Sunday, September 30, 2012

Gran Fondo Ride Report

I've been debating about whether to write this post now or to wait a few days to let everything settle in and my body recover.

Second Gran Fondo complete, this time before the official cutoff, although rumor has it that the RFID reader at the finish broke, which means that I might still have a DNF record this year. Ah well. I felt great through about mile 70, and started to fall apart on the notorious Coleman Valley climb. As soon as we turned onto that road, it felt harder than either of the other times I have climbed in, and the first part isn't even that steep. I apparently made it to the top of that climb in PR time; however, I slowed significantly down at the top. I told my ride group to continue on without me, and I finished about 10 minutes behind them, with one of my teammates from the Moab season who was kind enough to bring me in.

I haven't had a bad ride all season, so it was disappointing to fall apart at the signature event. I'm not sure what happened. I may have bonked. I realized I didn't use one of my packets of sports drink. I had a deli sandwich and a soda at the lunch stop, which is food I never have on a ride. It was hot. I just rode 100 miles last weekend. Who knows. I wish I could pinpoint it so I could avoid it happening again. My quads were killing me and I just felt physically exhausted. It was all I could do to look up every now and then to enjoy the scenery.

While I felt great the first 70 miles, I'm not sure how much fun I was having. The first 20 miles are chock full of people so that it is hard to go as fast as you want. Then there was the fretting at all the rest stops about how much time we were taking (and in fact we ended up with nearly 2 hours of stop time, which is problematic on a timed ride). On all the climbs, there was the difficulty of passing all the slower riders swerving around in the middle of the road and the walkers on the side. There was a long line for water at one of the rest stops. I think I enjoyed this ride a lot more on Labor Day weekend when there weren't 7500 people on the course.

That said, my ride group had an amazing day. I am so proud of all of them! I think they really enjoyed the ride, and that makes it worth it.

I also had fun at the expo watching Levi, McDreamy, Kristin Armstrong (2 time gold medalist), Tom Danielson and others stuff their faces with donuts and ride around on tiny bikes with a support moto behind them. And got some pretty cool swag. And of course had a fabulous weekend with my team, for whom I'm extremely grateful.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Moab in the Fall

Day 1

Wednesday morning I headed to the airport to begin my five-day TNT vacation for the Moab Century Ride. The adventures started almost as soon as we landed in Salt Lake City, when the rental car company gave us a Lincoln Navigator with tinted windows. Shortly thereafter we parked the behemoth in a Kmart parking lot, resulting in a loss of all my liberal cred.

We drove through beautiful canyons and desert, arrived in Moab in the dark, and promptly rolled up to the Moab Brewing Company where the beer was less than stellar. It is, after all, 3-2 beer.

Day 2

The next morning I went for a sunrise run in the neighborhood, and then waited about 3 more hours before my fellow travelers were finally ready to head to Arches for the day. Oh the waiting. We finally arrived in Arches approaching noon and popped into the Visitor's Center to see what the rangers might have to share with us. Somehow we must have spoken with the only ranger in all of the National Park Service who doesn't care for hiking. He suggested we visit the Windows section of the park because you can see a lot of Arches from the car. Really?

Ignoring the ranger's advice, we drove out to the end of the park to hike in the 7+ mile Devil's Garden, where he said we might find "one or two arches." But there were all sorts of arches, each more amazing than the last! We may have all run out of water with 2 miles to go (don't tell Coach!), but we made it back safe and sound and had an amazing time!
Photo courtesy of Joseph Torralba
Next up, Delicate Arch, the only hiking trail I think I've been to before at Arches. Neither Matt nor I remember much about this and we only have one picture to show for it. It's amazing how much photos must have to do with memories! Anyway, Delicate Arch was phenomenal! As we walked away I kept stopping every 2 feet to look back at it - I didn't want to leave.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Torralba

Finally we did hit up the Windows section that the ranger had suggested, right as the sun was setting, and it did not disappoint.
Photo courtesy of Joseph Torralba
 Day 3

Breakfast, bike pick-up, gorgeous tune-up ride by the Colorado River (cliffs! petroglyphs!), lunch, packet pick-up, inspiration dinner.

Photo courtesy of Laura Marshall

Photo courtesy of Joseph Torralba

Day 4

100 mile bike ride. Highlights: sunrise along the bike path, Canyonlands appearing out of nowhere at Dead Horse Point, finishing! The 32 miles of flat along the Colorado River was beautiful but not my favorite, as I prefer climbing and descending to pedaling nowhere.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Torralba

Photo courtesy of Joseph Torralba

Day 5

Again, my crew dawdled in the morning and we didn't leave Moab until nearly noon. We headed up to Park City to take part in some adventures at Utah Olympic Park: Alpine Slide and ziplining. I think perhaps our favorite part was watching the freestyle ski jumpers launch into the pool. A quick trip to Temple Square, and we were back at the airport to return to the real world, leaving the Navigator behind.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Torralba

Photo courtesy of Andrew Farren/Joseph Torralba

Photo courtesy of Joseph Torralba

Monday, September 17, 2012

Race Season is Here!

Fall may be a strange season for racing, but here in the Bay Area it's beautiful! Having not competed in an event since May, I guess I was feeling like it was time to go for it. So despite twisting my ankle two weeks ago while speed-walking to a Giants game (yeah, I'm that graceful), I have added several cheap races (~$30) to my already rather full Fall racing schedule, which you can see in the sidebar.

First up is the Moab Century coming up this Saturday in Moab. I am super excited! This will be my second century, and I expect it to be "easy," with only 3000 feet of elevation gain. I plan to enjoy the ride through the beautiful Moab countryside including Dead Horse Point and the Colorado River. This will be my "warm-up" ride for the big event the following weekend, Levi's Gran Fondo. You may remember me blogging about last year's experience again and again and again. Following last weekend's 80 mile training ride filled with 2 hours and 30 minutes of stopping for a crash and mechanical problems (which kind of offsets the 6 hour ride time for 7,000 feet of gain), I'm just hoping we've gotten all the crap out of the way before the race this year.

One weekend off, and it's back to running - the Nike Women's Marathon in particular. This was the race that started it all for me back in 2009. I was having a fantastic training season for Nike as well, meeting my goal paces even on hilly courses, but then I went and twisted my ankle. It is recovering well and I ran 3 miles yesterday, so I plan to be in fine form come Nike, but likely not as fast as I had hoped. I really should just walk around always with both my ankles taped up.

The following weekend it's on to my second duathlon ever. I had an amazing time at my first duathlon back in April, and even finished 5th in my division. (And apparently never blogged about it!) For this duathlon the bike course will follow a popular route on the other side of the hills - the three bears, which feature Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Baby Bear, Goldilocks, and what I believe to be at least three other unnamed bears. However, once you climb over the hills to get to the Bears, they just don't seem as big as they used to.

Next up, the inaugural hella-ween 5 Miler, put on by the same peeps as Oakland Running Festival, which I have blogged about a couple of times. This will be a Saturday night evening race through Old Town Oakland and Jack London Square, including a beer stop at our TNT-supporting Linden Street Brewery.

Skip ahead to Thanksgiving weekend, and I will be partaking of the Double Turkey Challenge. Matt and I will be running a 5k on Thanksgiving morning, and I'm adding a 10k that Saturday. Just to get an awesome three-piece medal that says "I heart seconds." This will be our fourth annual Turkey Trot, each one at a different location (although I'm missing a blog for 2011).

Finally, the very next weekend I'll be rounding out the race season with my very first trail half marathon in Kualoa Ranch, Oahu! I'm nervous about the elevation gain (~2900 feet), especially since my ankle twist has set back my hill training. But it's going to be gorgeous, and I still have two months to train. Plus I'll be in Hawaii, so how bad could it be?

So in case you never hear from me this Fall, you'll know why. Hopefully I can stay healthy and uninjured for these events, and I wish health and happiness to you as well! I hope to remember to blog these!