Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Retrospective

On my way into work this morning, I realized that it was a year to the day since we left Houston and started our life here in Colorado.  Wow.

I would like to say that 2011 was everything I wanted it to be and more.  Say that it was an awesome year.  But I can't.  While we had some big highlights to the year, 2011 was one mostly marked by loss and drama.  I've never really had anyone or anything die on me before.  Nothing could have prepared me for losing 4 close souls this year.  I still can't really think about it much - it still hurts too much.

I would like to say that I have high hopes for 2012, but we have some more family health hurdles to get past.  Big, uncomfortable ones that will be drawn out and painful.  Lets just say that I'm hoping for a good 2013.

Some highlights have been:
  • 30 min PR at Texas 70.3, while taking it easy (thank you IMTX training)
  • IMTX (really, this is THE highlight of the year)
  • Exploring Colorado on my bike for IM training, even if I whined about it a lot.
  • Beer.  Lots of beer.  Probably too much beer.
  • Buying a great house in a town that we really love
  • Camping
  • Being able to spend time outdoors, pretty much anytime I want
Looking forward, some vague goals are:
  • Surviving the next few months getting Will's dad into assisted care (or nursing care).  This means dealing with Medicare/Medicaid, selling his house, blah blah blah blah.  More stuff then one should deal with when your dad is 68.
  • MOAR skiing.  This is of course dependent upon the ski areas getting some snow.  Its pathetic right now.
  • Getting stronger on the bike.  I got tired of getting my ass kicked on the hills here.
  • Enjoy training with a group.  My club is doing IM Kansas 70.3 as the club race.  Boise is the day before.  This means I have instant training buddies.
  • I would put a time goal down for Boise, but with the crazy weather, I know better.  Lets just say I want a stronger performance on the bike.
And really, I can't think past June at this point. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Snowboarding Fail

Will and I both had last Friday off and decided to hit the slopes.  I had bought a 4-pack of lessons for Winter Park, thinking Will could really figure out how to snowboard (he's ok, but I think he needs some instruction so he will really enjoy it).  I said I'd use one of the lessons to learn how to snowboard myself. 

I think I learned how to ski when I was 5.  At any rate, I've been skiing for 30+ years.  That's a long time when you think about it.  In the past, Will and I have only had maybe one day a year to hit the slopes.  Will usually was good for a half day of snowboarding before the frustration took over and he was done.  I would spend the whole day skiing.  Will wanted me to take a snowboarding lesson, but each time I'd refuse because I was NOT going to spend my one day a year on my ass hating life.

Now we live here and I have a season pass.  I think that means I have more than one day a year on the mountain.  This also means I didn't have an excuse to not give boarding a try.

I went into it knowing I'd be spending the whole day on my ass, but I was optimistic.  I'm a great skiier.  I was excited to learn something new from scratch.  Think about it, how often do you get the opportunity to learn something completely new?  I went into this with an open mind.  I came out with very bruised knees and probable moderate whiplash.

The 4-pack had two options.  A semi-private lesson whichs started at 11:30, meaning we'd waste the morning waiting for the lesson to start.  Or an all-day group lesson with lunch included.  We did the group lesson.  I know Will was hoping to be in my group, but he can do things like stand, turn, and stop.  I could not.  He was placed in the beginner group.  I was placed in the novice group.  And we parted ways for the day.

Winter Park.  See all those trails?  Well, I didn't go on hardly any of them.
I had ~10 people in my group, ranging from high schoolers to some guy who was maybe in his 40's.  I wasn't the oldest, but I was probably the second or third oldest.  At least I had altitude and endurance training to my advantage, as most people were from out of state. 

We started the lesson figuring out our bindings.  Pain in the asses, those bindings are.  We strapped one foot in and practiced scooting along like you'd ride a skateboard.  Only I'd never ridden a skateboard so the motion was incredibly awkward. We practiced scooting up the hill like that.  Hey, I was good at this and beat everyone up the hill.  Then we practiced turning by leaning back towards our heels with our back to the hill (one foot strapped in, the other loose).  Ok, it felt weird, but I got it.  Next we practiced turning by leaning forward on our toes.  Got it.

Then it was time to go up the lift!  Scary!  We had very minimal instruction on going up the lift.  I figured I could fake it, if needed.  The guy who was supposed to ride up with me freaked out, almost got tangled up in the lift side pole, freaked out even more and didn't make it onto the lift.  At the top of the lift, I successfully dismount and did not crash.  We all got to the top, but were missing random guy, so our instructor zoomed down the mountain to get him.  Only as soon as the instructor took off, random guy appeared.  Ugh.

First lesson - standing up.  You can either sorta dig you heels in and magically stand up or you can be a yoga master and dig your toe side in, do a back bend sort of thing, and stand up.  The easier sounding way didn't work for me - I kept sliding down the hill as I tried to stand up.  Good thing I've done a bunch of yoga, as that worked for me.

We finally made it over to the "bunny hill" area, which is a bit weird since its mid-mountain.  We practiced falling leaf patterns, where you zig-zag across the run.  First we practiced leaning back to our heels and turning/stopping, then going across the other way.  It was awkward.  Also: it was easy to lean the wrong way (down the hill) and fall on your hands and knees (and face).  Knees don't have much padding.  Falling on them hurts. After a few runs of that, we practiced going "toe side", where you face uphill and lean towards you toes to turn and stop.  This was HARD.  Very tough on the calves and feet, as you're almost tippie-toe.  Heel side is much easier, even if its hard on the quads.

Cropped view of the area I snowboarded.  Yes, that tiny yellow shaded area.  Very sad.
The hill we're on is pretty flat.  Half the time I have to jump around or throw my feet around to get going.  A bunch of the time, my balance sucks and I crash. 

Lifts suck on snowboards.  First, you have to undo your back foot and scoot around everywhere.  Then if you don't angle your leg just right  as you get on the lift, your knee gets turned awkwardly as you take off.  Then the dismount.  The bunny hill lift has a harder dismount than the first lift we went up.  So you'd point the board perpendicular to the lift and place your free foot on top of the board.  Then you'd gently push off the lift and coast downhill.  Each time, I'd crash HARD on my tailbone.  Only I couldn't sit there and curse to myself.  I would have to gather myself and move quickly out of the way.  Then I'd have to stand up (which isn't hard when you have one foot free) and scoot to where my lesson people were, sit down, and buckle my feet in.  Buckling in sucks.  You wouldn't think it sucks, but it does.  Especially since, when I ski, there is none of this up and down, crash, stand, sit, buckle business.  You just get off the lift and go.

So after ~maybe 2 hours of this ride the lift, crash, sit and listen to our instructions, board falling leaf style, crash a ton, and ride up to do it again, it's lunch time.  We board part of the way to the lunch spot (Snowasis), only the slope isn't quite right and we get stuck and need to walk most of the way there.  We have lunch and walk back to our little bunny hill.  Only we had to walk through a pretty busy flat spot, where the skiiers/boarders hauled ASS to get through.  So it was like we were playing frogger.  Not cool.

Apparently over lunch I'd forgotten what I learned that morning.  I was having a lot of issues and crashed pretty hard backwards, which made me really appreciate the free helmet that came with my rental.  Yup, definitely not liking things.  And each time you crash, each time you have to awkwardly stand up.  And each time, you'd have to flop your board around to position it so you can stand up.  Such a pain in the ass.  I finally figured out that I could face the mountain, stand up with my back pointing downhill.  But that was only ok if it was flat enough for me to hop around 180 degrees so my face was pointing downhill.  If it was too steep for that, I'd have to get up the other (more challenging way).  Somewhere along the way, I tweaked my shoulder and my hand.  My knees were killing me.  And my ass was well on its way.  We practiced some more, in a way that was more like "real" snowboarding, where you point the thing downhill and use your heels and toes to guide you.  I'd get freaked out and heel it all the way down, which was a ridiculous quad workout.  I think I had maybe 2 runs total where I didn't crash.  They wweren't fast runs, but I didn't crash.  I think at the end of the day, I had 3 lift dismounts that were successful. And each time up the lift, I was spending more and more time (while buckling my foot to the board) gathering my wits to head back down.

So I'm watching my watch (please, when will this end!).  I was trying to figure out how we were going to get down the mountain to the base.  Lessons ended at 3, and it was 2:40.  Our instructor gathered us and announced that we'd be heading down after another run.  I asked how we were getting down, if we only had 20 minutes.  He replied that we were walking to the Gemini lift (the one we originally took up), and TAKING THE LIFT DOWN.  I have never in my life had to ride a lift DOWN.  Oh, the humiliation!  Ugh.

We got to the base and I found Will.  I'd seen Will a few times during the day (he was on the same bunny hill for part of the day), but he generally kept his distance since he knew I wasn't happy.  He had a good lesson and learned somethings.  I had an awful day.  Honestly, the best part was riding the lift up each time.  It was a spectacularly sunny day with fresh snow on the mountains.  Beautiful.  But I was dead.  And frustrated. And sore.  And I missed my skiis.

So we went and had beers and really tasty gorgonzola/spinach/artichoke/bacon dip at the Cheeky Monk and then went home.  I told Will he can have the remaining 2 lessons.  I'm not snowboarding ever again. :/

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not what I had in mind for a workout this morning

8 inches of snow.  And dummy here left her laptop at work.  My arms are tired now.
I only shovelled my side of the driveway
8 inches on the ground and the snow pile was probably 3 feet high.  fun.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What a week (and its only Wednesday)

I started eating Paleo Sunday night.  I went to a tri seminar a few months back, and they had a dietician talk about metabolic periodization, where you restrict grains during the build phase of your training schedule.  I've been feeling like crap for months now and have had a little voice telling me to think about Paleo.  After doing some reading the past few weeks, I'm giving it a shot.

My first full day eating Paleo - my coworkers dropped off a bag of chocolates.  Ugh.  Bad week to start a diet which restricts sugar.  Fortunately, my boss was asking around for chocolate, so I gave her the whole bag.

So far its not awful.  I think my stamina is a bit reduced (which is common).  Yesterday was sprint day for swimming, and I was more gassed than normal.  And I was sweating more than usual during my lunch time weight workout.  Supposedly after the 2nd week, your energy goes through the roof and you access your fat stores.  We shall see.  If anything, it will be an interesting month.

Last night, I got conned into going to this sort of self help seminar by a coworker.  She's a friendly acquaintance and did this seminar and it changed her life.  I really didn't want to go but she wouldn't let it drop.  I went, and its basically a cult.  Or cult-like pyramid scheme.  Do some googling of  L a n d m a r k F o r u m.  I'm glad my radar went off in the first 30 seconds I was in the building (everyone was SO HAPPY) and it kind of went downhill from there.  They even had a portion of the evening dedicated to registering for the 3 day course ($500).  I didn't want to give them any trackable information, so I didn't even get a name tag at the event entrance.  I saw that you had to fill out a contact card when you got your name tag, so I just kept walking.  Even though several worker people said "I see you don't have a nametag, have you been offered one?"  The whole thing was weird.  People were having epiphanies (but they call them Breakthroughs!) but while people were talking about their problems (Breakdowns!), the moderator was guiding their words to match the program's bizzaro language.  Sometimes it was subtle (and the people mirrored his wording with barely any promting), sometimes he flat out made them repeat his statement.  And while the words were english, they were assembled oddly.  They said specific sentence structure led to empowerment and words were powerful.  And magically, by using the modified language, they reached their Breakthrough! I thought it was creepy.  And when said person reached their Breakthrough! the whole room sighed in amazement and applauded.  Even my coworker was saying "you just witnessed 2 breakthroughs tonight, wasn't it amazing!" (the issues were not life changing, and in one case, the class led some guy to apologize to his ABUSIVE FATHER.  The son apolgized to his father because the son had allowed their relationship to lapse.  Call me crazy, but I'm thinking if you don't want a relationship with a guy who beat the shit out of you and your family, that's probably a good thing!)  In fact, you couldn't simply talk to someone.  You were "sharing" and "having a conversation".  Everyone was talking and using identical phrasing.  Sooo weird! I'm sure it helps some people, but I really do not need an organization telling me how to think, right down to how I express my thoughts.  Ick.  Seriously, I get the heebie jeebies when I think about last night.  I'm so glad I didn't get sucked in!  I'm sure my checking account thanks me as well!

And now I have a coworker who was/is friendly to me, but she is in what I believe is to be a pseudo-cult.  Awkward!  I really am destined to not have any friends at work.

I just want to get through tomrorrow and then I'm off for a 4 day weekend.  Will and I are going to learn how to snowboard on Friday.  The snow is shitty, but you really don't need good snow when you learn.  Hopefully I won't die.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

So that race didn't happen

I woke up Saturday to this:

maybe 3 inches and another 2-3 on the way....
Big puffy flakes, wind, and really cold temperatures.  This was at 7:30 AM.  No road plowing had been done.  I hung out for a bit and debated going.  Then I decided that even driving to the race was sketchy, much less racing it.  So I went back to bed and slept in until 10:30 AM.  Will and the kitties were very happy about this decision.

This was my second ever DNS.  My first was for the Kemah Olympic tri, where I had a horrible stomach virus the night before (morning of?) where I was puking every 30 minutes from 11 PM to well after the start of the race. 

I checked out the race results, and it looks like over 100 people raced.  On their bikes.  Colorado people are crazy.

I, on the other hand, was very happy to be home, in my jammies, fire going, and being lazy. 

Zipper likes to try and catch snowflakes as they fall outside the patio door.

Friday, December 02, 2011

mountain bike... what is that?

It snowed all day yesterday.  It will snow tonight and tomorrow morning.

The problem?  I have a duathalon tomorrow.  4 mile trail run and a 10 mile bike.  With snow.  And the roads/ground was nice and warm, which meant that the snow melted at first and turned to ice, and then got covered with more snow.

I have seriously thought about turning my tri bike into a ski bike.

Condition update from the race director:
*** DECEMBER 3RD RACE UPDATE!!! (updated 7pm Thursday December 1st) As always, we issue a course conditions report the Thursday before each Chilly Cheeks race. Yesterday, the roads and trails were dry. Tonight, there are a few inches of snow on the ground at Cherry Creek State Park. It's Chilly Cheeks Season!!!
The forecast for Friday calls for morning sunshine and afternoon clouds with temps getting just above freezing. So... I would anticipate some slick conditions on at least a portion of the bike course on race morning in the form of packed snow and patches of ice. Saturday's race forecast is for temps around 20 degrees at race time with the potential for light snow falling.

 As always, your bike choice is up to you, but a mountain bike might be a good option. If you arrive on Saturday and you are uncomfortable with the bike course conditions, you can switch to the run-only prior to the start of the race. Just let us know when you pick up your number.

 Here are some last minute instructions for everyone. Packet pick-up will open at 8:00am, with the race starting at 10:00am. Please bring photo ID with you to packet pick-up. Your race number and timing chip can only be picked up by you on race morning.

 Directions to the park are listed below this update. Please enter through the west gate off of Dayton. Parking will be available in the Hobie Hill lot, immediately adjacent to transition. Once this lot is full, we will cone off the entrance, and you will need to park in the marina parking lot, just 200 yards further down the road. Please do not park on the grass (park rangers will ticket you) or attempt to park in the Hobie Hill lot once we have closed it to parking. Any available spots you see are reserved for race volunteers and our ambulance. We are only permitted to park in these two lots. Please do not park elsewhere or it will jeopardize our ability to hold these events in the future.
There will be two starting waves on Saturday morning - all men at 10:00am, and all women just a few minutes later. During the first 1.75 miles of the run, you will need to stay to the left side of the road facing traffic. There will be an aid station serving water at 1.75 miles. From there, you will run on dirt trails for about 1.5 miles, then on bike path for the remainder of the 4 mile run.

 Run-only participants will conclude their event when they cross the 4-mile timing mat (all miles will be marked), and a volunteer will retrieve your timing chip. Duathlon participants will continue to transition, grab their bikes, and head out for a 10.8 mile ride. Helmets are mandatory on the bike, and must be buckled before you start. You will not be allowed to start without a helmet.

 The bike course will be open to light park traffic, so please stay to the right except to pass, and no crossing the centerline of the road (even if it is covered with snow, you know where it is). Also - this is a low-key fun winter event, but please - no drafting on the bike. You must leave at least 3 bike lengths between your front wheel and the rear wheel of the bike ahead of you.

 There will be volunteers at all intersections and turns on the bike course to direct you. The finish of the bike will be the same point as the start line for the run. After crossing the finish mat, slow down immediately and return your timing chip. Please do not blow past the chip retrievers as you will cross the path of runners who may still be on course. You may also miss out on a great raffle item that we award to random finishers at the finish line. We have helmets and glasses from Rudy Project, training DVD's from Carmichael, gift certificates from Boulder Running Company, Koobi Saddles, KompetitiveEdge, Excel Sports, and more. Lots'a great swag!!!
Once you are done, stop by the food tents for home made banana chocolate chip bread (my house smells so good right now!!! As well as hot cocoa, hot ramen noodle cups, and plenty of other drinks!

 I know, after weeks in the 50's and 60's this blast of winter is a real shocker, but this is what Chilly Cheeks is all about. Come out and have some fun with us!!! Online registration closes at 5pm on Friday, and race-day registration will be available. We'll see you on Saturday morning!!!
I have a mountain bike that I bought ~10 years ago.  Will and I used to ride them a lot.  Then I found masters swimming and really didn't want to work out 2x a day (swim in the morning, ride after work.  little did I know what my future would hold....)  Then I got a tri bike and have completely forgotten about the mountain bike.  The only time in recent memory that I rode it was a year ago, only because I needed to get to/from the car detail shop by my house and I didn't have the time to run to and from the place.

So, I busted the bike out last night.  Aired up the tires (hopefully they hold air - those tubes are original.  probably just cursed myself here).  Played with the shifters so I remember that they do not shift like my tri bike.  And wow, this sucker is heavy.  (Will actually told me not to whine about how heavy it is before I went in the garage to mess with it)

Dressing for this thing is a whole different animal.  My transition time will be ridiculous.  For the run, I figure I'll wear my fleecy run tights (with tri shorts underneath), a long sleeve shirt, my SONY jacket, a hat, and my new windproof baclava (that I just got for skiing).  And probably gloves.  For the bike, since I'm using my mountain bike, I won't mess with the cycling shoes.  I've debated about putting my SPD pedals on my mountain bike for more power, but I've decided that its probably safest if I'm able to quickly put my foot down if I start sliding.  I will bitch about not being able to pull up on my pedals, but its only 10 miles.  Still debating on wearing my warm winter cycling gloves or my ski gloves.  I will also probably have an insulated water bottle with warm water for the bike.  And maybe another jacket.  Although with the mountain bike, its not like I'll be generating that much speed/wind.

When I heard about this, I thought it would be interesting to race in the snow, but secretly hoped that it wouldn't come to it.  Guess I'll find out tomorrow if snow racing is fun or horrible.