for someone slower like me, you don't really see anyone. I saw a few people going the other direction and finishing up their race. Other than that, it's a lot of staring at the white line. I had also not ridden my tri bike in awhile, or been in the aerobars, so the seating position wasn't the most comfortable. I had the roughness of the road to keep me entertained, dodging potholes and rough spots. There were wildflowers still in bloom which was nice. And all the cars that passed me were nice and left lots of room. I reached the turnaround where the officials were, then headed back. There was a slight tailwind pushing me back, but nothing like the winds I've had on other bike rides. This was windy??? Oh well. I was the last person out there, so it was hard to stay motivated and keep pushing. I sat up for a bit, just to take the painful pressure off. I passed the 5K sign, so I got back in the aerobars so that I looked like I knew what I was doing and was part of the crowd for the group waiting around at the finish. But wait, where was the finish? I rolled past a guy in a gardening hat and past where the start tent had been, which was now taken down. "Oh well, there's the entrance to the parking lot, I guess I'm done" I thought to myself.

The place was a ghost town. Only Shari was there at the finish waiting for me, just to make sure I was ok. I appreciated it, since I had come up there alone. Always nice to know someone is looking out for you at a race. Everyone had packed up and gone home after their run was over. No party, no schwag, no beer, NO SNACKS. That's right. There were no snacks at the end. How can there be an athletic event with no snacks at the end? Not only that, but no water either. Humph. What did my $30 cover? Surely some of that could go to some bagels and orange slices. Heck, the weekly aquathlons in the park have a better spread.

So, with all of that, I could hardly call the event "fun." It just isn't my bag. I like the social aspect of races. Heck, half the time that's where I see some people the most. And staring at a white line for over an hour is mind numbing. Kind of like riding the trainer.

My stickered helmet:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

XTERRA Deuces Wild

I love to do this race every year, and this year was no exception. Normally XTERRA Deuces Wild is followed a week later by XTERRA Four Corners. But this year the scheduling didn't work out and they fell on the same weekend, with 4 Corners on Saturday and Deuces on Sunday. I wasn't going to blow my race at Deuces by racing on tired legs, and I know how long the drive between Show Low and Farmington is, and I wasn't going to miss out on the Deuces raffle. Deuces is a superior course, and all the Tri Girls were going to be there, so 4 Corners was getting cut from my schedule this year.

Zac and I left on Saturday morning to get to the race with enough time to see the TTGs finishing up the road triathlons. That evening we went to the raffle, where I won a set of LG tri shoes, and Liane won an aerohelmet. We did some trading and switched prizes, and it worked out well. Sunday morning we arrived early and got set up in transition. Zac would once again be doing the relay with Shari, with her swimming, him doing the mountain bike, and her doing the trail run. The water wasn't as cold as last year, which was great.

I had all of my wisdom teeth pulled 2 weeks before this race, so my training leading up to it wasn't the greatest. I decided to take all the pressure off and just go out there and do the race and not worry about it. I got in the water, and decided to go out easy on the swim. This race I actually swam really straight with no navigation issues. I started catching and passing the guys that had a 4 minute head start on us, and only had a few issues getting around some of them that liked to swim in S patterns. I felt really good in the water, which is why when I stood up on the boat ramp I was shocked to see a swim time of 21 minutes. I had done the swim last year in 17 minutes, and my first year racing in 22 minutes. No way had I lost that much time. After the race I checked the results and lots of times for people that I know are fast swimmers were much longer, so I decided the course had to be long.

T1 went well, then it was time for my favorite part of the day, the mountain bike. I crushed the downhills and then was disappointed to see the gate to the forest was shut. Last year a rail in the fence was knocked down so that we could hop over. This year I had to lift the bike over the fence, then climb over. Oh well, this happens all the time on other trails so it wasn't too big of a deal. Then it was time for the climb and the usual log crossings. Except this year there had been a lot of trail erosion. The log that we normally climb over had a huge gap between the underside of the log and the trail. I decided to lay the bike down, crawl under the log, and drag my bike under like a dead body.

After that it was the usual climb up the trail, and this year I made it much further up the hill than previous years. The trail was in great shape. The massive downhill followed, which was a blast, then back through the forest and over the fence before heading back to transition. On the road I saw that I was getting close to the 1:40 mark for my bike split, and wanted to have my split be under that. So I hammered on the road up the hill to transition, passing a couple of guys giving me strange looks like "why the heck is this crazy chick hammering into transition???" and hopped off the bike with an official bike split of 1:39:42. Woohoo! Small victories.

It was hot by the time I hit the run course, but I did my best to run as much as possible. My pace was definitely slower than last year, but it was also 20 degrees warmer. I didn't want to do anything stupid out there, so I made sure I was always comfortable. The lake crossing wasn't too high this year, but it was so hot that I splashed through it to get wet. Then this year there was a "shortcut" option, where we could cut across the swamp and back into the lake before heading up the boat ramp. Heck yeah I'm doing that! I made it as far as I could in the mud and then splashed down and started swimming. My trail shoes filled with water and sank like a rock so my form wasn't exactly the best. Zac, Nate, and the TTGs were on the shore cheering, and I was happy to get out because I had less than a mile to go. Some chick came by pushing hard, but there was no way I was going to follow. I just kept going along at my happy pace. I finished in 3:13, which is only 1 minute slower than last year. The chick that blazed by me was in a chair and the medics were looking at here. There were a bunch of people looking pretty bad in the shade at the finish, but I felt great and was glad I wasn't one of them.

I got my awesome finish line popsicle, then we headed over to the lunch area and met up with the other TTGs. I slowly ate some watermelon while I waited for the digestive system to reboot and come back online. It was awhile before I could nibble at the Mexican food provided at the lunch. We waited for awards, and Zac & Shari took 1st place in the relay and got cool trophies! Zac and I changed, got some more food, and headed back to Tucson. Overall an awesome weekend!

Zac rockin' the Elvis jersey for the race:

Start of the women's wave of the swim:

Done with the bike:

Heading into the water on the trail swim:


Swimming the trail swim:

Emerging on the other side:

The finish!

Shari & Zac with their cool trophies: