Saturday, February 21, 2009
I did the Tritonman sprint triathlon at Mission Bay today, and though it wasn't nearly as cold as it's been lately, it was still freakin chilly first thing in the morning! But overall, I had a blast. I did this tri to practice racing in cold before IMCA and am so glad I did. I have total issues with cold hands and feet, and today was a reality check as to how bad that gets: I screwed up my transitions because of numb extremities. T1: couldn't un-velcro and un-zip my wetsuit; T2: couldn't unclick my helmet!! Asked for help with both.... I ended up getting 2nd in my age group, so my bike/run was legit enough to make up time (not my swim, ha). It was a 500yd swim, 12-mile bike and 5k run and I did it in 1:10. Oh yea, ankle is still kind of sprained too.
Here's how it went down:
I showed up at 5:30 and got to set up transition in the pitch dark. Note: bring flashlight to "small" races. Tritonman was put on by UCSD, had 400 participants and transition area was right on Fiesta Island - no high-powered lights to guide us. Kind of a cool experience with it being pretty laid back - no assigned rack areas or anything. I helped a first-timer who didn't know what to do with his race numbers, he had the helmet sticker on his bike. I racked next to some super cool Marines who were Nytro-lovers too. Good times. This was my first race minus a support crew. Totally on my own; however, my ex-boyfriend-turned-good-friend was doing a 16-mile a.m. run and planned to end up on Fiesta and watch me cross the finish line.
Race got off to a late start because of registration overload. I was in the second to last wave and jumped/ran around in my sandals -- no bare feet on cold mud -- to stay warm (forgot those sandals on Fiesta, they might be there now). By the time Open Women's went off (7:10?), the sun was blinding in the direction we had to swim. I'm already bad at spotting/swimming straight in the ocean, so this didn't help the matter. Surprisingly, though, the water was way warmer than I expected. Tasted like complete crap (heard something about a dead whale recently?), but at least it wasn't arctic. Got out in like 9 minutes, ran up the beach and into T1 where the wetsuit-taking-off problem happened. God knows how long I took.
I was ready to crank hard, wanting to average at least 20 mph. I'm currently borrowing a Cervelo P2SL from Nytro (some issues with the Felt, more on that later), and was stoked on the level of quality. I felt great the whole time on the bike. But looking back, I should have put on gloves or even a long-sleeve shirt. I was going fast enough to really freeze my hands and skin. Three laps and about 30 minutes later I dismounted, feeling on pace to do well. Then T2 happened. First, I dismounted too early and had to run for way too long in bike shoes to my transition area. Then the helmet catastrophe. I spent probably 2 minutes trying to unclip it and just couldn't. I was ready to go running with it on, but I asked for help instead. Putting on shoes was crazy too - my feet were so numb it felt like I was putting shoes on someone else! Don't know what my T2 time was, but likely 5-plus minutes!! Crap-o-la!!! That makes me so mad!!!
Frustrated with T1 & T2, I was anxious to get running. I felt great from the start. My ankle is still techinically sprained and I've only run maybe 5 times since being off running for a month (yikes!), but I was able to bust out a decent pace. Feet thawed and I think I ran it in about 21 minutes? Not sure. Meanwhile, the college crowd was finishing their race and the weather was getting better every second!
Crossed the line at 1:10. Not as good as I wanted (of course, I'm hard on myself), but a great learning experience - those transitions got the best of me! I now have a lot to think about and plan for IMCA!
After the race, pro Jim Vance was the guest announcer and UCSD had a crapload of legit prizes to give out. I think about 4 Xterra wetsuits were given out, on top of shirts, backpacks, books, watches. To win a pair of Rudy Project sunglasses, Jim set the challenge: Swim across the bay, run out and touch a tree and swim back (looked like about a 500yd trip). Anyone could charge, fully clothed or whatever. And with that, roughly 10 guys were in the water. Jim also had couples who raced do a wheel-barrow race down the beach for some prizes, there was more water competitions - people went in fully clothed! He's a funny guy and got the crowd rambunctious. Quite entertaining.
Post-Race Day: A 50-mile bike ride
My friend, Brad, showed up to see me finish as planned, and we headed to Cantina to grub after the show was over. Cantina was excellent as always. Nice and full, Brad and I decided to get in a solid bike ride. I knew I still needed to get in training mileage since the sprint was only about an hour workout, and Brad was in the same boat. So, we set off from La Jolla, up PCH, swung right in Solana and headed east on Del Dios Hwy, eventually turned around and back to PCH, and then my favorite: a nice long trek up Torrey Pines to finish up the ride. Love that hill! Killer. While I was riding up, a dude with his age written on his calf passed me. Had to ask - yes, he had done Tritonman, too, and was riding back from pizza/beer at Pizza Port with his friends. He said he was pretty buzzed. Ha! I think I would have died if I were him!
So, pretty cool day. Started off coollldddd, but ended up being gorgeous. Just one of those picturesque San Diego days.... Hope things stay nice for the Tour of California Sunday!
Oh, and speaking of cold, I was offered the opportunity to do some writing for a really cool triathlon website, www.amateurendurance.com. Check out my first article here! (It's on cold-weather training.) This is a great site geared toward newbies, but there are tons of resources that any level of triathlete can find useful and informative.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
But back to eating. I decided to make banana-pumpkin bread, but not just any kind, gluten-free style. I don't have celiac disease, but I've been on the GF bandwagon for a while now. Why?
Well, first, gluten is a complex protein found in wheat, rye and barley, so it's in most breads, pastas, grains, etc. Without going into the whole science and history of it, it's said that gluten can cause fatigue, digestive problems, malabsorption of nutrients, GI issues (no fun), joint pain, among other things, and some claim it's in an endurance athlete's best interest to limit or cut out gluten. Check this out. Read that even pro triathlete Desiree Ficker is gluten-free. A Google search can bring up tons of resources.
GFism is pretty abundant these days - there's a link bewtween a GF diet and "curing" autism, Jenny McCarthy stands by this one - and everywhere from Trader Joe's to Whole Foods to regular grocery stores have GF products. In no way is this a low-carb diet. Pastas, cereals, breads, crackers, flour, baked goods, cookies, snacks, etc... you name it, there's a GF version. I'm all over brown rice pasta, breakfast tacos with corn tortillas, rice crackers, GF oatmeal, etc., but I hadn't baked anything GF. Until now. Something about wintery weather (SoCal has gotten a lot of rain/cold lately) inspires me to bake. Having four browning bananas chillin in our kitchen also sparked the idea. Not to mention, I have a fetish with anything that is or tastes like pumpkin pie, so adding pumpkin was a must!
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
So, how 'bout some fun stuff instead...
Like most of you probably do, I come across some random things in endurance sports that aren't always headline topics in the latest magazine. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes it's "WTF, that exists?" and sometimes sheer awe or even disgust. Well, I want to talk about it...
My List of Random Realities in Endurance Sports
1. Hypoxic Tents. Cheating? Borderline. Expensive? Hell yea. If you don't know, these are contraptions that simulate high altitude - a low-oxygen tent that you sleep in if you live at or near sea level areas and want the benefits/adaptations of living in high altitude. Why do athletes want to train in Colorado and high-altitude? Because there's less oxygen in the air, and as a result the body adapts to that over time by creating more red blood cells, which carry oxygen, which makes for better sports performance because more O goes to the muscles. (Blood doping, EPO, all relatively the same concept.) Sea level areas have close to 20% oxygen in the air; high altitude (8,000 to 12,000 feet) has about 12%. So you can see imagine how the body would adapt by making more RBCs. As far as using this to race better - the ethics are being debated, but it's not banned as far as I've read. However, one of these tents will set you back thousands - saw one quote at about $5,700 - so don't jump in the car to go hypoxic-tent shopping. Something to think about next time some Lance-type guy flies by you though.
2. Snot Rockets. Ah, a juicy topic that everyone should be intimately familiar with - guys and girls. First off, in no way is this a guy-only act, chicks should feel comfortable and proud of their s-rocket skills. It's ain't glamorous, but it's essential. When the air is wintery brisk, you're 20 miles into your ride and your nose starts dripping, what else is there to do? God forbid you let your mph drop for a runny nose, but you can't just let it slither down your face, and there's no Kleenex in cycling! You have to cover one nostril and blow that stuff out the other, and (key point) blow with force... Guys generally have this down no prob; some girls need to let go of being dainty - won't work, that just creates a mess on you and the bike. I'll admit, I'm an extreme case as far as girls go when it comes to s-rockets: I get a runny nose even on the hot, dry days - basically every time I go riding... Needless to say, I'm a master of the art. Nothing to be ashamed of. Heck, I can even do a hands-free snot rocket. And I'll do one on my first ride with you. (Really, I'm not a gross, offensive, manner-less person; it's just a reality in cycling.)
On that note, there are some "rules" involved. No. 1) Always look behind you to make sure you're not about to shower someone with snot. That's not cool, it's happened to me. However, there's a gray area with No. 1 if that person behind you is your rival/enemy. No. 2) Make note of the wind. Logical. No. 3) Steer clear of landing it on the bike as much as possible. Crusty bike = tough cleaning. No. 4) Make sure there's enough snot accumulated for a quality rocket. No half-assing this. ....For more insight on snot-rocketing, check out Ryan's blog.
3. Spin Classes. Love-hate relationship with these. They're a great addition to cycling training, as you can really push yourself to the max - just add that tension and spin hard, no stop lights, cars or pedestrians to take out. But you're in a small room with a bunch of other sweating people. Now, I sweat a lot as it is, but I sweat 10x more in a spin class, so I can only imagine others' sweat level. This almost reached a breaking point with me once when some dude next to me must have had Indian food the night before. He had the most foul-smelling sweat. I swear, I gaged. I'll leave it at that to spare you the grossness, but I almost left that class, and ever since I've been cautious (but not discriminating) toward choosing my spinning neighbors. The thing is, once I start a class, I'll go to the end... no leaving early like someone inevitably always does. (C'mon people, one hour, that's it... and you need that cool down.) Guess my point with this one is, I love them, but I hate the idea of being boxed up with smelly gross people for an hour. Not to mention, every now and then an instructor will play the worst bee-bop-type music ever. That always kills it.
And my last installment for the day....
4. Dirty Water Bottles. Ever leave just a little leftover Cytomax (or your drink of choice) in your bottle and forget to wash it? Go to grab it out of the bottle cage on your next ride a couple days later, untwist to refill and....oh God. Now that's a foul smell! Not to mention, things start growing in there, science-experiment style. Cytomax, for one, creates this weird black oily substance. I know this well because my ex-boyfriend was notorious for not cleaning his bottles. He'd leave them in dark corners and let them ferment and then, like nothing, he'd grab one, refill it and be off. Never got sick. Crazy. As for me, I usually forget to clean my bottles because after a long ride I have a one-track mind: EAT FOOD. Bottles suffer as a result. Probably even worse than leftover Cytomax though is an old whey protein shake in a bottle. All it takes is just a little leftover drink, like one sip, for the smell to get so bad that you might as well just toss the bottle. No saving. My gym bag has been home to these stink bombs. Their next home after that? The trash. I can afford to purchase another $5 bottle.
Until next time... happy training!