Sunday, January 25, 2009

Patiently Waiting, Meeting Michellie, A New Gig and Jessi's Bag of Tricks

Still no running. It's been 2 1/2 weeks. The ankle sprain is lingering, and I don't want to make a bad situation worse. Just another lesson in learning to be patient and listen to my body. Thankfully, I can bike pain-free, swim (sometimes with a pull buoy) and strength train, so I'm not a total bum! But I never thought I'd crave running so much....

In the meantime, some pretty cool stuff has been going on (notice super-long blog title). I met an awesome triathlete/endurance sports enthusiast, Roman Mica, who runs a legit website called It's got the latest news, interviews, etc., on everything going on in the tri world and endurance sports, with updates throughout the day. He also has writers who test and review tri gear for the site, and yours truly is now part of that team. Check out my first gear review here.
And on the topic of meeting people, I also had a chance to meet and talk with Michellie Jones at the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona pre-race expo. Totally rad person, very down to earth... everything I expected. I, on the other hand, actually became a little star-struck when I finally spoke with her!She and Triathlete Magazine Publisher John Duke were featured speakers at the expo. Basically triathlon royalty! Kind of funny because in the sea of race participants & expo browsers, I don't think too many people realized the significance of these two publicly talking and answering questions. Of the thousands scrambling around, only a handful made it to their chat. Of course I was one. My friend and I did a bike ride that morning, and all the while I kept saying, "we have to be at the expo by 1:30, I haaaave to see Michellie!" I feel a little more connected to her these days since I'm riding a Felt complete with SRAM components too. Not as amazing as hers, but it's a start :)
Michellie was running the half-marathon and said that her coach instructed her to run at a specific HR, which she was not allowed to go above. With that, she didn't know what time she'd run. Checked results the next day, and she did it in like 1:26. Amazing for not being able to "go all out!" Next, watch for her in Ironman Australia...

As for me, I didn't run in RNRAZ (I told Michellie my sprain story, and she commended me for staying off the's not easy to do when you're all caught up in the race vibe)! Also, volunteering didn't work out due to our limited transportation options, and on race morning I was craving exercise. Bike ride! But I woke up so early that I had to sit around and wait for it to get light enough to safely ride. I planned a loop that eventually had me riding along the race course. Fun to see a race from that perspective.

...watching the runners about to finish, left the Felt in CA...

...gotta love the bands who are willing to set up and play at dawn, not the most "rock n roll" thing to do...

Lastly, I had another run-in with a pro-triathlete... Jessi Stensland. She was the guest speaker at the OC Tri Club meeting last week, and I didn't get to talk to her one-on-one, but I totally enjoyed listening to her. She's all about "being an athlete" first, in other words, building a fit body that will let you perform amazingly in your given sport. That means lots of core work, physical-therapy-type exercises, having good posture, stretching, strength training, etc., to keep all parts of the body in superb shape and injury-free. She swears by the Core Performance program, and after checking out their website, I was impressed with how many free videos and resources they have! It's cool because a lot of it's built around the idea that it doesn't take hours to benefit from the exercises; it can be 1 to 15 minutes of "body maintenance," i.e. a 5-minute warmup routine that will make your swim that much better. I recommend taking a look, I'm definitely going to start taking advantage!!

One thing that I related to and found pretty funny were the things Jessi "never leaves home without." This consisted of a running stick (pictured), quad roller, a set of exercise bands, tennis balls and some other workout stuff. Only an athlete would understand....

Thursday, January 15, 2009

No Running... But Bring on the Bike!

I won't be able to run in the RNR Half-Marathon in Arizona this weekend. Ankle is definitely sprained and not well enough, and I don't want to risk further injury and potentially ruining my more important races, i.e. IMCA. I'm still going, however, and will be volunteering, which I'm actually pretty excited about. For every race I do this year, I want to volunteer for another... give back to the race community.

On a happier note, I picked up my bike from Nytro yesterday!

After getting all dialed in, and using multiple credit cards to pay for it all (that was interesting), I knew exactly where I was headed for my first ride: Fiesta Island!

Biking doesn't bother my ankle, and I had to test the speed, of course!! And what a gorgeous (albeit rather windy) day. I was with a friend who's a member of the SD Tri Club, and he and I usually ride at about the same pace. But, yesterday, I maintained a significant lead. Averaged 22 mph over five laps (20.5 miles), a lot faster than I normally ride.

The transition from road bike to tri bike wasn't too intimidating for me. I felt comfortable right away on the aero bars and adjusting to a new shifting/braking style. I feel that the Felt geometry complements my build/size very well. I have to thank Nytro... and my knowledgeable salesman Ben... and the store's huge selection of bikes... for that: I was able to test ride any bike I wanted to see what was most comfortable for me. (No, I didn't just buy the Felt B2R cause it looks pretty.) Ben stuck with with me for hours while I debated bikes and ultimately made my decision. Thanks!
I learned a ton during this bike-buying process, including bike geometry stuff. There's a really good series of articles on on triathlon bike geomtry among popular brands, and how to determine which brand/style you're built for. Click here.

I'm also dialed in on SRAM components vs. Shimano (I'm now a SRAM Red owner), tubulars vs. clinchers (have both), tri bike fitting, how to put on the Zipp wheels, aero accessories such as an X-Lab Carbon Wing and lots more... I figure, if I'm investing a good amount of $$$, I better know what I'm talking about and doing!

Now I'll just have to learn to change a tubular......


After the Fiesta ride, we wanted a hearty and quality, not junk-foody, meal so we headed to Isabel's Cantina in PB. It's an open, airy restaurant (so I could see my bike the whole time) and the food is excellent. Healthy, fresh, Asian/Latin-fusion sort of dishes. I got the Single Happiness: Grilled chicken, crazy good fried-rice-style brown rice, fresh veggies and peanut sauce, with a side of hot sauce of course. My friend and I agree that particular combo of food equates to our "perfect" meal. And at Cantina, they use amazing spices and sauces that make the dish 10 times better than what I'd be able to whip at home (though, I do consider myself a decent cook).
And, just like I rode faster than my buddy, I finished my meal faster than him too. Two-for-two. Yea!

Isabel has a cookbook apparently...


There's been a lot of R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) going on lately, but I'm still trying to do a daily workout despite a sprain. So far recently:

Saturday: 37 mile bike in crazy Santa Ana winds w/ hills
Sunday: Strength training, core work & yoga
Monday: 30 mile bike w/ hills
Tuesday: 2,800 yd swim in an unheated outdoor pool at 6 a.m. (leaves and debris from winds clogged heater, ouch!)
Wednesday: 20 mile "time trial" Fiesta ride on new bike!
Thursday: 2,500 yd swim in a still-unheated pool (I like my coach and class enough to bear the cold water) ....I might ride again this afternoon.

...So, for someone suffering from a sprain, not too shabby, I suppose. I do miss running though.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Twisted Ankle ... and a 1/2 Marathon on Sunday?

Set off for a trial run Wednesday morning with my mom and dog, Sydney, at Santiago Truck Trail. I love the network of running/riding trails by my house; Truck Trail happens to start at the top of my favorite 15-20% grade hill that I climb about 2x a week on my bike (Modjeska Grade Road), and if you look to the west there's Whiting Ranch, another great running trail (minus past mountain lion incidents)...

So, you can imagine my devastation when this whole area was on fire back in October 2007 (that image below brings back sad memories). Took more than a year for everything to reopen. I have such a greater appreciation for it all now, and one day, I plan on making the trek from Santiago Truck Trial all the way up to the top of Saddleback Mountain (summit of about 5,500 ft; Santiago starts at 1,600 ft). But I digress...

I hadn't done any trail running since the Xterra 15k race cause I've been focusing on interval training and running flater, longer distances at a faster pace, as I have the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon in Arizona next Sunday, well, at this point, I think I have a race.

We started out on Santiago Truck Trail, which is essentially all uphill going out. I was huffin right away. You get pretty secluded in the mountains, too, peaceful but kinda freaky (we carried pepper spray). At 5 miles deep, we made our turnaround to head back for a total of 10 miles; I was looking forward to the descent. By mile 6, I was going at a sub-6:30 pace (that's hauling for me). I approached a sharp turn that was all rocky and full of ruts... Didn't slow down... Being a little too careless... Paid the price...

I rolled my ankle. Uh oh.

The ligaments in my foot were traumatized and throbbing; it wasn't as much my ankle that hurt. But something wasn't right. Sydney was with me, my mom several minutes behind. So I limped around a bit waiting for her and dreading what this could mean for me. Plus, there were still 4 miles back to the truck.

After a while, the pain subsided a bit, and we set off at a walk/slow jog. Somehow I got ahead of my mom (adrenaline high I guess) and eventually was waiting with Syd at the truck. Foot throbbing, but not too bad. Theeeen... She finally comes along ... and she's all bloody! Turns out, she tripped over some rocks and fell, scraping her leg, hand, etc., hurting her foot, too, and jerking her neck. She was OK, a little disoriented and in pain, but OK thankfully. Too add to the adventure, we later discovered Sydney got two ticks on the run. Geez, all three of us!

I iced my foot on and off the rest of the day, by Thursday there was minor swelling but it felt pretty good. Good enough to go with my friend on a 32-mile bike ride on PCH from Huntington to Laguna Beach and back.

However, this morning I attempted to swim, bad idea. Not having my foot securely in place (i.e. in a bike shoe clipped in) aggravated the ligaments/problem area, and pain and swelling ensued. Made it through 1,000 yds and realized one swim wasn't worth damaging my foot further.

So now I sit here with a swollen foot (maybe the bike was too much) not sure if I'll be able to run in a 1/2 marathon next Sunday. And even if I feel fine by then, I don't know if I should run at that level/intensity so soon! Oh man.........not cool.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Damn Bees ...and a Surprise

I wasn't even planning or expecting to have a busy/highly eventful holiday season, but somehow things got crazy (including an unexpected purchase, see below). No need to go into the holiday details, everyone surely understands the season of insanity. But I ended the year with an amazing New Year's Eve in my favorite place, San Diego (I swear I should still be living there!), and a classy evening spent aboard the USS Midway. So cool. Catered all-you-can-eat gourmet dinner and open bar -- my date and I took multiple trips to both -- dancing, live band... The on-sea celebration and food/drink indulgence was well-earned... that day I did a solid bike/run brick in the Point Loma/Shelter Island area. For those who live down there, there's a ride by Cabrillo National Monument with one area by the tidepools that's know for doing hill repeats overlooking the ocean. Difficult yet gorgeous!!

We were having too much fun to worry about pics on NYE, but here's a peek at a post-sweaty, dressed up and "silly (aka wine-drinking)" me aboard the Midway...

Now to the damn bees. Despite holiday craze, I still got in my workouts, of course. And on one bike ride, a certain instance really had me going "What the f*@&?" I was cruising at about 20-22 mph, mind lost in my own world, and a freakin bee stuck into my leg. I quickly recognized the tingly sensation and yanked that thing right out and shook it off my glove. Now, normally I'd be freaking out or in shock. But, this isn't new in my book; it was THE THIRD TIME I've been stung while riding in a matter of a year and a half. This incident thankfully wasn't as bad as the first two....

Bee Sting No. 1, summer '07: I'm going downhill close to 30 mph, which is apparently faster than bees go. Next thing I know, one is solidly sticking right into my nose buzzing away! It wasn't like he casually landed on me and pricked me, there was force behind this sting. I was totally discombobulated, in pain, trying to swipe the damn thing away while simultaneously slowing down, stopping and not crashing. I flicked it off but couldn't tell if the stinger was still in me. I laid down the bike (oddly, I take the time to carefully do this as to not "hurt" the Trek) and ran over to two women on the trail. In a frantic way with tears welling in my eyes, I asked them if they saw a stinger in my nose. All clear; I had gotten the bee and stinger out, but not fast enough to escape the side effects. I woke up the next morning and... Oh. My. God. My nose was huge, red and swollen like that of a clown's. Whatever. Sh*t happens. I still went to work and out in public with my Bozo-the-Clown nose... it remainded in that state for a week!
Bee Sting No. 2, summer '08: Once again, going downhill by a group of trees with sweet-smelling white flowers. Beautiful, right? Hell no! Beauty can be deceiving. It was bee paradise. In a blur of events, my bike was thrust onto some grass (not so gracefully this time), my forehead was is stinging and buzzing, and I was running around like a psycho. Yup, bee in the forehead, right between the eyebrows. I got rid of the bee but not the stinger... venom seeping in. So, I found the nearest humans, in this case, a nice-looking teen couple walking a dog. No polite introductions, I just blurted out, "You gotta help me! I think there's a bee stinger in my needs to get out, please help!!" (Meanwhile, I recognize the girl, turns out I went to high school with her sister, random.) Despite clearly being weirded out, the girl used her crazy-long acryllic nails to flick the stinger out. Some "thank-yous" and "your-welcomes" ensued and I was on my way, wondering what I've done to piss off the bee gods.

Unlike the first incident, the second time I was stung at the beginning of my ride, and I still wanted to get in miles. So I went home, quickly cleaned it and went back riding. But to this day I get squirmish by those trees... and, oh yea, the swelling that occurred with No. 2 was ridiculous. Check out this deformed face... it continued to worsen. (Can't believe I'm posting this):Ahhh! I'm not necessarily allergic; my doctor said the swelling was so bad because of the area I was stung...not really any fat on the forehead, so the WHOLE FACE SWELLS as a result.
So, me and bees.... we don't really mix well. But even the potential of looking like a cyclops won't stop me. Especially with this news.....
* * *

Over Christmas I had a lucky turn of events that allowed me to buy one of these from Nytro in Encinitas (see, I'm still a total wanna-be SD resident):

The Felt B2r TTR. I'm in love. I also got a sexy fast Zipp 808 wheelset for racing. Oh man. So stoked. I'll write more on my legit tri-bike shopping experience at Nytro soon. They rock!!