First Race of the Season!

Woo Hoo!

Discovery Bay Tri – Sprint Saturday, April 22, 2017.

700 Yard Swim – 16 (15.4) Mile Bike – 5k Run

Continuing my two year tradition – this will probably be my first open water swim of the year.  Not exactly setting myself up for success. I may try to get a quick one in this weekend along with some transition practice.

Last year I managed to mount my bike with the shoes on the pedals and get into them while riding (and not knock either myself or anyone else down). I did not manage to get my feet out while riding. I had practiced the maneuver with dry feet. When I tried to take my feet out at the end of the bike leg, the moisture from the swim had stuck the shoes to my feet and I couldn’t get them off. This year I will practice with wet feet and lube my bike shoes so they slip off more easily.

(I don’t do the “flying mount” (shown at :55) or dismount. I run my bike to the mount line and then mount regularly, using my clipped on shoes as pedals until I get some speed, then put my feet in. On the way back my goal is to get my feet out, stop the bike and then dismount regularly. The time savings I get is from not having to run in my bike shoes.)

This is a very small race. Last year in the ten year age group there were six women. I think I have a chance at coming top ten! Actually, I think I have a chance at the podium – so that’s exciting/motivating/scary.

The swim is in a freshwater marina, so no current and a very “honest” swim time. T1 is ~400 yards. The bike and run are dead flat and T2 is short. I’m thinking it will be fast but not super fast. The training plan I’ve been following hasn’t had much in the way of outdoor riding which gives me very little context for what my effort level is going to look like in terms of speed.

I’m going with a conservative prediction on this one.

Swim – 17:30 – 2:30/100y  Swim training has been going quite well. I’ve been able to hold 2:36/100 for 1000 yards and that was moseying along. I’m not giving myself any wetsuit credit or drafting credit. I will be wearing a wetsuit, so this could be much, much faster.

T1 – 6:00 – Big cushion here. I have done a slightly shorter transition in under four minutes but I don’t know the terrain.

Bike – 1:00:00 – 16 MPH  As I said, no idea what my outdoor speed is right now. My last flat bike race was a touch over 17 and that was almost a year ago.

T2 – 2:00 – I haven’t transitioned in 10 months. This could be crap or it could be under a minute.

Run – 32:30 – 10:30/mile – Running has been going ok but I’m not feeling super fast right now. Holding 10:30 will probably actually be really hard and this could be closer to 35.

I’m aiming for fun, fast fun, but mainly fun.




Goal Setting 2017

I’ve been at loose ends for a while now, really since last May. Sort of floating along.  I’ve been consistent with strength training for almost 8 months, which is great! I don’t have any goals for 2017. I was planning to set my year around Wildflower, but Wildflower isn’t going to happen so I have been needing to give my self something to build my fitness year around.

One thing I haven’t focused really ever is getting faster as a runner. I used to believe I was “slow.” Now I know that I’m as fast as I work to be and I could get faster if I put in work.

I still have not broken 30 minutes for a 5k, so that is going down this year.  I can do push ups (go me!) so I want to increase those and work on pull ups. The overarching goal is consistency. To stick with it and not sorry too much about outcomes.

The plan is as follows:

  • One Long Run, One Tempo Run, One Interval Day, two full-body weight days and one yoga day. I should be able to separate all runs and strength sessions by minimum 8 hours and generally 24 hours.
  • I may add in easy runs or some cycling and swimming at a recovery level but only if I do not have excessive fatigue. When in doubt, leave it out.
  • Tracking mood and energy levels with nutrition. I am not trying to lose weight, I’m weight stable and have been for four years and my focus for the last year has been getting adequate protein – 100g per day.
  • I need to keep a good handle on sleep hygiene. No caffeine after lunch, get to bed at a consistent time, solid bed time routine.
  • Schedule baseline testing and retests. For me this will include racing with a focus on 5ks. I did a 5k on New Year’s Day and I’m planning to do the same race next year to see my progress.
  • Profit.


I am weird – Part Infinity!!

The triathlon season is winding to a close. So naturally, I’m getting excited about triathlon again!!

I trained longer and harder than ever for Wildflower and I definitely burnt out a bit. It didn’t help that my big race for the fall was cancelled.  I learned that I am an emotionally fragile athlete. Losing that race from my calendar threw me into such a tailspin that I shut down and sort of hibernated.

I came out of that thinking I would go for a fall marathon – but I totally overtrained and did in my knee. Yay.

I was starting to look at 2017 this week and I was pencilling in Wildflower, perhaps even Wildflower Long Course as my first ~70 mile triathlon. Then the news came that Wildflower was cancelled, along with the entire Tri-Cal season.

Bizarrely enough, that got me kind of fired up. I started poking around, seeing what races were going to be where.

Next year’s tentative race calendar

November 2016 – January 2017 – get back into the flow of training.

Early February – test 5k – I really, really want to break 30 minutes for a 5k.  At Monte Rio this year, as the run leg of a triathlon, I ran 30:01. I should be able to break 30 with sufficient training.

April 2 – Oakland Running Festival – I will be doing something – probably just volunteering, but potentially running a relay leg.

April 8-9 HITS Napa – I am committed to supporting local races. I will probably volunteer or even just cheer at this one.

April 22 – Discovery Bay Triathlon – Some teammates from OTC have gone out to this race the past two years.  It’s tiny (71 finishers last year), it’s local. I looked up the results and if I had race there this year, I could very conceivably have podiumed in my age group. I am a firm believer in picking your ground. I am totally targeting this race to try and get an AG award.

Third Sunday in May – Tilden Tough Ten – I like this race. It’s as hard as you want it to be. I went into in this year with no specific training and I had a great time.

June 4 – Monte Rio Sprint – Another race I like. I have had two very good years in a row at this race. It’s well run on a fast course.

Sometime around Father’s Day – Woodmonster – Even though the course was changed this year, I still like this race. It’s unapologetically hard. I feel great when I finish it.

August 27 – Oakland Triathlon – I will be involved in this somehow.  Depending on how I feel I will either 1) Volunteer 2) Cheer 3) Train moderately 4)Train hella hard.

Early November – Morro Bay – I might do this race next year, it’s on the radar. Or maybe I’ll do that fall marathon I keep thinking about.

Let’s make some reasonable goals!

Wildflower  cometh, and with it the massive amounts of anxiety that can only be dealt with by obsessively playing with triathlon calculators and training data to come up with a a decently realistic set of race goals.

I took too long and too off an off season.  I didn’t take it easy and do some running, biking, swimming and other fun things. I did fuck all for like two months. So I’m slower than last year. Sigh, so annoying but I did it to myself.

I can think about my long term goals, things like “Do a 5k under thirty minutes!” and “Do an Olympic tri in three hours!” but those are to be worked at for years. Those are goals where the process must be savoured, cuz I’m gonna be working on that shit for aaaagggggeeeesssss……..

I can think about my comparative goals. I always compare my speed to the pros on the ITU/Olympic circuit. I try to go half as fast as they do.

For instance, Carolina Routier swam 1500 meters in Abu Dhabi on March 5, 2016 in 18:48 which is just under 1:15/100 meters. I want to swim the swim at Wildflower in 37:36 2:30/100m twice her time. This goal is a bit tricky when you’ve got either tide or current at play (Oakland Triathlon was against the flood tide last year, thus, slow as dirt swim).

Wildflower is in a lake, so it should be relatively fast. There is no pro field in the race I am doing. The best women’s swim time last year was 19:12 for a 38:24 or 2:20/100 y.  I think I can do that! When I do pull buoy sets I can hold 2:22 easily so I’m going to set 38:24 as the goal for the swim.

Last year’s best bike time was 1:17:19 19.2 mph.  That’s pretty slow, so the hills are a big impact.

And I have no idea how fast I am right now, in any capacity, on the bike.  I do my very hard bike work on the trainer – which is great for hitting power targets and watching fun videos. It sucks for translating into road speed. You can’t take your bike wheel speed because the trainer resistance is very different from pedaling on the road.

I really want to average 16 mph because that’s about what I did for my last Oly tri. Averaging 16 mph on this course would actually make me faster than I was on the flat course from last year. I have been training really hard and I raced that race too easy.

and the run. Is split into two parts. Due to the drought, when we come out of the water, we have to run 2.2 miles to our bikes. After we bike, then we run the other 4 miles. So, ummm, how the hell do you plan the pace?

Heart rate! If I am planning to race for 3:30 – 4:00 then I should be staying in the high zone 3, low zone 4 heart rate zones. That’s it, just forget about pace and focus on effort.  Yeah, I’d like to do the run in something like 1:10 – 1:15 but it’s hilly and it’s going to be hot so I have no idea if that’s realistic in any way.

I should stop bloody worrying about speed and focus on racing at the right intensity so I don’t blow myself up trying to hit an unrealistic pace target. Which means ignore just about everything I’ve written so far (except the swim part, that’s still valid).

My goal for Wildflower is to race in Zone 3 to low Zone 4 for the entire bike and run.  That means not going too hard on the uphills and pushing the downhills.

Effort, effort, effort. Sounds like a triathlon, actually.


Lake San Antonio Update 3/10/2016

The numbers as of 3/10/16

(Water is represented in Acre-Feet)

Current level is 4.8% – 16,130

To Go to Swim at Lynch – 50,870

Increase since 1/24/16 – 5,775

Increase this week – 4,406

Days until Wildflower – 51

Average increase in acre feet required per day to meet 20% by race day – 997.45 (yeah, good luck with that)

Next rainfall forecast -3/11/2016

There was significant rainfall this week  -2.05 inches. Even on days when it has not rained, the rate of increase has gone up substantially as the upstream watershed drains into the Lake. While we probably won’t get Lynch this year, it’s a great thing that the losses due to the diversion to Nacimiento are being redressed.

(All Data from the Monterey County Water Resources Agency here.)

Lake San Antonio Update 2/19/2016

The numbers as of 2/19/16

Current level is 3.5% – 11,775

To Go to Swim at Lynch – 55,225

Increase since 1/24/16 – 1,420

Days until Wildflower – 71

Average increase in acre feet required per day to meet 20% by race day – 777.82

Next rainfall forecast -TBD

(All Data from the Monterey County Water Resources Agency here.)

Well now, isn’t this special?

So I’ve been trying to come up with a race plan for the Half Marathon, coming up this Saturday.

Woo Hoo! I love race plans!

Except I don’t have one. I’ve got a time goal, already went through that. It’s going by the wayside at the moment. I’ve been sick for five days – congestion, coughing, body aches. I’ve missed three training runs and I woke up this morning with spasms in my right upper back. The race plan has gone from “Aggressive PR” to “PR” to “dear god I hope I finish.”

Now it is taper time, so technically the hay is in the barn. I feel like crap, no energy, been eating poorly, and drinking too much coffee. I have no enthusiasm for race day right now. I don’t want to DNS but if I wake up with debilitating muscle pain on Saturday morning there is no way in hell I’m driving to Sacramento much less running thirteen miles when I get there.

That being as it is, the last time I set a half marathon PR I had no expectations. I was nursing what would become a massive hip injury and I didn’t think I was going to finish the race. I went to the start simply because I’d paid a lot of money for the privilege. That day I PR’d by more than 10 minutes so there’s something to be said for letting go of expectations and meeting my body where it is.

We’ll see on Saturday.



Follow your heart…

..Rate Monitor

Sunday was my test race to set my goal time for the Beat the Blerch Half Marathon on November 14. I went out for the LMJS Fourth Sunday run and did the 10k or two loops around Lake Merritt.

10k – 1:04:45 – PR!!

I learned-

-Base goal race times on current fitness, not last spring’s fitness or a bucket list goal time.

I wanted to race 10k in an hour. I was watching the clock during lap one of the lake, trying to keep in a time range. I passed two women in the first mile – they were probably running half the distance I was and who gives a shit if you pass people in the first mile of a race that’s more than a mile long?

Looks like we got a badass over here!
Looks like we got a badass over here!

I was so worried about not being on pace for that goal that I went out too fast and then I got tense worrying about being too slow and then I got nervous about not feeling good on the second lap of the lake. I was a mess dudes, a mess.


-Yes, I can run far.

I seem to learn this one and then forget it over and over. I am still afraid in my deepest heart that I just can’t finish. Not fast or anything, I am worried that I literally will not be able to finish the distance. It’s rooted in the fact that my second race ever was a frickin’ marathon and I was genuinely afraid of not finishing. Ten years on from that and a lot of miles later I need to learn that I’m not gonna crack on a 6.2 miler. I only managed to relax and let the race come to me after 4 miles.



-Running by effort is way more effective than running by pace.

Lap one – my heart rate was all over the map. Lap two, when I gave up on hitting an hour and focused solely on keeping my heart rate in zone 4 – super even and consistent. The other reason my heart rate wasn’t consistent was that…

-I need to warm up.

I have two warm up levels. One comes after about fifteen minutes of warm up, the other after forty five minutes. My heart rate isn’t “actual” until I’ve been going for a while and the engine is nice and warm.  A few factors were at play on Sunday – mainly that the Peanut was racing! I was distracted and didn’t set myself up to have a proper warm up. I got in a bit of a jog but nothing close to what has been successful for me in the past.

This was worth not getting a full warm up.
This was worth not getting a full warm up.

-I’m going to be fine for my A race…

This race wasn’t super perfect, no biggie. It wasn’t an A race, I didn’t taper at all (speed intervals on Friday) I didn’t fuel aggressively, and I haven’t been training specifically for this distance.

-…If I stick to the plan

The race time predictors I am looking at are telling me that – based on this race – I should be able to run my half marathon in 2:20 to 2:24.  The slower end of the range would be a 13 minute PR. I will be smart! I will run based on my current fitness level, I will run based on level of effort and not speed. I will be patient but not overly conservative.

and I’ll be perfectly happy if I come in at 2:19 😛


Oakland International Triathlon – Race Plan!

If there is anything I like more than triathlon, it’s obsessively planning for a triathlon.



TL;DR – I’m hella nervous so I wrote every little thing I’m going to try and do on Saturday.  Hella Nervous!!

Race day for the Oakland Triathlon Festival is August 29, a Saturday. A little bit odd, but the Raiders have a game on Sunday and that occupies the OPD, so if we want traffic control we go on a Saturday. It would be a bigger deal if I was coming from out of town but as I’m not, all is well.

It doesn’t help matters that Thursday night is both packet pick up and a mandatory meeting for my kid’s preschool. Yay double booking. I can get my packet Friday night and that’s what I’m planning on. I’ll jam home from pick up and lay out all my stuff, do one last bike check, and then try to have a relaxing evening.

Wake up call for race day is a minimum of three hours before start time. Assigned wave time is 7:06 AM so I’ll be up at 4 AM. Breakfast will be a Clif Bar, a banana, and water. I tend to eat my race day breakfast while methodically getting all my gear on, taking bites of bar between pieces of clothing. I know that it will be work to get all the food down, but it’s worth it. I’ll stop drinking except for tiny sips of water at about 5 AM.

My new best friend!
My new best friend!

Given that I want to get to transition around 5:15 AM and I want to have a happy home life, I’m car pooling to the start and leaving the car for the Mister, the little Miss, and my Father in Law to drive in at the not quite normal but at least a bit saner time of 7AM.  There is a whole lot of walking around the swim leg that I want to save my family by not asking them to watch the start, just be there at the swim exit. That also gives them a serious cushion to find parking, get coffee, and scout spectation spots. (I love that this race has really good spectator info, including where to view each transition as well as the finish line and coffee shop recommendations).

Pro Tip: If you have people coming to cheer you on, give them a time range for each leg/each time you will come past where they plan to be. Best bet these days is to text it to them. I do something like “I will finish the swim in 30 to 45 minutes.” This is a massive time range and makes allowances for a great day, a crap day, and swimming with the current! I do that for each leg. They basically reset each time they see me “OK, that was the swim, she said the bike would be approx 45 minutes per lap so we have 40 minutes to get to our preferred viewing area.” Worked perfectly for my last race. Family gets to see me, I get to see family – everybody wins!

Immediate Pre-Race or TZero

Get to Transition, find the club rack (55 people from my club are registered, total domination!), set up transition. Go to Porta Potty.

Light jog down to the swim exit and back.  Optional: Drop T1 spare shoes. Jog the transitions. Visualize success, ease, relaxation, mastery! Go to Porta Potty.

6:15 – T-49 minutes – last check of transition area. Start getting into wetsuit. Go to Porta Pottie.

6:30 – Grab homies, start the walk to the start.

6:45  – Sprint waves start – Take a gel, finish getting in to wetsuit, get in the water to warm up. New race tradition – including butterfly in my warm up. It gets my heart rate up very quickly and it can be intimidating to the competition. Plus it’s just super fun in a wetsuit.

7:00 – First Olympic Wave goes! Chill and breathe, chill and breathe. Visualize race.

7:03 – previous wave goes. Get lined up, not the back, not the front. Chill.

I will pace myself, I will swim to have a good bike, I will bike to have a good run, I will run to finish strong.

7:06 – Go Time!  

Swim – Head down, get into the rhythm as soon as possible. Stroke, Stroke, Breath, Stroke, Stroke, Sight, Breathe. Repeat for 30 – 45 minutes.

I haven’t learned how to catch a good draft while swimming. If I do get feet that would be awesome but I’m not gonna go off book to try and do it. I will probably swim well within what I could do, because I’m not confident of my swimming I think I go very conservatively.

Early in the swim there is a zig zag before we got onto the long stretch. I will focus on getting into a solid rhythm and staying right there; just below the burn, working, firm but not hard, breathing into it but not gasping for breath.

T1 – Flop onto the dock  then stand up, cap and goggles off, top of wetsuit down, find T1 running shoes (NB – gotta make sure I can find my shoes with my glasses off! May need to place glasses in the T1 shoes, in a case, don’t want them smashed and I’ve got cases to burn. Option is to run with foggy vision.

Jog the whole transition. Running all out would just get my heart rate spiking way to early in the day. I bet there will be a lot of people while start out running too hard and end up hitting their bike a walk, lungs heaving. Because…

Oh, doesn't that look fun!
Oh, doesn’t that look fun! We get to run up and down these stairs twice.

That’s right, we run a couple hundred yards out of the water and then up and over a pedestrian overpass! There is actually a prize for the male and female records for T1. Super love that this race has primes (small prizes) for the fastest leg splits.

Get to the bike, thrown down goggles and cap, finish removing wetsuit, bike shoes on, grab flask of gel (it’s sitting in my helmet) and put it in my leg pocket, grab flat kit, other leg pocket (bento box?), helmet on (glasses on if I didn’t run in them), jog to bike mount, right past all the people right at the line, get in front of that traffic and get on the bike! Pull race belt down to waist after getting on the bike (you wear your race belt under your wetsuit? Hell yes I do.)

Bike – Lots of turns on this course, there are not a lot of places where we will be just grinding away in our rhythm. I want to average 16 mph and finish this up between 1:30 and 1:45. Because there will be so many turns, it will be important to slow down through the turns as little as possible while remaining safe. Accelerating takes more energy than maintaining and every moment slower than my goal average speed requires a moment that much faster.

I will pace myself, I will go at a controlled pace, I will bike to have a good run, I will run to finish strong.

It’s out of transition, left turn, a couple of blocks, right turn and a couple of miles straight up Broadway to settle down and get into it before the turns start.

I did the preview ride last Saturday, so I know that the one short, steep downhill is immediately followed by a ninety degree left and then a right, basically a really hard chicane and the middle of that turn has potholes. Priority through the turn is staying upright.

Take the turns nice and wide->apex->wide where possible, otherwise it’s watching out for potholes, train tracks, and pools of ick (I see you 7th Street right turn, I see you!) and staying in the right effort zone. There will be a headwind out 7th to the Port and a tail wind back.

I know where I need to be effort wise, working but no burn in the legs, no chasing, no jumping, no attacking. Steady, steady effort. (Exceptions: necessary passes due to people in front of me slowing down or getting the hell away from unsafe riders).

And no drafting!

I need to do two laps of the bike course, when we approach transition the sprint racers will be heading to dismount and the Olympic racers will need to turn left to head out again. This merge was apparently quite hairy last year so it’s head up time.

No matter what you think the race director ought to be doing, knowing the course, the rules, and racing safely are the athlete’s responsibility.

Nutrition – I will be doing a small hit of gel every 15-20 minutes. I will drink to thirst, with Gu Brew for electrolyte and some calories and just water to chase gels. Plan is to finish three total gels and one and half water bottles during the bike.

The forecast is for mid-sixties with cloud cover. Perfect racing weather. Still gotta wear sunblock, still gotta hydrate, no slacking on the basics!

T2 – on the last stretch down 3rd clam down, spin the legs, stretch the back and hammies, think about running.

Dismount safely and walk to the rack, bike straight on, helmet off, shoes off, shoes on, grab visor and gel flask, run, put visor on while running.

Run – This is not a sprint, no hell bent for leather pace here. Left down 2nd, right, left, left, right, Spend the first five minutes getting under control. I’ve practiced my race effort so I need to relax and let it come to me. I can’t bank on the flow coming but I’m going to make a place for it. Just under 5K pace, just a bit less than a sprint race. Can you do this for an hour?

I will pace myself, I will go at a controlled pace,  I will run to finish strong.

Nutrition – one gel flask at a concentration to be sipped every ten minutes/every mile. Aid stations every mile with water.

(This late in the race, there are fewer words. Keep it simple)

Don’t fall off. Stay on it, don’t slack, stay on it. Don’t chase anyone.

Up to the lake. Home field advantage in full effect. Anyone who runs in Oakland, runs the lake. Familiar courses are easy to run. Let it be as easy as possible. Working, comfortably hard. No burn, no burn, just tired, no burn.

At the Boat house- Can you do this for another thirty minutes? Yes.

It’s okay to be tired here, it’s been a long day. Stay in your zone.

Left after the pedestrian bridge, 1.2 miles to go. Is there more in the tank? No? Ok, stay with this pace. Yes? Pick it up just a notch, a tiny notch.

Under the freeway, about a mile to go. Cross Oak Street, about a half mile, start to spend the last drips of energy. Flask goes in pocket. Stay strong and steady.

I will finish strong.

Here comes the kicker. With a quarter mile to go, it’s back up and over the pedestrian crossing. Stairs, fucking flights of stairs. Just do this, just do this, it’s gonna hurt, it’s supposed to hurt but you’re so close to the finish.

Down the other side and out and it’s a quarter mile to go. Start to squeeze out that last bit of energy. If that means maintaining – good, if that means speeding up – good.

Left onto the path at 300 yards, when you make the right it’s 200, go hard.

In the chute it depends: Is someone in front of you? Chase them down. Is someone behind you? Keep them there. All clear? Arms up, head up, big smile!

All done! Get your medal, walk around, find the family. Ahhh. Get some recovery fluids and calories and enjoy the rest of the day, you earned it!