Monday, June 30, 2008

A's Loveland L2L RR

I am almost ready to head out for a guaranteed pain session with our masseuse, Josh, so this will be brief. Both E and I had good races this's been a while and it was NICE!

We woke early, ate breakfast, and loaded bikes and our gear into the car. We arrived at the race site just as registration was opening, which proved to be a great strategy since it let us get very nice transition spots, get through the registration line quickly, and then get into the real toilets before the lines were huge.

I was in the 2nd wave, E was 4 min behind me in the third wave. As the gun sounded for my wave I fought to get onto Lisa Boatright's feet, but she and the other swimmers in the lead pack slipped by before I could settle in. After a quick tangle with the first buoy, I was well on my way to a good swim (not superstar, but not too bad) but was mostly all by myself. After the last turn buoy, we had a long straight shot to the shore (we basically swam a "D" counter clockwise) and I finally found another blue-cap that was going fast enough and straight enough for me to get some drafting.

This race has a long, grassy run up from the lake to T1, which I used to take off the top part of my wetsuit. Once in transition, it was off with the rest of the wetsuit, and a quick grab of the glasses and helmet before unracking my bike and getting out of there. All went smoothly after my feet were out of the wetsuit.

I settled in for a nice, scenic, longish bike (~ 30 mi). The first bit wound us out of town to the hills back in the farm-country. It was fast, but twisty, and I found myself braking a tad on some corners to slough speed (they had them coned rather tight) and stay upright. Once on the backroads, I got down to business. It wasn't long before Brooke Davison flew by me (she started in wave 5, 8 minutes behind me). I settled in ~ 10 m behind her on the false flat we were climbing and started churning away, but she soon left me once the pitch increased. She was moving, and looking good..... amazing!

The bike gets hillier, and more scenic, but I barely noticed. Instead I was focused on the burning that was starting to set me legs on fire. By now I was settled in, so I just tried to keep it steady and as hard as I could handle.....and then I tried to go even harder! By Horsetooth Reservoir there are a few good descents where I let it rip, only once moving from the aerobars to the hoods, even though in the end I probably didn't need to.

Then we popped out int the south side of Ft. Collins and hung a right, heading back to Loveland and transition. We were on a beautiful road with a ton of rollers. They were a lot of fun, and a tailwind made quick work out of them, I was flying! My memory of the roads used for this race for the section from Ft. Collins to Loveland are of something very flat and very bumpy. These road were smooth, and the rolling hills were FUN!

Heading back into town, people started saying "third woman" as I rode by.....huh? I knew Brooke was in front of me and I was pretty sure I'd hunted down some of the speedy swimmers from my wave, but not all of them. And most of the women were in waves 8 to 12 minutes behind me. Anyways, I figured I'd best focus on MY race and get moving.

I was in and out of T2 even faster than T1: put on socks and shoes and grabbed visor, race number belt, and a gel to stuff in the top of my swim suit.

I quickly settled into a nice pace, and then focused on keeping steady or even increasing my pace. My legs felt great! All our track runs this month must have gotten some speed into my Ironman legs! My stomach was happy, too, and that's huge. Aid stations were ~ 1 mi apart, and I was grabbing a water at each. It was still overcast and not too warm, but I was gulping half the water and dumping the rest on my chest and shoulders with each cup. As I approached the turnaround I started paying close attention to who was headed back already. I saw Brooke and one other woman, and a ton of guys.

At the turnaround I took my gel and chased it with some water. Immediately I knew that that was a bit rough on the timing, I should have started to eat the gel a bit sooner and then could have dropped the wrapper before picking up my water cup. Oops! At least I only got a little water up my nose, and most of the gel went into my mouth (at this moment, and a few others, I kinda felt like a rookie, even though this is my 10th year racing triathlons).

I also was surprised to see E, right behind me at the turnaround. My mouth was too full of gel and water to cheer for him, but he was yelling at me to get moving! The run back was uneventful. Stomach was still being a trooper and the legs were chugging along. Turnover, turnover, turnover! I felt my hamstrings starting to tighten a tad, but pushed that thought out of my mind and just kept running guys down, and kept my feet moving.

Apparently, E almost passed me at the last aid station. I was so focused I never saw him or knew he was on my shoulder. Turnover, turnover, turnover. Get to that finish line NOW!

And I did.

It was an OK run for me, and based on my expectations for the day, it was a GREAT run! I still have a secret hope of running under (well under) 40 min for an Olympic distance tri sometime in my lifetime, but that will probably have to be a year when I am racing and training for more of the short, speedy stuff.

E never caught me until after the finish line. Then we both started chatting with friends, headed back up to transition to change into dry clothes (I was COLD!), and inside the high school for the food. This race always has a great lunch, and this year was the same (tacos!). We ate some of our food inside, then headed out to the stage area to wait for the awards and visit with more folks.

Results were being posted....I was 4th woman! Brooke killed the field, beating second place by 12.5 minutes, but 2-5th place were close, within 2 minutes of each other. I was 31 s out of the money (3rd)! I guess next time I need a bit MORE turnover! It has been a while since I have been playing with the big girls, and I felt good. Now I just need to keep upping the ante! And maybe start beating E again.


Friday, June 27, 2008

race ready?

I am winding down for the day, before winding up for the weekend. Eric's work gets all next week as holiday, so he already biked home for today (not much going on there the Friday before a week off).

This morning saw us up early to walk the dog, make lunches, and bike to swimming. It was a good swim, one that has me thinking my swimming might finally be coming around. It was a broken set of 15 100s for the main set....good stuff.

Then off to work, by bike. As I rode up to my building I noticed everyone evacuating, the fire alarm was going off. We still don't know why it was tripped.......

Tonight (or right now, if Eric is already on it) will be the last few changes to the bikes: a) carbon-rim brake pads check, b) cassette on race wheels check, c) enough bottle cages, places for CO2 check.

We have both gotten out of the Olympic-distance triathlon mode, I'm afraid to think what we'll forget. This year I really noticed how prepping and packing for the Mt. Taylor Winter Quad and Ironman Arizona went so smoothly. We have been doing this long enough that we both just know what we need to bring and pack (after episodes of things like forgetting bike shoes for the quad and packing twice as many things as we need for an Ironman).

An Oly is a bit different though....and so short! We need to have the A-game on, at least for packing, transition setup, and fast transition execution.

So far we have both, independently remembered that we need a transition towel..... but what about socks for the run (haven't run sockless in my current flats yet), or the SportKilt for easy deck changes after everything is said and done? How much (or in this case, how little) nutrition do we bring? Hat/visor for the run? Swim suit, or tri suit/bottoms with a bit more padding? And I think we'll be done before 10 am, do we even bother with sunscreen?

Any way you call it, should make for some interesting race reports next week! Have a great weekend! Check out the mount line this race has......that is one way to deter cheating!


Thursday, June 26, 2008

A racing we will go, a racing we will go, hi ho, a merry oh, a racing we will go

So we have our only simple triathlon race coming up in two days (Loveland Lake to Lake). I say simple because you don't have to show up two days before for registration, turn your bike in a day before, pack all your stuff into bags, or wait until the next day for awards like at Ironmans. For this race, we can even pick up our packets race morning unlike the triathlon events that are held in Boulder. Although the Boulder Peak is a great race, its gotten to be too much of an event for us as they make a big deal with the expo at packet pick up and race day, the hot air ballons, the fancy stage, etc, etc. They haven't posted the wave starts yet for the L2L, which in the past may have annoyed me, but now I don't really care. My biggest concern is remembering a towel for transition. Oh, and set an alarm, which we forgot to do last year for Boulder Peak, but luckily Sunny was staying at our house so she could be close to the race site and woke us up.

It will be interesting to see where we are at compared results from previous years (I haven't raced there since '05 and Amber hasn't been there since '03) but as we have been training solidly the past few weeks, I'm going to try to focus on giving it all I can without worrying about my actual speed. I don't even know any of the guys in my age group, so I guess that I'll race Amber instead.

This weekend last year, we were down at Buffalo Springs which was my first long course race where I finally had a solid race after 2 HIMs and 2 IMs, which can best be described as learning experiences. This year we are going to enjoy the bottle of wine that Amber got for being 4th in her age group. It was pretty funny how jealous Kerrie was as she only got a plaque for being second or third in her age group. Good luck to all those heading down to Lubbock.

Bunnies, bunnies, bunnies!

Our front yard is being over run by bunnies. I thought they were kind of cute, even if they did get Izzy-dog all excited, until they started eating all my flowers. Grrrrrr.

This morning, we were leaving the house early for our track run before work and I almost stepped on the smallest, roundest, CUTEST bunny ever. I wanted so badly just to try and pick it up. It was crouched down right next to the car in the grass and I was coming around to load my work and clothes bags into the back seat when I "eeeked" because it surprised me. I carefully walked around it, loaded my things into the car, walked back around it to the front seat and got in. The whole time it didn't move.

Eric asked if it was dead, but I didn't think so, just scared. And very, very still. When we turned the car on, right next to it, it tried to get even smaller, but still didn't hop away. We carefully maneuvered out of the driveway and left. It still hadn't budged.

The track workout went well. It was geared more towards good 5k pacing than some of the faster sessions of weeks past. I rediscovered the importance of not trying HARDER, just moving my feet FASTER.

Turnover, turnover, turnover!

I was getting bogged down in trying to lengthen my stride, push harder with my legs, get me knees up just a bit higher, and suffering through more and more lactic buildup. When I shifted my focus to pumping my arms and letting that drive my leg turnover up, the times started to drop and my stride naturally lengthened and my knees automatically were getting higher.

Like its all supposed to do.

I just forgot.

So....a very good session at the track. Now I just need to recover for the next 46 h or so and then remember this little lesson come the run portion on Saturday.

At least then I should have some folks to chase....they'll be my race "rabbits."


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bike to Work day!

Today is bike to work day. After years of just being a participant, Eric decided to help out at the breakfast station his work has, so I was riding solo. I was ready to go by about 0605, but nothing really starts until 0630, so I had some time to kill. What to do? Hit the foam roller for ~20 min., of course! Much needed, but very painful also.

Once out the door, my first stop was near home at a house painting business/chocolate shop/commercial bakery. This was the best stop of the morning, food wise...yum! Then on to Celestial Seasonings and Joe's Espresso. While at Joe's, the volunteer there mentioned that I should swing down to Community Cycles' station on the nearby bike path, so I did. They are a very interesting not-for-profit that we may have to get involved with. They accept used bikes and parts, teach bike maintenance skills to kids, adults, low income folks, and anyone else wanting to help out. You can buy refurbished bikes from them at reasonable prices or you can earn a free bike by working 15 or more hours at their "shop."

All in all, my normal 17 min commute was lengthened to ~40 min as I grazed on the breakfast buffet around town. It is kind of like a progressive dinner, actually, where various families host different "courses" (e.g., appetizer, salad, entree, dessert). I tried to be better than last year when I hit over 9 stops, but somehow my scheduled 3 stops grew to 5. Each was very different, and though I think I missed some of the "better" stops in terms of food quality, quantity, and options, I was far from starving, that's for sure! It was a fun morning, and I was still working by ~ 8am, and it was great so see so many people out biking to work. Too bad they don't have free breakfast every time you bike to work!

On a side note, yesterdays TT up to Jamestown went pretty well. I am having a hard time sorting through past workouts, but I think I was ~ 1 min faster than the last time we did this 8 mile, 1400 ft. hill climb (last July). I guess I expected more improvement since we were on the new bikes and have been getting lots of good training in for this type of thing, but I think I may also be a bit fatigued and a tad flat. The legs sure were burning! Either way, it is another benchmark to try and shatter next time.

Today, like Monday, is another reboot day where we have some easy running and riding on the schedule to help flush out the legs in preparation for tomorrow's track workout. I am looking forward to tommorow since the main set is 1200s, rather than the endless 200 we have been doing, and should be good pacing practice for the Loveland Lake to Lake Tri coming up on Saturday. This is our only non-IM tri currently scheduled for 2008, though we will probably race HalfMax if I don't get a Kona slot at Canada. Loveland L2L is always a well-run race with a GREAT lunch, and I am EXCITED to go fast (if the legs are willing)!

Happy Wed.!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jamestown TT

I see that Amber is in the middle of drafting a post. Well, its 15 minutes to our bike ride that includes a TT up to Jamestown and I'm excited.
Peace Out,

catchin' up with the updates......

Ahh Summer! Here is my (Amber's) recap of the weekend's events (I think it is kinda funny how two people can do almost the same things all weekend yet have pretty different perceptions of what happened):

Thursday saw us up early for a track workout with a definite speed emphasis. The whole workout was nearly derailed at the very beginning during our warm-up when we found the bathrooms locked. We were driving away for work (with plans to try again in the evening, after work), when we spotted a port-a-potty in a nearby park and then headed back to the track. It was my best track run yet of 2008, I was finally not distracted by shooting pains in my quad or a tumultuous tummy. Good stuff.

Our normal routine is to Swim on Thursday mornings, but the track workout got in the way of that, so I headed to the pool over lunch. Eric was at the dentist for a filling. That swim is normally coached by Dave Scott, but Monica (Byrn?) was subbing instead. Good swim, but one that pushed my limits. I am one of the faster swimmers at Thursday-morning swims, but this workout saw me in the second-to-slowest lane, barely hanging on. More good stuff.

Friday we did a mellow run through the Country Club neighborhood before biking to work. I then left early for massage with Josh, a trip to fleet feet for new training shoes, and a cruise home by bike. While at work, I got a call from Sunny. She was in Boulder, but only for ~1 day....could we do lunch on Saturday? Hmmm... we had a 6+ hour ride on the schedule......

Both Eric and I knew we NEEDED to see Sunny, so we decided to get up EARLY on Saturday and try to get out the door ASAP. The plan was to shoot for leaving between 0515 and 0530, with a drop dead time (whatever that meant) of 0600. We were rolling by 0545, so sorta on time. The ride down to the start of Golden Gate Canyon took us along Indiana. Not the best road for biking, but we hit it early before traffic got too bad. The road and traffic in the canyon and through the state park was great. We had ~ 2 hours of straight climbing with two small descents. The Peak to Peak Highway was gorgeous from Gap Road to Nederland. We ride parts of it often in the summer, but this section was new to me. It had many awe inspiring views of the Continental Divide (still lots of snow up there!).

I still felt great in Nederland (back was tightening a little, but spirits and energy levels were high) but hit my cracking point around the 5 hour mark somewhere between Nederland and Ward. It was right at the 5 hour mark and was our first stop of the day (which at ~5 minutes I found to be too long. I was ready to head towards home. Eric, can't you pee faster?). Ward was crazy and crowded, as was most of Left Hand Canyon. I normally love descents and bomb them as fast as I can, but I was fading fast, so I let Eric pedal into the headwind. We saw some of our bike team mates climbing up as we zipped by and we got a nice (but short) pull from two Swift guys before we turned off for the short cut up and over Olde Stage.

We arrived home just before noon, which was what we were shooting for to see Sunny. I was slightly amazed at all we had accomplished at that point, since we still had most of the day in front of us. We were tired, though, so it the rest of the day was spent doing errands, visiting with Sunny, resting, and then heading to the neighbors for a back yard cookout.

Sunday we again rose early to get our 2 hour run in with time for me to go to church and make the 10am swim. The run was a bit of a suffer fest for me. My legs, glutes, and lower back were cranky after getting worked by Josh on Friday afternoon and then worked on the bike all morning on Saturday. And I just couldn't get my HR up into the zone I was targeting. But the goal was to steadily build pace and HR for 30 min, 4 times through, and that was accomplished.

It was a beautiful morning, too. The longer days let us have full light by 0545 when we started, but everything was still pretty still and quiet (and cool, it has been HOT!). Our long runs on Sundays are normally my favorite workout of the week. I have a hard time picking a favorite, because it is all working so well together, but those Sunday runs are long, normally peaceful, and allow me to get some distance covered and enjoy what it means to live and train in Colorado. Unfortunately, I was not able to fully enjoy the run this week. I was sore. I was tired. My legs hurt. My back ached. Aaaahhhhhh! I even tried telling myself that this run was my treat for the week, but my mind and body were not fooled. There were highlights, but there was also much time spent with my head down while I talked myself through it step by step. I guess that is part of the process, and I did learn that I can hold steady even when things get tough. "Icing" in the ditch after the run was good, too.

And then the swim. Sunday Masters at our club is always an adventure, but this week it was more than I could handle. I was nearly getting lapped during the "warm-up" set (1800 m) and found myself pulling stunts that I normally find appalling when others do them (like cutting the turns short or doing free during nonfree sets). I actually felt like I might drown, and then thought that might be easier than finishing the workout! I mean, geez, here I was in my normal lane with the normal lanemates, but I could get my arms to pull the water, I couldn't get my hips up and my body correctly positioned, I kept hitting everybody, in my lane and in the lanes next to ours, it was ugly.

Following Masters, we drove into the heart of Boulder, parked, and proceeded to do some errands on foot. First stop was lunch (mmmmm, Tokyo Joe's........grilled Tofu and veggie bowl anyone?) then Target, then the hardware store, then groceries. I started to bonk on the walk over to Target. It was pretty pathetic, but all I wanted to do was lay down and take a nap. Even in Target, I tried to convince Eric that I should get to ride in the cart while he pushed (we ended up just making a return, not shopping, so that was a no-go). Before hitting the hardware store, we detoured to a coffee-ice cream shop. Eric was trying to help wake me up by treating me to ice cream, but when I was about to order, coffee sounded better. Shortly after the coffee, I was back to my more-normal self.

Enough so that I convinced him that I did not need a nap when we got home and instead proceeded to tidy up the front yard. We have some great shade trees at home, but they drop a lot of junk (seeds, branches, seed casings, etc.) and I picked up a whole sack of debris for the yard waste drop-off center's compost program while only doing a "light" clean-up. It does look much better, though. Dinner was spent on the back deck, dodging cottonwood seeds. They are EVERYWHERE! Then an early bedtime to start the recovery.

Good weekend!

Monday, June 23, 2008


So, I (Eric) can't even come up with a title for this post, which i think is indicative of how the weekend went. I don't remember Friday, so we'll skip to Saturday.

The Ride
Early start to our ride as we didn't want to deal with too much traffic and we wanted to get back to see Sunny before she flew back to Oregon, so we left the house at 5:45. Ride down to Golden via some pretty crappy roads and then head up Golden Gate Canyon. Not much traffic heading up, some nice views, not shifting out of my 25 ever during the climb, a few downhills that you actually dread since you know they just mean more climbing later, etc, etc.

Our coach instructed us to turn at the second entrance to GGC State Park and take the steep road (Mountain Base Rd) to the dirt road (Gap Rd). Now, the road we were on was plenty steep so i was curious about how steep Mtn Base Rd would be. We found out right away as we turned on to it as RV's are prohibitted from it due to 19% grades. Most of the way wasn't too bad, we managed to get up and over the steep stuff and it was a really nice road. We then made our way to Peak to Peak and over to Nederland.

At this point, we had the option of heading down to Boulder via Boulder Canyon or taking the Peak to Peak over to Ward via Lefthand Canyon. We were still feeling pretty decent and our memories of the road between Ward and Nederland were that it mostly rolling hills. The problem was all of those memories were based on riding from Ward to Nederland, not the otherway around. Our memories will be much improved now, knowing that Ned to Ward is hard, Ward to Ned isn't too bad. So, we truged up to Ward as I counted down each mile on my computer. There were some downhills, but the net elevation gain was about 1000 ft i think. Anyways, we make it to Ward and head down and hit headwinds (lovely). Well at least it was all downhill, until we got to Olde Stage which we took because it was shorter. Not as short at taking Lee Hill, but that was too intimidating. As you can easily hit 50 mph going down the back side of Olde Stage, going up pretty slow on our legs that had already been climbing for the good part of our 6 hr ride. Once we got over the top, we were able to cruise pretty easy the rest of the way home.

The Scooter
We stopped and got another helmet, jacket, etc to be able to ride 2 up on the motorcycle. I'm sure that will make a good post when we first try.

The Sunny
Sunny was briefly in B-town for a wedding, so we went to lunch with her at Illegal Pete's. Both Amber and I were able to finish off a Big Fish burrito. After lunch, Sunny wanted some Glacier ice cream before she left, but the kiosk on Pearl St didn't have a good enough selection, so we drove to another location. A cone of cinimon cookie dough and death by chocolate really hit the spot. Sadly we had to get Sunny to the airport bus and send her on her way. Fortunately, she'll be back in town in a few weeks for a whole week.

The Rest
Nap time.

The Neighbors
When it got time for dinner, we were struggling to come up with ideas and our leftovers weren't sounding good, so it took a while to come up with something. When we finally did, I was about to start the grill when one our neighbors (Amy) called over the fence that they were having a last minute party and we should come over. So we loaded up our salad, bratwust, etc and headed over there. We hadn't been over to our neighbors in the nearly 4 years we've been at our house, so it was about time. Pretty low key as we sat around eating and talking as Eric (neighbor, not me) burned the wood of a couch in his chimama. I did learn a new game (Frisbee cup) which involves drinking, throwing a frisbee and running, but i was too tired to participate.

The Run
Up early again as we wanted to run before swimming and Amber wanted to go to church. Out the door again around 5:45. I was right about how long our run should be (2 hrs), but not about how hard, so we ended up going a bit harder than intended. Quick dip in the creek/ditch at the end was nice.

The Swim
An hour and half of going fast. My swim went okay as I tempered my expectations of what i could do. Not suprising that i was kicking even slower than normal, but pulling fine. Amber had a rough swim as she was tired. Really, really tired.

The Shopping
Headed into town to use our Tokyo Joes coupons (from races last year). They have some good food. We then walked to Target to return a headlight (picked up a 9004, not a 9003), went to McGuckin's for some yard stuff, went to Sunflower market for food, and finally headed home. On the way, we saw the sign again for Celestial Seasonings tent sale. Not sure what a tea company sells under a tent, but we went to have a look. What we found was pallets full of teas and such that they were trying to clear out. Boxes of tea for 50 cents. A case of boxes for 5 bucks or something. We also found coffee for 10 bucks a case. We have no idea if the coffee will be any good, but we now have 9 lbs of coffee that cost us 20 dollars. Just a little cheaper than the Peet's, I like to get. If you get a present from us in the future and it contains tea, you can guess where it came from.

The Home
Although we should have taken a nap, we ended up working on stuff outside, making dinner (Grilled pork tenderloin, grilled apricot salad, and a risotto with broccoli and zuccini), drinking a bottle of wine, and making Eric sized (2.35 oz) cookies.

The Run
An easy run this morning, but I misremembered (aka Roger Clemons) our workout for the second time in two days and went 10 minutes longer than scheduled.

The Ride
Easy ride to work on the new cassettes (12x27, 9spd for Amber 11x28, 8spd for me) that we got in the mail after our ride on the steeps on Saturday.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

BB, training update, and Summer Memories

I meant to post this yesterday evening after we got home from work and training, but we found ourselves in front of the TV watching the end of the NBA finals instead. It was some quality down-time with dinner, chilling with the pets, and the foam roller that we both needed, so it's all good.

I am not really a fan of either the Lakers or the Celtics per say, but Eric and I both like basket ball and we grew up in MN and were only kids when the Timberwolves were formed. We watched as Kevin Garnett joined the team and brought the Wolves out from the bottom-of-the-barrel status they started with. It was enjoyable to watch the 2008 finals and see KG finally win the championships with the Celtics. While we would like him to still be playing for the Wolves, it was becoming apparent that he couldn't achieve his goal of winning the NBA championships by himself, he needed some help, and that likely meant being traded to a new team.

Watching 5 of the games in the Finals this year (at least from the 3rd period on, we always seemed to tune in late, but at the same time), it was clearly apparent that KG was out there, playing well, doing his job, but that that job was to be part of a team. He was not the superstar, standalone player for the Celtics. In fact, I would say that he was not the best player out there in green and white during the series. On the other hand, he IS a big reason why they won. Whenever he was on the court, it seemed he was snagging rebounds both offensively and defensively. Given the opportunity, he'd shoot, and often make his shots, but he was also quick to support his teammates will well timed and well placed passes, accumulating many assists and helping the TEAM achieve their dream.

Last night, after the game, it was apparent that winning the NBA championships was also a BIG dream come true for KG. He was filled with emotion during the final minutes of the game and during the post-game interviews. It was moving yet gratifying to watch the big, TALL man's emotions overwhelm him. KG is a man of integrity and character, on and off the court, and it was neat to witness this milestone in his career.

Congrats to KG and to the rest of the Celtics for playing great ball and truly earning this year's title!

Last night, before BB, Eric and I left work and warmed our legs up as we pedaled through town on our way over to Boulder Canyon. We had a 30-40 min climb up Sugarloaf Rd. on the schedule. I was looking forward to the challenge, and for the chance to explore a "new" road, since it seems like Eric and I have been missing out on some of the local gems (this is one of the benefits of having your coach live where you do, he has been telling us WHERE to ride, not just what type of workouts to do). The picture above is from the top of sugarloaf mountain, near where we were headed.

My happy thoughts ended where the pavement could I have forgotten that most of the Boulder Creek Path is dirt after it leaves town? It was only 1.25 miles of loose gravel, but that type of surface, along with a few rocks here and there, is one of my biggest fears (my version of lightning). I think it goes back to my younger days, trying to learn to ride a bike when we lived at the end of a dirt road. It did not go well, despite my Dad's (nearly) endless patience as he ran behind me every night for over a year.

Anyways, I got through it yesterday, only dismounted and walked once, and only saw my HR climb by ~10 bpm while riding through this part. Oddly, I think I would have preferred riding on the road for this section, even with its narrow shoulder and fast traffic. The trail was much safer, and any risk of serious injury or death was much, MUCH less, but my brain just couldn't process that difference in risk. My thoughts were stuck somewhere in eeeek, gravel, loose sand, rock, sand, keep pedaling, high cadence, attack that bump up to the bridge, loose gravel, pedestrian, eeeeek and not able to realize that the decision to ride on that path was good for me and healthier than the alternative.

After that, things went very well. We made it up the canyon, with the fast traffic, to the base of our climb. The road surface on Sugarloaf was beautiful: no sand, smooth roads, good pavement, little traffic (and what there was for traffic were courteous drivers). The climb was tough, but actually easier than I had expected (the race flier I found for the hill climb up this sucker claims over 3400 feet of climbing, though we were only doing part of the hill). Near the end of our session, my back started to tighten up again, making it difficult to keep power and cadence in the ranges I was targeting. My averages were still where they should be, and soon we will have better cassettes for this type of work, the 12-25 just wasn't cutting it near the end. It was a beautiful night to be out in the mountains riding your bike, though. Even with the sweat that was sogifying my upper eye lids. No salt in the eyes, thankfully, but I was sweating like a pig.

We turned around at the camel. I am not sure if this is becoming the newest Boulder County fad or what, but we have camels here! I'm pretty sure it wasn't a hill-induced mirage since I also saw a guy stop his car, get out and check his mailbox, and then walk over and pick some grass to feed the camel.

On the other hand, I did tell Eric I (pant pant gasp pant) just need (pant pant gasp pant) a minute (pant pant gasp pant) to catch my breath (pant pant gasp pant) before we descend. So maybe I was seeing things.

For all the locals, look for the camel as you approach Sugarloaf mountain, it is on the left as you climb, right before you get to Old Townsite Road. It has eaten all the grass inside the fence, so look for a yard of red-brown dirt with lots of lush grass on the other side of the fence. And maybe a nice man with an old car who has stopped to pull some grass and make friends with the camel.

The descent was fun. I quickly got VERY chilly since I was so wet from climbing, but the fast speeds and endless corners made me quickly forget about comfort as I was forced to focus on the road. I got to lead and I dropped Eric so hard that I had to stop and wait for him to show up around one turn part way down. I was worried that something bad may have happened, and that that could mean me having to reclimb part of the hill to search for the husband. Even with massive amounts of breaking, I reached a top speed of 51.45 mph. I think. The powertap wheel is being weird. I am new to this gizmo, but it is starting to display --- for watts and speed/cadence more and more frequently, and the icon for signal strength disappears when this happens. I'm guessing that the batteries in the hub need to be replaced......any other thoughts?

And for my last topic of the day, we had a nice, easy bike home from work Monday night. As we were cruising on the South Boulder Creek Path near the Cherryvale-Baseline intersection, I looked out over an open field of grass at the mountains bathed in summer evening light and was transported back to our first full summer in Boulder. By now we would have been newly-weds. It was a sweet time. Living was easy, and we were so young! The days were long. We'd wake early, sometimes heading to Scott Carpenter pool for an early morning swim in the sunrise. Long days doing research at grad school were ended with lazy evenings in the park or biking home. The evening light would just make everything glow, it was magical.

There are many things about that time I DO NOT miss (we were renting out somebody's basement and it was dark and kinda depressing. That and you got to shower with spiders on a regular basis and we didn't really have a kitchen), but there are others that simply bring a smile to my lips. I'm not sure I have a favorite time of year (I like them all!) but I do have many fond memories of summer, long days, and magical morning or evening light. I am so in love with my husband and I treasure the memories we have made together, from our first summer as The Rydholms all the way until today.

And right now, I'm enjoying my current favorite time of the year: summer! Here's to lazy dinners on the porch/deck and good, hard training!



Monday, June 16, 2008

A's weekend recap

Well, we had a busy but fun weekend here in Boulder. Friday night started off with some stellar vacuuming and bike prep. I wanted to see carpet again through all of the cottonwood seeds, and Eric wanted power data for the upcoming ride on Saturday.

Eric's Saturday update is pretty accurate, so I won't elaborate beyond saying that the ride was a good solid effort for me (I was babying the back a little, but still got into the pace zone and HR zone intended for the workout, and some good mental prep, too), I made it through the run and convinced Eric we should try "icing" in a creek near home (nirvana!). The evening out courtesy of Eric's work was a nice treat, too. It is always fun to see old friends and we got to hang out with the Wik-Meyer clan. I was starting to droop (tired) by the end, though.....just in time to go to work!

Sunday came early enough. I headed out for early-Church and then tried to help Eric secure the cherry tree (we don't like sharing them with the birds and squirrels) before changing for a run. We drove up to Magnolia road for a beautiful, peaceful run. It was our first time up there this year and I was in heaven. It is very, very lush and green right now, and was significantly cooler than Boulder's temps. We turned around after 1:03, but should have gone a tad further (we didn't quite hit peak-to-peak highway before running out of time) since I made it back in under 2 hours.

We were running up in the mountains, and it felt like we were on vacation, in another world. It was far removed from the realm of Boulder, yet a mere 30 min up the canyon. Izzy had a blast, though finding her enough water on that road is always a challenge, and yesterday nearly got her tangled in some barbed wire down by one of the few creeks we came across....very scary!

It's funny how even on a beautiful, perfect day, you eventually get to meet your Gremlins that play tricks with your willpower and gumption. Mine were a pair of blisters on the side of each big toe, a tightening calf, tumultuous tummy, and a cranky back that preferred to not run downhill. My back is much better than some folks' but it has been grumbling for the past week or so.

Everything righted itself with a quick dip in the Boulder Creek and a stop at the Village Coffee Shop for a lunch of French Toast. Then a trip to Target and home for some chores. I got most of the rest of the vegetable garden planted (very late, but finally in) and did some yard putzing while Eric whipped up some grub (yummy BBQ chicken, grilled corn on the cob, and home made mac-n-cheese with a hint of Bleu). We ate out on the deck (amongst the falling cottonwood seeds) and had a very pleasant (yet fluffy) evening. It's summer and the living's easy! Then I tackled a small batch of dishes (while Eric watched the NBA game) before another trip back to work.

Today has been back to business-as-usual. This month our weeks are a steady schedule of speed and strength, but in manageable doses (Tuesday hill-climb bike, Thursday track, fill in the rest of the week with swimming, biking, and running) before getting to another Epic weekend. It leads to a very predictable schedule of workouts, and will allow us to hit mountain sun tonight for beer-and-burger nite (the Monday night special). Both Eric and I were independently craving mountain sun yesterday, so we figured it was a sign that we should go there tonight for dinner.....

Before we know it, our 6+ hour ride will be here (climbing up Golden Gate Canyon this coming weekend). I'm actually really looking forward to it. Hopefully our current training will get us ready for Sunny's visit in early July. I can hardly wait to see her again, but am a little worried that I'll kill myself trying to keep up with this Superwoman for a whole week...eek! Maybe I can get her to take me on her super power-hike/run up in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.....should be fun!

Have a good week everyone (i.e., Happy Monday!).


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday Update

So, the Amber had to go into work at 10 pm on Saturday and since we were at my company's picnic beforehand, I took the quick walk down to my work to write this post. I sometimes refer to the cat as the Sammy and the dog as the Izzy, so I might as well refer to the wife as the Amber.

I'm not sure how long Amber will take, so this might be kind of random. She hasn't posted in a few days since her back was killing her, wasn't able to train, and didn't want to complain. It's been getting better over the last few days and she made it through the 4hr bike and 1hr run today, so that's good. We left pretty early to try to beat the heat and it turned out to be a pretty nice day. Our bike had some long efforts at IM pace that caused us to get separated for a while since she thought she was following me, but it turned out to be someone else. The company picnic was fun as it was at a place with mini golf, go karts, arcade, etc. We only went once on the go karts because of the lines and I unfortunately sent Amber into the barriers at one point, which required someone helping back to the course.

Looking back at the week, Amber's back kept her from swimming and running on Thursday, but I was able to. The swim was fun as Kurt gave us a set of 8 x 100's with decending rest from 35 seconds to 5 seconds. Afterwards he subtracted the 2:20 of rest to give us our 800 times. Later we did 8x50's with the same rest sequence. At first the 35 seconds is so much that you just want to hammer, but then you pay for it on the later ones. The run was a track workout that I still annoyed that I couldn't complete, but 4 trips to the bathroom after my set of 1200's did me in.

Looking forward, a nice 2 hr run at Mags is planned for tomorrow. The plan before Amber had to go into work this late was to run early. We might have to see about that. Next week should be full of climbing on the bike as we are heading up Sugarloaf on Tuesday and up Golden Gate Canyon on Sat. Amber just called and we are heading out.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hello, hello

This blog post is coming to you from the middle of the day, middle of the's Wednesday, folks.

Yesterday, Eric and I rolled out of work a tad after 5pm to tackle Lee Hill Road and then onward and upward on Deer Trail until we hit dirt. It was our first time up Deer Trail and neither of us knew what to expect. It's steep! Yesterday it was also very sandy, most likely from last week's big rains.

We descended down the back side of Lee Hill, through Left Hand Canyon, to 36. It was a nice night for a ride. Most of Boulder thought so, too, they all seemed to be riding UP Left Hand Canyon last night. It felt great to ride fast down the canyon, I love descending. Reminder to self: keep mouth shut during descents now, bugs!

After we got home, I was pretty wiped out, so we heated up leftovers (mmmmm, homemade pizza!) for dinner and then went to bed - not so exciting, but what was needed.

This morning, we rose early for a "jog" with Izzy-dog and then an easy spin in to work. My back was stiff and sore when we got up, so the easy day was appreciated. Now it just needs to mend well enough so I can crush tomorrow's track workout. We'll see. Hopefully it clears up or I get in to see Sara for an adjustment, I can barely put on my own shoes.

So there you have it: a mid-week update of work, train, eat, sleep, train, work....recipe for success and happiness!


Monday, June 9, 2008

Wacky Weekend Fun

It's Tuesday? How did that happen?

Lets see if I can remember the weekend. I vaguely remember something about using Eric's new grill, drinking wine, and dominating the girls at Kubb. And then something about gluing tubulars, racing really hard, biking more, running some, and deciding that finishing our run at 7pm wasn't good for going to a party. And finally, swimming, strength and running into crazy winds. What I don't remember doing is much around the house.

Amber was able to get the grass in our back yard from a crazy height down to something our little reel mower can actually cut. I was ready to just let it go, but we might have lost Izzy in it. Actually, she loves to bound through tall grass, so she might have been bummed out. At least she has gotten to go on runs the last three days (now if only we could bring her to the track).

Last night, Amber and I went out for sushi to celebrate our 7th anniversary. We almost followed that up with cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory, somewhere I typically don't like due to their oversized portions. Amber thought we could share a piece, but I remember trying to do so almost ended our marriage within the first year since I supposedly had more than half.

Anyways, looking forward to a nice climb up Lee Hill this afternoon. I'm already scared of Thursday's track workout which I added up to about 7k of speedwork.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Busy weekend ahead

Well, if our training makes us stronger in preparation for races, then this weekend is just a teaser for what is to come the rest of this month and summer. We have dinner tonight with our good friends, Eric and Maria, a housewarming for Tara and Ray, and plenty of house and yard chores waiting for us. Oh, and a small drive and race tomorrow for the state TT (bike) championships. It should be a fun weekend, and I am really looking forward to it all...even the house and yard work since that will mean more order for my world. And it is all just prep for Eric's work picnic, an olympic tri, visits with Sarah, Nate, and the boys and Amanda and Eric, lots of good, epic mountian training, 4th of July racing and concert, and Rocky Grass.

Yesterday wrapped up with our track run. The weather cleared up nicely and it was a great night to run. Work held me up a tad, so we got to the track later than normal, but once there, we both got down to business. Unfortunately, my legs did not decide to join us last night, and I was left looking at Eric's back fade away into the distance, on 200's! I worked on good attitude, faster takeoffs (on my toes with quick, light feet for the first half of every turn), forward hips, good self-talk, and finishing all the way through to the line, but it got tough on the rests near the end when I could not get my mouth open wide enough to let in all the air my lungs and legs were demanding.

This morning we rose EARLY for a quick run with Izzy-dog before our "mello" 76 min spin. It was a gorgeous morning, the sun turning the foothills pink in the early light. The lakes near our house were glass-like, reflecting the sky and peaks back up from below. Then off for a busy day of work, meetings, etc.

Soon we'll head out for home, shish kabob prep (chicken, pineapple, onion, and peppers) and over to the Wik-Meyer house for supper. Maria first invited us over for this dinner the Friday before IMAZ, but obviously we had to postpone. Between their busy schedule and ours, this dinner hasn't happened yet. I'm looking forward to catching back up with them!

Wishing everyone a great weekend!


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sounds of rain

Boulder boasts something like 300 + days of sunshine a year, but today we have rain. It really started last night as I left work. Eric had a going-away party for someone at work so he was up in Longmont and I was left to bike home (meant we could use only 1 car and less gas).

As I rolled out from work, it was looking stormy, but in a patchy sorta way. I decided to swing by CoMuSpo to pick up the extra wiring harnesses for our new powertaps that Ryan I. brought in with him to work. This errand pretty much doubled my commute and exposed me to at least 5 times as many headed-home-from-work commuters (who don't see bikes so well) but it was a familiar route that I used to take home daily while in grad school and a nice change from the usual routes we currently take. Then, with about 2 mi to go, big, fat, wet drops began to fall straight down.

I was obviously on the edge of the storm. It was cloudy overhead, but not too frightening. In front of me, to the east, were thick, uniformly black clouds and occasional lightning. To my south, near the mouth of Boulder Canyon, I could see sheets of heavy rain falling. Above me, though, looked pretty clear. As the light changed green, I pushed hard on the pedals and made like a horse for the barn. The rest of my short ride, I flitted in and out of the big fat rain drops. The pavement was mostly dry still, but I knew I needed to maintain some urgency if I was to avoid getting soaked or struck by lightning.

I made it home. In the door, upstairs to change clothes quickly, let Izzy out back to potty, grab more clothes to ward of the mosquitoes, and then out to get the final garden planting done. And mow the back yard. Get the weedwacker out and edge, too, if there's time. And maybe sweep off the deck (it's cottonwood season).

But wait...what's that? Bigger, fatter drops falling very, very fast. Straight down. Hard.

Poor Izzy was huddled by the back door patiently waiting to be let in. And there was NO WAY those seeds were going in the garden until things dried out. The rain continued to drum on our roof up in the loft. I love the sound of a good rain! It came and went all evening. Meanwhile I puttered around the kitchen, making pizza dough for tonight and getting to chicken-onion curry. The yard work and garden planting left for a drier day.

This morning, the rain continued. For Boulder, this is a tad unusual. During outdoor Masters swimming, it kept raining. The swimmers had a fine time of it, we are already wet, but poor coach Kurt kept a towel on his head the entire practice. The rain made backstroke a bit interesting, but it also made a lovely, lovely splish, splash, splatting sound. Near the end of practice, the drops were smaller but more frequent, and they made tiny plops and rebounding drips as they landed in the pool. Except for the pace clock dying (seems to do that when it rains....) it was an excellent practice.

I wonder what sounds the rain will bring to this afternoon's track workout. Like Cathy (same coach) we have 200's on tap. Last track workout we did on a rainy day was in the afternoon, after the rain had stopped. In between sets I heard the strangest sound when the track started to dry. It was like Rice Crispies cereal. Snap. Crackle. Pop. I wanted to stop and listen to what the track had to say to me, but decided it would just be something like "go faster!"..... so I did.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A's MN musings

Our whirl-wind trip to MN and back ended Sunday evening. We went from late Spring here in Boulder to still-mostly-Spring (i.e., 35 and steady drizzle for Memorial Day, but luckily only during the BBQ and not during either of our crit races) to Summer in Minneapolis, back to Spring in Duluth, and finally, to full-blown, warm nights, no-coat-wearing-to-work-in-the-morning Boulder this week.

Either way, the loons beat us back to MN and we got to hear them calling each morning as they flew between Hay and Chub lake. Hearing the loons in the morning is one of my favorite Farm memories, and it was awesome to hear again. Three loons flew over us the morning we left as we were retrieving the lanterns from the hay barn where the DJ had set up for the dance the night before. They looked so close! From there, they drop down a pretty big hill to the lake, so they were flying pretty low.

We have a solid month of training in front of us (just got all of our workouts for June), but it looks like a good block of fun (challenging, lots of uphill bikes, classic Colorado, beautiful) sessions, too. There is a bunch of house and yard things waiting for us here, too, to fill in the gaps. Trips home to see family always make me want to clean my house and purge it of unneeded items, for some reason. That, and we need somewhere to put all of the new things we got at Ikea.

The trip home was good. Most of my dad's family is still located back there, as are Eric's dad, mom, and sister and brother-in-law. We got to see my grandparents (first time back since my Grandpa's 10-foot fall off the ladder last summer) over the Memorial Day weekend, and many other cousins and aunt and uncles at the wedding. I got my first wood tick and was bitten by countless mosquitoes. By helping with the boat lift installation, I got in "the lake" for 2008, even if only up to my armpits. We helped warm up Sean and Teresa's deck for the summer with a yummy mid-week BBQ. We sampled fresh-from-the-garden rhubarb (some of which I turned into a soupy pie). I swam in a MN pool for the first time since 1994 or 1995 (on a gloomy day that eventually just made me grumpy). Eric helped his mom with some projects, namely the Living Room and we helped her learn how to cross country ski on her wii.

It was a busy week, and a reminder of how far away Colorado really is from Minnesota. Both Eric and I love living in Boulder. We like our house. We like the athletic opportunities that abound here. We like our jobs. We like our daily routines, and the prospect of adventure that the nearby mountains offer for weekend day trips. We like the available fresh produce and restaurant options.

But.... Minnesota is a big part of both of our pasts. There are many memories there. And even more family members, who we can't just pop over to see for a birthday or holiday gathering. Many of our cousins are having kids now, and many of them only know us as strangers.

Getting back to Boulder was good, and it was a huge relief to get out of the car, but our homecoming was bittersweet, too. At least this morning's swim was outside where we could watch the sunrise. Wolfgang didn't even bring out the squirt gun....Kerrie, are you sure that isn't something he uses just for you?


Monday, June 2, 2008

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming

So, we're back in the PRB (People's Republic of Boulder). Yesterday we drove back from Duluth, MN in 16 hours. My quick calculation is that we spent 42 hours driving since we left Boulder just over a week before. After our thunderstorm filled drive out to Minnesota, the driving weather was good to and from the Twin Cities and back to Colorado.

Quick run down of activities: 4 day bike race, memorial day BBQ, Ikea shopping, drapes replacement at my mom's, pie baking (Amber), potato salad making (Amber), sushi/hibachi eating, some running, a little swimming, wedding preparation, boat lift installation (Amber almost lost a Croc doing this one), rehearsal attendance/participation, ushering (Eric), bridemaiding (Amber), kubb playing, picture taking, ... I'm sure there's more but i'm getting tired just thinking about it.

Izzy the one eyed wonder dog was a trooper, even when she had to stay in her crate for most of the time when we were up in Duluth. She only got one chance to swim in Chub Lake, but almost dragged Amber off the end of the dock another time.

Sammy the cat was happy to see us and can do fine alone for a while, but we had some friends check on her.