Friday, September 27, 2013

A Busy Summer

I have about 10 blogs in my head which are sitting inside there because I haven't had time to spit them out though my fingertips onto the keyboard.  It's been a busy summer which is why there are both 10 blogs in my head and why they are still in there instead of on a page.  On a bright, late afternoon Friday, sneaking it in before my run/swim, I finally have the opportunity to report on the summer happenings.  On this rare occasion I actually have a few pictures to help illustrate the many topics on which I am about to report in rapid fire.

1.  Santa Barbara Triathlon (long course):
This year John and I did the Santa Barbara Triathlon (long course: 1 mile swim, 34 mile bike, 10 mile run).  I entered the race in the elite Master's category which gave me the opportunity to go out in the first, least crowded wave, have access to the best rack in the transition area, and get passed incessantly on the bike leg by every bike-blessed male in the competition.  Quick synopsis: My swim was sub-par (at least 2 minutes off my normal mile on the same stretch of ocean) because I was alone in the wake of the elite swimmers.  My bike fell way short of my expectation.  The bike is always an unknown to me as far as how it will go.  This particular bike course is tough but I felt very ready for it, knew it as well as anyone, but didn't do a great job of pushing my legs and pace.  My run was really good and I was happy with that part.  Even though that is my strongest discipline, it's hard to totally rely on it because one never knows how the body will hold together over the long haul and how the nutrition and energy will play out.  For me in this race, my run held together nicely and saved my race to some extent.  I place first in the Master's Elite Category.  However, I should also point out I was the only one IN the category.  Never the less, I would have won my age group had I entered in it and I was the second overall Master female.  I can't say I'm totally happy with the race, but not fully disappointed either.  I came out of it simply recognizing that I have work to do.  I want to thank all those who have been advising me, particularly on the bike.  And of course I want to thank my husband for helping me in the swim and for all of the open water workout opportunities he presented to us over the summer.  They helped tremendously.  And I want to thank Nash who has been helping John and I train as runners.

2. Mammoth
Because it is hard to take a vacation that spans the middle of a week, John and I planned two 4 day weekends in September.  The first of these was our first-ever trip to Mammoth Lakes, CA.  We have a dear friend who let us use his house up there which made it possible for us to do this and we are grateful.  I have never been at such a high altitude.  I didn't realize Mammoth was so high.  I thought Tahoe was high altitude but Mammoth makes Tahoe look like Death Valley.  We spent our four days trying desperately to run and bike.  The slightest grade upward made our lungs burn and it took us a couple of days to figure out that it's best not to go up hill if you don't have to.  Prior to figuring this out, we journeyed onto the Mammoth Crest trail.  It sounded lovely but we should have known that Crest often refers to the tippy top of the highest possible point.  Starting at 9000 feet, we ran up, and up, and up, and up.  The sounds and words that were coming out of John's mouth are not ever to be printed or repeated.  I think he hated me for about 50 minutes and then ah, the spectacular view from over 11,000 feet, panoramic and almost worth the climb.  On our beautiful Mammoth trip we saw a bear, two deer, a Mountain bike competition, the most beautiful trees, streams, lakes, awesome trails and views that are incomparable.  It was a wonderful trip and when we came back down out of the heavens to the reality of sea level and met with Nash the next day for our track workout, we were feeling good.  After days of sucking eggs and a constant altitude headache, we could finally breath again.

3. GEF 4 Miler
One of my favorite local races and courses is the Goleta Education Foundation 4 Miler.  I've done it twice before, both with good results on this speedy course.  It is well organized, well marked, well laden with volunteers, spectators and cheers, and the best of the best running friends enjoying the always perfect weather.  It is just fun.  This year I have to admit I came in with very tired legs (tired from biking because I'm trying to work on that, ha) and the morning was warm very early.  I am not a good heat runner, especially if I haven't had time to acclimate to it.  So I wasn't feeling it at the start.  Well I was feeling something, but it wasn't the "it" I was hoping to have.  My legs lacked "pop" and I was already feeling the warmth from the warm-up and was just hoping my body would end up feeling better than it presently was.  The exciting and redeeming part of the whole experience this year was that I was sporting a brand new race uniform from my new local running store (Santa Barbara Running) Oiselle team.  Santa Barbara Running is in excellent support of this women's line of running clothing from Oiselle, and I have been invited to participate as a member for our local team.  My team-mate Desa was also there sporting her new uni and we were thus "Twins."  Well Maggie Mason thought we were.  She saw Desa from behind and didn't recognize her and asked me if she was my sister.  I of course said, Yes, she's my twin.  Who doesn't want to be a twin of Desa.  Holy cow.  Getting back to how the race went, it didn't go or feel very good.  I was and will forever be eternally thankful for Jim Triplett who suffered with me.  Without him I would have been in no-man's land and who knows how much I would have thus fallen apart.  Jim hung with me, and me with him all the way until the end.  I placed 3rd overall, just a few steps ahead of Jim, though my time was not great (24:05 by my watch).  But it was the best I could do on the day.  I really ran it hard all the way to the end and then spent a fair amount of time trying not to puke.

4. Sedona
Our second 4 day weekend took us to Sedona, AZ, which is so unexpectedly breath-taking.  It cannot be described except to say you have to see if for yourself.  I've been there before several times and each time is like a whole new surprise.  As if I had forgotten how striking it is.  We enjoyed the fact that the trails were flatter and the altitude was more bearable (4,400) than Mammoth but alas, the footing was treacherous and technical.  Not knowing the trails, we opted to use a trail guide that listed them as Easy, Moderate, Strenuous.  We discovered that this had little to do with footing and technical aspects as these were not rated according to running on them, but rather hiking on them.  Again, I heard words and noises out of my husband's mouth that should never be repeated nor recorded.  But he kept a smile on his face and we did a new trail every day. 

I was given the opportunity to try a new trail shoe from Teva - Tevaspheres, and I had received my pair just days before our trip.  What better way to break them in and try them out than on rocky, red clay soil.  I didn't know what to expect with the new shoes as they have new features such as a spherical heal and a wide mid-foot base.  They are not as light a shoe as I've been using and they seemed not to have much cushion though they fit well and were comfortable.  After the first trail run (8.5 miles) of the most heinous ground, something like 10 dry creek crossings (if you saw this dry creek you'd know why this was a challenge), kicking several well planted rocks, maneuvering single-track twists, turns, up's, down's, shear cliff rocks, I came out a believer in these shoes.  They kept me on my toes, protected my toes (and ankles), I felt the ground and loved it, they gripped, they felt like they were a part of my foot, no blisters, no discomfort, no rolled ankles.  I'm a fan for life!  I didn't love them as much when I went on the roads, but as far as trails, they were awesome!!  I tried so hard to get them all red and dirty but even the red clay dirt and dust wouldn't stick to these angelic shoes.  Wow.

5. Santa Barbara Running
I want to thank from the bottom of my heart miss Monica DeVreese, Santa Barbara Running, Oiselle, and Nike for the opportunity they have given me to be a part of something truly special.  I am again referring to our local running store Oiselle race team.  We have been outfitted in amazing clothes that not only look good on females but also perform well with us.  Monica deserves all the credit for initiating and perpetuating this venture and it is nothing but fun and exciting.  As well, Nike provided a pair of shoes (a pair of Pegasus for me) for us and I want to publicly thank them for that generosity.  Our team will be doing many races together, not so much to win as a team but to represent a great STORE, a great BRAND, and a great AFFINITY for friendship and camaraderie.  Thank you Monica and thank you fellow team members.  I look forward to all that is ahead.

Summer's over but Fall is here and it brings a whole new set of challenges and fun.  This weekend John and I along with so many others will be doing the Carpinteria Triathlon (sprint).  I am excited, nervous and need to get going out the door for today's run/swim workout.  Thanks truly for taking the time to read this!

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