Archive for the ‘triathlon’ Category

>To fully explain my weekend, I need to go back to last Thursday. I taught my Super Ball class in the morning. I have a pretty loyal following at that class, so I try to keep it interesting, challenging and different. With that in mind, I taught the class a new exercise on Thursday, a plyometric squat jump. Now, remember, my class demographic is 50-70 year old women, with an occasional husband dragged in attending. So, we did that exercise a lot slower that the young man doing the demo in the above link. We also, because this was a ‘ball’ class, threw a medicine ball over our head as we jumped, then caught it before our next squat.

My description may sound a little crazy, but this is actually a great exercise that works the entire lower body, quads, glutes, calves, plus uses the core to stabilize the movement and includes plyometrics, which improves power and response time in sports such as golf, tennis, and running. My class was enthusiastic, they all gave the exercise a try. I instructed that the jumping was optional, as was throwing the ball overhead, but most of the participants chose to give it their best shot.

Jump to Friday. When I woke up early on Friday morning, my calves were a little sore. Worse when I first woke up,. they felt better after I showered and got ready for work. I taught my “Interval Walk” class with no problems, but as the day went on, my calves became noticeably sore, especially when I stood up after sitting for any period of time.

Saturday morning was the first day of the Desert Triathlon. In previous years, this event was held on one day, but it has grown too large for the Lake Cahuilla venue, so they split up the race. Saturday was the Sprint Triathlon and the Duathlon, Sunday was the International Triathlon. Alan, who has been announcing races for Klein Clark Sports for many years, was the announcer for the entire event. Over the years, I have been the volunteer coordinator, parking coordinator, or simply a volunteer. This year, I had no assignments, but I planned to be there, help where needed and just enjoy watching the athletes, many of them friends, compete.

I had been invited to sign up for the duathlon. It is the perfect event for me, because, unlike the triathlon there is no swimming involved. Instead, it starts with a run, in this case one mile, followed by a bike ride (14 miles for this event) and finishes with a run (three miles here). I could do this!

Except, on this particular Saturday, I could not. In fact, I could hardly walk. When I woke up, my calves were so stiff and sore, I almost had to crawl to the bathroom when I got out of bed. After a few painful movements, I could walk upright, but I was still in considerable pain. I do know the difference between injury and other types of pain, so I knew that what I felt was not an injury, just DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Whatever it was, I hobbled around throughout the day, happy that I was not competing, barely able to walk. Silly, because I knew exactly which exercise had caused my problem, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.

Instead, I offered to volunteer, and was given the job of ‘body marker.’ This is an important and enviable volunteer position because one is responsible for writing the race number and age of each highly trained, lean, buff, etc, athlete in permanent marker on their almost naked body. Fun stuff. Actually, since the sprint triathlon was a perfect race for first timers, the body shapes varied as much as the bicycles. And since body marking involves writing on the arms, thighs, and calves of each athlete, I felt like I performed about a hundred deep squats by the time I was done. Not to mention the kneeling on the asphalt…

Meanwhile, my husband was giving it his all. He really is a great announcer, giving it a personal touch that most race announcers don’t bother with. He is enthusiastic, energetic, and he really makes the finishers feel welcome and accomplished. He has the mic for more than five hours (that’s just the first day), and he sounds just as strong at 11:00 as he did at 7:00. (The video below is actually towards the end of day two, after another five hours on the mic.)

I’d hoped to ride my bike on Saturday afternoon after the event, but between the sore calves and our early wake-up, I instead chose to take a long nap. And I still could hardly walk.

Sunday morning we woke up at 3:00 knowing that we were going to do it all over again. I still could hardly get out of bed due to the pain in my calves. Once we were out at Lake Cahuilla and Alan started work, though, I decided to skip the body marking and give running a try. Amazingly, running was much less painful than walking. I was able to run seven miles, doing a couple loops around the lake (the first time I’d ever run the race course after working out there for about 10 years!)

Pretty view of the start from across the lake.

Hard to see, but the first wave of swimmers are passing by.

I’ve been working this race for about 10 years and this was the first time I realized that there were additional campgrounds with stalls and (today anyway) horses!

When I finished my run, I headed over to the finish line to offer cheers for the athletes, to take pictures, and, of course, to chat with friends.

Alan working it.
The run portion of the International race is six miles. Since the loop around the lake is three miles, racers must pass the finish line and continue on for another loop.  Above is my friend, Lori, a great athlete, heading out for her second loop.

The winner, from Portland, Oregon, wasn’t fazed by temperatures approaching the 80s by race finish. Actually, the first three men to finish were all from Oregon.

Miley (above), Barry and his son (below) were part of a relay team on Sunday. Miley also competed in the duathlon the day before, in which she finished second.

My friend, Dottie, after the race. She was so fast on the run that I just caught a picture of her back after she ran by 🙂
Sergio (who I work with, he’s in charge of grounds maintenance at the Springs Country Club) and Kathy, my newest facebook friend (center and right) and Sergio’s son, Sergio.
Amy, who is so cute you wouldn’t expect her to be as fast as she is. She completed her first Ironman last year in Arizona in an amazing time of 11:26! With her is Kevin.
Here’s Lori again with her daughter, who, like her parents is a great swimmer. She was part of the relay team with the fastest time in Sunday’s event!
See? Just so cute!

Since I knew that my weekend would be full, with not much time for my own athletic endeavors (I just lucked out to get my Sunday run in), I took Monday off work with plans to hit the roads for a long bike ride, my first since the Tour de Palm Springs and Alan’s crash. Alas, it was not to be:

The weather gods have not been my friends lately. With the wind blowing at about 20-25 mph and gusts up to 50, I chose instead to sit around in my PJs, drink coffee, read the paper, play on my Ipad. Not a bad substitute.
And just to finish off what I started with this post, on Tuesday, when I finally saw my Super Ball students, when my calves were almost back to normal, I asked the class, guiltily, how they’d felt after class and if they’d experienced the same pain that I had. They looked at me blankly. Apparently, my class of 60 & 70 somethings is in a lot better shape than I am. They had no pain. At all. Guess I’ll have to try harder next time.

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>Alan’s Recovery

>For those who have been wondering, Alan finally had his MRI on Wednesday.

I haven’t blogged about it, but since his accident, his shoulder has been giving him a hard time. After the first couple days, it continued to hurt, in fact, seemed to hurt more as time went on. He finally got in to see a doctor several days after his crash. She thought that the shoulder was just bruised, and told him nothing was broken, but agreed to the MRI just to make sure.

After the referral, Alan made the appointment but had to wait another week for his appointment.

On the bike in Ironman Arizona

In the meantime, as we all are prone to do these days, he was on the information highway, ie, the internet, researching his injury. He pretty much self-diagnosed that he had injured his supraspinatus muscle, which is one of the rotator cuff muscles. After several days of reading, he was sure that he had torn the muscle, which would need surgical repair, and he would never return to form as a triathlete. At least, he said, he had completed an Ironman triathlon before he had to call it quits.

Now I say all this lightly, but as any athlete knows, it is hard, really hard, to be injured. In the two weeks since almost getting hit by a car, Alan has not been able to do any type of exercise. That’s enough right there to give anyone the jitters. Then, as he looked ahead to possible surgery, rehab, and the uncertainty of full recovery, Alan felt understandably depressed.

The day of the appointment finally arrived. We had picked out the doctor who we wanted for the surgery. Made sure he accepted our insurance. I stopped saying, let’s wait for the MRI, because I, too, was pretty convinced of the injury.

Well, I am happy to say that we were both wrong. Turns out, Alan has a fractured scapula. Yes, still a pretty serious injury, one that will take some time to heal, then will require some rehab to recover full range of motion. But also an injury that will heal completely and will allow him to return to swimming, return to cycling (and golf, tennis, etc. if he wants).

Don’t get me wrong. He’s still feeling pretty antsy, needing some energy expenditure to feel normal, but antsy with a very positive attitude. Honu may be out for this year (which is a bummer because I was really looking forward to being a triathlon spectator in Hawaii), but lookout triathletes. My hubby will be back!

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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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>We were up early on Sunday morning. The transition area would open at 5:30 am and Alan likes to arrive early, even though his wave would not start until 7:42. I don’t really mind, what else would I be doing, sleeping? Plus, it is much easier to find a parking space that early.

When we arrived at the transition area, it was just barely getting light. Alan wheeled in his bike, finding a good spot at the end of the row, then headed off for body marking. As I took pictures of this, the girl remarked, “If I’d known I was going to get my picture taken so much, I would have done something with my hair. But that was tough at 2:30 in the morning.”
It was chilly, about 53 degrees, but the sky was already clear, foretelling a pretty hot day. Athletes continued to arrive, including some of our friends. The pros were scheduled to start at 6:30, with age group waves continuing about every eight minutes, with the last wave starting at about 8:30. Alan got his stuff ready, chatted with old and new friends, started to focus mentally for the race ahead. Shortly before his wave, Alan got into his wetsuit and headed down to the beach.
A quick word about wetsuits. They are allowed for competition if the water is 78 degrees or less. The water was quite warm here, but they test it early on Sunday morning and it came in at 75 degrees. Wetsuits allowed. Although some participants will choose to swim without the wetsuit when the water is this warm, many appreciate the extra buoyancy that it provides. Plus it keeps you warm in that 53 degree, pre-race weather.
As soon as the previous wave started, the “boys” got into the water. That is the age group 50 and over. Many Ironman finishers have bumper stickers that say “Ironman,” “140.6,” (the total full ironman mileage) or that have the Ironman logo. I saw a sign on someone’s car while I was there. It said “Iron Geezer.” I like to tease Alan with that one.

And then they were off. Because they swim is up the river and then back, it is not exactly a spectator’s dream. My job was to be there when Alan got out of the water so that he could hand off his wetsuit and goggles. It would take him 35-40 minutes to swim the 1.2 miles, so I walked to the car, had a bite to eat, then was back in time after his 38 minute swim. He tends to get a little frantic on this transition, but he got out of his wetsuit, got into his bike shoes and took off within several minutes.
The bike portion of the race is 56 miles. It is a fairly technical course, with lots of rolling hills and curves. It has 1,600 feet of climbing, with the biggest climb up Chalk Hill about 45 miles into the ride. It is also really pretty as it rides up River Rd., continuing past vineyards and wineries.

Two things happened during the ride that I didn’t hear about until after the race was over. The first, was, incredibly, an oak tree fell on several of the riders about eight miles into the ride. One rider severely injured his back and broke his arm. Two other riders broke their collarbones. Fortunately, a medic and a physician’s assistant were riding in the race and stopped to help. As this happened at about 8:00 in the morning, the race directors had to decide whether or not to continue the race. Many athletes had to wait for the tree to be cleared from the road, time that couldn’t be adjusted. After fire workers went to work with chainsaws, the tree was cleared and the decision was made to continue the race.

The other incident, minor in comparison, was Alan was run off the road by a couple of clueless cyclists as they went around a corner. He was able to keep from falling as he went into the dirt but was unable to catch up to the two riders, who didn’t even realize what they had done.

Now I had about three hours to get over to Windsor High School where the second transition and the finish line are. I like to head over there right away because the parking gets difficult (and farther away) the later you are (yes I’m old and lazy, but at least Alan wouldn’t have as far to walk after his race). I was able to get great parking, right in the high school lot.

So I now had a couple hours to kill. My original plan was to go for a run, for which I was dressed, but as I mentioned in my previous post, that didn’t happen. Instead, I went looking for food. Which, I am ashamed to say, I found at McDonald’s. Yes, Mickey D’s filled me up, with an Egg McMuffin (no meat). I also decided to try one of their new espresso drinks that they have been touting. It was so bad, I ended up tossing it and going to another coffee shop. So, full of breakfast and caffeine, I headed back to the school to wait.

I didn’t have to wait too long. Alan had a good bike (about 2:55). When he did come in, he went by so quickly (and/or was so focused) that he didn’t even hear me holler. He did see and hear me, though, a few minutes later when he was heading out on his 13.1 mile run. I could see down the line of runners and recognized his distinctive running form right away, so I was ready with my camera (after missing him on the bike).

It was really getting hot now. Not even quite 11:30 and it was about 90 degrees already. Too hot for this spectator. I found a shady, breezy area, where I could hear the announcements as the winners came across the line. I had another two or so hours to wait and really didn’t want to burn up in the intense sun.

The winner of the Vineman Ironman 70.3 was Joe Gambles from Boulder, Colorado, who set a new course record of 3:49:18, more than four minutes ahead of the second place man. The woman’s winner was Pip Taylor of New South Wales, in 4:20:04. Wow, those are amazing times.

About a half hour before I expected Alan to finish, I moved over to the finish line (in the stands under a tent, fortunately). It was now about 100 degrees. I saw a few of our friends finish, including Cheri Gruenfeld, who at age 65 still amazes, finishing with a time of 5:43:57.

Shortly thereafter comes my wonderful, tough husband, finishing with a time of 5:45:01. Not his best time (last year was a lot cooler, making the run a lot faster), but good enough to finish sixth in his division. That is better than last year, when he was 10th. Alan has only been doing triathlons for three years and there is definitely a learning curve. He is getting better at it all the time. Do you think he looks happy to be finished?

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>Alan and I headed up to Northern California last weekend. He was participating in the Vineman Ironman 70.3 Triathlon. I just wanted to get out of the heat.

We headed out Thursday morning, a little later than planned, at about 8:00 am. We were doing the drive in one shot, which takes anywhere from 8-10 hours depending on stops. We try to switch off driving every two hours or so, which makes it a lot easier for both of us. The drive was uneventful, just long and boring (that long stretch up the I5 could put you to sleep if you were by yourself), and we arrived in Santa Rosa at about 6:00.

I had made reservations at the Extended Stay America in Santa Rosa. It is definitely a “no frills” hotel, but it has a full kitchen, large rooms, and it is clean. Oh yes, it’s cheap too. Perfect. We checked in to a quiet room on the back side of the hotel, unpacked, and set out looking for dinner.

Whenever we travel, I do research looking for vegetarian/vegan restaurants in the area. For this research, I primarily use Happycow.net, where you can input your location and get a list of restaurants, either vegetarian or vegan, or vegetarian-friendly. You can also rate these restaurants and add to the list. The restaurant we chose for our first night was called Seed, and it was only about one mile from our hotel.

Seed features both raw and cooked vegan cuisine. When we walked in to the small dining room about 8:00, we were the only customers. That worried us a little, but it is specialty cuisine, so we still had high hopes. The menu featured a wide variety of choices, with the emphasis on live, raw food, so it was hard to choose. We decided to pick two dishes and share. We went with a Mexican theme. Alan ordered the corn tostada, with refried sunflower seeds, ground walnut, jalapeno creme and guacamole. I chose the Mexi Plate, with corn and mushroom tamales, walnut zucchini stuffed anahemim pepper, refried sunflower seeds, sprouted quinoa slaw, guacamole and pico de gallo.

While we were waiting, I had a glass of wine and our server brought us a cup of curry pea soup to try. It was served cool and it was delicious. As was the rest of our meal. I will definitely go back and will recommend this restaurant to anyone (not just vegetarians) who is interested in healthy, delicious food.

Friday morning we really took it easy. We got up late, headed to Starbucks, then back to the room where we lazed around for a couple hours. We especially loved that it was 53 degrees at 7:30 in the morning. Alan wanted to go swim in the Russian River (where his triathlon would start), but inertia took over and he decided to swim on Saturday morning. Instead, we headed out for a ride in the early afternoon. We realized then that the heat wave that is overwhelming California right now goes all the way up to Santa Rosa. It was in the 90s as we rode, a lot cooler than the desert, but still pretty warm.

We were invited to a pre-race party on Friday evening. Early, because most of the party-goers are athletes, who tend to conk out about 9:00. Especially those of us over 50. Our hostess, Judy, along with her husband Jules, invites all the triathletes from the desert to their home before the race and showers us with food, wine, and most especially, their charm.

20 years ago, Judy was essential in bringing the full Vineman to Santa Rosa. In fact, she was the first entrant in the first Vineman. She has competed many times, over 100 triathlons, including the World Championship in Kona. She has won her age group several times, including once in spite of a flat tire on the bike ride. She is a gracious hostess and made us all feel very welcome.

The next morning, Saturday, we headed out to Guerneville, where the race would start at Johnson’s Beach on the Russian River. Alan wanted to test the water, both for temperature and depth (warm and fairly shallow), and go for a swim, while I wanted to take a run while he was swimming. Well, one of us accomplished their goal. I decided to stay on the beach, chat with the other athletes and take pictures. I will point out right now, that although I put on running clothes three time during our stay, I did not run even one time.

So I sat on the beach, chatted and took photos, including a couple of “Pete.” I presume that was his name, it said so on the back of his Speedos.

After Alan’s swim, we headed over to Windsor High School to registration and to drop of his gear at transition two. Vineman has two separate transition areas: the first at Johnson’s Beach, transition from swim to bike, the second at Windsor High School, the transition from bike to run. Because of that, it is necessary to drop off your running gear the day before the race. That done, we headed to lunch then back to the hotel, where Alan spent some time getting the rest of his gear and his bike ready for the following day.

For dinner on Saturday night, we decided to try another restaurant from my Happy Cow list. This one, called Slice of Life, is a vegetarian restaurant in Sebastopol, about six miles west of Santa Rosa. Alan had the vegan lasagna, which was very good, and I had corn chowder and a salad. I love chowder and I was in the mood for something light. We enjoyed the restaurant and we also like the little town of Sebastopol. It was very quaint and we took a little walk through the town after dinner. I’m sure we will return.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel, where Alan did some more prep and we got to bed early. Full report on the Vineman Ironman 70.3, from a spectator’s point of view, coming tomorrow

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