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>You may or may not have noticed with all the excitement going on in my life the last week, but I did not ride the Grand Tour Double Century as planned. Another goal bites the dust.

While I would like to blame it on finding out that Alan had a 42 year old son and the events that occurred following that revelation, the fact is that I had no intentions of riding 200 miles last weekend. Or you could say I had no hope of riding that far.

The truth is pretty simple.  Riding 200 miles is hard.  Training to ride 200 miles is necessary. Also, training to ride 200 miles is time consuming. I did not do the training.  I could give you many reasons (work, heat, motivation), but it still just comes down to not riding my bike enough.

Oh, well.

That doesn’t sound like me, you say? I am the one that usually beats myself up when I don’t reach my goals. This time, though, I don’t feel all that bad. Am I relaxing my standards? Am I becoming a more forgiving (of myself) person? I doubt it.

I think that it is because it is only the first of July. I have six more months to reach my goal. Solvang Double (or some other 200 mile ride) here I come.

I better go ride my bike.

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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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>You may have noticed that I haven’t posted much about riding lately. Actually, I haven’t posted much at all, but put that down to the time of the year and being extremely busy at work, plus the extra clients that I see after regular work hours.  In other words, I’m pretty pooped much of the time. Add in cooking and (a little) cleaning, not to mention running and riding, and the bottom line is, there is not a lot of writing going on.

Anyway, I have not posted a cycling story since the Tour de Palm Springs back in February. The reason is that I haven’t been riding very much, due to some knee pain that I have been experiencing. Now, I have had knee issues for years, but this is the first time that it has impeded my cycling. Riding my bike has always been my escaped from the knee pain I sometimes have when I run.  So, as you can imagine, I have felt very discouraged, even betrayed, by this problem.

It started during the Tour de Palm Springs. With about 30 miles to go, I noticed some pain in my left knee (top of the kneecap-new spot for me). Wisely or not, I completed the ride.  The pain stayed about the same for the rest of the ride and it would go away altogether at the rest stops. Of course it would come back as soon as we started riding again.

The next day, I had no pain at all during the Palm Springs Half Marathon.  Yeah, my legs were toast, but they didn’t hurt! I had been a smart athlete (to a point, anyway), and had stretched and iced after the ride. I thought that all was well.  That is, until I went for an afternoon ride the following Tuesday.  Oh no! Knee pain within just a few minutes of starting my ride.  Again, I was smart.  I resisted the temptation to just ride a little bit, and instead, turned around and went home. I was able to run the next day, no pain.

This was very weird. Not only was the pain in a new location, it was hurting only when I rode my bike.  As soon as I stopped riding, the pain stopped. Hmmmm….

In a nutshell, I have spent several weeks taking some time off riding. I cut back on the running too, with the thought that even though it didn’t hurt, it would be a good idea to just generally give my knees a break. In the last couple weeks I have gradually started adding some miles and I’m happy to say that today I rode 60 miles with no pain (well, my neck hurts, but that a different story–getting old just sucks!)

So, since I seem to be healthy again, I am excited to state that I have a GOAL!  I did mention, back in January, that I would like to ride a double century this year. Well, it’s now or never, I am jumping in with both feet and declaring “Let’s go for it!”  I’ve decided to ride the Grand Tour, which is on June 26. Now, if this seems somewhat soon (12 weeks from today), here are my reasons for choosing this ride:

1. There are two route choices for this ride, Lowland or Highland. Lowland has about 5,000 feet of climbing, which is very little for a 200 mile ride. Perfect for me, with my knees and fear of climbing. Even the Highland has only 8,000, so either ride will be relatively flat.
2. The ride is on June 26, which is just a few days past the longest day of the year.  Meaning more daylight, less time spent riding in the dark.
3.  The ride starts and ends in Malibu with much of the ride along the coast toward Oxnard, Ventura, and Carpinteria. Beautiful scenery.
4.  Alan will be announcing the Ventura Triathlon on Sunday. Not only will they be paying for one of our nights at the hotel, with him working, I can be sleeping in. Yeah!  Something I rarely get to do.
5.  I will have the absolutely best riding partner. No, not my husband this time. This time my partner will be a girlfriend, ME, that I rarely get to ride with. But, when we do, we have a great time, seem to ride about the same pace, and really enjoy each other’s company.  Plus, she was crazy enough to say yes when I asked her to join me! She is experienced riding double centuries (she earned the Triple Crown in 2007, when she finished five double centuries, even though she only needed three!), and I know she will help (comfort, urge, motivate, kick my ass) me to finish this ride.

I love this picture. Yeah, I know, we look awful 
(we had just ridden 100 miles after all), my head looks huge,
but still, it reminds me of the great fun we had on our ride.

So, there it is, in writing, for all to see.  I am committed.  I noticed that they have opened registration for the ride. I think I will wait one more week, try a 75-80 mile ride next Saturday. If all goes well, if the knee stays strong, I will sign up. Then I’m on my way. For the first time in a while, I’m going to take the time to create a training plan. That always helps me get out on my bike, after work, when I’m tired and it is hot.  I tell myself “It’s in the plan, you’ve got to do it,” and that helps me get my butt out on the road. I know that, in addition to increasingly long rides, I also need some time in the saddle, just to get my body used to more time on the bike.

Also in the plan, getting together with ME a couple times, for long rides, either at her place or mine.  I know she will be my motivator and I love riding with her (plus, it will all be photographically documented–she’s the queen of the camera as well as the road). I also have an organized ride scheduled, the San Diego Century, in mid-May.

I am very excited. I have a goal, I have a plan. The only thing left is the execution, something I have always been able to follow through on. Grand Tour, here I come!

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>Well, the tree is gone, the lights are down, the decorations put away for another year. After a quiet New Year’s Eve (dinner at home, bed early, up early to get started on 2010!), a six mile run and the above clean up, I’m sitting here mulling over my plans, goals, ideas, for the upcoming year. No resolutions, just thoughts about what I would like to accomplish in 20-10.

First, a really quick review of 2009. Professionally I had a fulfilling year. The fitness center I manage exceeded our financial and usage goals, and I was named the WTS International Manager of the Month in October. We are a Spa, Fitness, and Lifestyle consulting and management company with over 100 properties that we operate nationally and internationally, so I was quite honored (and surprised) by the recognition. Ironically, due to the recession, wages are frozen at my club this year, so in spite of my most successful year as a manager there, no raise is forthcoming.

Personally, we lost one family member and gained two new ones. Our beloved Bloodhound, Morena, died in February at the age of 12 following a brief battle with cancer. It was, and is, heartbreaking to both Alan and myself. We had no intentions of adding to our family again, for a while at least, wanting to take the time to grieve before taking in any more dogs. Plus, we still had four, so it isn’t like we were lonely. But, in August, we rescued both Olivia and Lily. So, then there were 10 (six dogs, two cats, two humans).

Alan and I continue to live, love, and train together. We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in October. Yes, the personal life is good.

Finally, my training. Running and cycling that is. After having major surgery in August of 2008, I felt that 2009 would be a recovery year, and it was. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have goals. I planned to complete a Century a Month, but unfortunately, weather and other circumstances put a kibosh to that in August. I was disappointed at the time, but, well, I got over it. I did manage to ride 3,956 miles in 2009, and I am pleased with that. As for running, even though I completed a couple half marathons early in the year, it wasn’t until October or so that I really started to feel good again about my running. I’m still pretty slow, but every mile isn’t a struggle, as it had felt at times during the year. I am very happy about that, as running in my first love (sports-wise anyway).

So, onward and upward, goals for 2010:

As I wrote, the personal life is good, so no need for any changes. Maybe work to keep my house a little cleaner. I do want to always remember that this is the important part of my life, my husband, my dogs, my home. I do not want to add any more animals to our menagerie. As a vegetarian, I plan to continue the process of removing all animal products from my diet (and clothing, furniture, etc).

Work-wise, I obviously have goals for my job, which I won’t bore you with here. I just completed a Flexibility Specialist certification and renewed my personal training certification, but I would like to continue to add to my professional knowledge in some way. Last year I took a short Yoga (teacher) course and enjoyed it, so that may be a road I head down in 2010.

Now to the area I most enjoy setting goals for, my training. While, as I said above, running is my love, it is cycling that I seem to plan for the most. Maybe because it is newer to me, maybe because it is easier on my bones and joints, whatever the reason, my riding goals are the most important in my training plan. They are very easy to think about and write about, but the time and energy is always a challenge to keep up with. And, of course, the desert summer makes any outdoor activity beyond challenging. So enough of my (pre hoc) excuses, here is the plan:

I’ve thought and talked about it for a long time, but 2010 will be the year that I ride my first double century. I would like to do the Grand Tour in June. It has several distance options, but best of all, it doesn’t have an enormous amount of climbing. While some cyclists thrive on climbing thousands of feet in the course of their rides, my knees make even a little bit painful. The Grand Tour Highland has about 8,000 feet of climbing, definitely doable over the course of 200 miles.

In 2007 I rode over 6,000 miles and I would like to accomplish that again. Obviously, training for a double century will require that I get in some serious time in the saddle, so the two goals go hand-in-hand. And while I’m not planning a Century a Month this year, I do enjoy long distance riding, so I will definitely get some centuries in this year. I will find rides that I enjoy, either with friends or fun, organized centuries, but not feel obligated to head out on August 31 when the forecast is a low of 90, high of 110, just to get in one damn 100 mile bike ride.

As for running, I might, just might, maybe, think about running a marathon in 2010. I am almost afraid to say it, when I think about the time and dedication factor of marathon training. It has been about three years since I last ran one. (note-just looked it up at Marathon Guide, it was LA Marathon in March 2006, 4:19:24, not one of my better times.) Mind you, I’m a marathon veteran, having run 36 between 1996 and 2006, with a personal best time of 3:17 (St. George Marathon, October 1999). I’m also 52, with exercise induced asthma and a bad knee. So, I will think about it. In the meantime, I will enjoy my running, add some mileage, do a couple half marathons, maybe even add a little speed work to see if I can get a little faster again. If all that goes well, then I will seriously consider training for a marathon.

I would also like to get in some more gym time this year, mostly because I know it will help my running and cycling, not to mention overall strength (and help my abs look good :-). Last year, Alan and I were doing Yoga together two or three times a week, and we both would like to get back to that (although it is a challenge with six dogs climbing on you and kissing you).

So that is the plan for 2010 in a nutshell. I feel pretty good, because I started off the year with a run this morning and will head out for a long ride tomorrow morning. Only 364 more days and a few thousand miles to go!

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