Sunday, May 31, 2009

Yeah, no posts, no wonder why no one reads this!  Anyhow, I haven't been blogging, but have been running biking swimming, so all is not lost.  In the past week or so, I have done the Boca ride again, this time with Tom (and about 4 minutes faster), and worked more on speed, getting out of the saddle and, as always, cadence.  I have to say, I just looove my bike, and it is so much nicer than the old red one.  I am inspired by it, really.  One day I hope to actually deserve its ride, if you know what I mean.

Have also done plenty of running and a fair amount of swimming.  I am again confronted with the reality that is the Garmin, for it continually proves to me how slow I really am, and how distances I thought were established (ie. the short Sawtooth trail I always consider to be just under 5 miles, come to find out is really just under 4 miles, thanks Nike+) are up for revision.  The thing just doesn't lie, and I am finding out how much I suck every day!!  

I have been doubling up my workouts more than I ever have before.  Example, today I ran around Donner Lake (the run I'll do in the triathlon, give or take a half mile), 7 miles in just under 1 1/2 hours, and swam 1000 yards in the pool in about a half an hour, maybe a few minutes more.  I read somewhere today that one of the best things you can do for yourself in training for an Oly is bricks bricks and bricks.  I don't think this qualifies as a brick, as I ran first thing in the morning and swam at around 5, but it does have to help.  I definitely plan some TRUE bricks in the coming month.

I also plan to get out and do some open water swimming, the more the better.  I got my wetsuit out of mothballs today in preparation, but it didn't work out.  Tomorrow I will probably try again.

I got a book called Swim Workouts for Triathletes today, and did the initial "test" to figure out what your swim times should be.  You're supposed to swim 3 300s, average them together, break it down to 100s, and this is called a T-time.  There's a handy chart in the book with the times all broken down for you, with projections for what time you should aim for at a specific distance and SURPRISE my time is not even on the chart.  By several minutes (for the 300, which my 3 trials averaged out to be 8:30).  Yeah, I got some growing to do as an "athlete" . . . 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Yesterday I finally decided to face my demons -- namely, what will be the bike route during the Donner Triathlon.  This is a 25 mile route, which introduces itself with a 1200 ft climb in (I think) 3 miles up to Donner Pass -- not my type of thing at all.  I figured I'd start out by 1. dying, followed by 2. Tom pushing my still-warm carcass the rest of the way up.  I am NOT a climber or any kind of decent cyclist at all.  Well, I guess I do ok on the flats and the descents, but once the road pitches up even a little, I am gasping and struggling and wondering how it is possible that people can generate any kind of speed whatsoever.  Yesterday was to be the day of reckoning . . . alas,  I remembered (just in time!) that yesterday was also the Tahoe LunaChix first group road ride of the season and that sounded so much better!  So, last evening I found myself in my first ever group road ride.

There were maybe 10 of us all together, 6 being the LunaChix team and the rest just folks like me looking for a ride.  We had a really nice 20 mile ride from Boca up to the boat ramp (insert GPS data here) . . . . . I was not surprised to find myself dropped by the group, but two of the LunaChix hung out in the back with me as I huffed and puffed my way up the climbing first 10 miles.  I definitely struggled, but was pleased with Snake the bike and the thought that this is my baseline and really all I can do from this point is improve.  I really enjoyed riding with this group of women, and felt totally supported even given my slowness and general beginner-ness.  I also really like this as a cycling road, for the climbs -- though somewhat relentless -- are certainly not brutal, and that's a little tough to find here in Tahoe.  Also, the car traffic on the road was minimal, and comparatively slow -- a huge bonus!  Plus, out and back was exactly 20 miles which seems like a completely do-able distance right now.  I also liked the fact that most of the climbing is in the first 10 miles, then you get to turn around and (mostly) fly all the way back to the car.  My kind of route!  I will surely be doing lots of biking there!

I felt a little sore this morning when I woke up, but nothing too dramatic.  The thought of Donner Pass was still jangling around in my head, not wanting to be put off yet again.  So Tom and I loaded up the bikes and headed for the west end of Donner Lake -- which will be the scene of my eventual big ol' triathlon.

Now I have pretty much psyched myself right out of the climb at this point, and really had visions of having to walk up sections and generally being humiliated with my performance.  

**OK, I have left this post unfinished for 5 days, as I have been away adventuring.  So I'm getting caught up, and perhaps this won't be the same post it would have been had I finished it on time, but there it is.**

But I was pleasantly pleased with myself when all was said and done.  I didn't rocket up the thing in any way, shape or form, but I made it up without too much of a struggle, and now know what I can improve from.  I stopped for two short breaks on the way up, not because I really needed them but rather it seemed like a pretty good idea.  

That's pretty damn steep.  It took me 50 minutes to go 3 miles with about 1,100 feet of elevation gain.  I have a feeling this is super super slow, but I was happy to be able to make it.  I will try to do this ride at least once a week, adding on to it bit by bit till I'm doing the whole 25 mile route.  Tom thinks it'll be a good idea to ride to the top, ride down and then repeat.  This sounds like a good idea to me, as does trying out a brick or two before the race.  The view from the top is splendid, and looks over Donner Lake.

So I'm a little unsure of what I have and have not done since I started this post, but I have been running and, to a lesser extent, swimming regularly and am in full swing with what passes for "training" for me.  I am keeping a more detailed log of what I'm up to with my Ascent Garmin software, and am really glad to have that system to keep track of what I am doing.  

Anyway, I've biked and swam and run and adventured and will put up some pictures of my recent trip later today (which is already may 19).  I am planning on hitting the gym this morning for some exciting treadmilling (figure it'll be a good introduction to the gym, if not my favorite running form) and will be following that up with an evening ride up at Boca.

Other news, the snow finally melted from my yard!  Things are growing!  The farmer's market has commenced!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Adventures in Hairdressing

So I have had gray hair for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, I'd have these mutant white hairs that would SPROING out of my head and grow in odd directions, and I'd usually pull them out. When I was a teenager, they were still there, but less obnoxious-acting, so I just left them alone.  In my twenties, the grays (really, whites) started coming in fast and furious around my temples and along the sides, and I didn't really care so much.  However, when I was around 28 or so, over a period that wasn't much longer than a month, I really WENT GRAY.  Like, 40-50% gray.  I'm not an overly vain person, and really didn't care so much about the grays, but I just looked odd with the gray hair.  At that age, it really just didn't match my face.  So, I started dyeing my hair.  And I never did stop (actually, somewhere in there I shaved my head, but that's another story).  Every 4 weeks -- my hair grows freakishly fast -- here I am with my Feria #40 (Espresso Brown), hunched over the bathroom sink, trying to keep the dye more on my hair than the counter, usually with somewhat limited success.  I always managed to get my face quite dark, as well.  Anyhow, this has gone on for the past 15 or so years, and I can tell as my roots grow out that I am getting grayer and grayer.

Slowly, slowly I get sick of the constant dyeing and even more sick of the roots growing like a skunk stripe down my scalp, and now that I've reached the ripe old age of over 40, I start thinking that maybe my face can now handle the grays.  While I'm quietly considering this, I happen to have 2 discussions with other women who've either gone through the process of "going natural" or are thinking about it, and the idea is born.  

The whole problem is how to do it.  If you just stop dyeing, the roots grow out and you end up with hair that's half white and half dark and while I'm not too concerned with looks, that's a little too much even for me.  Cut it short?  Been there, done that, and I do NOT look right with short hair.  Put it off for a few more years?  This is probably the route I would have taken, but I had those conversations with those women and I got the idea in my head and rapidly became (as I am wont to do) totally obsessed with the idea.  The next morning I called my hairdresser (who happens to be the most awesome hair person I have ever had -- and the most inexpensive, too) to discuss my theoretical options and the next thing I know I have an appointment scheduled for the next day -- Friday.  She told me that what she would do is strip the color out of sections of my hair, and over time this would allow the gray to grow out in a more natural-looking way.  This process, she said, would take about a year of regular visits.  This definitely represented a pretty big commitment on my part, 'cause I'm lucky if I can make the haircut twice a year.  But I was ready to Embrace My Natural Womanhood, and thus . . .

Here I am, looking pretty much the way I've looked for the past 15.  Note that I haven't dyed in maybe 2-3 weeks and you can see the white hairs coming in on the top of my head, and a little at the temples.  The extent of my gray headedness is not really apparent in this photo, though.  I really am wicked gray.

Tom's a little afraid that I'll come back from my appointment all gray-headed and looking like a grandma, so he whips out the Photoshop and we take a guess at what I might look like.  I have this idea in my head, and this is the closest we can come to it.

So I go off to see Vicki, and show her this photo.  She says that it'll take a lot longer that one visit to reach that kind of color, and reiterates that it takes a year or two to really get there.  Then I plop into her chair, and she starts the laborious process of bleaching itty bitty strands a little at a time, wrapping a few strands in foil and then moving on.   Have I mentioned that I have ridiculously thick hair, and have the hair of maybe 3-4 people all on top of my head?  True.  She has incredible patience, and what she guessed would take 3 hours actually took 5 (!) 'cause of my ridiculousness. 

So here I am sitting with all the foils in my hair, looking like a Ring Ding, wondering what my hair might look like after all of this.  She quickly cut another guy's hair, and then we took the foils out.  At first it was really freaky because what was in the foils was now all white and crinkly-looking and a startling amount of it promptly fell right out -- I imagine it was less than it looked, but I was still glad I started with lots of extra hair.  She then cut about 3 inches off and that way jettisoned the most-dyed part of my hair, aiming for the evenest color possible.  It was pretty light at this point, and then she dried it and it got even lighter!  We were BOTH totally surprised at how good it came out, and how light my hair appeared when all was said and done.  Vicki thought it would take me longer to get to this point, and thinks maybe I can grow the gray out right from here without needing a whole lot more professional intervention.  So here I am, a blonde:

It looks surprisingly like the 'do we Photoshopped, doesn't it?  I was pretty shocked at first, but have really gotten used to it over the weekend.  For the first 24 hours I couldn't stop looking in the mirror, and was constantly asking How's my hair look?  Now I'm completely on board and wondering why I didn't do this years ago.  The hair looks even lighter than it does in this photo, kind of an ash-blond with lots of gray and white.  I guess the real test is how it looks in a month or three when the roots start coming in strong, but it'll obviously be a lot less jarring than white and brown.  I'm ready.

In other news, the local gym is running a special and FINALLY they have prices we can afford, so we joined today.  I don't know how much use we'll get out of it in the summer, but come fall winter spring we'll be regulars, I'm sure.  Hello, spin class!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cycle raves

I got on my new-to-me beautiful bicycle yesterday for my first pedaling foray into the outside.  Awesome!  Now, I had bought this bike (a really nice Litespeed w/ Dura-Ace (did I spell that right?) components) late in the season last year, and bought it for a SONG.  I had ridden it maybe once or twice, but was under the weather or ill or tired or something, and never did have the opportunity to really ride the thing.  I also had it up on the trainer a time or two this winter, but that doesn't really give a great indication of what the bike is like.  Anyhow, yesterday Tom and I went out for (my) inaugural ride and WOW! do I love this bike or what?!?  Perfect size, light as a feather, smooth smooth smooth in steering, shifting and everything else.  This was not any kind of power ride, but more of a 17 mile ride around town, exploring bike paths and other unknown roads, just to get my feet wet.  I am so impressed by this bike, and feel really lucky to have it.  Last year I replaced the crank set because the thing was just geared way too high for me, and this new one seems much better (though I know I will long for yet another 5 or 6 granny gears once I start hitting some of the mountain roads around here -- I'll get over it, though).  Plus, I road the whole ride with nary a touch of back pain, which is stellar so early in the season.  In the past I have had to take it very slow indeed the first 3-4 times out, or I'd be all gimped up with the back.  This year, this bike?  Nada!

The new Sidi shoes fit very well and I'm very pleased with those, too.  I hooked up Gary to the bike, along with the cadence sensor and handlebar mount, and that worked very well.  I think the cadence sensor will help me A  LOT with many of my biking problems.  Tom, who knows these things, is always telling me that I am in too hard of a gear, and should shift up and have a higher cadence.  I never really knew what to make of this or how to apply it to my riding style, but the sensor puts it into black and white and takes the wondering right out of it.  So we'll see what kind of change this will have.  I've got to figure out if there's a way to set the Garmin to recognize cadence zones, the way it does for heart rate zones.  I'm sure the thing would be beeping *all the time*, but it would certainly send the message!

I've named the bike The Snake, 'cause it's just so smooooth, and kinda slithery, in a good way.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A (very soft) brick!

While I've been sipping tequila in Mexico and generally lying around avoiding all of my physical obligations, the snow around me has been busy melting.  Therefore, when I *finally* got up off my ass, I found that I could go for a run back on my beloved trails!  How much nicer it is to run on the cushy stuff as opposed to the hard road.  I did 5k today, at a ridiculously slow pace, but felt fine.  I also swam, mostly continuously, for about 1/2 hour this morning a few hours before the run.  So there's that.

Another dry season

I've been doing WONDERFUL with my postings as of late, yes? I just cannot seem to get this blogging thing down . . . how do those guys do it? I dunno.

Mexico was great, my spanish is improving, albeit very very slowly, the weather is warming, and I have exercised hardly at all. Perhaps that is the reason for the lack of posts?  

Anyhow, I have GOT to get my shit together and get out and do some runny bikey swimmy stuff, or I will never be able to pull off this Oly tri (which I have already paid for) in July. I have done almost nothing in months and months and months. Is it even possible for me to complete this thing, given this late date (and remember, just crossing the finish line, even DFL, is considered a WIN in my head)? I am just getting ready to get out and jump start this thing, ergo the blog post I guess. I have no idea whatsoever what I am doing with myself these days . . .