Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Calves etc

Calf issues. It's now taking about 2 miles for my calves to finally loosen up. I have big strong calves and run on my toes/forefoot and my calves apparently don't like it. I have some stretches to try and a recommendation to run heel/toe to try to stretch them out.

Mel and I are now doing 4 min run/ 2 min walk (she was getting tired of my 15 second incremental increases so we boosted it by a lot). Our overall pace is a touch slower but not by much; I'm sure our speed will pick back up (especially because it hurts my calves less to run faster). We're meeting four times this week....in the cold and dark....yeah, I'm whining because I'm now wearing tights & a long sleeved shirt to run in. Yeah, we're weather wimps here in SoCal.

Gotta work on my 'plan' for the winter -- I've been neglecting the biking because it's hard to fit it in during the daytime -- I know, everyone has the same problem.

I signed up for Strawberry Fields today -- an act of sheer bravery after seeing the surf in the video of the 2005 race.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Topanga Turkey Trot 5K Race Report

Wow, what a blast! My slowest 5k ever (just at 1 hr), but a heck of a lot of fun.

The Topanga Turkey Trot was my second trail run event (my first being the inaugural Chesebro half trail/ half road half marathon).

The starting elevation was about 1100 feet at Topanga State Park. It was A LOT cooler there than at our house and I was glad I had a jacket to wear pre-race.

Gatorade (very dilute, just how I like it) was available pre-race.

I saw a couple of people sporting LA Tri Club gear, including the only guy dressed in a turkey costume.

15k, 10k and 5k routes were available. I'd initially signed up for the 10k but opted for the 5k due to a lingering cold (missed yesterday's gym workout because of it).

All routes started on the same fire road going up, up, up -- a start I later read described as 'notorious'.

I ended up walking the entire first mile (all uphill, gaining about 800 ft, with horribly cramping calves (the only relief I got was when I turned around and walked uphill backwards). 22-23 min 1st mile, by my watch -- ugh. Dave, sweetheart that he is, realized I was having trouble and stayed with me.

But I gotta say, we were blessed with some gorgeous views from up there!

The first aid/water station was at 1.3 miles, the top of the crest, and the point where the different routes diverged -- the 10k and 15k continued on the fire road whereas the 5k took a left onto a single track trail. Before turning off the fire road I gulped some water and tried a Clif Block (and boy, those things are GOOD! super gummi's!).

Then it was basically all downhill except for a few uphill 'burps'. Woo hoo! Downhill is where I (relatively) shine -- Steph the mountain goat! bounding from big rock to big rock down the trail! Well, sorta. Anyway, I got to really pick up the pace, and Dave, who hates downhills, hung with me. We basically scrambled down the hillside, past a creek, most of the time in the shade, avoiding loose rocks and horse manure. We took a few walk breaks at a few treacherous points but overall did really well.

A second aid station was at around 2.7 but we skipped it (though later Dave presented me with a bag of Clif Blocks he'd snagged in passing).

Again, my overall time sucked, but then the race director told me the fastest 5k people came in around 30 minutes, so I didn't feel too badly at that point.

We got great goody bags (Clif Shot, sample size Clif Bar, Fig Newton bar, Montrail water bottle, Trail Runner Magazine), really nice tan heavy weight t-shirts, and finisher medals. The trail was extremely well-marked -- I never had any doubts I was going the right direction -- and in great shape. Bananas, oranges, bagels with cream cheese, bottled water, coffee, and freshly made (as you watched!) scrambled eggs were available for after the run.

We'll definitely do this one again, and I'd love to do more of the runs put on by the SoCal Trail Race Series.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Solvang Prelude: Pre-Ride Report

The Solvang Prelude was my first organized bike-only event, with a choice of a metric century, 50 mile or 25 mile courses.

The Santa Ynez Valley is one of my favorite places in California: wineries, golden rolling hills studded with oak trees, twisty scenic roads, good restaurants. Hitting all my high points! and the workout the ride would offer would burn enough calories to indulge post-ride relatively guilt free.

I'd actually never been to Solvang before, despite all my trips to the area. Solvang is a 'Danish village' of a tourist town -- think wooden beamed buildings, waitresses in clogs and aprons, endless arrays of touristy gewgaws, Danish themed restaurants (all with basically the same menu), and yep, a Thomas Kincaide 'gallery'. There's a reason I'd never been to Solvang before. Ah well, the nighttime twinkle lights on all the buildings were pretty. And it's close to Los Olivos (which has two great restaurants, Brothers at Mattei's Tavern and the Los Olivos Cafe (featured in Sideways, but we'd eaten there many times before that ever came out)) and all the wineries.

Regardless, the ride started in Solvang, so we got a hotel room at the Royal Copenhagen Inn. The room was basic but large, with two double beds, a table and chairs, a bureau, a vanity area, and a large bathroom with a corner shower (no tub). The room was set up for handicapped/wheelchair access including a rather awkward toilet seat. Plenty of room for our bikes -- the most critical aspect for this trip. We usually stay at B&Bs, so this room lacked the charm and intimacy in comparison, but the price and location were good.

We arrived Friday late afternoon, got checked in, and used our free wine tasting coupons at the tasting room kitty-corner to the hotel. (Bought some 'quaffable' whites, nothing great, but tasty and good when you want to open something while hanging out with friends and not feel obligated to really experience or focus on the wine -- what we've termed a 'patio' wine.)

We went to pick up our packets at the Royal Scandinavian Inn and found a huge line -- we decided to grab dinner first then come back for our packets. After wandering aimlessly and finding no restaurants that didn't feature knockwurst (I know, German) and other variations, I dashed into a gift store and asked the proprietoress for a dinner recommendation. She recommended Cafe Angelica.

The food was tasty, a little overpriced, but better than our other options in town. (Our original plan include Los Olivos Cafe but unfortunately they were closed that weekend for kitchen renovations.) We both had pasta dishes.

Back to pick up our packets -- no lines -- peruse the course map, and browse through the expo tents. We didn't buy anything that evening; I'm trying to limit my clothing purchases to LA Tri Club gear.

The next morning we were supposed to meet Melanie and Mike. Although Dave and I had decided to do the 50 mile course, Dave reconsidered and figured he and Mike could do the metric century and Mel and I could do the 50 together.

We weren't able to find them.

Also, it was horribly cold (keep in mind I'm used to balmy 50-60 degree weather, even in the early mornings) -- someone said 38 degrees. I was wearing bike shorts and a short sleeved bike jersey. I hadn't even BROUGHT a long sleeved jersey, let alone a jacket. I knew darn well how hot it would get (and it did get hot) and was trying to pack light.

So, we spent pre-race time alternating between looking for Mel and shopping for things to make us not so freezing. I bought some bright blue arm warmers that will coordinate with my LA Tri Club gear and some gloves and Dave bought a light windbreaker that stuffed into itself to make a fanny pack and some glove liners to wear as gloves.

The race didn't really start on time but that didn't seem to be a big deal to anyone.

Solvang Prelude Ride Report

The organizers were letting us go in packs. Dave and I waited a little bit after we turned the first corner just in case we'd see Mel. No luck.

A nice downhill starts the course. Besides the fact I was freezing I was pretty happy. Then the climbing started.

I'm ashamed to say there were a couple of sections I actually got off my bike and walked. Granted, I wasn't the only one, but I really envy those people zipping up the hills like they were nothing. I'm in my granny gear and wheezing along at 4mph. It's not a leg strength thing alone -- I can easily leg press sets of 400+ at the gym when I put my mind to it (more than most guys, ha ha, not that I'm competitive in the gym, but gee it's fun to add weights when you're working in with someone who was a dick about it in the first place b/c he didn't want to share with some GIRL) -- but leg strength AND endurance AND practice (the latter being what I lack the most). (And, as Mel pointed out on our practice hill ride last Sunday, I tend to overly attack the hill and wear myself out, I guess a common beginner mistake.)

My feet felt like bricks for about an hour or so until the temperature started going up. And, between the cold and my allergies, I was snotting all over the place. No way to be delicate about that. The terry on the gloves only absorbs so much. I accidently snotted on someone actually. He yelled at me to snot to the right from now on. Couldn't explain to him that a) it's mostly my left nostril and b) I've tried the other direction and almost fallen off my bike. (Add snotting to the number of bike skills I have to practice.) I was very sorry for him but honestly I was feeling sorrier for myself at the point. Yeah, pathetic.

Nonetheless, the countryside was gorgeous, and I started enjoying myself, especially after we got to bike downhill then by Los Olivos and some flat areas where I got to go fast and pass people. And most especially when I saw the food stop.

Before the food stop we had to bike up a canyon -- not so much fun -- but the way back was screamingly fast and fun.

The food stop had clean portapotties, water, trail mix, cookies and bananas. We hung out for a little bit then started again.

Downhill from the food stop then a long grind up a hill that I did do without stopping (yeah!).

A lot of flat roads looping around then back towards Solvang through some residential neighborhoods and some more short but VERY steep hills. Around this time we were comparing my odometer reading to the map mileage and realizing that one or the other was wrong. The course was short. I got around 46 miles on my odometer, which is what most people were getting.

I was tired enough going up the last hill to Solvang that I wasn't too concerned about being off 4 or 5 miles, but some other people were annoyed.

At the end we hung out a bit but didn't eat (pay food & beer only, bummer, not even a bagel or water) and finally saw Mel and Mike. Turned out they started an hour after us because they'd gotten in to town so late the night before (Mel got stuck at work).

Quick ride to the hotel to shower then off to lunch and wineries!

FYI we visited Zaca Mesa and Epiphany that day -- had a blast at Zaca Mesa, I belong to their Cellar Club so we got to taste all the wines in nice Reidel glasses (one of which I broke, not my fault!). Dinner at Brothers at Mattei's -- great food, new chefs from the last time Dave & I had eaten there (well, about 5 or 6 years ago). Dave went home early Sunday a.m. after we all met for breakfast & Mel, Mike, Arlene and I went winery hopping (Fess Parker, Cambria, Foxen, Longoria) before returning to Los Angeles.
This week's been a running week. I went running with Dave (well, we started at the same/time place and ended at the same place) Wednesday a.m., then Dave, Mel and I went to the track Thursday a.m. and had some fun with intervals. Iced my shins in the Pacific afterwards -- cold, clear water on a warm sunny SoCal day. Yep, we're spoiled here!

Swimming drills and lifting weights on the schedule for later today.

Topanga Turkey Trot trail run -- 10k -- scheduled for tomorrow early!

And perhaps you've noted the lack of biking....hopefully a nice ride Sunday.

Monday, November 21, 2005


You know when things just click? your stride is loose, running feels easy, you're breathing deeply, it's a gorgeous morning?

Running is NEVER easy for me.

This morning, those two running intervals on the Strand were beautiful.

Mel, bless her heart, didn't scream or curse at me when I took off at what her Timex GPS/bodylink system said was under a 7:30 pace.

Yes, you read that right.

Now, I do need to qualify this. We're still doing run:walking intervals, 2:30 run and 2:00 walk.

But I did that pace for 2:30 minutes.


It gives me hope that someday I'll be able to manage say 9:00 min pace for continuously running someday down the road (or, a niggling thought, maybe....even....faster).

Of course, going up the last hill of our 3.3 mile run Mel kicked my ass.

Our overall pace was 5.2 mph, compared to 4.7 two weeks ago. Today's experience hammered home again that I need a good mile or mile and a half of run/walking at 6:00 a.m. to warm up to the point I feel loose. And maybe there is something to periodization/ incorporating rest weeks.

Other workout notes from last week: four days of drilling in the pool, one good weightlifting session (chest and legs), track run Wednesday night, and biking Sunday with Mel and Mike (short ride, only 11.3 miles, but very hilly).

This morning after our run I walked over to the gym, lifted chest, biceps and triceps (to failure), then did 20-25 minutes of drilling in the pool. I was so excited about my run that I told the guy at the counter as I was signing in to the gym.

I'm planning on getting a fair amount of biking in this week (I only work tomorrow so no excuse about short days), another run Thurs, then a trail 10k Saturday. Gym and pool stuff are loosely planned -- I'll probably go most days.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

My training partner is in Fiji!

This is the true test .... will I get all my runs in this week without having to meet someone at 6:00 a.m.???

I went for a longer run/walk yesterday a.m. (about 90 min) all by my lonesome THEN did a 45 minute drill/swim session in the pool (slow, practicing my TI stuff)....then walked home the .75 miles uphill (well, the last part is downhill, but it really is uphill most of the way...and of course, I'd walked to the gym, and that was mostly downhill....so all together 155 min of working out, if you include my walks, which I am.

I finally figured out a workable answer to the find a pool dilemma.

The pool at Gold's is really just the hotel next door's play pool. I tried swimming there once. I'm guestimating it's only about 15m long, if that. Suffice to say it wasn't a good option, given I can glide at least a third or more of that distance.

Waiting til the adult ed adult lap swimming starts in January isn't an option. The pool they use is nice, belonging to Mira Costa High School, which is a short walk from our house, but again, I don't want to wait til January to work on my swimming.

Master's groups aren't a great option because I wanted to do my TI drills, not someone else's workout. And they're expensive.

So, I joined the new 24 Hour Fitness in Hermosa (.75 miles away from my house). They have a multilane jr. olympic/ 25m pool, it's only $25/month to have access MWFSa (way cheaper than a Master's group), and of course I can do other workouts if I want.

So far it's working out well.

When the LA Tri Club beginners' ocean swim workout starts again, I'll be doing that on Sundays, too.

Re: Solvang -- yes, I'll do a ride report. Sometime soon.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hemet Tinseltown Tri

I won! It's not that my haiku was any good, it was a random drawing, but still! So my season is not yet over. Hemet Tinseltown backwards tri on December 11th!

I'll have a Solvang Prelude report in the next day or so. Suffice to say it was freezing in the morning, hot late morning, lots of hills, but fun overall. Though my husband will probably snort in disbelief at that last. Regardless I felt no guilt over visiting wineries the rest of the day!

Running with Mel is going well. We're pretty consistent pace-wise even when we've both been bone-tired.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Total Immersion Workshop

The workshop was a 2-day primarily pool session workshop (4 hours pooltime each day), with a couple hours for questions and critquing of our videos.

13 students, 2 instructors. One student was repeating the course (he'd taken it about 2 years ago).

We started at the very beginning (sing along now!), with basic back balance drills, and progressed to various other drills in a methodical, easy to learn process.

There were 3 to 5 of us per lane depending on how many lanes we had for each pool session, and we did drills staggered so the instructors could get a look at everyone. Some people caught on faster than others, and may not have gotten as much help/critiquing/finetuning as the ones who were having problems(but I never felt outright neglected!).

All the drills have specific names which make sense once you're doing them -- skating, zipper, etc.

By the end of the second day we were doing 'continuous switching' 'drills' -- i.e. SWIMMING (as I gleefully exclaimed when we got to that point).

The focus for the workshop was teaching us the drills so we could then work on things further on our own; there's so much to learn and then work on.

TI seems about efficiency first (with speed as a byproduct) which to me fits in well with my tri goals (i.e. having the energy to RUN across the beach after the swim as opposed to stagger!).

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I've been doing better on my run/walks -- my ankle is basically healed (though I can feel twinges when kicking while swimming) -- 12:39 pace including walk breaks (2:30 run, 2:00 walk). I know that ratio seems low on the run side, I'll be increasing it next week, but I remind myself that, with the exception of injuring my ankle, and that was a byproduct of bad luck on the swim entry at Hermosa DATB, I've not injured myself yet.

I learned a lot at the TI workshop -- I'd highly recommend it. I decreased my strokes going across the 25m pool from 21 to 15 (though I think part of that decrease is due to a really nice push off) and I could really tell the difference on the videos with my form. I have a LOT of work to do swimming -- I seriously should cut my times in half -- but in time and with work it will come.