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It felt so good to get out and ride this morning. Because of the cold weather and other wimpy excuses, my weekly before-work ride had become a distant memory. Helped by the 60 degree temps, I got out the door by 6:30 this morning. Perfect timing, because I got to see this:

And this:  

And this: 
And all of this:  

And someone was nice enough to put up a welcome sign (I’m sure it was just for me!).
All in all, a beautiful day to be alive, outside, and riding my bike.

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Well, I did it. I rode my bike. Yes, I know, my dear readers, that I’ve been writing about riding my bike for over two years now and that it is no big deal.  Well, I’m here to tell you that it is a big deal. While I’ve been busy wimping out, a month had gone by. Yes, you read that right. More than a month, actually, my last ride was on December 11, 2010!
Last Saturday, I had no excuses. The weather was gorgeous in the desert (in most of Southern California, really). Alan and I were heading to Huntington Beach after the ride to visit family, so we wasted no time getting going. The great thing was, even at 7:00 in the morning, arm warmers were all that were needed. In January!
I felt much better that I’d expected. We only rode 26 miles, a little less than two hours, but it felt perfect.

V for Victory!

The weather at the coast was just as nice. We pulled into Huntington Beach shortly after 3:00. Alan headed straight out to the beach to meet his son and grandsons. After a lovely evening, we got up on Sunday anxious to run along the coast. Another beautiful day, a great six mile run. I felt so good, I even attempted to mix a little fartlek in my run.

Imagine. The weather in January was much nicer than the weather through most of last summer, when it was cold, damp, and overcast. After the run, we sat with the family in front of the house, just enjoying the sun.

What a nice weekend. Best of all, I’ve defeated the wimp inside me. Victory!

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>Two years ago, which was the year I rode 6,000 miles, nothing could stop me. Heat? Ha! Bring it on. At least up to about 105, I’d get out for a ride. Cold? Dark? No problem? I had lights. I had leg/arm/toe/head warmers. At least once during the work week, I’d head out before work for a two hour ride (I worked at 10, so it’s not quite as crazy as it sounds). I’d come home after work on another workday (when I got off early) and hit the road. Think about it. I managed to average 500 miles a month, work about 50 hours a week, and still prepare dinner most nights.

Now, as I sit here on January 9, I haven’t ridden my bike for at least three weeks (I’m not even sure of the date it’s been so long!) It’s been too cold (you’ll have to imagine the whine in my voice as I say that.)! More whining…it’s been too rainy, it gets dark too early, it gets light too late, it’s too windy…too, too, too. My knee, neck, back hurts! I’m so full of excuses I’m surprised I have room for dinner. Dumb analogy, but you get my drift.

She made it out on her ride in the cold!

 When the hell did I become such a wimp? I first noticed this trend last summer. I didn’t want to ride in the heat (a little tough here in the desert). I did ride, but early in the morning, cutting my rides short frequently when it started to get hot. It continued into the fall, I could always find some excuse (the too hot excuse works all the way through October here). Now that we’ve had some cold weather, I just don’t have the urge to get out and ride (I’d say ‘balls,’ but that would be crude).

It actually has been very cold at times here. Lows in the 30s definitely qualify. But today, for example, my plan was to run a few miles with my dogs, then head out for a short ride. I had to work yesterday, so I missed out on the Saturday ride with my husband. I managed the run (can’t disappoint the doggies!), but that was it. It was probably about 58 degrees when we finished running. The sun was out, there was no wind. But, I didn’t go.

I have been running a little. Two or three days a week I run between three and five miles with my dogs. That is all that has kept me from turning into a total sloth over the holidays.

So, when did I become a wimp? I don’t have an answer, but I hope I have a solution. I have two goal events that are coming up very quickly. The Tour de Palm Springs Century, which I will be riding with Merider from My Dog Party, is on February 12 (ack! That’s a month from now!). The Palm Springs Half Marathon is on the following day. Yes, I plan to do them both again, because I want to earn the coveted Brick Award.

That being said, I’d better get it in gear. Fortunately, the weather has warmed up a bit. I will make a training schedule and stick to it. I know that deep down inside of myself, I have an inner warrior. From today on, that warrior will be in charge.

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>With my new commitment to training, I decided that it would be a good idea if I started to report on each week of training. After all, who better than my followers to get on my ass call me out if I don’t keep up with my training.

Until recently, I always had a written training plan. Years ago, I used a calendar, then as technology advanced, started using the computer, then my old Palm, then finally my Windows mobile phone. That changed with my upgrade to an Android phone. I’ve been unable to find similar programs that I so loved in windows. I’m left to enter my plan on my calendar (or not at all), and reduced to recording my workouts on Daily Mile or Bike Journal. I’ve also started using Garmin Connect, but I haven’t got into the habit yet and forget to upload the data.  I really miss my running/biking log!

In any case, I’ve started training again, with my goals in sight:  The Borrego Springs Century on January 1 and the “brick” weekend, the Tour de Palm Springs on February 12, followed the next day by the Palm Springs Half Marathon on February 13.

With that in mind, I need to start increasing my mileage, both running and riding. Now that cross country is nearing the end of the season, I know I’ll have more training time (no more Saturdays dedicated to traveling to various invitational meets across So. Cal. Yeah!). This week was still a bit of a challenge, though. The rain during the first half of the week kept me off the bike (riding once a week is not a great way to get ready for a century!) The cooler weather brings the arrival of the snowbirds, which means I work longer hours, especially on Monday and Thursday, when I have private clients at another country club.

Enough of the excuses. Here is what I managed to accomplish, training-wise, this week.

Monday, October 18: I did NOT make it to the gym (in spite of working in not one, but two fitness centers). My snowbird clients returned, so I worked from 5:15 am and finished up at about 4:00 pm. I will adapt to this schedule and happily head off to the gym afterward, but this first day back I was pooped, so I went home (and cooked dinner, but that doesn’t count as exercise).

Tuesday, October 19:  I ran one mile with the dogs, then headed to cross country practice where I ran about 4 more with the team. Total for the day: 5.2 miles/51 minutes.

Wednesday, October 20: This is usually a bike day for me. I don’t go into work until 10:00, which gives me a couple hours to ride in the morning. Because of the rainy weather though, the streets were very wet, plus there was still a lightening storm going on to the southeast of us that I was a little leery about (that’s the direction I ride!). Instead, I decided to go for another run (it is so nice to have options!). There were just a few sprinkles coming down as I headed out with my dogs. They were so happy to run four miles (many times I’m in a hurry and they only get one mile or less). I brought them home, then headed out for another three. The sun was just coming up, which made for some beautiful scenery:

Total for the day: 7 miles/1:09

Thursday, October 21: Long day, no gym, wimp out.

Friday, October 22: Now that the weather has finally cooled down, Friday will be the day that I get a third ride during the week. I get off early (the one advantage of working at 5:30 am), so I’ll have time for a one or two hour ride most Fridays. Not this week though. Too much to do getting ready for the Mt. SAC Invitational which was on…

…Saturday, October 23: The cross country invitational at Mt. San Antonio College is the largest one in the country. Last year, over the course of several weeks, over 22,000 elementary, middle, and high school, not to mention college, athletes participated in this huge event at Mt. SAC. Celebrating its 63rd year, the course at Mt. SAC has changed little over its history, offering challenging terrain for all the different levels of runners.

This year our first race was scheduled at 7:10 am, meaning a 4:30 departure from Palm Desert for the 100 mile trip to Walnut. For yours truly, that meant a 2:45 wake up, even though the van was packed, the snacks were made, the coolers were loaded.

I’m getting off track a little, but the bottom line is, we didn’t get home until about 2:00 pm, exhausted and ready for a nap. (In the old days, we rode in a school bus. We could nap both before and after the races. Now, with financial cutbacks, we drive vans and they expect us to stay awake, since we’re driving those vans.) So, unless you count dashing back and forth to follow our team during their races, no exercise.

Here’s a picture of the Varsity girls team. They are the best posers!

Sunday, October 24:  Finally! I ran two miles with my dogs (I figure that makes up some for no running on Saturday). After that, Alan and I went for a 52 mile bike ride. Two points here: One, it sure is nice waiting for it to warm up, rather than trying to beat the heat. Two, it is hard to build up mileage when you are riding only one day a week.  Because of the rain this week and our home course cross country meet the week before, my riding time has been severely limited. I was, however, determined. By the time we finished, my quads burned, my neck ached and my back was sore, but, dammit, I did it. On the way to a century! A few photos from the ride:

It stayed cloudy and cool for the whole ride. In fact, I kept my arm warmers on until the final four miles. I was very tired by the end, feeling more like I’d ridden 100 than 50. So another nap. I’m not sure all these naps are necessary because of my early hours and hard work, or just because I’m getting older. Probably a little of both.

In any case, total for the day: 2 miles running/20:15, 52.1 miles cycling/3:42
Weekly mileage totals: 14.2 miles running/52.1 miles cycling
Plan for the upcoming week:
Monday: Gym-Done!
Tuesday: Run with the cross country team (about 5 miles)
Wednesday: Bike (25-30 miles)
Thursday: We are taking the team out to practice on the course we’ll be running for the league finals. I’ll bring my running gear and my good intentions.
Friday: Bike (20-25 miles)
Saturday: Bike (60 miles)
Sunday: Run (8 miles)
I’ll be sure to report back about my efforts.

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>I’ve been on vacation for the last week. Without any travel plans, my goals were to: 1) Relax 2) Get in some serious house cleaning time 3) Relax 4) Get in some serious cycling/running time 5) Relax.

Now, I realize that items 1,3, & 5 may not mesh very well with items 2 and 4, but somehow, it all came together very nicely.  It helped that we took a quick one day trip to Encinitas, and that the weather this past weekend has cooled down to almost freaky temperatures (I mean, 93 degrees at 3:00 pm on August 29? That has to be a record of some kind!).

Anyway, it turned out to be a nice, relaxing, yet productive staycation. Here are some of the highlights:

Over the course of my 10 days off, I managed to get in four bike rides (plus tomorrow, I hope).  Nothing spectacular, just early morning rides, about 25-30 miles each, managing 43 miles yesterday because the weather was so much cooler. I mentioned how nice this weekend is, but just a few days ago the high temperature was almost 120. With relatively high humidity. In weather like that, I’m always afraid to get too far from home, knowing that by 8:00 it can shoot right up over 100 degrees.

I also managed to get in four runs. Most notably, I finally made it to the top of the Bump and Grind (I usually have to leave early to go to work). That was last Tuesday, the day that hit about 120 degrees. While I was running, at 6:00 am, it was only about 90. Of course, I’m not alone out there. In addition to about a million hikers, we have the cross country team training on those hills. They are in a lot better shape than I am, let me tell you. I’m sure that being a lot younger has nothing to do with it. We also got to run along the coast in Encinitas. That was wonderful: cool, damp, and foggy. I know they’re hating it at the coast, but Alan and I loved it.

Our last run up at Pinyon Pines–time for school to start and get down to real racing!

My turn around spot in Cardiff-love it!

Some of the kids before the run this morning. It was about 68 degrees, cold for us desert rats!

During my last few runs, I was noticing some knee pain.  Not good. I attributed it to the extra running that I was doing. In fact, my knees hurt during the entire six mile run in Encinitas. My coach’s brain finally kicked in though, and I realized that it was probably time for new running shoes. I don’t put in a lot of mileage anymore, so I don’t track my “shoe mileage” as closely as I used to, but after a little calculation, I realized that I was overdue for new shoes. Well, since we were in the San Diego area, and since I’m a lifetime Roadrunner VIP member, we opted to stop by Roadrunner Sports on our way home.

The nice thing about being a VIP member is that you get 10% off every purchase, free shipping (and you get it like almost the next day!), secret specials, etc.  The bad thing is, they can look you up and tell you how much you’ve spent on running shoes over the last 15 years. Yikes!

I was fortunate to find the deal of deals on my new shoes. I’ve been running in Asics Kayanos for years. At Roadrunner, you can usually pick up “last year’s model” or even an older version, for a significant discount. Which I did…Kayano XI for $70 a pair (buy two and receive $10 off). Nice. The latest, Kayano XVI, is going for $139. Score!

DEAL!

 
On Thursday, we drove to Encinitas. We really had the best of it all. The day was warm, sunny and clear. The beach was not too packed. For the first time in about four years, Alan and I hung out at the beach. It was great, although after a couple hours of sun, I was ready to check in to the hotel and shower off the sand.
In the old days (before we bought our bikes), Alan and I could be found 
on weekends right here, about 50 yards south of the lifeguard station.
 

For dinner that evening, we headed out to Roxy’s, a funky, little cafe/bar restaurant that has a lot of vegetarian and vegan options. I ordered the Falafel Plate and Alan had the Avocado Burrito. Both were delicious (and huge!).
 
While we were eating, we noticed huge crowds wandering along the Coast Highway. In fact, I’d never seen that many people in the evening in Encinitas, and I’ve been going there for a long time. It turned out that it was The Taste of Mainstreet, one of those events, really targeting locals (why it’s on a weeknight), where they pay so much and get to wander the streets and taste the samples from the participating restaurants. Nice deal (not so much for vegetarians, though, so we stayed where we were).
When we woke up the next morning, the weather had changed. As I mentioned above, it was cold and foggy, perfect for our run. Having no inclination to head back to the beach, we instead headed over to Nytro, followed by B & L, both bike/triathlon stores, for a little wishful dreaming (Cervelo P4 TT bike, only $10,999 at Nytro–or something like that).

Poor quality (phone photo), but it gives a good idea of the bike porn available at Nytro.
We had lunch at the Lotus Cafe, another veg friendly restaurant in Encinitas. I had some delicious lentil and vegetable soup, then went with the falafels again (none in years, then twice in two days, what’s up with that?). I didn’t get a picture this time, but it was good, although the sauce they served with it was not vegan. I made do with the hummus, though. They tell you all this on the menu, though, so it takes some of the hassle out of ordering. (In spite of all the falafel over the weekend, I still had a Middle Eastern craving when I got home, making my own “chicken” shawarma for dinner last night.  Yummy!)

Our timing back to the desert was perfect, with the cool down letting us be outdoors and enjoy the last weekend of my vacation even more. All in all, I accomplished almost all my goals over the course of my staycation:  I rode, I ran, I relaxed. And the cleaning?  Well, not so much. Oh, well, at least I had my priorities straight.

I’ll leave you with a video of one of our cross country runners.  His name is Chris and I am told that he is the best dancer in the school.  He gave us a little performance this morning after practice:

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As I frequently do this time of year, I have been neglecting this blog. As I have written (whined) about in the past, the months of January through April are extremely busy in the desert and in my business. I tend to work 10-12 hour days, and when I come home, instead of sitting down and writing, I head to the kitchen to cook dinner. Of course I try to fit in my cycling, running, and the gym when I can, so when I collapse in bed at the end of the day, chances are I haven’t done any writing. I have made a couple starts on a story (see below), but when I didn’t finish the stories in a timely manner, I moved on. So, again, in order to catch up and mend my lazy ways, here is a recap of the last month in my life:

A post I started on April 27, title “It Was a Beautiful Day for a Half Marathon:”
…Unfortunately, I didn’t run in the La Jolla Half Marathon on Sunday. Yes, the weather was perfect for a long run, in the 50s and overcast. Yes, I was registered and had signed up for the bus ride from La Jolla to the start line at the Del Mar Race Track. Yes, I’m in pretty good shape and could have (probably) completed the race in a respectable time. Yes, I totally wimped out at the last minute and backed out of the race.  This is the closest I came to the finish line:

The finish line of the La Jolla Half Marathon as seen from the roof of my hotel.

There is a story behind this, of course.  As a rule, I don’t back out of events at the last minute.  So, let’s go back to Saturday morning and take it step by step…

We got a late start on Saturday morning.  Generally speaking, Alan and I are early birds and tend to get up, pack up, and hit the road. We beat the traffic, get a head start on vacation. Well, that didn’t happen.  Alan’s brake cable had broken on Friday when he was cleaning his bike.  That is serious one week before his event, the St. George Ironman Triathlon. He also wanted to have his race wheels changed out, so we waited until 10:00, when the bike shop opened, dropped off the bike, then hit the road.

There is a lot more traffic at 10:30 compared to 6:00. That slowed us down a little, especially when we hit Interstate 5 in Oceanside. A decision to get off the freeway and take the coast highway turned out to be a bad one.  The road turned out to closed a little south of Carlsbad, so, in bumper-to-bumper traffic, we had to head back to the freeway.  The icing on the cake was a “quick” stop in Encinitas to pick up some swim shorts for a friend at Hansen’s. What should be a short detour off the freeway, became a nightmare of detours, stopped up traffic and no parking, when we discovered that the Coast Highway was again closed, this time for the Encinitas’ Street Fair. We slowly worked our way towards the surf shop, gave up trying to park, so Alan hopped out of the car, I dashed over to take over the driver’s seat, and just cruised around the block a couple time while he ran into the store, picked up the package and ran back. Whew!

The squirrel that shared my lunch in La Jolla.

Meeting friends for brunch in Escondido (btw, all three of these guys have the same 
birthday as I do, November 2.  Rock on Scorpios!)

That is as far as I got on that post. In a nutshell, we finally made it to La Jolla, checked in, walked for miles (in sandals) around town, found a great (but dumpy) Mexican restaurant that served vegan options (using my Android phone app “Happy Cow Vegin Out.”) The next morning, I opted out of the race because my feet were beat up from all that sandal walking. Instead, I ran eight miles in the opposite direction of the race, while Alan announced the 5k. On the way home, social animals that we are (that is a joke if you know me), we had two “engagements.” We met some friends for brunch in Escondido (fun seeing people that we hadn’t seen in years). Then we went to a party in Palm Springs, all the athletes that were headed to compete in the St. George Ironman Triathlon.

See how easy that was? My whole weekend wrapped up in a paragraph.

Last week, we headed up to St. George for the Ironman. I wasn’t competing, of course.  Alan and about 10 friends for the desert. Here is (some of) the story in pictures:

 St. George is very beautiful (this picture was taken through the car window!)

  

Sand Hollow Reservoir was beautiful, but the water was freezing (estimate about 55 degrees on race day!)

Alan rolling his bike into the transition area

Trying to keep the tootsies warm

Yes, they had an ambulance ready on the day before the race.  The water was that cold.
Gorgeous scenery at the swim locale

Two wetsuits (one cut off and layered over the other), neoprene swim shorts, booties, and four swim caps (two latex, one thermal, and the race cap). Would it be enough?

 And they’re off!

 You will notice a big chunk of nothingness here.  Unfortunately, Alan did not complete the swim. After a previous bout with hypothermia (during the California Ironman 70.3, where his body temperature got down below 90 degrees), he had been understandably concerned about the water temperature for this race. After trying it out the day before, he decided to cut off an old wetsuit and wear it on top of is other one. He also wore booties and four swim caps. The water temperature was about 55 degrees. He made it almost two miles, could actually see the finish line, when his body froze up. He gave it the best he could, but the water was just too cold. Although he has had mental discussions with himself about stopping, I know that he made the right decision. I was watching as they pulled at least 30 athletes out of the water that day. We’ve been told that they are supposed to not allow the swim when the water gets that cold, but they made the decision to go ahead anyway.  Remember, in an Ironman, they swim 2.4 miles and are in that very cold water between one and two hours.

We did go back to the finish line to see our friends finish. There are so many incredible stories. One man finished the event after crashing on his bike and breaking his collarbone. He walked the marathon (along with two friends who saw him, decided to abandon their own races and join him).  My husbands client, 68 years old, completed the race in 16 hours and 38 minutes. His first Ironman. Of our group, a first timer was also the first to finish. His time was 12 hours and 24 minutes. And, below, our friend Guido, also running his first Ironman. He travels for a living, which cuts into his training time. He finished in 14 hours and 30 something minutes.  The picture shows him getting the crowd going as he makes his way to the finish line. An awesome accomplishment for everybody.

Well, that catches me up (or as much as I’m going to write about for now). Tomorrow we are riding as I continue my training for the double century in June.  Next week, I head up to my double century riding partner’s place to ride a century or so in cooler weather. Back on training-track, hopefully finding some time to write about it.

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>Wow! Spring is here! It was a beautiful day for a run. First we headed out, at about 6:00, to take a two mile jog with Penny and Sassy. They love to run, so it is a real treat for them. You would never question whether a dog can smile if you could see their faces when we finish our run.

After we brought the dogs home, Alan and I headed out again, south, toward the top of the La Quinta Cove.  We are so fortunate that in less than one mile we have a beautiful, wild area with trails, gorgeous views, and right now, wildflowers.

We also found a new trail that promises to be challenging. We had already run about eight miles by that point, so we decided to keep that adventure for another day. I had one bad moment.  I tripped over an embedded rock and had a pretty good fall. Left hand, right elbow, right knee. I did manage to run (slowly) the last mile left, but I did feel a bit shaky. And, I did not take pictures of my injuries. So, a 10 mile run today (counting the doggy run), the longest I’ve run in a while.  Good, because I am running the La Jolla Half Marathon in two weeks (Alan is announcing the 5k) and I don’t want to embarrass myself.  Not too much, anyway.

One exciting note (if you are an animal person). One of the feral cats that hangs out by our house had kittens about a month ago. They are finally moving around and today was the first time we were able to see them. The mother, who we call George, won’t let us get near her, but she allowed Alan to pick up two of her babies.

Other than that, just a normal weekend.  The ride on Saturday was shorter than planned. When we stopped at home about halfway through the ride, we discovered the dogs had had their way with our kitchen trash can. Bad blogger that I am, I did not take a picture, but let me just say, it took a shovel to clean up. Yuck! And it took the wind out of our sails as far as the ride went. We canned it. Believe it or not, I spent that extra time watching golf and doing my taxes.

Obviously, the highlights were the wildflowers and the kittens.

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