Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Stolen from NW 22nd & Overton today at ~3:00.

Specialized Hardrock.  90s Steel MTB, with yellow decals and green Oury grips.

Bike was attached to a blue Soup Cycle Trailer.

Soup Cycle employees use their own bikes and tools while pulling the trailers, so while the trailer may be covered by insurance, the bike is not.  Losing her work bike, tools and personal items (her waterproof goretex jacket, gloves, pump, etc.) is a huge loss for someone who makes their living cycling.

Please, keep your eyes out for the bike, and if you have any information, please contact me, or Asta Chastain at her first name dot last name at gmail dot com.  A police report has been filed, so you can also contact Portland Police if you see someone riding around on it. 

THANKS for keeping your eyes peeled. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Coffeeneuring Recap

Here's a quick link to my 2012 Coffeeneuring history.  8 trips in all!

#1 Insomnia Coffee Company

#2 Edge Good Coffee

#3 Sesame Donuts

#4 Townshend's Tea Company

#5 Maggie's Buns

#6 Grand Central Baking

#7 Dutch Brothers Coffee

#8 Chatterbox Coffee

Coffeeneuring #8 11-11-12

Wow, how quickly 6 weeks pass by.

For our final coffeeneuring trip, Lynne & I planned to meet at Chatterbox Coffee on Baseline.   I haven't been there in a couple of years, and it's changed hands (and names) in the interim.  Seemed like it was time for another visit.

I'd been up fairly late the night before decorating a birthday cake, so I was glad the ride was just 8 miles round trip.  As it was the only exercise I was going to get this weekend, I was pretty sure I wouldn't burn off enough calories to cover the coffee, much less the cake to be consumed later in the day!   When I arrived, I found Lynne, her husband Fitz, and Jeff A already inside.

Chatterbox.  The gang's all here!

Lynne & Fitz.  (Jeff A not pictured)

Lynne & Mexi-Mocha.

Lots of choices!

Latte.  Passable coffee, lousy photo.
 We passed a very pleasant hour chatting.    Lynne's write-up of the day (and a group photo) can be found here.

Many many thanks to Mary Gersema of Chasing Mailboxes  for inspiring us to complete our coffeeneuring journey.  Looking forward to 2013!

Chatterbox Cafe
Vanilla Latte
8 miles
With Lynne, Fitz & Jeff A!

Coffeeneuring #7 2012-11-10

Every year I bake a birthday cake for Liam (the son of our best friends).  I've been doing this since his very first birthday.   This year marked the end of Liam's 7th trip around the sun, and thus it was time for me to make him yet another cake.

Over the years, Liam's cakes have gotten more elaborate.   I let Liam choose the theme, but after that I'm free to make whatever I like.   This summer, Liam learned to ride his bike without training wheels, so sometime around August he decided he wanted a bicycle cake.  With history as my guide, I knew I would invest a significant number of hours into the creation of his cake.

Liam's birthday is November 11th (Sunday).   His party was scheduled for 1pm.   November 11th is ALSO the day that Lynne & I planned to meet to do our final coffeneuring.  9am.

I planned to spend all day Saturday November 10th decorating Liam's cake.  With history as my guide, I knew I would invest a significant number of hours into the creation of his cake.   (Last year's cake involved 36 hours spread out over nearly a week.)   This year's cake, while not as complex, was still quite an undertaking.  Although the cakes themselves were already baked, I knew the entire day would be spent on it's construction.

What does this have to do with coffeeneuring?   Well, I was worried that November 11th would arrive to find me with his cake unfinished, me scrambling to put the finishing touches on it the morning of the party, and therefore unable to meet Lynne to coffeeneur.  Since this was the FINAL day of the FINAL weekend of coffeeneuring, I did not want to miss it!

 And so, since I decided to do an "insurance coffeeneur".  What's that?   Well.... sometimes Lynne & I do "insurance perms".  Both of us are working on another R-12.  Some months, there's a big ride (400K, 600K etc.) scheduled late in the month.   While neither of us ever DNF brevets, there's always that chance, and so, as "insurance" against breaking our R-12 streaks, we will sometimes do a 200K perm earlier in the month.   You know, just in case.

So, on the morning of the 10th, I decided I needed a quick "insurance" ride.   The grocery store is 1.2 miles (2.4 miles r/t) from my house.  I needed more powdered sugar for the cake fondant so I decided to ride my bike, get some coffee, buy the sugar, and hightail it home.   Perhaps this trip is not within the "spirit" of the casual, relaxed coffeeneuring events we'd had up to this point, but sometimes life intervenes to interrrupt our best intentions.

My dutch bike (a REAL dutch bike: the Gazelle Madelief) has a grocery pannier permanently installed, so I decided to take that bike to the local Fred Meyer.   As I was pedaling towards the store, I realized I could have fun with the dutch theme.  Rather that going to Starbucks (I'd sworn that I wouldn't use that as one of my coffeeneuring locations!) I decided to ride to the nearby Dutch Brothers Drive-thru instead!

Dutch Brothers has a walk-up window so I parked my bike and ordered a "Cocomo".  I think it's basically a latte with coconut flavor.  It wasn't great, but wasn't awful either.  I wouldn't go out of my way to order it again.

Dutch bike at Dutch Brothers

My Gazelle Madelief at the grocery store.  

Groceries purchased, I returned home to work on Liam's cake.  

I'm pretty good at copying cakes I find online or elsewhere.  To make Liam's cake I was inspired by one I found on a blog, but decided i could one-up it by making the wheels actually spin!   To do so, I purchased lazy susan bearings online at Amazon

Spin me around!
The construction of the cake was time-consuming , but I got it done by 1am.   (Early enough to get up the next day for coffeeneuring with Lynne.  Yay!)

The finished cake!

Manufactured 2005.  The boy, not the cake!

My favorite 7 year old.  Love you, Liam!

Here's a quick video clip of Liam playing with the spinning wheels.   They were a big hit with all the boys at the party!

The details:
Dutch Brothers Coffee
Distance: 2.4 miles
"cocomo" coconut latte.  Meh.
All by myself!

Coffeeneuring #6 2012-11-04

Grand Central Bakery makes GREAT bread.   They also make a surprisingly good latte.  On November 4th, I rode the 14.8 miles  to Grand Central to meet Theo, Ed & Asta for coffee and breakfast.  We were planning to ride the Lunch at Nick's 200K permanent after breakfast, so coffee and some solid food seemed advisable.

I arrived to find everyone else already there, including Ken (the perm owner who needed to give us cards & waivers) and Rob, with whom we'd ridden the Verboort Sausage Populaire the day before.   They both live within a few blocks of Grand Central.

(L to R) Ed, Theo, Asta Ken & Rob.
Service was slooooooow, so despite wanting something warm, I ended up with just a latte and a jammer.  A very tasty jammer, but not the warm breakfast I was hoping for.

Latte served by the pint!

Ed bought bread to sustain him through the 200K.  Was quite amusing to see it sticking out of his handlebar bag half the day!

Now, don't go eating that all at once...

The details:
Grand Central Bakery, Multnomah Blvd, Portland
Vanilla Latte & a jammer
14.8 miles one way (30r/t)
with Ed, Theo, Asta, Ken & Rob!

Coffeeneuring #5 11-03-2012

November 3rd marked the umpteenth annual running of the Verboort Sausage Populaire run by the Oregon Randonneurs.    While I can't get Jeff to come out on a 200K with me, a populaire with sausage involved is right up his alley.     Of course, we *also* wanted to do our 5th coffeeneuring adventure, so we hatched a plan.

1) Ride 15 miles to Maggies Buns in Forest Grove for coffee and breakfast.
2)  Ride 3 miles from Maggies Buns to Verboort, the location of the populaire.
3) Ride the populaire.
4) Ride the 15 miles home!

With the populaire starting at 9:00, we did the math and realized we'd need to leave our house at 6:45 to get to Maggie's between 7:45 and 8:00.   It was still fairly dark when we left (clocks hadn't changed yet) and Jeff doesn't have much in the way of lighting, but the roads were fairly quiet and soon enough thre was enough light to navigate by.   We arrived at Maggie's at 7:55 and set about ordering food & coffee.

Maggie's Buns
Jeff.  Get that boy some coffee!
Maggie's is notoriously slow, so while we waited for our coffee and food, I entertained myself by photographing the eclectic mix of salt & pepper shakers.  Clearly, creepy owls are in.

Creepy owls.
Soon enough, Lynne & Bill arrived.   Bill ordered coffee, while Lynne ordered coffee and a cinnamon roll the size of Manhattan (Maggie's specialty!)

Jeff & Bill

Lynne & a cinnamon roll bigger than her head.  

My food arrived shortly thereafter, and I proceeded to tuck in to a very passable bagel sandwich.  Everything is better with bacon, of course!

Plenty of bacon!
Latte & creepy owls.

 Soon enough it was time to  head out for the three mile ride to the populaire!  We were well fueled for the ride!  :-)

The details:
Maggie's Buns
Vanilla Latte
15 miles (30 r/t)
With Lynne, Jeff & Bill!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Coffeeneuring #4 10-27-2012

Asta invited me and several girlfriends to hang out and work on craft projects.   The destination?  Townshend's Tea on Alberta in NE Portland.  Seeing an opportunity to use this as a coffeneuring destination (utilizing the tea and hot cocoa interpretation of coffee) I packed up my craft project into my panniers and set out on my ride.   I decided to take the long way, up Springville Road to Skyline, then along Skyline to Thompson before dropping down into town, giving me nearly 1800 feet of gain between home, Asta's house & the teahouse.

I met Asta at her apt, then we headed over to Townshend's where we met three of her other friends.  We ordered tea and snacks (A lovely mug of chai and a vegan lentil pot pie for me, bubble tea for Asta) and then headed for the basement where we took up residence on some corner couches.

I worked on an origami project, Asta sewed up a wallet from an old bike tube, Jen knit, Montana worked on a collage, etc.   Somehow we wiled away FIVE HOURS gabbing and working on our crafts.

Asta's bubble tea, my chai, and vegan let pot pie!

Asta plays with her tapioca balls...
After 5 hours, we were hungry again, so Asta & I went across the street to Pine State Biscuits.  Most excellent.   Finally, it was time for me to ride off into the pouring rain and get home.   Total r/t distance for the day was 28.2 miles including the 24.9 miles from my house to the tea shop and then to the MAX, followed by the 3.2 mile ride home from the train.

It was a lovely way to spend a rainy Portland afternoon!

Coffeeneuring #3

#3 - Saturday, October 20th @ Sesame Donuts

My birthday is October 23rd.  This year it fell on a Tuesday.  Tuesday birthdays are, quite simply, no fun.  I prefer to spend time with friends and bikes on my birthday (as opposed to spending the day inside working), preferably with friends who RIDE bikes and want to ride a stupid number of miles with me on my birthday.

And so it was that I suckered not one, not two, but THREE rando friends into not one, but TWO back-to-back 200K permanents the weekend of my birthday.  However, this presented a conundrum.  How to work in at least one coffeeneuring jaunt into the weekend, to stay on track with doing 7 coffeeneuring excursions over 6 weeks?   Emails were exchanged, rules were checked, and it was finally determined that we could coffeeneur *before* our first 200K perm.

And so, Sesame Donuts became our coffeeneuring destination.   I've passed by this shop any number of times, but had never stopped in .  The combo of "sesame" and "donuts" always seemed odd to me.   Nonetheless, I was assured that while the coffee was simply OK, the donuts were excellent.

So, Saturday morning, I arose at oh-dark-thirty for the 11.9 mile ride to Sesame.   I arrived shortly after 7am, to find Theo hanging around outside.  I scanned the amazing array of donuts and ordered the namesake sesame donut (I'll try anything once), a pumpkin spice donut (in case the sesame was a total bust) and a vanilla latte.   The proprietors asked me where we were headed, and a conversation ensued about how we were planning to ride 125 miles to Eugene to celebrate my birthday.    Before I knew it, they were singing happy birthday and presenting me with a birthday maple bar!  Wow!

Sesame donut (not bad) and pumpkin spice donut (kickass  yummy!)

Birthday mini-maple bar

Soon enough, Asta, Bill & Lynne turned up, and now our part was up to 5!   As per usual, we sat around gabbing about all things bikes, as well as the upcoming back to back 200Ks.

Bikes outside, randos inside.

Lynne & Asta

Me, the birthday girl!
After 45 minutes or so of chattering, we decided it was time to set off on the 200K to Eugene aka Donuts to Total Domination.    Asta got an ice cream cone to go (yes, really) and off we went!

Coffeeneuring: what a wonderful way to start the day!

The details:
Sesame Donuts
Vanilla Latte
11.9 miles
with Theo, Asta, Lynne & Bill.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Girlfriends Half Marathon 10/17/2012

I don't really recommend a half marathon training plan that includes lots of *thinking* about running, but which in fact involves No Actual Running...

Since deciding to withdraw from Ironman Canada in mid-July (after my disastrous swim at Lake Stevens 70.3),  I've done nothing but ride my bike.  A lot. A whole lot.  More than 2,000 miles in ~ 2.5 months.  But all that riding has meant near zero time in my run shoes and absolutely zero time in the pool.

And, for the most part, that's been just fine with me.   It's been great to sleep in most mornings, and I don't miss smelling like chlorine all day.  Plus, the weather has been so fantastic that all I wanted to do was ride in the warm sunshine.

But all these months, I've known that the Girlfriends Half Marathon was looming on the calendar.  Every now and then, I'd idly think about going for a run, but most days it was easier to hit the snooze button instead.   So, it was no big surprise at the start of last week that I was looking down the barrel of the gun that is this race, knowing the chamber was loaded and that I was about to get hurt.  The real questions were 1) how much walking would I have to do to get through it and 2) how much permanent damage would the hurt produce.

I tried to sucker my friend Jill into suffering along with me, but she's too smart for that.  Thus it was that I headed off alone into the early morning light on that Sunday morning, heading towards Vancouver, WA.  Earlier in the week it looked like we were going to get dumped on for the duration of the run, but the forecast had improved and it was dry and in the upper 50s for race start.  Perfect conditions, really.

After the obligatory three trips through the portapotty line, I found a place midpoint in the starting corral and we were off.   This was my 4th time running the Girlfriend's Half.  In previous years, I've spent the first mile or two darting around walkers and slower runners, trying to find clear space to run my own pace.  But this year was different.  This year I knew that if I wanted to survive, I would need to start slow and stay slow.  With my music player set to shuffle, I settled into a slow steady shuffle of my own and simply trotted along.  Linda caught up with me within the first mile.  We chatted for a minute or two, but I knew she had lots more zip in her zoom than I, so I wished her well and watched her motor on and disappear into the crowd.  I figured she would finish in 1:55-2:00, while I would be happy with anything less than 2:30 (My PR at Girlfriends is 2:05:53, but that wasn't going to happen this year!)

My game plan was to run for the first 30 minutes, then switch to a Run 4, Walk 1 strategy.  My Garmin was set to vibrate at each of those intervals throughout the event.  I also planned to eat a Gu (100 cals) every 30 minutes.  I had 5 attached to my race belt, to be consumed at 30, 60, 90 &120 minutes, plus one "extra" just in case I went over 150 minutes (2.5 hrs.)

For the most part, this is a pretty run.  Leaving the central business district in Vancouver Washington, it follows the multi-use path east along the Columbia River.  The water is calm in the morning, and the low light over the river lights up everything with a gentle glow.  Planes landing at nearby PDX seem to hover over the river as they make their slow descents, so close it feels like I can reach out and touch them as I slowly trot along.

So, along comes 30 minutes, and I'm feeling pretty good.  I walk for 30 seconds while I suck back a Gu, then start jogging again.  I decided to see if I could make it to an hour of running before swtiching to R4/W1.

Along comes an hour and I'm not feeling too bad.  Heart rate is staying very low (mid to low 150s), my energy is high, and while my legs are starting to fatigue, it's not as bad as I expected.  So I suck back another Gu while walking for 45 seconds, then trot away.

Heading through the short series of out-n-backs near the turnaround, I look for Linda & Cecil but don't spot either of them.   Finally I'm heading back down the long stretch west towards the I5 bridge.  Most of the oncoming athletes are run/walkers, and within a mile, the remaining oncomers are all walkers.   So many women in groups of 3-4, taking on this challenge as a "team" with their girlfriends.  Awesome.

I find myself glancing at my watch a bit more looking for the 1:30 mark to come up so that I can walk for a minute.  I have another Gu and take an inventory.  Lungs: good.  Energy: good.  Heartrate: Low.  Legs:  Hhmm, legs...  Well, my calves are definitely starting to feel very fatigued.  Hip flexors and quads are a little tired but overall not too bad.  Glutes and hamstrings feel great.   I use a full minute to consume my Gu and decide to see if I can gut it out for another 30 minutes of running.

I started doing some math.  At 1:30 I was at the 8 mile mark.  5.1 miles to the finish should be totally doable in an hour, as that's almost 12 minutes per mile.  If I could keep trotting, I should be able to make that 2:30 goal, even if I slowed down a bit.  So, I soldiered on.

Soon, I encountered the overpass over Hwy 14 that takes runners into Fort Vancouver.  Everyone around me (all of us running ~11:15-11:20 paces at this point) stopped running and proceeded to walk the overpass.  But I kept running, slowly chugging up the incline.  (I credit all the hill climbing I do on my bike.)   The brief descent on the other side provide a respite for tired muscles.

On we ran, through Fort Vancouver and looped around the Fred Meyer shopping center on Hwy 14.  I always hate this section because there's a short but nasty pitch (well, not really, but when you're tired everything looks steep!) through here.  Fortunately my 120 minute walk break occurred just before the bottom of the hill.  I slowed to a walk for 30 seconds and sucked down another gel.  I contemplated walking the hill, but the way my muscles tightened up as soon as I started walking told me that was a bad idea.  If I continued walking, I realized I wouldn't be able to run again.  Checking my watch, I figured 2:27 might be possible, so, Gu consumed, I trotted up the nasty section and ran back towards Fort Vancouver and downtown beyond.

In the last 1.5 miles, there's a long gradual hill up through a park.   Oh, how I wanted to walk, but chugged along instead.  My legs really started to scream at this point, and for the first time, my HR went up over 170.  Yup, getting a little more tired now, with not a whole lot left in my calves.  Within 0.5 miles of the finish, the road slopes very gently downward towards downtown Vancouver.  My legs were screaming at me to walk, just for a moment... please?  But I kept going.  Runners with gas still left in the tank started passing me, fueled by adrenaline.  Me, not so much.  While I had plenty of energy still in reserve, I realized my calves were right on the brink of cramping or seizing, and that any change of pace could be disastrous.   Instead  I just plodded forward.  I rounded the last two corners and BAM! there was the finish line.  Not a moment too soon.

2:25:42 was my official time.  11:07 per mile.   Having not run more than 13 miles *total* in the past three months, I'm thrilled with that effort.  Sure, it's 20 minutes slower than my time there two years ago, but hey, who cares!  I made it.  :-)

The End.

...But wait, there's more.  Fast forward two days later and here I sit at my office desk.  Holey moley, are my calves thrashed.   Soooooooooo tight.  Lots of stretching, but I'm still hobbling about like an old lady.  Sheesh.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Coffeeneuring #2

Building on the success of last week's inaugural coffeeneuring outing, I once again attempted to rope in riders  via the ORRando Facebook page.    As the weather was looking to be somewhat iffy, I scanned my list of  coffee-shops-I-want-to-visit and settled on Edge Good Coffee in Beaverton.   Centrally located, it seemed like a close-in enough location to attract riders even if the weather turned poor.  The suggestion generated some interest on the Facebook page, so I had high hopes for the day.

My partner, Jeff and I set out from home ~9:25 and covered the 7 miles to Edge at a leisurely pace, arriving just at the 10am meet-up time.  Rolling up, I spotted a tall upright Rivendell, and was surprised to see Michael W sitting outside next to it, enjoying a hot beverage.  I'm not sure I've ever seen Michael on anything other than a recumbent, so it took me a moment to mentally link the two.

Michael's giant Atlantis and my teeny tiny Sweetpea.
Michael enjoying his coffee and flying the ORRando colors.

We headed inside to order drinks and a snack, strategically draping helmets and clothing on a grouping of chairs to stake out our territory.   Soon enough Bill turned up, as did Jeff A, Lynne and shortly thereafter, her husband Fitz.  

Jeff A and Fitz.

Jeff awaiting coffee goodness.

More dragging of chairs ensued so that we could all fit around the coffee table.  Bill commented that seven attendees set a new record for his coffeeneuring outings.  Sweet!

The assemblage.  Photo by Bill A.

While the latte art may have been lacking - er, non-existent - the conversation and great company certainly wasn't!   We whiled away more than two hours gabbing about bikes, route design ideas for next year, and more.

Food porn

Distance for the day: 16.2 miles

Monday, October 8, 2012

Coffeeneuring #1

Coffeeneuring:  A relaxed weekend cycling endeavor involving coffee, bicycling, conversation, good friends and -  because it's inspired by randonneuring - a wee bit of paperwork thrown in for good measure.   

This past weekend marked the start of the 2nd Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge .  Being a lover of all things cycling and all things coffee, it seems like the perfect way to celebrate the end of the official randonneuring season and the beginning of the winter training season.

Having roped the always game Lynne into the idea of taking on the Challenge, we published our intentions on the facebook page for the Oregon Randonneurs.   Bill, the ultimate coffeeneur (having coffeeneured for more than 60 weeks in a row to date) decided to join us, as did my partner, Jeff, who can always be persuaded to come along if there are pastries and coffee involved.

I suggested this week's destination, Insomnia Coffee, because I knew I'd be tired after riding John Kramer's 2012 Bikenfest 200K the day before.  Insomnia is less than 3 miles from my house; a perfect "recovery ride" distance!

Accordingly, the four of us descended on Insomnia at 10am on Sunday morning.

  The place was hopping, with a long line to order.

Sugar-free vanilla latte, please!  I had fun composing my lame version of an artistic coffee montage.

Being mindful of the "bike riding with paperwork" aspect of Coffeeneuring, we were all careful to document the experience, per the Coffeeneuring Challenge Rules.

Photo courtesy of Lynne Fitzsimmons

Documenting the documentation
Documentation completed, we commenced relaxing in the unseasonably warm October sunshine!

Bill, the ultimate Coffeneur
Mileage for the day: a whopping 7.1 miles.  
Enjoyable company: priceless

Monday, June 11, 2012

RACE REPORT: 2012 Blue Lake Olympic Triathlon

When I started randonneuring, I would begin preparing for a 200k a full week in advance, obsessively worrying about every little detail.   Now I can run out and do a 200k with nothing more than a couple of gels in my bento box and a quick glance at the weather.

The same sort of thing has happened to me in triathlon.  I've done so many sprints and olympics over the years that I know precisely what I need for both distances without giving it much thought.   So there I was at 8pm on Saturday night, finally pulling my gear together for the next day's Oly tri at Blue Lake in Troutdale.

As always , I laid out the gear I'd need by sport, from head to toe.

Tyr Warm Wear cap
event cap - light blue for wave 8
foam earplugs
prescription swim goggle (Barracuda -4.5) in blue
Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit
Blue Seventy neoprene swim booties
Road ID neoprene chip band with timing chip attached
1 pre-race GU Roctane

Tifosi sunglasses with mirror
SIDI dragons
1 pre-bike GU
1 water bottle filled with Gu Brew
Profile Design Aero drink bottle to be filled with Gu Brew
2 GU on bike
Garmin 800

race belt with number affixed and loaded with 2 GU
handheld 5 oz water bottle
Moving Comfort run cap
Brooks Ghost 4 with Speed Laces
mp3 player
allergy meds

Also into my transition bag went 2 small towels - one to lay my gear on and one to dry my feet after the swim.

Then I laid out what to wear to the event:
tri suit (test-wearing a CEP compression tri suit)
bra (test-wearing a 2XU tri bra)
heart rate monitor
Garmin 910
sweatpants and wool top to wear to the start

Bags loaded, I was in bed and asleep by 10pm

The alarm went off at 4:45 and we were out of bed by 5am.  Quick breakfast of oatmeal with coconut & cinnamon, coffee and water.   Took some allergy meds.   Loaded the car and we were out of the house by 5:45.   Quick stop at Starbucks and we were underway by 6am.    Arrived at the venue at 6:30.

Scored a spot on the racks with some elbow room and set up my transition area.  I'm picky about how I lay things out and take the time necessary to have it just like I want it.  I find this to be a calming exercise.

The "learning" from this event ( I always learn something!) is that one's running shoes are not the ideal vessel for storing one's pre-run GU.  Mine decided to leak all over the footbed of my left shoe! (MMmm, peanut butter flavored footbeds...yum.)  Fortunately, the grass was dewy and a few strategic swipes later, the footbed was clean again.

Stood in the portapotty lines twice (typical), scoped out the flow of the transition area (all the ins and outs for each leg, especially in from the swim, since I'm so blind) and wandered down to the waterfront to see the lake.  The warmup area inside the buoys seems to have shrunk, leaving little space for athletes to do more than simply get wet.

At 7:45 I returned to transition to suit up. (Wave 1 at 8am, mine at 8: 30) Applied plenty of BodyGlide around the neck of my suit, grabbed my goggles and cap ( decided against double capping as the water was 64 degrees), sucked back some more allergy meds, stuck my ear plugs into my ears and deposited my regular glasses into my run shoes

Waded into the water with Jeff.  It was cool, but not cold.  The first underwater dip is always the hardest, and my HR spiked immediately.  Jeff stayed with me for a few minutes while I bobbed under a few times, then I took a few strokes.  The warmup area was so crowded that there wasn't a way to do more than a stroke or two without hitting someone or reaching the limit of the buoys.

The race was started in 10 waves, each 5 minutes apart, which seems like overkill for an event with only 375 participants.   Jeff was in 7, I was in 8 and friend Lee in 9.  We watched the earlier waves go while we warmed up as best we could.  Some of them were quite large.  My wave was by the far the smallest.  Women 40-44 were the sole occupants of wave 8 and there were only 13 of us!   We looked behind us at the huge group to start in 9 and started joking about how we we destined to get swum over by that hoard.

Countdown... and we were off!   It's a straight swim out to the first buoy.  My HR spiked immediately, of course, as did my rate of respiration.  Adrenaline flooded my arms and legs and made me feel a bit dizzy.  I started to get that gasp-y, panicked feeling I always get at the start of an open water swim. I  spent the first minute or two breathing only on my right, while I calmed myself down, slowed my breathing and tried to find a rhythm.   Eventually I settled into my usual bilateral breathing pattern and rounded the first buoy.     This turn brought us around heading due east, straight into the morning sunlight, and parallel with the shoreline.    I knew (I thought) that there were 4 buoys after that, three red & 1 green.   The presence of the green one was odd, but I didn't give it too much thought. Heading into the sunlight, though, I had a hard time finding *any* of them!  I paused a moment, finally spotted the next buoy, picked out a landmark above it, and swam towards it.   

Buoy by buoy, I made my way eastward.  It seemed to be going slowly, but I refused to check my watch.   After the 3rd buoy, I simply could not see the 4th, with the sunlight streaming in my face.  I felt like I was going off course, so eventually I stopped completely, popped my head out of the water, and finally spotted the 4th buoy up ahead.  Head back down, I swam towards it and after a few more course corrections, finally made it there.  Hmmm, this was the turnaround and it was red.  All the other buoys were red too.   What happened to the green one?

I headed for the swim exit, which seemed ridiculously far away.  I was having trouble sighting again, and eventually realized that the “missing” green buoy was a return buoy and that I should have been aiming for that to keep me on track.  As it was, I was quite a bit to the right.  I corrected again, and slowly but surely, found the swim exit.

Time to the mat: 33:23.  Official distance 0.9 miles, but my Garmin read 1.02 miles.  Bonus yardage or a long course?  Probably a bit of both.  :-)   I was 11th of 13 in my age group after the swim.

T1 - The run to the transition area was looooong.   I pulled my wetsuit off my shoulders and arms, but left my cap and goggles on.  Prescription goggles are the only way I can find my bike in the transition area AND not trip over anything getting there!    I found my spot, ripped off my goggles and cap, and put on my cycling sunglasses.  Ah, much better!  Off with the wetsuit, on with my helmet, socks and shoes.  I slammed back a GU and took off for the bike exit.   And ran.   And ran.  And ran.  Geez, Louise, I didn’t know I’d signed up for a cyclocross race.  The bike exit was faaaaaaar across a grassy (and kinda muddy) field.  My Garmin reports the total distance run from the swim exit to the bike mount as 0.28 miles!   No wonder my total T1 time was 5:05!

Bike:  I like the bike leg.  I always joke that I’m a cyclist who just pretends to be a triathlete.   Its a joke, but at the same time, it’s true that the bike leg of the event is the only one where I truly feel at home.  

Marine Drive is flat flat flat.  It has the potential to be very windy, but on this day, there was just a touch of a wind out of the west.  This gave us a slight tailwind to start on our way east, a slight headwind all the way west to the turn around, and then a slight tailwind again back to Blue Lake Park.  Lowlight of the ride was the several mile stretch of Marine Drive where the pavement had been ground down for an imminent repaving.  We got to do that in both directions.  It totally sucked.  Highlights of the ride were passing almost every female in my age group (and Jeff, who started 5 minutes before me, at mile 9.5).  Of the 10 women in my age group who were ahead of me, I passed 7 of them.  :-)  I, of course, didn’t know how many women were ahead of me (and knew they’d all be passing me on the run later...), but it was fun to take note of the ages inscribed on people’s legs as I passed by.   I passed *a lot* of people.  Yet, at the same time, I was careful to keep it under control.  I was given instructions to keep my watts under 175.   For the 24 miles, I averaged 158 watts at an average HR of 160 (this being an interesting # because the effort felt well below 160bpm.  I would have guessed I was closer to 150bpm, if asked).  This was a decent effort, but well below where I would have been had I been doing just a bike time trial.  I was well aware that I needed to run 6.2 miles after I got off the bike!   Consumed one 100 cal bottle of GU Brew and one Gu Roctane during the bike.  Official time on the bike 1:10:51.  20.66 mph.

T2 - another cyclocross run with the bike back to transition.  As I put on my running shoes, I became aware that my left glute was TIGHT.  Hoped it wouldn’t cramp on the run.  Off with the bike glasses and helmet, on with the race cap.  Sucked back another Gu.  More allergy meds (notice a theme?)  Grabbed my mp3 player, 6oz handheld waterbottle bottle, and ran out of transition.  Total T2 3:06

Run:  I don’t know what to say about the run.  I want to be all positive and upbeat, but really, that’s hard for me.  Why?  Because *running* is so hard for me.  It’s like I’m standing still while everyone on the planet passes me by.  Old people, young people, fat people, skinny people....they all run right past me.  It’s depressing, frankly.   The ugly statistics:

Mile 1: 9:12 165 bpm
Mile 2: 9:44 168 bpm
Mile 3: 10:04 169bpm (Gu at 3 mile mark)
Mile 4: 10:12 170 bpm
Mile 5: 10:38 170 bpm
Mile 6: 10:54 175 bpm
0.22 to finish 10:26/mi 181 bpm

Good Lord, it’s a wonder I didn’t have a coronary in the last mile.  Sheesh.

Total run time of 1:03:02, 10:07/mile, 6.22 miles, 170bpm avg (!)  It’s worth pointing out that my tested anaerobic threshold is 169bpm, so I was basically pegged during this run.  Not surprisingly, I felt kinda woozy the last mile or so, just trying to hang on until I crossed the finish line.  I was totally spent when done, and just leaned on a table for a few minutes while I recovered. Hung out for a few minutes waiting for Jeff & Lee to finish. They both did great and I was happy to be there to congratulate them.

Total time for the day was 2:55:27.  8th of 13 in my age group.  3rd fastest bike time in my age group, 3rd slowest run.  <sarcasm>What else is new?</sarcasm>  I know I’m supposed to believe that if I hold back *on* the bike, that I’ll run better *off* the bike.   But here’s the thing: I *did* hold back on the bike.  And I still run like crap.  Losing weight would help, I know.  And I’m trying.   But geez, it’s not like I’m distinctly overweight.  I could lose 10 pounds, sure (was 139 race morning, and could be 129 if I were really disciplined) but it’s not like I’d see vast improvements by losing 10.  I don’t know if it’s my form, my stride, or what, but it’s kind of a downer to feel like you’re standing still out there on the run course. (likely solution: run more, complain less).

I also don’t think the problem is nutrition.  I had a solid breakfast, and consumed calories steadily.  
Pre-swim: 100
T1: 100
Total = 600 calories over 3 hours.

Perhaps I could have handled another 100 calories or so without stomach distress, maybe that would have helped fuel my run more effectively.
I could probably have had more fluids.  Had most of a bottle in the hour leading up to the race, drank a full bottle on the bike, and had roughly 12-15 ounces on the run.  Would have perhaps liked a bit more on the run, but course support is not the greatest, and I didn’t want to get sloshy.

Allergy meds *could* be a factor.  Despite all the meds pre-race and during the race, by the time I finished I was in the middle of a full-blown allergy attack.  My eyes were tearing, nose was watering and I was sneezing. Might account for some of the elevated HR, but this *feels* like an excuse.

Before I headed home (31 miles on my bike, two hours!) I ate some food, drank a chocolate Muscle Milk (they are a sponsor.  the stuff’s not bad) and took yet more allergy meds.  Easy spin home, averaging under 110 watts.  I thought it would suck to ride home, but it actually felt good and helped flush the crap out of my legs.   I’m a bit stiff today, but not especially sore.

Next up:
Pacific Crest Half Ironman in Sunriver on Saturday, June 23rd.
10.5 weeks to Ironman Canada!


6-12-2012 Report edited to add:

It's been pointed out to me that I'm being too hard on myself. And that I should race for myself, not caring about what other people are doing.

I know that I can't control who else shows up. I can only control how *I* show up. 

This journey is about *my* fitness and how it changes over time. But I'd be disingenuous if I said I didn't also care about how I stack up against other women my age. But it's not really about winning or losing against them. It's more about what is and isn't possible for ME (which, rightly or wrongly, I benchmark by looking at what other women my age can do.) There's such a huge disparity between what I'm capable of on my bike and what I manage to eek out on the run. I find it very frustrating.  

BUT, in the spirit of trying to be a little more positive, here's what I think went well:

1) Pre-race prep was a snap. I know what I need, so I didn't stress over it.

2) I didn't have a panic attack on the swim!! This is a biggie for me, because I'm *very* prone to panicking in the water. I felt the adrenaline surge come on, managed to remain calm, and found a rhythm without hyperventilating and over-reacting. I'm hoping to carry that momentum to Pac Crest in two weeks. I had a terrible panic attack there 2 years ago, and do NOT want a repeat.

3) Had a great bike ride that was fast but felt easy. Love love love my TT bike. 

4) Looking for some positives on the run... well, that 9:11 first mile was a surprise. I felt like I was barely moving, but I guess I was! Um, well, let's see...oh yeah, I almost forgot. I *did* pass one gal with the #43 on her leg, so I guess I did pass someone in my age group on the run! um...I didn't cramp up, despite my tight left glute. um...I didn't throw up in the last mile, does that count? 

5) I enjoyed racing with Jeff & Lee and seeing them both out on the bike & run course at various points. Slapped some high fives with both of them on the run course as I was on my way back while they were still heading towards the turnaround. They both did really well.

6) No "mechanicals". All my gear performed well. My goggles didn't leak, my wetsuit didn't chafe, my bike shifted flawlessly, no blisters from my run shoes...

And perhaps the biggest positive of all:

7) MY IT BAND HELD UP!  I've been in PT every week since January.  I've foam rolled so much that I've worn a major dent into the roller.    Lots of stretching.  And it's paid off.  The IT band is not 100% (it's still a little tweaked today from the weekend's effort) but it gave me ZERO trouble during the race.  I forgot all about it, in fact.  Yay!

Monday, May 14, 2012

RACE REPORT: 2012 Canby Gator Grinder Triathlon

Here's a list of things that are inadvisable to do before a race:
1) Cut a hole in your trisuit while cutting out the hangtags
2) Come down with a lung infection 
3) Take medication (to combat said lung infection) that makes one sun sensitive
4) Lie awake at 2am coughing (courtesy of said lung infection) the night before the race.

But hey, anyone that knows me knows I'm always up for a challenge, so I decided to do all four!

In truth, of course, being sick really sucks. As I carefully made my way downstairs to my kitchen at 2am to make myself a cup of throat-soothing herbal tea to combat the coughing fit, I wondered for a fleeting moment if it wouldn't be wise for me to consider a DNS (Did Not Start). That thought quickly left my mind, however. Why? Because this event is more that just a local sprint tri. Each year, my staff and I make a big party out of it. pays their entry fees and all staff participants have free run of the warehouse to pick a trisuit of their choice for the event. After the race, we have a huge tailgate party with friends and family. It's a big teambuilding day for my staff and I. So, for all those reasons and more, there was no way I could seriously consider a DNS. 

So, after my tea, I went back to bed, knowing that 5am would come earlier than I'd like. Fortunately, the tea did it's throat-soothing trick and I slept well. After my standard pre-race fare of coffee, water oatmeal and banana, Jeff & I were underway at 6am for the 45 minute drive to Canby.

At 7am, we met up with the rest of the staff and our photographer for photos. Everyone was in good spirits, despite the typical pre-race jitters. After photos, we all trooped off to the swim center to cheer for staff member Edna, who was in the first heat.

Canby is such a beginner friendly event. It consists of a 500 yard swim (10 heats, 4 people to a lane, seeded by each athlete's self-estimated 500 yard swim time), a hilly-ish 12 mile bike ride, and a pancake-flat 5K run. The pool swim is really the key to bringing newbies out for the race. So many people are afraid of the open water, but at Canby, beginners can stop at the wall and breathe with every lap if necessary.

Heat 1 consisted of the slowest swimmers, with swim times gradually decreasing all the way to Heat 10, where the 6 minute folks strut their stuff. Over the years, with much pool work, I've managed to work myself into later and later heats. This year I was in Heat 7, Lane 3 beginning at 9:30am. Jeff has made huge progress in the pool in the past 2 years, so he too was in Heat 7, Lane 5.

After watching Edna swim, I went off to set up my transition area. I scored a primo end-of-rack spot with plenty of space to set up my bike and run gear. That done, I ate a banana (8am) and went off to watch a few more heats. 

At 9am, I laced up my run shoes and headed off for a 10 minute warm up jog. It had been 7 days since I had done ANYTHING (not one iota of activity since the previous Saturday when the congestion settled into my chest!). Jogging along, I tried to assess my physical state. My lungs felt OK. Not great, and I suspected I would have trouble on the 5K. My legs felt OK too. Again, not great, as a week's worth of inactivity had allowed my left IT band to tighten up, despite diligent work on my trusty foam roller. But all in all, I felt well enough that I figured I could at least finish the race and enjoy the day with my staff.

At 9:15, I returned my run shoes to their place in transition, grabbed my swim cap and goggles, and headed to the pool. On deck, we waited while Heat 6 finished up. One very slow swimmer (who clearly belonged in an earlier heat) meant that we weren't allowed into the pool until 9:27. With just 3 minutes until the start of our heat, we all swam half a lap, turned around, adjusted our goggles, and waited for the whistle. 

With 4 people to a lane, the start is staggered. Each person is assigned a position (1 to 4) and the whistle goes off at 5 second intervals. Your final finishing time takes these staggered starts into account, so you must start in your assigned position. I was position 3 in the lane, so at 9:30:10, off I went!

I have never enjoyed swimming. I have a primal fear of drowning, such that sometimes simply sitting at my desk in my office just thinking about swimming makes my throat feel tight. So above and beyond the physical techniques of learning to swim, I've had to do a lot of “head game” work to force myself to remain calm while swimming. Perhaps because I went into the day with such low expectations, I found myself swimming with a strange sense of calm, something I rarely experience. I concentrated on breathing evenly, elongating my body, proper arm position, etc. Oddly, I felt my right foot cramp slightly after pushing off the wall a few times, something that never happens to me, but fortunately it didn't turn into a charlie horse. I had my feet tapped twice (the sign that the person behind wants to pass at the wall) and then late in the swim tapped the feet ahead of me so that I could pass. Beyond that, we were a good lane of compatible swimmers, without anyone who was really too slow or too fast for our lane's pace estimate of 9:45/500yds. 

I hit the wall at 9min 34seconds, a result with which I was thrilled (a new PR!)! I haven't swum a sub-10 minute 500 all season, so I was stoked. Time to the T1 mat was 9:43.

T1 went very well. We exited the swim center and I easily found my bike at the end of the Heat 7 rack. Off with the goggles, on with the helmet, glasses, socks (yes, I wear socks) and shoes. Across the rack I spied Jeff, also gearing up, and I congratulated him on his swim time. I grabbed my bike and headed to the exit, immediately behind Jeff. Total T1 time was 1:12 (also a PR!).

I clipped in and headed off down the road, with Jeff up ahead less than 100 feet. For the first half mile, I held that distance between us, then accelerated and passed him. The first 4.5 miles of the bike course are very flat, allowing me to settle in to my aerobars, get my adrenaline-charged heartrate and breathing under control, and take an inventory of my physical state. I noted that my heartrate was higher than ideal, and tried to bring it down a little before the hills started at mile 4.5. The next 6.5 miles roll up and down continually with fast descents and a couple of leg burning climbs. The race photographer, of course, positions himself right at the top of the steepest climb, all the better to get dramatic shots, I suppose. 

Overall, the bike went alright. I didn't have much “spring” in my legs on the climbs and my left IT band also started to talk to me briefly on the last climb, but then it shut up (and I wouldn't feel it the rest of the day, thankfully). My HR was definitely higher than I would have liked. Clearly, the chest cold was taking its toll. The last mile of the bike course is flat, which gave me a few minutes to settle down my HR again and to visualize the move into T2.

I rolled into T2 with an elapsed bike time of 37:59 (which I didn't know at that moment, but is actually a PR for me on this course.) I racked my bike, ditched my bike shoes, and as I'm putting on my run shoes, who should roll into T2 but Jeff! He later told me he had me in his sights for much of the ride but didn't try to reel me in. I snapped on my race-number belt, put on a run cap, and headed out of T2 with an elapsed time of 1:19 (surprise, another PR!) while Jeff was still mucking with his shoes.

The first part of the run is across a grassy field, which I always find awkward as I'm still trying to get my run legs under me. After we round the school building adjacent to transition, we emerge onto the pavement. The run is an out-n-back, with 2 loops of a lollypop at the far end. I managed the first mile in 9:34 but as I started to round the first loop, I knew my goose was cooked. Actually, “cooked” is a good metaphor for what started to happen to me. Temps were in the upper 70s (not especially hot, really) with bright sunshine and I started to bake; I began to feel lightheaded, like I wasn't getting enough air, and felt vaguely nauseous. It was right around this moment when my doctor's voice floated though my head.... “Doxycyclene will make you sun sensitive...”. Reading up on it after the fact (ie. today), here's what the National Institute of Health has to say about doxycycline: “Doxycycline is used to treat bacterial infections, including pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections ….plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Doxycycline may make your skin sensitive to sunlight. ….Doxycycline may cause side effects. ...Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately: ….difficulty breathing or swallowing ... ...redness of the skin (sunburn) ...upset stomach.”

Of course, at the moment, all I could think of was how I needed to hold it all together for just another mile or so. As I rounded loop one and loop two, I could see Jeff gaining on me. Finally, I left the loops and headed back the last mile towards the finish. Rather than concentrate on my decidedly queasy stomach, I reminded myself that I had gotten past far worse last summer on PBP and that I could get past this too. I put one foot in front of the other and kept moving. Along that last mile, I spotted co-worked Katie and friend Lynne on their way out on the run course, and we high-fived as we passed one another. With just a few tenths of a mile to go, my friend Lee, who had already finished the race, appeared at my side and began to run with me. I told him I was struggling and he encouraged me to keep going. He looked back and said Jeff was ~5-6 seconds behind me. I know Jeff well enough to know that there was no way he would be that close to me and not give 120% to pass me. Sure enough, those looong legs of his took him right past me with just a minute or two left to go. With Lee's encouragement, I did my best to keep up, picking up my pace as best I could. 

See, I also knew something that I was pretty sure Jeff had forgotten. Remember that bit way back at the beginning of this report about lane position on the swim? Well, Jeff was position 1, while I was position 3. So, when he passed me, he thought he was beating me. What I knew, however, was that I had 10 seconds on him and that as long as I could keep the gap at the finish line to under 10 seconds, I would still beat him! Lee knew this as well. 

The final effort on this course is half a lap around a grade school track. As soon as Jeff crossed the line, Lee started a 10 second countdown. I gave it everything I could and crossed the line in 1:20:59. Jeff wasn't wearing a watch, so he had no idea what his time was. I knew we'd need to wait for results to be posted to see which of us would be triumphant.

A volunteer took my timing chip while I stood trying to catch my breath. I found the water station and drank several glasses, then found my friends at the finish line. As we stood around comparing war stories, my stomach settled down. We all cheered as Katie crossed the line (she won the race AND set a new course record!) and Lynne followed shortly thereafter. Lots of sweaty hugs were exchanged and our staff photographer captured all the important moments.

Jeff and I set up the tailgate party and BBQs while everyone else headed to the showers. As we all sat down to enjoy our hard-earned burgers, the organizers handed out the awards.

For the 3rd year in a row, I managed a 2nd place in my age group (40-44). I'd had illusions of grandeur this year, hoping to win it, but the chest cold knocked that all to the wayside. I was simply happy to have not collapsed on the course. :-) Despite my slowest run in the past 4 years (30:43), I still managed to beat last year's overall time on this course by 40 seconds. Not half bad for a girl with a lung infection.  :-) The coulda shoulda woulda of what might have been had I been healthy will have to wait until 2013.

Major props go out to the TE staff and friends, all of whom had AMAZING results on the course this year. Jeff beat last year's time by 13 minutes (and beat me by FOUR SECONDS!). Edna beat last year's time by almost 20 minutes! Lynne dropped her time by 3 or 4 minutes. Katie knocked 3 minutes off her time and set a new women's course record in the process. Linda dropped her time by 3-4 minutes and won her age group. Theresa completed her first ever tri and beat her first-timer brother by nearly 10 minutes! Over the years, we've sucked in many friends and family members into doing this event with us and without exception, ribbon or not, everyone had a great time.

2013, here we come!