Friday, April 24, 2015

The Reality of the Thing

I suffer from post-major-event slumps.  Pretty much always.

I have various ways to combat this, usually involving signing up for something else shortly after the major event in hopes that I won't slump out of sheer panic.

Well.  There is panic.  I'll tell you that.

I finished the MS150 on Sunday massively dehydrated.  I weighed 2.5 pounds less than Sunday morning on Monday morning, and that was after I had done quite a bit of re-hydrating.  And I felt ROUGH.  So Monday was, and was always planned to be, a recovery day.  But I didn't anticipate how bad off I'd be.  I went to the grocery store on Monday and then needed a nap because it exhausted me.  It was that severe.

Couple that with my other body issue which began on Tuesday, and Tuesday's planned recovery swim didn't happen.  Which led to a Wednesday lie-in.  And then Thursday... it really wasn't until Thursday night that I finally felt back to almost normal.

So this morning I finally, FINALLY, dragged myself out of bed for Yoga.  Yoga is NOT a triathlon.  And now I'm freaking out because I have to travel again for work this coming week and as always when I travel I can expect to struggle with exercising.

Ok, so the mop-up panic (but also trying to be realistic) plan is this:
Saturday: open water swim
Sunday: run or bike or bike/run
Monday: P90X in hotel room
Tuesday: skip
Wednesday: skip, but if I could do something when I get back home if I get back early enough, a run would be great
Thursday: bike morning, swim afternoon
Friday: off
Saturday: tri (TRY!)

I think this is doable and will ease my panic.  I will not have lost all my fitness in the past 2 weeks.  I need to remember that.  I just need to reassure myself that I can get through this thing.  I can definitely do the swim.  No problem.  The bike is so much way shorter than the MS.  I can definitely do the bike.  The run is the scary bit, and come on, I can totally walk if I need to.  I can do this.  It may be rough, but I can do it.

After the tri, the goal is back into a steady training plan (no more work trips til July!), and, AND back to calorie counting because the super long weekend hunger-making workouts should be over.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Garden update!

We have radishes! (And carrots and onions but those are super tiny.)

And we have a (tiny little) jalapeño!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

MS150 Ride Report

Make that the MS70.  Yeah, you read that right.

The weather leading up to the MS150 was panic-making.  I read Eric Berger's weather blog and he kept making comments about how it might be a nice weekend if you weren't doing something nutty like trying to ride a bike from Houston to Austin.

Then there were buckets and buckets of rain in the days leading up to the race.  By Thursday I was guessing they might cancel Saturday.  Just as I was leaving my conference on Friday, they cancelled Saturday.

In all honesty - I was kind of relieved.  There, I said it.  After the horrible Katy Ram Challenge and Eric predicting a headwind... I was scared.

Annnnnd after a week of conference, honestly it was nice to have a day off on Saturday before I turned my legs to noodles.

BUT because I was planning on a two day ride from Houston, not a one day from La Grange, I got pretty stressy over the logistical issues on Saturday.  I had reserved P a room near Austin for SATURDAY night, so I didn't have anyone to drop me off at the start.  I went ahead and sent him on Saturday afternoon, then managed to catch a bus ride with a bunch of riders staying in the Omni from Austin.  (Serious kudos to the Omni for letting me have a ride.  They were totally awesome about it.  Go stay there!!)

With that said, I got up at 3:30 on Sunday to catch a 4:45 bus from Houston to La Grange.  It was a school bus, with like 20 riders and 20 bikes.  It was just a tad crowded.  But I am GRATEFUL.  So not complaining.  Just sayin'. :-)  We got there at 7.   I grabbed a porta potty line, then my chain was off so headed to the mechanic.  Then waited around for a while, munching a bagel, for the start.  It was an 8am start, and I started at 9 and I wasn't even close to last.   It was kind of cool and misting as I waited, but boy that did NOT last long.

I felt GREAT!  Just great.  It wasn't exactly a headwind.  Like side-head.  I'll take it!  I was riding along at a good clip and I just felt really good.

First rest stop: 9.5 mi in 45 min.  Muddy, oh so muddy!  Applied sunscreen and used facilities.  Removed arm warmers.  Ate some animal crackers.  Drank half a bottle of water. 

Headed out at about the same time as another team member, and he was around the same speed as me, and we went back and forth on the next leg.

Second rest stop: 23 mi at 1:45.  Ate jelly beans.  Drank half a bottle of Gatorade.  Still feeling good. 

I came upon a wreck about 2 miles before lunch where we were all just stopped in the road.  Then once it was cleared, we rode like 100 yards to a light where a policeman was letting small groups through, so stopped again.  At that light we turned left and immediately we were on a GIGANTIC downhill.  Like mega.  Like wow, drop off the world downhill.   And I got so scared.  We were too packed, it was dangerous.  And I was thinking I wasn't the only one because everyone was braking braking braking.  But then I got all freaky because I wasn't going to be able to go all the way down the hill at like 2mph without losing control.  After a few minutes I gave in and hopped off and started walking it down the hill.  Now THERE'S something I never thought I'd do!!  Walk my bike DOWN a hill in the MS150!!  Anyways, it turned out that there was another wreck and everyone ended up walking.  I heard several veterans comment that they have never ever ridden down that hill because someone always wrecks there.  Crazy!

Lunch stop (finally!): 33.5 miles in 3 hours (which was about 25 minutes slower than it would have been if not for the wrecks).  Ate a ham sandwich.  Finished the bottle of Gatorade and refilled with Cytomax.  Lunch was in a big tent and thank goodness for the team because I must admit I felt like I was in high school walking into the cafeteria.  I reapplied sunscreen here and used the restroom for what would be the last time for the day.  By the end of lunch I was starting to feel a little rough - just very hot, like I was sunburning, and queasy.  But I was worried about my team leaving, so I headed out.

Then it got bad.  I really really struggled with the next section.  I was at a mental low point.  It was just so HOT (probably about 85 at this point, and I hadn't trained in the heat because this was really the first hot day) and my legs were feeling the shooting pain that normally waits til the end of rides for me.  The wind had shifted into a headwind and worst of all it was a HOT gusty headwind.  I was seriously considering sagging and/or puking.  It was BAD.  Then about 7 miles into the 14 mile leg, I saw a bunch of riders pulled over as we were crossing the Colorado River for like the 3rd time to take pics.  I pulled over and took an Ibuprofen for the leg pain and drank most of the rest of my water trying to push the queasies down.  I vaguely suspect that the Cytomax didn't agree with my stomach.  Then I thought I could at least get to the next rest stop and I'd decide from there.

Fourth stop: 49 miles in probably about 4:15.  I don't actually know the exact time, and this is the only one I don't know, because I felt too bad to check, honestly.  I got to this stop and reported directly to the med tent to tell them I wasn't right.  My pulse was ok, so they advised me to sit in the shade, drink cold water, and just wait and see what I thought.  I was at this stop for at least half an hour and I did just that.  Drank an entire bottle of ice water.  Sat.  Stretched.  Called P and cried.  Then when I was getting ready to walk back over to my bike, I saw a friend from the R2R training rides.  I told her I had had a rough leg and she was all, "It is only 8 miles to the next stop!!  You can do 8 miles!! Try latching onto us!!"  And I believed her just enough that I got back on.

I was actually surprised at this point that my ass and legs felt much better.  THANK YOU Ibuprofen.  Seriously.  I was still hot and I think dehydrated, but the lessening of the pain plus the short leg made me feel like I could get through it.  I managed to latch onto Katie until about 5 miles in, and then I only had 3 to go, so I made it.

Fifth rest stop: 59 mi in 5:21.  Again I spent quite a while at this stop.  Sat in the shade, drank lots of water.  I was still scared to eat, though.  Reapplied sunscreen.

Surprisingly the first few miles out of this rest stop weren't bad AT ALL.  They were mostly downhill and they kind of flew by.  It was at some point in there that I realized that my tummy hurt now not because I was going to puke but because I was seriously mega hungry.  So I pulled over at the top of a hill and pounded a package of peanut butter crackers with lots more water.

But then after that we started coming into Austin and oh, the HILLS!!  If the day had gone differently for me, perhaps I'd have tried to ride the hills.  As it was, I'd get as much momentum as I could, shift as much as I could, but when I was going about 4 miles an hour and really working hard for it, I just went ahead and hopped off and walked the hills.  There was no reason to punish my body further.  So that last look took quite a while.  Also, coming into town there were more lights where we got held up and we had to narrow down to one bike lane, so it was definitely a little sketchier.  But in the end -  I finished.

Finish: 70 mi in 6:45.  That 6:45 is time ON THE BIKE.  I started at 9am and finished at 6pm, for the record.

I have to say that I am very proud of myself for making it to the finish under my own power.  It was a near thing several times.  But I got it done.

And I saw my family right after I crossed the line.  And I got my pin and my certificate.  And I took my bike over head pic in front of the Capitol.  And then I went to EZ's and chowed hardcore on chicken and cheese fries and a milkshake and it was GOOD.  Then we drove home, arriving at 11pm. Eep!  Definitely the right decision to take a day off work the next day.

So here's my thing - I heard all over the place that this was a really rough ride - really bad year in terms of heat and headwind.  But seriously, seriously, I don't think I could have done both days if that is what they both were like.  At least not done them and finished entirely under my own power.

I'm going to have to try the MS150 again.  It is just in my nature.  But not next year, I don't think.  It was just such a HUGE commitment in terms of prep time - essentially blowing at least half of every Saturday from January-April.  So maybe sometime in the future, but not soon.

Am I glad I did it?  YES, absolutely!  I am SO much more comfortable on my bike than I have ever EVER been before.  All those miles.  There was a point on that first leg when I thought, you know, I actually feel COMFORTABLE.  ON A BIKE.  That has literally never happened before.  I was riding along with people and I wasn't white knuckled or scared or anything.  I was just riding.  For me that is such a huge thing.  There was one point where I took both hands off the bike.  Now that was for like a second, but again, for me, HUGE!  Just a massive statement about my confidence and comfort level.  And also, importantly, I know of some really good local rides with shorter route options that would be great triathlon prep rides for next year!  I'd love to hang out at about 40 miles, so the 20-whatever mileage in a tri feels like no big thing.  And I now feel really comfortable signing up for that kind of thing.  So this was a really really great experience for me overall.  Nothing but positive came out of it.  I am so very very glad I went on this crazy ride!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Terry Hershey Park

So I've heard about this park - my team did most of their group riding at Terry Hershey Park, but I had never gone before.  So Easter weekend P and I took his new bike out there to give it a try.  And it was really a pretty neat park.

We started at the Dairy Ashford lot and headed East, and I wasn't so sure in the beginning.  There are tons of little tiny hills, like 50 feet long, but they are freaking crazy steep.  So I'd go at them thinking no way I need to shift, just power through, they are soooo short.  Then I'd be walking.  It completely changed the way I shift, let me to shift preemptively and faster.  It was really good practice.  But it also felt dangerous - there were lots of blind curves and tight turns and those little evil hills.  So while it was great practice, it wasn't a good representation of riding on the road for hours at a time.

When we headed back west, though, the terrain was much better in terms of a more road like experience.

It is completely closed to traffic, and thus an excellent option, especially if I need to ride alone or just me and P.

I did have a flat and end up having to walk my bike back to a lot while P rode to our car to come fetch me.  Glad I wasn't alone.

Oh, and also, we rode there on Easter Sunday in the morning and it was icky weather, gentle rain.  I was STUNNED at how many people were out and about.  I worry that it is potentially uber crowded during a normal weekend, based on that.

All in all, great resource, will definitely be back!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ride Report: Katy Ram Challenge

Philosophical question of the day: How is it that you can ride a loop and yet 2/3 of it has a headwind?

I decided to do this ride at the last minute since Ready 2 Roll's ride was a loooooooong drive for me, and it was also more mileage than I wanted to commit to on the weekend before the MS 150.

There was the potential for rain, so I did an on-site sign-up.  I actually have to say that it was super painless, and it was really cool because it was in Sun n Ski and they actually had the store open for business at 6am.  So I was early and once I was signed up, I went shopping for (and purchased) a new trisuit!  2 birds, 1 stone, yay!

I chose the 36 mile route, again, because it is the weekend before the big weekend, and frankly, if my body isn't ready, killing it this weekend wasn't really going to help.

Well I killed it even on the 36.  But I'll get to that.

Ride to the first rest stop was a little clustery for the first 5 miles or so, but then it opened up nicely.  Mild headwind, no problem.  First rest stop could have used more porta potties, but otherwise was fine.

Second leg was AWESOME!!!  I had a tailwind and I was FLYING!  It went by crazy fast and suddenly I was at the next rest stop and high on the sheer awesome.

But even at that rest stop I had a sneaking suspicion that we were looking at a headwind on the way back.  Oh noooooo, I haaaaaaateses headwinds.

And I was right.  That last leg was terrible.  Awful.  No good.  Very bad.  Soul sucking.

I have to say I got really ticked at this one lady, too.  I'm not sure at what point she latched onto my draft (lol, hilarious, since I was going 10-12 mph, but it happened), but at some point I became aware by sounds that there was someone back there.  And the road wasn't great so I was taking routes around holes and junk and she was following right on me.  I'd barely glimpse her out of the corner of my eye when I was checking over my shoulder for traffic.  She rode there for at least several MILES, never saying a word, just drafting off of me.  I was in such a bad mental place I was wanting to scream into the wind.  I was just soooooo frustrated with how HARD it was to go that SLOW.  Finally at some point I just sat all the way up and was going about 9 when she popped out and flew by me, never saying a word.  GRRRRRR.  As I was explaining later to P, I just felt so used.  There is a right way to use someone and a wrong way.  The right way is to let them know you're there and chat them up a bit and help them through if they are having a rough time.  The wrong way is to hide and quietly use them and then discard them when they are used up.  Not cool.  Not cool at all.

Anyways, I made it back but it was seriously sucky and I must say that my confidence took a hit, which isn't good leading into next weekend.  But there it is.  I need to just remember that second awesome leg and try to forget the rest.  And cross my fingers that there isn't a headwind heading to Austin next weekend.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Houston, we have a Garden!

We finally got the garden built!

We used boards left over from when my parents built their house years ago, so only spent maybe $40 in supplies.  Plus then another $100 on dirt, but really with all the roots in our area, it is the only way to get clear planting.  I filled the boxes as much as possible with leaves before we added the dirt, to save on costs.

We actually built 4 boxes but the other two don't have dirt yet.  I think we will see how these go and then go from there.

We planted several tomatoes and peppers, 2 broccoli plants, one squash, a watermelon and a cantaloupe.  And yes, I'm aware that the watermelon and cantaloupe will run out.  We're just going to see how that goes.  Also I planted a short row of carrots, onions, and radishes.

I am so excited!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Monthly Progress Report

15 goals for 2015:
1. Leave my old job as well as I can.  Check!
2. Enjoy my month off.  Check!
3. Get lots done during month off also!  Check!
4. Rock out the new job.  Working it!
5. Complete the BP MS150 in April.  In training.
6. Do a triathlon!  In training.
7. Train for and complete the 8 mile Turkey Trot. (Eg. Running, not walking.)  After MS 150 and Tri.
8. Start a garden.  Check!
9. Start a family game night on Thursdays.  Have done a few, need to make a habit.
10. Focus on consciencous spending. I'm really doing a pretty good job here.  Need to work on family now.
11. Lose 20 pounds.  Half a pound is better than no pounds.  Weight is 147.6.  Stopped tracking calories when started the new job.   Probably need to start again.  Also need to do fewer coffee/lunches out with people now that I'm not so new any more.  Think I could actually be dropping weight if I was just a bit less indulgent.  But it is tough with the ridiculously long rides every weekend.  The proof is in the dropping, it is just happening a bit slower than I'd like, and I'm really going to have to watch the eating once I'm done with the MS150.
12. Cook more, better at home.  Working it.
13. Go climbing.  Not yet. 
14. Take Zoë camping for the first time!  Check!
15. Make stained glass things.  Have most of the tools, still need to get set up.