Monday, September 27, 2010

Again?! Really?

Last week ended on a high note with work-related stuff so I celebrated with a couple glasses of wine. But I made sure to have them early, as our Saturday morning activities would get underway well before sunrise... I was eating brekkie at 5:30 a.m., almost like an actual race day!

The morning workout was perfect until the last mile...

It started with my mom and I participating in the annual mile swim at Lake Mission Viejo. Normally, you have to swim within certain boundaries at the lake, but on this day they open the whole thing and send us off in waves for a timed mile swim. Only catch: no buoys, just a lifeguard boat with a flashing light to mark the turnaround, a few paddleboarders and some permanent lake buoys about the size of basketballs (aka useless). It'd be a real test in holding a line! The course was basically the same swim as the OC Tri, for those familiar. I loved it... nice, warm morning with that race-high-adrenaline vibe as we got going in our wave. I needed some of that.

View of MV Lake:

However, if you read my last post, you know I haven't been swimming so I wasn't planning on a PR performance. My forearm is starting to feel better, so I decided to let pain be my guide this time.

As we headed out, I felt great. Surprisingly strong, sighting well and staying in the pack. But after the turnaround point we turned around into blinding sun and from then on it was a little crazy. No more feet to follow, no buoys to look for, just me and a general idea of where to go. Not easy! My forearm started bugging me every time I got the the catch portion of the stroke, so I stopped probably 10 times to let it calm down a bit.

Finally I could see the boat ramp, aka the finish. It came quicker than I expected even with all my stops. I ended up doing the whole mile swim in 28 minutes, which I'm totally ok with all things considered.

After that I waited for my mom, she was only a few minutes behind me, and then hopped on my bike for a planned 40 miles through Santiago Canyon.

Ride was going great, despite a temp of 91 degrees before 9 a.m., which continued to rise. It was the best I've felt in a while; maybe it because I ate my new favorite cereal, greek yogurt and homemade pumpkin muffins for fuel.

The end of my 40 miles was nearing, and I was definitely thinking a little t-run would happen. I was practically home, but only at 39 miles, so I decided to do a pointless mile of basically a big circle around my house just to reach 40... ughhhh, so dumb...

At 39.1 I felt something go into my helmet. I reached my hand to feel around, and within .2 seconds I was getting stung. By a bee. Again.

I freaked, got out the stinger, but it was too late. The damage was done. This is #5 bee sting in the last few years (2 face, 1 thigh, 1 back, now 1 finger), and I've clearly developed an allergy. The sting was on my finger, but within 10 minutes my entire body broke out in hives that were itchy like you wouldn't believe, my face was swollen, eyes nearly swollen shut and I felt like pure death. I took an ice cold shower then just laid on the floor for 30 minutes while my parents kept a close eye. I continued to say, "Don't worry I'll be fine, just give it time to fade off." At least my BP was fine & no wheezing/chest tightness.

I eventually started feeling better, at least well enough to consume large amounts of food -- bee stings don't affect hunger rates after mega workouts!

Here's a few lovely photos of the damage, but, really, pics don't really do this sort of thing justice....

Face of misery (note: for once I decided not to show the really bad picture because it's that bad):A glimpse of the rash:
Swollen finger the next day (hand is swollen too, hard to tell though):

Thankfully everything cleared and I was fine about an hour later--except for the mega swollen hand/finger--so I was able to continue with my plans of hanging out with a good friend in San Diego for the rest of the weekend....

SD never fails me. Lots of good times, got in another PCH/Torrey ride, and I ate too much good food (the very unhealthy and healthy kinds).

Ahhh La Jolla:
B's Godiva brownies, which came before the pizza and the world's best pumpkin froyo:
PS - You'll be happy to know I've already gotten a prescription for an Epi Pen. 1) I don't want to die from a bee sting; 2) at this rate I'm bound to get stung again; 3) I clearly won't stop riding my bike/running outdoors. So that's that...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Minor (New) Injury?

Yesterday was my first time swimming in about 2.5 weeks. I "tapered" a few days before the Outrigger adventure, and then after that a new issue kept me from swimming. I guess you can call it an "acute overuse" injury aka seven hours of paddling in 48 hours, something my body isn't used to doing.

The issue is in my forearm. Basically the tendons of my extensor muscles are pissed off and aren't sliding against each other smoothly. Every time I lift/move my wrist there's this gnarly grinding sound/vibration. No joke, it's crazy! It sounds/feels like I need WD-40 in there! I've become quite a freak show to my friends. At least the swelling died down.

Before the onset of the grinding sensation it was just pure pain and very swollen, and at first I was afraid of something worse, i.e. stress fracture in my ulna or radius, but that's definitely not the case. I've had it checked out, and bottom line according to the pros: "Tawnee, you did a crazy thing and you're lucky that's the only issue you walked away with. It could be a lot worse." Hahahaha. I'd do it again :)

It's been annoying though! At first I couldn't lift the coffee pot nor could I write normally (3 hr classes and note-taking? yuck!). And, like I said, I couldn't swim. As of yesterday, it hurt during the swim but not too terribly, so from here on I'll just go in moderation and let pain be my guide. Funny thing, I can do pushups and some upper-body exercises sans pain.

But again, the outriggering was worth it... Did I mention we started a "mooning" tradition?
That's us mooning the first-place men's team during our Sunday funday paddle home. I'm the middle one inblack. I like how mostly girls were on the shift that got to do the mooning. Btw, that took some legit balancing skills haha...

In other news, I'm working on some new recipes to post. I've had some amazingly good cooking/baking sessions lately. Like pumpkin muffins, turkey chili and grain-free zucchini bread to name a few...

Also, if you haven't seen my video, check it out. (Warning: Do not view while eating or after eating a big meal, it's graphic haha).

Lastly, I might be a little MIA for a while... lots to do before my departure to Kona on Oct. 5!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Must-See TV by Me: Endurance Sport Extremes

Before I get to my gory video (trust me, you don't want to miss out on seeing it so stay with me)... a little update on my training/recovery status.

Last week the effects of outrigger were still lingering, but I got in some solid rest and good workouts. By Saturday, it was time to test my injury-free status. We met for a "long" ride just before 7 a.m. at Santiago Canyon, and holy crap it was freezing. The seasons are definitely changing, and that just sucks. It was high 40s/low 50s for probably the first 45-60 min before the sunshine/warmth started dominating.

All in all, I rode 40 miles of pretty much all hilly terrain. It was hard and I struggle compared to the old me, but I enjoyed every minute. I'm actually excited about the hard work I have ahead. I even voluntarily chose to do some hill repeats just because I clearly need to work on that.

After the ride was the real test, the t-run. We had a transition area set up along the bike path by my house (same spot as OC Tri T2), and my plan was to run/walk the 3.5 miles home. Well, I ended up going 4 miles with mostly running. It felt amazing! Yay!

I'll be honest, I was sore the next day, and I felt it in my knee, but nothing that scared me in terms of sharp/shooting pains. I ran again yesterday, and it seems to be good.


Drum roll....

For the HIGHLIGHT of this blog...

Remember that gory/gross photo project I was talking about? Well my creative juices got flowing, and thanks to all your contributions and my Mac iBook Pro, I think I created a masterpiece using a program that was new to me, iMovie.

I must say, I couldn't be happier with the outcome. I will present this to my class on Monday, so consider this a sneak-preview special-invite showing :)

CLICK HERE to check it out :)

(Warning, it's graphic!)

Please let me know what you think!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Outrigger Canoe Race Across the Pacific... and Back

Our means of transportation (human power only! I'm third back in black)...Our destination... a mini paradise only 30 miles off the California coast...

Here's how it went down...

I thought paddling/racing an outrigger canoe for 5+ hours TO Catalina would be enough. But what happens when your team wants to paddle back the next day just for fun? Huh?! At first I was reluctant about doing a double. But how often does one get the opportunity to make the Catalina Channel Crossing twice in 48 hours with an awesome team?

I think it was sometime Saturday night, after a beer or margarita, that I made the commitment to paddle home and not take the easy way, the $35 Catalina Flyer. Hell no. Above all, I wanted to prove to myself that I am strong enough to handle mega miles on the sea. Plus, I couldn't let my team down. They needed all the helping hands possible. Thankfully, I had made extra sandwiches just in case I chose to paddle twice. I know myself too well :)

Glad I did what I did. This trip = me stepping outside my comfort zone and doing something crazy but amazing. I surprised myself in how strong, prepared and motivated I felt for the entire duration. Of the ~12 hours we spent on sea, each person probably paddled 7+ hours total.

Sat. morning loading the escort boats... Goal is to keep your crap dry!

I got to pretend to be a lifeguard, our team theme (notice escort boat #1 to my right -- this trip is not about traveling luxuriously haha)...

Escort boat #2...

Before I get more into our adventure, I have to describe the "shift changes" that occur during nine-man outrigger canoeing. Simply insane!

The outrigger holds six people, but there are 9-10 on a team. A few are always "resting" on the nearby escort boat that leads the way and holds all the baggage, food and jackets. You only paddle on the outrigger for 20-40 minutes at a time, then someone comes into relive you while you rest for 10-20 minutes. Shift changes are constantly occurring because everyone's timing is staggered.

This is where it gets interesting. Instead of the escort boat leisurely pulling up alongside the outrigger for a "dry change" you have to jump into the ocean -- no time to think about how cold it is -- and swim to your next destination, either to the outrigger to paddle or to the escort boat for rest. If you're going on to paddle, you swim full speed to the outrigger and hoist yourself up into the canoe while it's still going full speed -- a rush I can't even describe. I thought a lot about sharks every time I made a shift change. Those changes also served as our only potty breaks.
Imagine doing that constantly for hours. Never a dull moment. Of the whole experience, the only part I didn't enjoy was resting on the escort boat because I was wet, freezing and shivering, thinking, "Put me back in, coach! I can paddle all day! Just throw me GUs and coconut water, I don't care! Wanna be warm!" But whatever. I just borrowed wet jackets and dealt with it :)

See me huddled on the escort boat, freakin freezing...

So anyways backing up a tad. The race got started on "Hawaii time" Saturday morning right outside Newport Harbor; the sea was filled with floating plumerias and hundreds of energetic outriggers. We were entered in the co-ed division; the women's team raced Saturday too but started ahead of us (we passed some by the end haha).

The funny thing about our team of guys & girls was that nearly everyone had just met that morning and none of us had ever paddled together, some had never paddled ever. We were just a randomly assembled group of lifeguards, endurance athletes, etc. I knew Sara and Stuart, and they are tough, so based off that I figured the others would be the competitive type who'd want to go hard. I was right. All studs.

View of the start in the distance (compliments of my parents)...
I was on the first shift. The start was a rush. We quickly fell into last place, but that was not how we ended up! Our team got in sync fairly fast, and soon after we started making passes.

Speaking of being in sync -- keeping rhythm among the six paddlers is the #1 most important part of outrigger. It's intense to do this, and there's no time for chit chatting or screwing around. If just one guy is off, you slow down significantly, even if you have the strongest guys ever paddling. I was stoked on my team's coordination and power.

Looking very in sync here (I'm #2 in black)...

I sat in the #2 position for most of Saturday. Each position on the outrigger has a purpose/job; #2 is in charge of calling when to switch sides with the paddle. About every 13-16 strokes, you yell "HIKE, HUT, HO!" and everyone changes in unison.

That goes on and on and on and on. But the hours were flying by and it wasn't long before I got a glimpse of Catalina. Then in just over five hours, we arrived in Avalon. A pretty solid time for a rookie team! (Don't know our final ranking.) The island destination was rocking and full of energy with outriggers, partying, sunshine, cocktails, bathing suits, music... play time!

I had gotten to know my teammates a little while on the escort boat, but Saturday night was when we really bonded. There was no established plan on what would happen once we arrived in Catalina; no hotel reservations for the group, no agenda. Just got with the flow and live in the moment and make sure you keep your sleeping bag dry. There was good chemistry in our group.

It was awesome. We totally bummed it. No showers. No brushing hair. Maybe some deodorant? We were at least able to change clothes in our boat driver, Dave's, mini hotel room big enough for one. Then we just migrated around the island looking like homeless people. We were at least presentable enough to be allowed inside a restaurant and at a bar.

To sum up what was an amazing night (as seen above): good food, cocktails on the beach, bonfire, dancing under the stars to a live band, bonding sessions... and later setting up camp outdoors near the beach with the sounds of the ocean putting us to sleep.

My Margaritaville...

My last view before sleeping...

We were up at 6:30 a.m. Ready to do it again. I was nice and cozy in my sleeping bag as I saw the sunrise creating an orange glow on the ocean, and I didn't want to get up just yet. But we had to vacate from our secret camping spot asap, just to play it safe ;)

Migrating bums...

After fueling up with caffeine and food (nothing like a day-old almond-butter-banana-agave sandwich and eggs for brekkie!), we got on the water by 9 a.m. and were paddling by 9:30 a.m. Sunday was the men's outrigger race (Catalina to Newport) and we had to get going before their start. (Saturday had been the women's and co-ed race... we were co-ed.)

The paddle home went by fast. I opted to do two long endurance paddle sessions of a couple hours each. That's not common for nine-man outrigger, but I wanted to test my body. It pulled through for me!

Right before my first endurance sess, chatting with Lindsy who's quite the studdette...

Our team was also smaller on Sunday, so if I wasn't paddling, I was working, i.e. driving one of the escort boats. It was my first time driving a boat, and the job was just handed to me regardless if I could do it. But I managed just fine.

Another crazy thing about Sunday was the wind. Saturday it stayed overcast and rather calm, but Sunday it was clear skies and windy -- so extra chilly despite sun! We had to navigate across some rather large swells in the canoe, and occasionally we'd catch one. Paddling in chop is extra gnarly and difficult, and you're constantly soaked from water gushing in.

It's funny, I wasn't truly tired until we got back to Newport Sunday afternoon. Then fatigue hit. I think my body/mind was determined to stay strong for the whole trip, but once we were done, I was DONE. Checked out. After a long hot shower and dinner, I was asleep by 8:30 and hibernated for 10 hours.

What a journey. Not to mention, I have some kick-ass new friends!

Can't wait to do it again.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mega Miles on the Sea

I just got home from Catalina. The trip went a little longer than planned, as we decided to not only paddle the 28 miles to Catalina on Saturday but paddle BACK on Sunday as well. Between the 5+ hour paddles we had Saturday night to enjoy. And enjoy we did. We managed to fit in some solid fun that included messing around in Avalon/the beach, adult beverages, food, dancing, "camping" under the stars and not enough sleep.

Needless to say, the weekend is starting to take it's toll. I'll give the full "race report"/adventure details later. In the meantime, I'll leave you with this picture to give a taste of my fun fun fun team:
Can you guess which one is me? Recognize any of my friends? Haha.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

That Glazed-Over Look

When I'm tired from training, you can see it in my eyes. It looks like I'm stoned. Well, right now I look like a total stoner! Not to mention, my appetite is big from back-to-back days of working out, so I'm also like that stoner with mega munchies. I come home and it's like, "Gimme foooood!" Or "I'm going to bake something!"

More stellar recipe(s) coming soon.... but here's a teaser; a little feast I whipped up for the parents' birthdays... turkey sliders on homemade grain-free buns* (love the mini size cuz that = you get to eat lots of 'em), my own take on gazpacho, veggies and all the fixins'
*found paleo grain-free bun recipe on this blog.

Moving on. As far as "training" goes, I'm in no way following a plan yet, just getting back into the groove and doing what I can when I can, without doing too much too soon. The main focus is still "Operation Glutes," which is pretty successful thus far, but now I can slowly incorporate more swim-bike-run volume. I feel like a newbie getting to do all the SBR stuff for the first time. I can't even remember the last time I was this excited to really workout and sweat big time.

Speaking of sweat, Saturday was an awesomely HOT bike from Cal State Fullerton back to my house. I had an 8 a.m. meeting with my advisor (yes, that early on a Saturday -- I'm a good grad student haha), so I decided to ride the 30 miles home, (plus an additional 5 to make it just about 2 hours... do the math, you can see how slow I am. Granted, I was saving it for our Sunday ride w/ fast company). But Saturday, maybe the hottest day of the year. I was covered in a sheet of salt when I got home. Love love love it!

I wish I could regularly commute by bike to CSUF, but it's not feasible considering I'm in night classes. OK going up there, too scary coming home. I can, however, easily commute to my gym, SPI, as long as I avoid the "death route" aka riding through a giant retirement community called Leisure World where there is no bike lane and lots of crazy drivers who can barely see over the wheel. Put it this way, it's known as "Seizure World." No thanks.

Anyways, enough about me. I want to brag a little about a client I've been working with for several months now. Man I love this job....

So my client has a lot of races coming up, and Sunday kicked things off with a half-marathon. Well, he started off this racing streak strong with a 6-minute half-mary PR! His old PR was on the same course from 2009, and he simply shattered it. Plus I think Sunday's race was 15-20+ minutes faster than a half-mary he ran just months before I started coaching him. He's turning into an animal! I love seeing hard work pay off and I love pictures of killer Garmin stats sent to my cell phone. I honestly think I was more excited than he was... but maybe not, apparently he beat all his co-workers and now has bragging rights for a year :)

Lastly, I want to share this picture of Sydney just because she's so cute and so lucky that she lives with exercise fiends. Our house is like Grand Central Station when it comes to workouts, especially on the weekends, and Syd always reaps the benefits. I'll soon get video of her "singing" when she knows it's time to go running or whatever... priceless. This is her at Trestles Beach a couple weeks ago...
Ok, the tummy is grumblin for more. This "stoner" is gonna go feast on dessert. On the menu: baked apples in a sweet cocoa-powder-cinnamon glaze topped with almond butter :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Have I lost my mind?

I made some big decisions recently. Kona was one of them, and even though that was a no-brainer, it is still a big deal for me. Flight is booked. Tuesday to Monday.

These other two decisions are even more gnarly, I think...

I signed up for Ironman Canada 2011. I decided to go for it. Full Ironman baby. This wasn't part of "my plan" but what the hell. I'll be graduating in May (hopefully!) so I'll have all summer to just train and be a coach/personal trainer/writer. Sounds good to me! My two bosses/friends at SPI and OC Sports & Wellness also signed up, as well as some other OC folks, so I will have some legit training partners with whom I already spend a lot of time. Basically it just feels right. Part of that "rightness" is the desire to do something bold and actually acting on it... I often take the safe/conservative/planned-out route, but sometimes I need to just go for it. Ironman Canada is going for it. So is this next thing...

Next Saturday, I'm going to be part of an outrigger canoe team competing in a race from Newport Beach to Catalina -- that's 27 freakin miles across the ocean!!! Holy crap! Really not sure how my friends convinced me to do this, but, then again I didn't put up much of a fight at all. I said yes immediately. Why not?

I am by no means in top shape for an endurance event of this magnitude, but it's a nine-man team in which you work in shifts of about 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off (six people on, three off resting). It takes a total of 4-6 hours. That said, I think I have enough of a fitness base to get by. Thankfully, I've done some outrigger canoeing in Dana Point, so I know the basics of the sport. Plus I have lots of GU on hand that didn't get used for the races I was supposed to do this year, so fuel won't be an issue. If sh*t hits the fan and I bonk or start to die, thankfully I have friends on my team to save me. I'm excited for a new experience!

Wow. My to-do list just got huge. Love it.