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Archive for the ‘Girlfriends’ Category

Yes, I know that we are over a month into it. And here in the desert it will soon (some will say already) feel a lot more like summer than spring.

But spring means starting over, refreshing, new, and that is how I feel right now. Winter in the desert means great weather (especially relative to the rest of the country), but it also means “the season.” “The Season” means Snowbirds. For those of us in service businesses, like personal training in my case, Snowbirds means “too busy to do much else besides work.”

So, the dawn of spring means the end of 10-12 hour days, relief from the horrendous traffic, the ability to walk in to places like restaurants, hair dressers, Starbucks, etc. without an appointment or reservation and not be turned away. Spring means, in a word, recovery. And, oh God, are we desert dwelling service providers ready for it. Quick, now, before we snap each others heads off!

Not yet, but soon

For me, personally, it means more time to play. Meaning running and riding my bike. Hurray! (gosh now what will I use for an excuse?)

May is still a wind-down month. Many Snowbirds are starting to leave, but many remain. A lot depends on the weather “back home.” Several of my clients will stay until June, so I can’t totally relax yet. But, I can feel it coming. The gym is quieter, the traffic is lighter. And we have the freedom to make plans. So, in addition to probably getting an extra day each of running and riding during the week, here is what is going on in May:

May 1st is my sister’s 45th birthday. This has nothing to do with spring or our plans (because she is in Texas), but I like to keep reminding her that she is catching up with me (hope you’re reading this, Lis!). edit: Whew, I got the card in the mail! Always a challenge for me.

The following Saturday, May 7, usually a riding day, is the Run for Ike. Ike was a police dog who was killed in the line of duty a couple weeks ago, saving his partner’s life as he gave his own.

Alan and I are volunteering, he as the announcer, me as, well, whatever they want me to do. Probably at registration and the finish line, since I’m good at that stuff. I’m not sure how many people will be there. This was put together pretty quickly, plus it’s probably going to be hot (another reason I was happy to volunteer instead of run)!

Friday the 13th is Alan’s birthday. That weekend we plan to take our six year old grandsons to Disneyland. Although I’m sure that Alan and I must have been there since we’ve been together (15 years!), the last time I remember is when my youngest son was six years old. He turns 30 in a couple weeks, so it’s been a while. A very long time for someone who basically grew up at Disneyland. We lived about 15 minutes away and it was cheap back then (about $10)! I like to say I spent my teenage years on Tom Sawyer’s Island.

On May 22, my lovely girlfriend who lives in the valley (that would be the San Fernando Valley for you non-LA types :-)), invited me to WorldFest 2011. She is the one who stayed and rode with me on our disastrous Tour de Palm Springs century. I can hardly express how excited I am about this. Just a bit of the description from their website (click through for more…but come back):

“The WorldFest 2011 Earth Day Festival will be held on Sunday, May 22nd, 2011, from 10:30am to 7:00pm, at the beautiful outdoor setting of Woodley Park in Lake Balboa, CA. We will welcome our attendees to a magnificent day filled with entertainment, education and enlightenment. The combination of great music, empowering speakers, environmental, humanitarian and animal welfare non-profits, kid’s activities and a delicious food court make for an earth-friendly experience that is sure to be inspiring and enjoyable for all.”

Seriously, I can hardly wait. I get to go to this very cool event, plus, best of all, I get to visit with a friend I don’t see too often. If we actually have time to ride together I may just faint from the excitement!

The last weekend of the month is Memorial Weekend. I have to work on Saturday, but I’ll have Monday off, so it should be a nice weekend. We haven’t made any plans yet, so maybe we’ll just chill out here in the desert (can a sentence be an oxymoron? If so, that is definitely one, because I’m sure it will be over 100 degrees by then). Even so, as much as we love traveling, we’re always happier at home with our dogs (and my vegan cooking!).

Spring is here!


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During this past weekend in La Jolla, I did do a few things besides running the La Jolla Half Marathon. We had gorgeous weather, especially on Saturday, when it was about 85 degrees (very warm for the coastline in San Diego), sunny and perfect. It was cooler on Sunday, but it was great running weather. Here the rest of our weekend in a (rather larger) nutshell:

The Expo

After sitting through some pretty horrendous traffic (the few miles from the freeway to downtown La Jolla took about 30 minutes) we stopped by the expo, for Alan to check in with the race director, and for me to pick up my race packet. Expo is a rather grand word for this event, which exists of race check-in, packet and t-shirt pick up, along with six or eight vendor booths. After getting our business done, we took about 10 minutes to wander through. Nothing real exciting, although one booth offered some t-shirts with cute running sayings, such as “If you see me collapse, please pause my Garmin,”  “This seemed like a good idea 3 months ago,” and “If found on ground, please drag across the finish line.” My favorites, because they seem so true to me are, “The older I get, the faster I was,” “Toenails are for sissies,” and my favorite, all time cross country shirt, “My sport is your sport’s punishment.”

The best of all was: “You know you’re a runner when…” (on the front of the shirt) On the back:

  • You can recite the dialogue from chariots of fire.
  • Your vacations are planned around marathons.
  • You lube up to get into your clothes to prevent chafing.
  • Your friends don’t call you anymore to go out on Saturday nights.
  • The majority of t-shirts in your closet have sponsors and race dates on them.
  • You consider gels a food group.
  • You consider a half marathon a good “training” run.
  • You can say fartlek without laughing.
  • You buy advil and Epsom salts in bulk.
  • You can correctly spell plantar fasciitis.

The problem was,  I wanted them all, so in the end I couldn’t decide and bought none. I did get this, though: Mine is pink. I got it to go with my license plate, which is RNINGRL. Perfect, no? All these items were from One More Mile and they had tons more sayings on their shirts–something for everyone!

Old Friends

After the expo, we headed over to the La Jolla Cove Suites to check in. Our plan is always to get to the hotel, park the car, then not use it again until we leave. The traffic along the coast is always pretty bad, and getting from point A to point B is challenging. We dropped off our bags, then walked the few hundred feet to the La Jolla Cove. Even at about 4:00, the day was still so warm no sweater was necessary.

I have some friends that take great self photos, but not me.

We took a stroll along the path, then headed up to town for a little window shopping. We stopped at the La Valencia, which is an old, elegant hotel that looks out over the ocean, for a glass of wine. Does two years in a row make a tradition? If so, that’s what our stop is. This year we sat out on the deck and enjoyed the warm weather.

My Darling Husband

What really made this year special, though, was that I was going to see someone who I hadn’t seen for more than 38 years! My first best friend! Kathi, who I met the first day we moved to Los Alamitos when we were both three years old! She lived on the street behind me and we were inseparable all through elementary school. Birthday parties, swimming (we had the pool and we both were always in it), Disneyland, all the things that young girls share when they are best friends. I was a year ahead of her in school (due to a cut-off date), so unfortunately, we started to grow apart as I got into junior high school. We moved out of Orange County as I was entering my junior year of high school, and I hadn’t seen her since.

We reconnected, not surprisingly, through Facebook. All that had really amounted to, up to this point, though, was some reminiscing on each others’ wall. When I put a call out last week for advice about whether to run the race, Kathi let me know that she would be in La Jolla that very weekend. We exchanged phone numbers and she happened to call while we were at the La Valencia, so we decided to meet there.

We really had a great time. It was so much fun, catching up, meeting Kathi’s husband, Kirk, talking about old times, new times. The time passed way too quickly, especially for two people that needed to wake up at 4:00 the next morning and still had not had dinner (that would be Alan and me). Finally, after too short a time, we said our goodbyes. Hopefully, it won’t be another 38 years before we see each other again.

I have to apologize, though. In this short period of time since I knew I was going to see Kathi again, I haven’t been able to find any old pictures of our childhood together. I’m sure I have them somewhere and I’ll keep looking and post them when I find them, but until then I’ll have to leave you with this very bad photo that Alan took on Saturday. Sorry, Kathi.

With that I’ll end part one of the rest of our weekend in La Jolla. Next post I will talk about eating vegan in La Jolla.

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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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>As you know, I have been riding a Century a Month since January of this year. My goal is to ride a 100 mile bike ride in each month of 2009. I’ve reported each ride on this blog. I generally like to get the ride done by the first half of the month (unless I have an organized ride planned for later), just in case “something happens” and I’m unable to get my ride done.

July, however, proved to be a challenge. I had an opportunity early in the month to ride with a group of friends at the coast, but I had to work. Then we went up to Santa Rosa, which had great weather, but it is tough to ride a solo century in an area with which you are unfamiliar. Alan had his triathlon, so he obviously would not be riding 100 miles either before or after his race.

All of a sudden, it is closing in on the last weekend in July and I have not ridden my century, nor do I have a plan. The weather here in La Quinta is not conducive to riding 50 miles, let alone 100. It has been reaching 100 degrees by about 9:00 am, and well over that by the time I would be finishing my ride (even if I started at 3:00 am!)

Using weather.com, I searched the Southern California area for friendlier temperatures. I realized that I would have to get way out of town, toward the coast, to even have a chance of getting in my ride.

I finally emailed a girlfriend who lives in the Los Angeles area. We have ridden together a couple times, but because of the distance, we mostly communicate through blogging, email, twitter and facebook. I basically invited myself along on her weekend ride, asking if I could join her and her group for their ride, then I could add on any additional mileage that I needed.

This wonderful, lovely, tough-as-nails woman not only asked me along on her ride, she also offered a place for me to stay, and said that she would ride my century along with me. (She also blogged about our ride–you can read it here.) We decided to ride the same fairly flat coastal route that we rode in June. Just the two of us. The Girlfriend Ride.

With my hubby’s blessings (he certainly didn’t want to ride a hot century one week after his race), I headed out Friday afternoon. With a 2 hour plus drive ahead of me, I planned to leave about 3:00, knowing that I might run into traffic as I approached the LA area. As I started to load my bike in the car, I realized that I had a flat tire. Not a good omen, but at least I was able to change it in the comfort of my home. I did so quickly, loaded up my bike, and headed west.

I did hit some traffic, but, after some weird detours directed by my Garmin, I arrived at ME’s place in about two and a half hours. I was pleased to meet Stephie (or Boo), her Bearded Dragon, who licked my finger (apparently that is high regard in the lizard world). We sat, had a glass of wine, and got to know each other (remember, this was only the third time we’d met). We headed out for dinner at a close-by Thai restaurant. ME went veggie for the weekend, so we were able to share a couple delicious tofu dishes.

We had planned to start our ride in Malibu about 7:30. But, the couch I was sleeping on was so comfortable that I overslept, we then took our time, had bagels and coffee, and finally got going on our ride about 8:30. It didn’t matter. The weather was perfect, wonderfully cool, with a light breeze. We headed north on the Pacific Coast Highway, joined briefly by some friends that were riding a shorter (only 70 miles), slightly different route.


We set a decent pace, not pushing it, just enjoying chatting with each other, taking photos, the weather, and the ride. It was such a beautiful day. The sky was blue, with just a few puffy clouds. The ocean looked amazing, sometimes light and foamy, sometimes a beautiful, deep turquoise, with huge waves.


The first 45 miles were mostly along the coast. Very flat, with that lovely ocean breeze. We stopped a couple times, but briefly, just long enough to use the restroom and fill up our bottles. Just before the halfway point, we headed inland for a spell and climbed our only real hill. It was warmer away from the coast, but not bad, nowhere near what we have in the desert. After the nice descent and a few more miles, we had our lunch break.


Now, there was just a (relatively) easy 48 mile ride south. We had a nice tailwind and made good time as we headed back toward Malibu. At some points, heading down PCH, the water is so close you can feel the ocean spray as you pass.

The first time I did this route, last month with a large group, there were about 20 flat tires along the way (seriously, that is not an exaggeration). When we were about 12 miles from home, I had the stray thought that we had managed this ride without any flats. I deliberately did not say anything out loud, not wanting to jinx the rest of the ride. But I guess the thought was enough. Within five minutes of that little thought, I had a flat tire.

Fortunately, I have become fairly proficient in tire changing, so we were back on the road again in short order. The last nine miles, along the Pacific Coast Highway went quickly, with our desire to get done and a tailwind fueling a swift pace. We finished up our ride with an average pace of about 15.8 mph, not too shabby for a couple girlfriends just riding along.

After a shared beer and fries at the restaurant across the street, we headed back toward ME’s place. I planned to drop her off, then head back to the desert. However, after horrid traffic extended that drive threefold (man, was my sciatica kicking up!), ME kindly offered me the use of her fold out couch for another night. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And my butt thanks you, too.


Another veggie dinner together-Spinach Enchiladas at El Torito, fattening but delicious, and yes, we earned them. A shower, a good night’s sleep, I woke up just slightly sore but refreshed. And my butt made it just fine through the ride home.

So to finish this post, I will make a toast, and lift my bottle of Cytomax, to good girlfriends, good times, and long rides. Cheers!

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