>A Beautiful Day to Ride

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It felt so good to get out and ride this morning. Because of the cold weather and other wimpy excuses, my weekly before-work ride had become a distant memory. Helped by the 60 degree temps, I got out the door by 6:30 this morning. Perfect timing, because I got to see this:

And this:  

And this: 
And all of this:  

And someone was nice enough to put up a welcome sign (I’m sure it was just for me!).
All in all, a beautiful day to be alive, outside, and riding my bike.

>Super Staycation!

>I’ve been on vacation for the last week. Without any travel plans, my goals were to: 1) Relax 2) Get in some serious house cleaning time 3) Relax 4) Get in some serious cycling/running time 5) Relax.

Now, I realize that items 1,3, & 5 may not mesh very well with items 2 and 4, but somehow, it all came together very nicely.  It helped that we took a quick one day trip to Encinitas, and that the weather this past weekend has cooled down to almost freaky temperatures (I mean, 93 degrees at 3:00 pm on August 29? That has to be a record of some kind!).

Anyway, it turned out to be a nice, relaxing, yet productive staycation. Here are some of the highlights:

Over the course of my 10 days off, I managed to get in four bike rides (plus tomorrow, I hope).  Nothing spectacular, just early morning rides, about 25-30 miles each, managing 43 miles yesterday because the weather was so much cooler. I mentioned how nice this weekend is, but just a few days ago the high temperature was almost 120. With relatively high humidity. In weather like that, I’m always afraid to get too far from home, knowing that by 8:00 it can shoot right up over 100 degrees.

I also managed to get in four runs. Most notably, I finally made it to the top of the Bump and Grind (I usually have to leave early to go to work). That was last Tuesday, the day that hit about 120 degrees. While I was running, at 6:00 am, it was only about 90. Of course, I’m not alone out there. In addition to about a million hikers, we have the cross country team training on those hills. They are in a lot better shape than I am, let me tell you. I’m sure that being a lot younger has nothing to do with it. We also got to run along the coast in Encinitas. That was wonderful: cool, damp, and foggy. I know they’re hating it at the coast, but Alan and I loved it.

Our last run up at Pinyon Pines–time for school to start and get down to real racing!

My turn around spot in Cardiff-love it!

Some of the kids before the run this morning. It was about 68 degrees, cold for us desert rats!

During my last few runs, I was noticing some knee pain.  Not good. I attributed it to the extra running that I was doing. In fact, my knees hurt during the entire six mile run in Encinitas. My coach’s brain finally kicked in though, and I realized that it was probably time for new running shoes. I don’t put in a lot of mileage anymore, so I don’t track my “shoe mileage” as closely as I used to, but after a little calculation, I realized that I was overdue for new shoes. Well, since we were in the San Diego area, and since I’m a lifetime Roadrunner VIP member, we opted to stop by Roadrunner Sports on our way home.

The nice thing about being a VIP member is that you get 10% off every purchase, free shipping (and you get it like almost the next day!), secret specials, etc.  The bad thing is, they can look you up and tell you how much you’ve spent on running shoes over the last 15 years. Yikes!

I was fortunate to find the deal of deals on my new shoes. I’ve been running in Asics Kayanos for years. At Roadrunner, you can usually pick up “last year’s model” or even an older version, for a significant discount. Which I did…Kayano XI for $70 a pair (buy two and receive $10 off). Nice. The latest, Kayano XVI, is going for $139. Score!

DEAL!

 
On Thursday, we drove to Encinitas. We really had the best of it all. The day was warm, sunny and clear. The beach was not too packed. For the first time in about four years, Alan and I hung out at the beach. It was great, although after a couple hours of sun, I was ready to check in to the hotel and shower off the sand.
In the old days (before we bought our bikes), Alan and I could be found 
on weekends right here, about 50 yards south of the lifeguard station.
 

For dinner that evening, we headed out to Roxy’s, a funky, little cafe/bar restaurant that has a lot of vegetarian and vegan options. I ordered the Falafel Plate and Alan had the Avocado Burrito. Both were delicious (and huge!).
 
While we were eating, we noticed huge crowds wandering along the Coast Highway. In fact, I’d never seen that many people in the evening in Encinitas, and I’ve been going there for a long time. It turned out that it was The Taste of Mainstreet, one of those events, really targeting locals (why it’s on a weeknight), where they pay so much and get to wander the streets and taste the samples from the participating restaurants. Nice deal (not so much for vegetarians, though, so we stayed where we were).
When we woke up the next morning, the weather had changed. As I mentioned above, it was cold and foggy, perfect for our run. Having no inclination to head back to the beach, we instead headed over to Nytro, followed by B & L, both bike/triathlon stores, for a little wishful dreaming (Cervelo P4 TT bike, only $10,999 at Nytro–or something like that).

Poor quality (phone photo), but it gives a good idea of the bike porn available at Nytro.
We had lunch at the Lotus Cafe, another veg friendly restaurant in Encinitas. I had some delicious lentil and vegetable soup, then went with the falafels again (none in years, then twice in two days, what’s up with that?). I didn’t get a picture this time, but it was good, although the sauce they served with it was not vegan. I made do with the hummus, though. They tell you all this on the menu, though, so it takes some of the hassle out of ordering. (In spite of all the falafel over the weekend, I still had a Middle Eastern craving when I got home, making my own “chicken” shawarma for dinner last night.  Yummy!)

Our timing back to the desert was perfect, with the cool down letting us be outdoors and enjoy the last weekend of my vacation even more. All in all, I accomplished almost all my goals over the course of my staycation:  I rode, I ran, I relaxed. And the cleaning?  Well, not so much. Oh, well, at least I had my priorities straight.

I’ll leave you with a video of one of our cross country runners.  His name is Chris and I am told that he is the best dancer in the school.  He gave us a little performance this morning after practice:

>Busy, Busy–From La Jolla to St. George

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As I frequently do this time of year, I have been neglecting this blog. As I have written (whined) about in the past, the months of January through April are extremely busy in the desert and in my business. I tend to work 10-12 hour days, and when I come home, instead of sitting down and writing, I head to the kitchen to cook dinner. Of course I try to fit in my cycling, running, and the gym when I can, so when I collapse in bed at the end of the day, chances are I haven’t done any writing. I have made a couple starts on a story (see below), but when I didn’t finish the stories in a timely manner, I moved on. So, again, in order to catch up and mend my lazy ways, here is a recap of the last month in my life:

A post I started on April 27, title “It Was a Beautiful Day for a Half Marathon:”
…Unfortunately, I didn’t run in the La Jolla Half Marathon on Sunday. Yes, the weather was perfect for a long run, in the 50s and overcast. Yes, I was registered and had signed up for the bus ride from La Jolla to the start line at the Del Mar Race Track. Yes, I’m in pretty good shape and could have (probably) completed the race in a respectable time. Yes, I totally wimped out at the last minute and backed out of the race.  This is the closest I came to the finish line:

The finish line of the La Jolla Half Marathon as seen from the roof of my hotel.

There is a story behind this, of course.  As a rule, I don’t back out of events at the last minute.  So, let’s go back to Saturday morning and take it step by step…

We got a late start on Saturday morning.  Generally speaking, Alan and I are early birds and tend to get up, pack up, and hit the road. We beat the traffic, get a head start on vacation. Well, that didn’t happen.  Alan’s brake cable had broken on Friday when he was cleaning his bike.  That is serious one week before his event, the St. George Ironman Triathlon. He also wanted to have his race wheels changed out, so we waited until 10:00, when the bike shop opened, dropped off the bike, then hit the road.

There is a lot more traffic at 10:30 compared to 6:00. That slowed us down a little, especially when we hit Interstate 5 in Oceanside. A decision to get off the freeway and take the coast highway turned out to be a bad one.  The road turned out to closed a little south of Carlsbad, so, in bumper-to-bumper traffic, we had to head back to the freeway.  The icing on the cake was a “quick” stop in Encinitas to pick up some swim shorts for a friend at Hansen’s. What should be a short detour off the freeway, became a nightmare of detours, stopped up traffic and no parking, when we discovered that the Coast Highway was again closed, this time for the Encinitas’ Street Fair. We slowly worked our way towards the surf shop, gave up trying to park, so Alan hopped out of the car, I dashed over to take over the driver’s seat, and just cruised around the block a couple time while he ran into the store, picked up the package and ran back. Whew!

The squirrel that shared my lunch in La Jolla.

Meeting friends for brunch in Escondido (btw, all three of these guys have the same 
birthday as I do, November 2.  Rock on Scorpios!)

That is as far as I got on that post. In a nutshell, we finally made it to La Jolla, checked in, walked for miles (in sandals) around town, found a great (but dumpy) Mexican restaurant that served vegan options (using my Android phone app “Happy Cow Vegin Out.”) The next morning, I opted out of the race because my feet were beat up from all that sandal walking. Instead, I ran eight miles in the opposite direction of the race, while Alan announced the 5k. On the way home, social animals that we are (that is a joke if you know me), we had two “engagements.” We met some friends for brunch in Escondido (fun seeing people that we hadn’t seen in years). Then we went to a party in Palm Springs, all the athletes that were headed to compete in the St. George Ironman Triathlon.

See how easy that was? My whole weekend wrapped up in a paragraph.

Last week, we headed up to St. George for the Ironman. I wasn’t competing, of course.  Alan and about 10 friends for the desert. Here is (some of) the story in pictures:

 St. George is very beautiful (this picture was taken through the car window!)

  

Sand Hollow Reservoir was beautiful, but the water was freezing (estimate about 55 degrees on race day!)

tyle="font-size:x-small;">Alan rolling his bike into the transition area

Trying to keep the tootsies warm

Yes, they had an ambulance ready on the day before the race.  The water was that cold.
Gorgeous scenery at the swim locale

Two wetsuits (one cut off and layered over the other), neoprene swim shorts, booties, and four swim caps (two latex, one thermal, and the race cap). Would it be enough?

 And they’re off!

 You will notice a big chunk of nothingness here.  Unfortunately, Alan did not complete the swim. After a previous bout with hypothermia (during the California Ironman 70.3, where his body temperature got down below 90 degrees), he had been understandably concerned about the water temperature for this race. After trying it out the day before, he decided to cut off an old wetsuit and wear it on top of is other one. He also wore booties and four swim caps. The water temperature was about 55 degrees. He made it almost two miles, could actually see the finish line, when his body froze up. He gave it the best he could, but the water was just too cold. Although he has had mental discussions with himself about stopping, I know that he made the right decision. I was watching as they pulled at least 30 athletes out of the water that day. We’ve been told that they are supposed to not allow the swim when the water gets that cold, but they made the decision to go ahead anyway.  Remember, in an Ironman, they swim 2.4 miles and are in that very cold water between one and two hours.

We did go back to the finish line to see our friends finish. There are so many incredible stories. One man finished the event after crashing on his bike and breaking his collarbone. He walked the marathon (along with two friends who saw him, decided to abandon their own races and join him).  My husbands client, 68 years old, completed the race in 16 hours and 38 minutes. His first Ironman. Of our group, a first timer was also the first to finish. His time was 12 hours and 24 minutes. And, below, our friend Guido, also running his first Ironman. He travels for a living, which cuts into his training time. He finished in 14 hours and 30 something minutes.  The picture shows him getting the crowd going as he makes his way to the finish line. An awesome accomplishment for everybody.

Well, that catches me up (or as much as I’m going to write about for now). Tomorrow we are riding as I continue my training for the double century in June.  Next week, I head up to my double century riding partner’s place to ride a century or so in cooler weather. Back on training-track, hopefully finding some time to write about it.

>Wildflowers and Kittens

>Wow! Spring is here! It was a beautiful day for a run. First we headed out, at about 6:00, to take a two mile jog with Penny and Sassy. They love to run, so it is a real treat for them. You would never question whether a dog can smile if you could see their faces when we finish our run.

After we brought the dogs home, Alan and I headed out again, south, toward the top of the La Quinta Cove.  We are so fortunate that in less than one mile we have a beautiful, wild area with trails, gorgeous views, and right now, wildflowers.

We also found a new trail that promises to be challenging. We had already run about eight miles by that point, so we decided to keep that adventure for another day. I had one bad moment.  I tripped over an embedded rock and had a pretty good fall. Left hand, right elbow, right knee. I did manage to run (slowly) the last mile left, but I did feel a bit shaky. And, I did not take pictures of my injuries. So, a 10 mile run today (counting the doggy run), the longest I’ve run in a while.  Good, because I am running the La Jolla Half Marathon in two weeks (Alan is announcing the 5k) and I don’t want to embarrass myself.  Not too much, anyway.

One exciting note (if you are an animal person). One of the feral cats that hangs out by our house had kittens about a month ago. They are finally moving around and today was the first time we were able to see them. The mother, who we call George, won’t let us get near her, but she allowed Alan to pick up two of her babies.

Other than that, just a normal weekend.  The ride on Saturday was shorter than planned. When we stopped at home about halfway through the ride, we discovered the dogs had had their way with our kitchen trash can. Bad blogger that I am, I did not take a picture, but let me just say, it took a shovel to clean up. Yuck! And it took the wind out of our sails as far as the ride went. We canned it. Believe it or not, I spent that extra time watching golf and doing my taxes.

Obviously, the highlights were the wildflowers and the kittens.

>Another Flat Tire!

>Last weekend, during my June century ride in Malibu, there were at least 16 flat tires during the ride. I was fortunate that I did not join that particular group. Until the next day, that is, when I noticed a flat as I wheeled my bike out to my car.

Well, this morning, as I was trying to get ready for an early “beat the heat” start, I found that I had another flat tire. The back tire, this time. As I checked it, I found a little thorn that did not even poke out on the outside of the tire. It must have worked itself all the way in. I feel sure that it was a left over from the ride last week.

So, changing the tire kept me from starting quite as early as I had planned. I headed out about 6:15 am, but I was fortunate. In spite of our weather heating up out here in the desert (high of about 101 today), we had beautiful, cool temperatures throughout the morning. I was able to finish my 50 mile ride before it got too hot. In fact, it was pleasantly cool during my whole ride. Lucky me!

>June Century-Done!

>On Saturday, my hubby and I headed to the coast to ride with a group of cyclists that I know through a bike forum on the internet. I had met and ridden with a few of them, but for the most part, my only acquaintance with them was through web postings.

Not that it mattered. Within a few minutes, I felt like I was with a group of good friends. The ride was organized by Herb, from the bike forums. The route started in Malibu and ran up the coast to Carpenteria and back again. Very flat. One of the gals that I had ridden with before, that I was looking forward to riding with again, was M.E. Even though I had only met her a couple times, we had communicated through blogs and forums and I enjoy her sense of humor and outlook on life. Other riders that I met for the first time were Jason and Lisa, a very sweet couple, Mitch, Jim, Maureen, Peter, Tom, and many others who’s names, I’m afraid, I have forgotten.I’m not going to go into detail about this ride. We had a near tragedy about 30 miles into the ride that changed the whole experience. Peter, who I had just met, was with a faster group (ahead of my group), riding along at about 22 mph, when his bike just fell apart. Seriously, I saw the frame, and it had broken into several pieces. He went down, along with Jason, who was right behind him. Peter hit his head as he crashed, sliding, with Jason pretty much on top of him, for about 15 feet. Jason was very fortunate, even though he did hit his head and get a few scrapes. Peter was not so lucky.

When I arrived at the site, some wonderful motorists had pulled over, using their vehicle to block the crash site and were directing traffic. Two other men, apparently off duty EMTs, also pulled over and were working on Peter, keeping him still. When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics quickly took over. As they loaded him into the ambulance, they assured us that he would be okay, that he was concious, and that he would recover. With that reassurance, we decided to continue the ride, but for most of us, the heart had gone out of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoyed riding with Herb, ME, my husband, and all my new friends. It’s just that some of the joy had gone out of the day. We also experienced more flat tires than I can ever remember on a ride, at least 16, which slowed us considerably. In the end, in spite of fairly fast riding time of 6:15 for 98 miles, we were out on the road for over nine hours.

We got back to our car shortly before 5:30. I was so exhausted and emotionally drained that I didn’t even change my clothes. We just packed up the bikes, bid a fond farewell to all, and headed to our hotel. I had made a reservation at a hotel in Calabasas, which, presumably because it is inland, was a lot less expensive than anything in Malibu. A lot less expensive. We had a slight delay on Malibu Canyon Road, as an auto accident was cleared (I hope they were okay, too). By the time we opened the door to our hotel room it was 6:30!

I would have loved to just have fallen into bed, but, sweaty, stinky and very hungry, I attended to my body’s needs. Shower first, then we found a restaurant about .25 miles from the hotel, ordered take out and ate dinner sitting on the bed watching tv. Almost heaven. No, heaven was finally slipping under the covers and giving my body its well deserved rest.

Alan and I slept in until almost 7:00. That’s probably the latest I’ve slept in 10 years, including while on vacation. It felt so good. We headed out for a five mile run, just to get our legs moving. By then, we were ready to clean up and head home to our dogs.

Ironically, as I loaded my bike into the car, I noticed that I had a flat tire. I was just happy that I managed to make it through a flat-filled 98 mile bike ride.

As for Peter, the latest news I have is that he has some bleeding on his brain that is being monitored. He also hurt his back and may need surgery, plus he has fractures in both hands. His injuries are very serious, but hopefully he will recover completely. I know that my prayers are with him.