Thursday, March 29, 2012

More spring

We have a daffodil!
so cheerful!
It still boggles my mind that people lived in our house for 15 years and never bothered to plant any flowers.  Who does that?!?!  Bulbs are so easy.  Honestly, I think it took us maybe an hour to plant everything last fall.  And then all you do is sit back and watch the show.

Green things are slowly poking up from the ground.  I've made it a habit to wander through the back yard every 2 days or so, investigating progress and looking for new green things.  Its also been entertaining trying to figure out what I planted and where.  Notes or a map or something would have been helpful, but this has been kind of fun.

The garlic has been going bonkers.  The stalks are now about the diameter of green onions.  Here's a not very good side-by-side comparison photo of the growth in the past 2 weeks.

It would help if I managed to shoot things for useful reference.  Still, you get the idea.  The bunnies have stayed away from these, I wonder why?
We now have tulips coming up along with one hyacinth (that a bunny ate a good chunk of) and a mystery bulb.  I think the mystery bulb is an allium, but I had 6 of these bulbs and I only see one of them so far.  Of course, I don't remember where I planted any of them.
mystery bulb - the flower looks a bit strange... kinda like an onion flower.


the bunny ate the top clean off this one.  I think its a big hyacinth.  maybe.  stupid bunny
The grape hyacinths are poking up all over the yard and, in one spot, they have started blooming.  My mom suggesed these because they're inexpensive and they spread pretty quickly.  I think I got 100 of them for $20.  Pretty sure I planted them in groups of 20, but I can't quite remember.
aren't they cute?
I've started to plant my long-lead time seeds indoors.  Tomatoes (for a friend), peppers and eggplants.  I think this weekend I'll start herbs and some other things that get planted mid-May.  Although, if things stay as warm as they have been, I suspect they'll get planted much earlier than May.

Gardening is so cool. :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Will run for beer

This is my easy week.  Being that its an easy week, I can take few more liberties with training and life and stuff.  Yesterday called for a 20-30 min easy run.

Also happening yesterday, my husband texted me, saying that he and a friend of ours were at the neighborhood brewery.  At 4:30 in the afternoon.  Will is usually at this place on a Tuesday at 4:30, but I haven't seen this friend in a very long time.  It sounded like fun.  But I had to get a run in... what to do?

While sitting at my desk at work, I came up with one of my crazier ideas.  I would simply run from the house to the brewery!  I figured it was no more than 3 miles to the brewery, and that way, we wouldn't have the issue of having 2 cars at the brewery and trying to go to dinner after.  I got home, changed, grabbed my Camelback bag (without the bladder) and crammed some clothes to go over my running clothes and hit the road.

A super fun 2.25 miles later I was at the brewery!  And strangely enough, this was the lightest and fastest (even with some hills) run I've done this month.  I think the beer in my near future had something to do with it.  (and this adds to the very long list of things I do now that I'm a triathlete, which seem insane to normal people)

Beers were fun, hanging out with our friend was fun.  I gave him a hard time about his "kind of" girlfriend.  She's 43 and a grandmother.  With a tramp stamp.  The age is fine.  I'm more worried about what in her life's path has enabled her to be a grandmother at the age of 43.

And pretty soon, it was after 9 PM and we had not eaten dinner.  Will and I went to Chipotle and I had a massive burrito bowl at 9:30 PM.  And then I had all sorts of crazy dreams - go figure.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Swim team #4

This is getting ridiculous.

I love my swim teams in Houston.  My first team (H2OUSTON Swims) was incredible - I swam with them for 3 years until I switched jobs and they moved pools, making it nearly impossible to make workouts and get to work at a reasonable time.  I then joined MAC Aquatics and was with them for 4 years.  Some of these people became my closest friends, one of my teammates was like my long lost older sister.  The coaches were awesome.  These groups were my family. When I think of the things that I miss about Houston, MACA is right up there at the top of the list.  :sniff:

Since moving here, I've been on the following teams:
  • Highlands Ranch Masters - really good and fast group, I learned a lot, but I also was the slowest in the pool.  And they weren't the most friendly group.  Not sure if that was them being typical of Highlands Ranch or that I came off as one of those "triathlete" swimmers, but I swam with them for 5 months and I never even learned anyone's name.  When we bought the house, driving 30+ minutes to make a 5:15 AM swim practice became something I was unwilling to do.  So I joined....
  • Colorado Athletic Club - nice club, similar to MAC, outdoor pool.  I swam with them from June - September.  The group was nice enough but they weren't very competitive.  The coach seemed like he was forced into coaching Masters at 5:30 AM so he could coach the little kids, which resulted in him coming off as not really caring about our team.  Also, he seemd to prepare workouts for the lowest common denominator, which meant I was not challenged.  The nail in the coffin was when he had us do a number of broken 125s: 75 with 15 seconds rest then 50 with 10 seconds rest.  This is not a broken 125, this is a 75 followed by a 50 with way too much rest.  When I asked him about this, he said it was so we could reset and really focus on that 50.  mkay!  Also, this club was expensive and didn't seem to have many classes that I was interested in.  Spin class wasn't anything special and all of their yoga classes were during the day.  I did the math and figured I could save $600 a year if I joined...
  • Parker Recreation Center - your standard rec center with a way too warm pool (85 degrees).  I have friends on this team (including the coach) but I am really bored.  I like the coach as a person, but I'm not very thrilled with him as a coach.  He gets his workouts from a triathlon book, which means that we don't do any drills and we only do freestyle.  Boring.  Also, he's been gone a lot (work and skiing).  He's not the most organized person - he'll frequently email us the next day's workout at 8:15 or later the night prior.  I'm not paying approximately $6/session for someone to email me a workout from a book.  I can do that on my own thankyouverymuch.  I'm also irritated that I'm lucky to hit 3,000 yards a workout.  We pay for masters on a 6 week basis.  The most recent session ended last week, so I'm going to give this new team a whirl.
I just signed up at Lifetime Fitness last night, mainly for the masters team.  Word on the street is that the indoor pool is 81 degrees (which is do-able) and they swim outside in the summers.  The lanes are a bit smaller than traditional lanes, but apparently only 6-10 people show up to the morning practice.  That means 2 people per lane.  I can handle that.  And they have multiple coaches with collegiate swimming backgrounds. NOT triathlon backgrounds.  This means that hopefully we'll do some drills and maybe swim something other than freestyle.  Practice is limited to an hour (again, lame) but its early enough where I can stay and get in some bonus yards if I want to.  The club is beautiful, and while not cheap, its cheaper than Colo Athletic Club, and about the same price as MACA.  And they have hot vinyasa yoga, that hopefully I can add into my schedule. 

Here's hoping that this 4th team works!

Monday, March 26, 2012

First training block

I survived my first training block of the year.  I was really nervous about my extended break and leaving only 12 weeks to Boise.  Would my endurace come back?  Would I be strong and fast?  Injuries?

I'm probably not going into this in the smartest way, but I figure this will be an interesting test of what I can get my body to do.  Its also an interesting test in seeing what (if any) muscle memory I have.  I spent countless hours last year training and then a good 4 months of not doing much of anything.  My base has been a big question in my head - and how much and how quickly can I load it up for training.  I really wanted to push myself this week, and in particular, this weekend to see how I responded.  I wanted to see how quickly I recovered, what was sore, and if there were any signs of injury.

My main concern is my shin splints and calves for running.  My calves are tight.  So tight that my feet go numb while I run - it's a fun feature.  I've been getting ART done on my legs since early February.  It hurts.  Its basically a guy (ok, a trained and licenced chirpractor) digging his thumbs into your legs, while moving X joint through a range of motion.  The idea is to break up any scar tissue or adhesions which are causing the injury.  The dude leaves indentations into my inside shin.  Its impressive.  And painful.
Its kinda hard to see, but there's some pretty sweet bruising up along my shin.
Good news is that the ART seems to be working on my shin splits.  Not so great news is that he's not taking my calf tighness very seriously (or at least in my non-medical opinon, he's not hitting all of the right spots).  So, I may need to see a chiropractor who does Graston Technique.  I had it done at a race expo a few months back.  Lets just say that it resembles a Klingon version of brass knuckles and they use this "blade" to "massage" the muscle that needs attention.  Fun times!  Why am I doing this to myself again?

Anyways, back to my training week.  Focus this week was running.  I wanted to push things and see how my legs responded.

Tuesday - 50 min run
Wed - brick: 50 min bike with heavy intervals, 30 min run
Thurs - supposed to bike, but I was wiped and still a bit sick
Fri - swim
Saturday - 3 hr ride, all zone 2-3
Sunday - 2 hr run

My training calendar 2 weeks ago was completely blank.  Its either all ass or no ass with me!

Saturday I rode from basically my house to Cherry Creek, then I followed the Cherry Creek trail to the Denver Country Club and turned around.  It wasn't a very hard ride (for me... athough I nearly killed my friend.  her first time on a bike and I took her on a 3 hr tour of Denver!).  This day was more about time on the bike and getting used to riding again. 

Random sidenote: we are having record-breaking temperatures this week.  I actually rode in shorts and a short-sleeved jersey.  I really can't recall ever being able to wear so little clothing on any of my IMTX rides last year.  The irony!  Also, I did pretty good with the sunscreen application.  I have a very mild line mid-bicep on both arms and a tiny little red stripe above my ass.  I thought my jersey was long enough... apparently I thought wrong.

Then after the bike ride, I went out on the town!  Will had some coupon to Renegade Brewing for a free taster flight and a free growler.  It was awesome.

L -> R: pale, belgian strong, triple IPA, Scottish wee heavy, poblano lager, Rye IPA, blonde
Notice the accidental awesomeness of the glasses reflecting on the bar.
While we were out, I wanted to head over to Denver Beer Company to see if they had any of their ever elusvie Graham Cracker Porter on tap.  It seems that whenever we are over there, its out.  This beer is one of my top ten beers, I think.  Very tasty.
amazing.  I want more
Then it was off to the Avalanche vs Canucks game.  And for some strange reason (read: beers) I wanted some day-glo nachos with jalepenos.  They tasted good at the time... not exactly good on the stomach for a morning run the next day.

My (very rambly) point in including all of this extra-curricular activity is just that.  HIM training allows me to actually have a life.  No way would I have spent the afternoon/evening last March drinking beer and going to a hockey game.  It's something I need to consider when thinking about IMCDA in 2013.

Sunday was a 2 hour run.  I wasn't so sure how this would go, mainly since the last time I ran that long was in October 2011.  My most recent long run was a week prior, for 1 hour.  So, perhaps doubling my long run (and more than doubling my weekly mileage) wasn't so smart.  I packed up my gear and headed out, feeling slightly hungover and with a pretty unhappy stomach (stupid nachos).  The plan was to just run and listen to my body.  Give it 30 minutes and decide if I should head back.  This is how I approach most of my runs - give it 15-30 minutes and if things still feel bad, then turn around and go home.  But at least get out the door and give it a shot.  Not that motivating myself to get out the door is easy, but so much of this stuff is mental.

After 30 minutes of running, I actually felt pretty good.  I had started an hour later than planned (it was cold!) and I was a bit worried about it getting hot.  Fortunately, the cloud cover held and it was pleasant out.  My plan shifted to running ~45 minutes and then turning around.  That would give me a 1:30 run and I could add more miles by the house if I wanted.  45 minutes turned into 50 and then I turned around.

I'm trying out new nutrition this year, since I had such awful stomach issues after IMTX.  So, I'm trying out First Endurance EFS on the bike (Grape flavor) and Liquid Shot for the run.  The idea with Liquid Shot is that its similar to a gel but easier to digest.  I got Mixed Berry and Vanilla flavors to try out.  Keep in mind that you also have to drink some water with the Liquid Shot (like you would with a gel).  This whole one bottle for water, one bottle for nutrition is complicated for solo long runs. 
fits in the palm of your hand
I've seen people cram the thing in their tops during races so both of their hands are free.  While standing in my kitchen, I tried that and realized that I wouldn't be very happy doing that for 2 hours.  Tried storing it up the leg of my compression shorts.  Nope.  Then briefly down the back of my shorts, realizing they'd quickly migrate downwards.  So I had no choice but to bust out my handy fuel belt.  I dumped the Shot in an empty container - the stuff is thicker than I thought it would be.  Its still liquid, but more like a thin-ish honey consistency.  My other 2 bottles on the belt were water, 1/hour of running.  Kind of a pain for training, but during races (where water is available every mile), I can put the Liquid Shot stuff in my Nathan 10 oz handheld and be just fine.

Back to my Sunday run.... so in order to juggle both the Liquid Shot and my water, I would stop every 2 miles and take a swig from each flask.  Normally, I'd do this while running, but considering its early, I decided to walk.  Besides it was usually under 0.1 mile of walking.  It helped keep things reasonable too, since its been a while since I've ran this far.  Mile 6 was a slightly longer break.  I was getting warm so I had to take off my long sleeve shirt.  My first water bottle was empty, so I had to swap some stuff around.  I ended up not clicking in my front (now full) bottle all the way, so it crashed to the pavement and broke the top.  At least one of my two bottles were empty, so I had a spare lid.... 

At mile 9, the trail intersected with my subdivision and I was feeling good.  I decided to run an add'l half mile out (and then back) to bring my run to 10 miles.  Sweet!

Overall, my pace wasn't awful (it wasn't good, either!).  I didn't take any extra un-planned walk breaks and I ran up every (very small) hill.  All in all it was a success.  Then I had my recovery drink, took a shower and then an ice bath.  These new kitties are not familiar with me taking ice baths.  They were pretty concerned by all of my yelling when I got in the tub.

I have never met a cat that loves water as much as Zipper.....
Legs felt good but I was a zombie for the rest of the day.  I made sure to roll my legs out with my Stick before bed, and other than a tiny bit of hip flexor soreness, I'm good to go.

Gives me hope for the next 10 weeks.  Maybe Boise will be ok.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I think I miss Ironman a little

I was warned about this.  During training and the race, you think "once and done".  Then, after a while that feeling goes away and you start thinking "hey, that wasn't so bad...."  Maybe I'm caught up in the fresh season of IM training.  Maybe I'm bored and looking for a challenge.  I don't know.  I'm seriously considering signing up for IMCDA (Ironman Coeur d'Alene) in Jun 2013.  The bike is pretty hard.  But its not hot.  I don't know.  Registration will open at the end of June and I have a month or so to think things over before I hand WTC about $700 of my hard earned dollars.  So I have time to do some soul searching.

In an effort to drag out my Ironman Experience, here's a series of emails I sent out last year.  I was part of a fundraiser team last year, and my race was IMTX.  I think the emails were a fun way of personalizing my fundraising (other than "hey, give me your money!) and after the fact, they're fun to read and see what I did last year.

March 28, 2011
As you may (or may not) know, I am racing in Ironman Texas on May 21, 2011 in Houston Texas. This race is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 run which I have to complete is under 17 hours. Since transferring to Denver, I’ve joined a local fundraising team called Sweat Equity, which helps to raise money to support local Denver charities. Through Sweat Equity, I am raising funds for a very important local nonprofit organization - LiveWell Colorado. LiveWell is committed to reducing obesity in Colorado by promoting healthy eating and active living. In addition to educating and inspiring young people to make healthy choices, LiveWell Colorado focuses on policy, environmental and lifestyle changes that remove barriers and increase access to healthy behaviors.
I’ve been logging a LOT of miles to get me through my 140.6 mile race. Since the start of 2011, I’ve swam 80,600 yards (45 miles), biked 921 miles, and ran 159 miles. And I still have 8 more weeks until race day!

Please help me in raising funds as I log my miles and cross the finish line with a smile on my face.


April 18, 2011
Just thought I’d send you an update on how the training / fundraising is going….

So far, I’ve raised nearly $500 – just $750 more to go ;)

On April 10th, I “raced” in the Ironman Texas 70.3 in Galveston. “Raced” is in quotations because this was really a training event – the goal was to practice things in a race environment but not push myself so hard that I need a bunch of time to recover. I was also lucky enough to ride part of the IMTX bike course a few days before the 70.3 to test out my Colorado “hill legs”. My friend that rode with me can attest that my CO hill legs are MORE ready for those Texas hills :) The main thing I learned from my long weekend in Houston was to not under-estimate the heat. The week prior to the 70.3 race, I got snowed on during a training run….. Conditions on the 70.3 race day were windy (18 mph SSE winds – mostly crosswind on the bike) and warm/muggy (85 degrees, 90% humidity). As I found out on my IMTX test ride, what worked for me when I lived in Houston for nutrition/electrolytes clearly doesn’t work for me now that I live in the land of ice and snow. We’ll just say that salt pills are now my friend…..

Galveston was fun – even though this was a training race, it was very clear that all of my IMTX training is paying off. I kept my heart rate relatively low and my pace comfortable for the whole thing but managed to finish 28 minutes FASTER than my previous 70.3 time, with personal best times in the swim, bike, and run. Definitely a good confidence boost and clear proof that my training is doing what it should.

Training stats to date:

Bike: 1301.43 Mi
Run: 204.35 Mi
Swim: 109212 Yd

A little under 5 weeks to race day

Thanks again for your support!

May 9, 2011
My race is in 12 days!

Here’s an update on how things are going:
I’ve fundraised $674.62 – I’ve had some creative donation amounts, which brings a smile to my face. THANK YOU. I’m over half way to my goal.

Training Stats to Date:
Bike: 1640 Mi
Run: 261 Mi
Swim: 129212 Yd (73 miles)

I have officially entered my taper. This is a curious thing, as my workload decreases in an attempt to let my body heal from the past 17+ weeks of training and get ready to race. Based on what I’ve been told, I can expect to still be exhausted (true), have random pains crop up (I’ve already had a very strange pain in my knee and now my back is sore in a random area), and I may be cranky (not sure how this differs from the past 17 weeks). So, what does a taper week look like, compared to a regular week? My last heavy week was 19 hours of exercise – 2 recovery days, a crazy track workout (2 x 2 mile repeats FAST), 2 short (1 hour) rides, 2 swim workouts, a Saturday long brick (5 hour ride, 1 hour run) and a Sunday long ride (6 hours). This week, by contrast, consists of a whopping 6 hours of exercise – 2 recovery days, 2 short bike rides (45 min and 20 min), a medium track workout (4 x ½ mile FAST), 2 low-distance swims (2400 and 1200 yards), Saturday 1.5 hour bike and a Sunday 1 hour run. See – EASY?
For the race, the heat will be my main challenge. I experienced 80 degree weather for the first time in Denver this past weekend, and my Saturday afternoon easy run was not so easy! Goals for the race will be to survive the swim (mass start of 2,600 people in Lake Woodlands), have a good but controlled bike (ie don’t go out too fast and stay hydrated), and then avoid the medical tent (dehydration) during the run, even if that means I walk a LOT. When I registered for this race, my goal (as is usually my goal) is to finish and to have fun. I will do my best to keep those goals in mind as I’m slogging through the marathon in 90+ degree heat with 100% humidity.

I hand my bike over to the TriBike Transport people on Saturday, which means no more cycling after Saturday (until race day). Next week will likely consist of packing and re-packing my things and obsessing over the weather. We fly down to Houston on Thursday, where I have my event check-in, Friday is equipment bag (bike and run) check-in and bike check in, then Saturday at 7 AM the gun goes off and I have 17 hours to go 140.6 miles.

I’ll send out an email next week with my bib number (I’m # 354) and the link to where you can track my progress during race day.

Thanks again for all of your support

May 18, 2011
Here I am 3 days before IMTX and I met my fundraising goal (and then some) – THANK YOU for your support (and for putting up with me since I started this adventure!).

Taper has been going well, I think. I really don’t know because I haven’t done this before. I’ve been doing short workouts with some speed pickups, and the speed is there, so that’s a good sign. I’m still pretty tired, but not completely exhausted, so I’m taking that as a good sign too.

Right now, the most asked question (after you’re crazy? A full Ironman?) is if I’m ready. This is a hard question because I honestly have no idea. I’ve done my training and my coach says I’m ready. Having never done one of these before, I really don’t know if I’m ready – I’m not sure I’ll really know until probably 10 miles into the run. This is truly a case of trusting my training and my coach and putting all of my hard work to the test. I did the math, and even with a fairly slow bike, I would still have 8+ hours to do the marathon – this gives me confidence that I will finish with time to spare.

We fly down to Houston tomorrow morning to start the Ironman festivities. Thursday afternoon is athlete check-in, where I get my race packet and my race wristband. Thursday night is the athlete meeting, where hopefully all my logistical questions get answered. Friday morning they’ve opened up the lake to athletes, so I’m meeting up with some Houston friends who are also racing for a quick swim. Swimming 15 minutes hardly seems worth it, but it’s on my plan, so I will follow the plan. Then I need to ride my bike for a quick 15 minutes, just enough to make sure everything is working ok. After that, I drop off my run bag, my bike bag, and leave my trusty bike on its designated bike rack space. Then Saturday, at 7 AM, the gun goes off and I get to swim, bike, and run 140.6 miles with 2,600 other athletes in less than 17 hours. I don’t have a goal time in mind really – just hoping to finish and be happy. My finish time will likely be around 16 hours, depending on the heat. I have a feeling that ice will become my new best friend.

If you wish to track me, there will be 2 places to look:

#1- Real-Time Tracking with MyAthleteGPS:
On Race day, you should be able to find a hyperlink to my under Ironman Texas: (the website has last weekend’s races up – hopefully Texas will get loaded soon)

#2: You can also track me on or using my bib number 354. Be sure you choose Texas and not the race in Spain!

Ironman Live seems to have some delay issues, so the best bet is the MyAthleteGps, plus you'll be able to see the course map and my little dot.... hopefully moving forward! :)

Thanks again for all of your support – I’m excited that race day is finally here and can get this thing done!


Thursday, March 15, 2012


Is it me, or does it suddenly feel like *wham!* it's spring?

It is 70+ degrees in Denver this week.  70.  In March. 

Last year, I was outside all spring but I really don't remember a sudden change to Spring.  At least not like this.  Of course, it could be that even though I was outside, I was too focused on running or cycling to actually take note of my surroundings.  And it did snow up until mid-May.  So spring may have been more gradual.  I dunno.

Whatever the reason, this week, all of a sudden, I am PUMPED for warmer weather.  I love the longer days (hello, it's light enough so I can run or bike after work!). I love the warmer days.  I just feel energized.  And I actually feel like training.  Is that was a proper off-season is supposed to do?  Leave you hungry and wanting to train again?  Craziness.

I went for my first "real" run of the season on Tuesday.  Maybe I should put "run" in quotation marks too... it was sad.  My endurance is basically nothing.  Strength feels ok.  I wasn't sore after, which is good.  But I can tell that my body is not used to running, as weird things were pulling or straining.  I kept it short - just 30 min - and I really wanted to run the next day, but I thought it was wise to wait a day or so.  No use doing too much and then getting hurt.  An interesting feature to this run?  Will came with me.  (I know... did anyone feel like hell was freezing over at about 6:30 on Tuesday night?).  He's even talked about buying real running shoes.  I know!  He had a hard time (partially because he's sick) so he did a bit less than me.  Still, it was so nice to have a buddy out with me.

In other "hey, it's Spring" observations are that my yard is doing some cool stuff.  The previous owners did practically zero landscaping, which was depressing.  How can you have a yard with no flowers?!?!  To remedy this travesty, we planted ~200 bulbs last fall.  Don't ask me what I planted exactly.  I do know that they are flowers, likely hyacinths, daffodills, and tulips.  Just don't ask me where I planted these things.  It will be a surprise.

With the warmer temps and snow melting, little green things are appearing.  It's going to be fun watching them and seeing what happens.

These might be daffodills
Autumn blaze maple with sap running down the side (dark orange staining)

do you see the fat bunny? he provides hours of entertainment to Zipper and Gunny.

skinny stuff is garlic, thicker stuff are irises.

No idea.  Could be tulips or hyacinths.

strawberry plant in the uncovered raised garden bed.  crazy thing stayed green all winter.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

12 weeks

Until Boise.  How did that happen?

And hey, my total run mileage since October is 15 miles.  I know, I'm a complete over achiever.  Also: my longest bike ride since August was last Sunday.  A whopping 30 miles.  Amazing, right?

To fully illustrate my lack of fitness and training, I present the following metrics:

Distance... Wow, look at all that recent running.  Also: I biked over 500 miles in March 2011.  And 30 in March 2012. 

Time - hey, look, I've skied this year almost as much as I ran last year.  Sweet!  However, my blog hasn't been filled
with constant whining about training. Instead, its featured skiing stories.  :)
In developing my training plan for Boise, I've really just taken what my coach had me doing for IMTX and have dialed it back 1/3 to 1/2.  Of course, my IMTX training plan started in October, and with 12 weeks out from the race, I had a significant base, especially for running.  I've set the Boise plan to be aggressive, but I may have to dial it back a bit.  Prime example: I have a 2 hr long run in 1.5 weeks.  Probably not the best idea since I may have ONLY ran 2 hrs cumulatively in 2012.  MAYBE.

try not to fall over with laughter
I've been doing ok-ish on the swimming part of things.  Not ok on the speed part, but I can get the distance in.  I felt fine after Sunday's 30 miler, so I think/hope I can hang with the bike portions of the plan.  It may hurt, but I know I will survive.  Running is going to be interesting.  And probably painful.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

My arm is easily twisted

I've added yet another race to my calendar.

There was another Schwaggle deal, and with my Active Advantage membership, it cost a whopping $36 (instead of $90 + Active fees).  And I have some friends from high school who have signed up as well, including a newbie.  Go Eagles!  (or something.... I still have my old HHS swim team towel.  That would be amusing for use in transition).

I honestly don't remember owning this.  One day, a box of crap from HS showed
up at my house (thanks Mom!) and this was in it.  For the record, the printing is very scratchy.

This makes Race #3 in July.  THREE.  How did that happen?

All of the races should be fun, though.  I love supporting new triathletes, so SheRox was pretty much a no brainer.  Will decided to enter the Survivor Mud Run with me.  (I know, I about fell over.  Mud runs are the gateway drug to triathlons.... maybe).  Will has also been talking about going running with me.  Not sure where this came from, but I like it.  And the third race of July is the Rocky Mountain Tri - Oly distance.  Elevation of 8,500 feet.  It may hurt, but it should be pretty.

Also....This showed up on Tuesday:

100 wild berry, 100 strawberry, 50 strawberry-banana (with carrot), and 300 BOGO coupons.  Woot!  Now the real trick is keeping Will from eating all of them....

Friday, March 02, 2012

Ski demo day

Back in February, I discovered that my season rental skis did not meet my expectations.  They always seemed slow, but then I did a bunch of bumps and learned that they weren't doing what I wanted/needed them to do.  At first I thought it was operator error, but once I really focused on making them do specific things and they wouldn't, I began to realize that these were not the skis for me.

Skis are funny.  There are so many of them out there with so many bells and whistles.  I posted in a few facebook groups, asking for recommendations.  And I rarely got the same answer twice.  The answer I really got: go out and demo.

The thing with demo'ing skis is that it takes time.  Typically, you rent demo skis, meaning, you are on that set for the whole day.  Want to try something different? Rent another pair and spend another day on the slopes.  Not that this is a bad thing.  It just takes multiple weekends and usually an extra $40 each time to demo.

I began searching the interwebs, looking for ski reviews, recommendations, and demo days.  Demo days can vary.  Sometimes its one ski manufacturer bringing gear to the mountain for you to try... sometimes its a ski shop bringing lots of different skis to try.  After some searching, I finally found that Outdoor Divas was hosting their third and final demo day at Loveland on March 1.  Sweet!  Loveland is reasonably priced ($59 walk-up, $50 on Liftopia) and I was able to take the day off of work.

brr....  15 degrees, windy, and snowy.  But its a powder day!
 I found the Diva area and quickly handed over my drivers licence so I could play for the day.  Their recommendations was to do 2-4 runs and to make sure you do the same runs for each ski you try.

First up - Volkl Kenjas
I was there fairly early (9:30 or so) and they had a full rack of skis.  On my list of "I've read about and need to try" were the Volkl Kenjas, Rossi S7W, and Blizzard Black Pearl.  They sold out of the Pearls long ago, but had 2 sets of the others.  I grabbed the Kenjas in size 156 and went up the mountain.

I do this thing at new ski areas where I don't even bother looking at the map.  I just head up the nearest lift and figure I can ski my way out.  I hopped on Lift 2 but, even though there was a warning about 2 miles something-or-other, I didn't expect that the lift would take  Wow.  It was slow and didn't even go up the hill that high.  And it was WINDY. So windy that they built a wind-screen at the lift dismount area.  (I would have taken a picture, but my hands would have frozen off).  Also, notably, there weren't many trees.  At all.  Mostly windblown snow and rock.  Which, as I understand, is the typical Loveland experience (and probably the reason why I haven't skied here before).

I hopped off the lift and immediately felt like the skis were squirrely.  It could have been that this was my first run of the day.  or powder.  or wind.  or the fact that it was white-out conditions and I couldn't see.  And of course, new fancy skis with a whole bunch of technology that I've never skied on before.  Fortunately, it being Thursday, there weren't any people to witness my "I feel like I have never skied before" behavior. 

I took a deep breath and went into the powder.  That's all there was - powder, at least 7 inches of it.  And powder scares me.  Mostly because I was a spring skier and never did much powder sking.  The little that I did, was hard and I would spend the whole time slightly terrified that I would catch a tip and faceplant.  Powder was fun, but mostly in the sense that you felt it was your obligation as a skier and native Coloradan that powder should be fun.  Dammit.

I made my way down and was a bit wobbly at first but was otherwise ok once I got the hang of things.  For such a long lift, there sure wasn't much vertical drop.  I had one blue run then I was stuck on a wide green thing, headed back to the base.  Boo.  Back at the base, I looked at the map and decided that Lift 1 had the best terrain options in proximity to the Demo area.  I headed up that lift (much shorter) and took a blue down.  And experienced barely-tracked powder.  Wowzers.  So much fun - I kept giggling to myself on the way down.  Kenjas were zippy and easy to turn, and felt like they had some speed.  Back up the lift and did a small stretch of bumps.  All was well. 

barely tracked powder.  life was pretty rough at this very moment.
I felt like a change and decided to swap out the 156 Kenjas to the 163 Kenjas.  (for those not familiar with ski sizing, that's a whopping 7 cm longer).  I headed up Lift 1 again and hit the bumps.  In the past, I had intentionally longer skis and loved them.  We started the day out on the 156s because that's what I'm presently used to.  Turns out, I did not like the longer skis.  They were harder to control and a bit wobbly at the tips.  Turns out, shorter is now better for me.  I did 2 runs on the 163s just to make sure the wobbliness wasn't operator error.  It wasn't.  Back to the demo area.
Next up, I was really hoping to try the Rossi S7Ws.  They look cool, one guy at a ski shop suggested they might be good for me, and I'd read good things about them.  Problem was, they're a powder ski... and it was a powder day.  The demo girl said that I wasn't going to get a chance at those skis for hours.  Boo.  Nothing else in the rack was on my wish list.  The demo girl suggested that I try out the Volkl Auras.  They were wider and more stable.  In my head, stable = not responsive.  There really weren't any other enticing options, so I grabbed the Auras and gave them a go.
hummingbirds - pretty!
I headed back up Lift 1 to that small bump run and immediately noticed a difference.  They were still great at turning, but the slightly squirrely-ness of the Kenjas was gone.  Interesting.  I headed back up Lift 2 (the long pointless lift) and decided to go explore.  I really didn't think these were the skis for me, so I thought of this demo as "explore Loveland" rather than "test skis".  I found some powder, nearly bailed forwards but managed to recover easily.  This was under the lift, and apparently my recovery was impressive, as they remarked on my skills.  I was zipping along and then all of a sudden it seemed like the ground was going to disappear imminently.  So I scrubbed and crashed.  Yup, a small cornice.  Upon closer inspection (later, from the lift), it was only about a 4 ft drop, which was manageable.  However, at the time and not being able to see beyond it, I decided to be safe, flip around, and go around it.
the road is I-70 and where the road disappears is the tunnel.  weird! 
Loveland is really awkward where it goes over I-70 at Eisenhower tunnel.  So, essentially it straddles I-70.  That makes getting around really strange.  I found a lift that went up a different part of the hill, and it didn't seem like there were many tracks over there.  I wanted to hit a bump run but kept finding roped off areas.  And then I ended up on a very narrow cat-track which was bordered by "do not cross, avalanche danger".  Mkay!  I had no idea where I was at this point and my only choice was to follow this odd path and was thankful to finally reach another lift.  This was Lift 8, which apparently isn't open all that often (I dunno, I just saw a bunch of signs saying the lift was open, which I thought was odd).  I rode up with some guys, and apparently this area was where all the powder was.  He recommended some black with a cornice (no thanks!  maybe if I was with people but not by myself).  At the top of the lift, I inspected the trail map and discovered that the only way back to the base (or really, back to anywhere) was on a black chute run and through a tunnel under I-70.  Where the hell was I and how did I get here?) I headed down on the north side of the lift and had a great time in the powder.  Since I wasn't ready to explore that random black run and a tunnel, I decided to head back up and explore the other side of the lift.  The right side was a big open field of barely tracked powder.  A bit intimidating (if I died, no one would find me) but I had so much fun on the earlier runs that I was looking forward to trying the Auras out in more powder.  I had SO much fun.  These things did exactly as I commanded, even in the powder.  At one point, I was flying up to a huge rock (I even yelled "ROCK!) and all I had to do was apply a tiny bit of pressure and I was zipping around it with ease.  If I had tried that in any of my "old" skis, I would have either tumbled over or crashed into the rock... or both.  Powder was effortless.  You just pointed the tips and let the skis do the work.  AWESOME.

By that point, even though I was having a blast, it was noon.  And I had these skis out for over an hour.  I lurved them, but I didn't want someone else to have to wait for a chance.  I headed down the black run, which was really weird.  It was 3 tiers of black, ski-width tracks which wrapped around the mountain.  Each track had a steep dropoff.  All you could really do was wedge or side ski down them.  And once you got the the tunnel, they had an employee at the entrance who ensured that you took your gear off.  Once you could walk, you went under the tunnel, which was gravel and not snowy at all.  Then you magically pop out on the other side of I-70 at the base.

Once back at the demo area, I was hungry but also saw that the Rossi S7Ws were back.  People must be out at lunch!  Even though I was hungry, I didn't think the S7s would stick around for very long.  I decided to postpone lunch and take a ride on the S7s.
oh hey, the sun is out for this one!
The S7s are fat powder skis with really cool graphics.  My photo isn't great, but you can kinda see the anime girl on them.  The bottoms are equally cool.  I hopped up Lift 1 to hit my test bump/fast run.  Almost immediately, I knew these skis were not for me.  They took WORK to turn.  I could have been that I'd been sking non-stop for almost 4 hours, but I really didn't think so.  I really had to focus and work to get these things to turn and move around.  I wanted to try them out on powder, so I took the useless Lift 1 up to get some powder.  There was a bit left, but it was fairly cut up.  The Auras just plowed through cut up powder like it was nothing.  The S7s took some work and felt choppy and a bit sluggish.  Boo.  Two runs was all it took for me to know that these were not the skis for me.  Bummer, because they really do look cool.  Upon discussion with the demo girl, she confirmed my feeling that yep, these are really only good for powder.  Everything else is a lot of work.  I saw that the Auras were still there and I took them for a bump run.

Full disclosure: I took them and then headed in for a bite to eat.  It was 1 PM and I was hungry.  Also: do not get the chicken sandwich at the base.  I thought something was fishy when the chicken sandwich was cheaper than a burger.  I asked the guys at the counter if it was real chicken.  They said yes.  Then I made some comment while I was walking away about just wanting to make sure it wasn't particle chicken, and they looked at me funny.  I paid for it, opened it up, and it was an anemic formed chicken breast.  Not cool.

Now that I had a full belly, I wanted to test the Auras out on this nice long-ish bump run on the far side of the area. And perhaps play in the powder some more.  I was very happy to see that the Auras handles well on the bumps.  The bumps were still a bit powdery/soft but were controlled and I could do quick, tight turns.  YAY.  And then on the flats, I could zoom with stability and a bit of speed.  It seems that these could be the skis for me :)

It was now a bit past 2 PM and I wanted to try out yet another pair of skis.  I'd overheard the demo girl call Kastles "the Porches of skis" and I was curious.  She spoke highly of them and why not?  It was free to try them out.
pronounced Cast-Lee.  fancy!  Also: the orange was see-though.  double also: this was
taken after 2 PM and look at all the powder that' still there!
I took them over to the long bump run and some powder for a quick comparison.  They were nice but not quite as nice as the Auras.  Of course, it could also be because I was tired.  They didn't handle the cut-up powder as well as the Auras.  On the bumps, it was a wash, as best as I could tell.  Same with speed.  The main factor in these was price.  $1100 MSRP.  Nearly $300 more (new) than the Auras.  Ummm, no. 

Represenation of my adventures at Loveland
I ended up taking the Auras home with me to demo this weekend.  I liked them, but I wouldn't call the conditions during the demo as "normal".  And the terrain wasn't too close to what I like to ski (no trees).  I have the pretty hummingbirds in my garage and look forward to really testing them out at Mary Jane on Saturday :)