Sunday, January 27, 2013

Back To Reality

It's been a week since the awesomeness of the Coast Ride and let me tell you, this week was one big slap in the face straight back to REALITY!

When Oscar picked me up at the airport last Tuesday night, it was 5 degrees.  I wanted to cry.  In case you're wondering, 5 degrees is really cold and it feels even colder when you were just riding your bike outside in 70 degrees.

The following day I had a long(ish), hard(ish) run.  I waited until the afternoon when the temps *finally* reached double digits but it was kind of a moot point because the windchills were still in the negatives and trust me, that wind was brutal.  I made it through the run feeling pretty good - I think just because my legs were too frozen to feel fatigue or pain!

And then I went into hibernation.  Seriously.  I was brutally tired all day Thursday which lead to me sleeping almost the entirety of Friday.  My body was in revolt.  From the travel, from all the riding, from the cold - who knows but I was TIRED!  Saturday I woke up feeling much better and today I think I can say I'm finally back on track.  Whew - turns out riding 375 miles takes a bit out of you!  :)

So back to reality and back to routine. I can't say that I'm that sad though because routine is my friend and truthfully, it was almost *too* easy to train in California.  I'm almost positive this is the type of thing that us stupid people that don't live in warm weather tell ourselves for comfort - but I do believe there is some benefit to struggling through the challenge of training in "winter".  It's not for the faint of heart, that's for sure!

In other news, did you see the video of Galen Rupp's American record attempt in the indoor mile from yesterday?  If not, check it out here.  I'm a pretty big Rupp fan.  Talk about pressure starting at a very young age!  But I'd say he's living up to the hype.  About the record attempt he said: "It was pretty close to as loud as the Olympics ... The people here were unbelievable ...  I couldn't hear the splits so I wasn't sure where I was at any point ... With a couple of laps to go, I heard the crowd getting really loud so I knew must be really close so I just tried to drive as hard as I could to the finish."  I won't spoil it, you'll have to watch the video to see if he did it!  #inspiration

And finally, if you need something to listen to on the trainer or treadmill, check this out.  #babypros

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Coast Ride 2013

When I was in high school, I remember wondering what my life would be like when I was grown up.  Would I be married?  Have kids?  Still be running?  Would I live in a big city?  Small city?  Would I like my job?  I can’t say that I would have ever imagined I would be in the place I am right now but it occurred to me more than once this weekend that I am so incredibly blessed and happy to have thus far lived the life I live.  After an experience like the Coast Ride, it’s pretty apparent that I do indeed live (according to my standards), the Good Life.

I flew into San Francisco on Thursday afternoon and was picked up by Jess, hostess extraordinaire.  To say that Jess made this trip possible for me is quite the understatement.  Not only did she pick me up and drop me off at the airport but she also let me crash at her place.  And she took me to Stanford Masters practice on Friday.  And showed me the way to the Stanford track for my Friday run workout.  Oh, and she also planned the entire trip making all the hotel reservations, planning meals and figuring out how we’d get back to San Francisco on Monday after the ride.  What can I say, I pick my friends well.  ;)

Stanford has 2 outdoor LCM pools with plenty of really nice and fast people to swim with.  Can you say heaven?
On Friday Jess and I headed into the city (via train!) with Hailey to meet up with Mark (Hailey’s husband) and Christine (our room and riding mate for the weekend).  The trip into the city and dinner that night would have been awesome enough but we still had the entire Coast Ride, 3 days and 375 miles of riding to go!

Coast Ride Day #1: What the @$RFV@#$ did I get myself into?

Never having been on this ride before and pretty much never doing group rides (especially with true cyclists), I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Hailey, Jess, Christine, Sonja and I had a rough plan of sticking together but within 15 or so miles that plan was shot as Hailey flatted, we lost the group when we stopped to fix that and then we lost Sonja somewhere along the way too (she was having mechanical issues of her own).  I’m not going to lie, the first day was rough.  I had some things to learn about riding in a big group (like there is a serious accordion effect if you ride in the back) .  I rode over my fitness level and had to dig deep just to finish the day out.  And I was mad at myself for not enjoying the day enough because I was too focused on keeping up with people that were too fast for me!  Jess and Christine were in a bit of the same boat and so when we pulled into the hotel in Seaside, CA for the night, there was radio silence and a bit of grumpiness permeating the room!  Nothing a hot shower and a little food couldn't fix though and by the end of the night we were all laughing and telling stories of our day.  Nevertheless, we most definitely came up with a better strategy for day #2.

Amazing views already and the ride hadn't even started!
Coast Ride Day #2: Perma-smile.

Day #2 of the ride was simply stunning.  I mean drop dead gorgeous scenery that simply makes you thankful to be alive.  It.  Was.  Amazing.  God sure did create some beautiful sights for our eyes to behold.  Day #2 took us from Seaside to Morro Bay and we could see the coast for almost the entire day.  And we took it all in. 

Day #2 also had the most climbing – about 8500 feet per my Garmin – and we quickly put our strategy into action.  Sonja, Christine, Jess and I rode together and along the way picked up friends Kendra Lee and her husband Grant and another friend Steve (who rode the entire ride on a tri bike!).  It was a blast!  We took our time.  We stopped for pictures.  We saw whales and big beautiful white birds and seals.  Oh the seals!  I had so much fun.  We rode steady but nothing too killer and I thoroughly enjoyed myself for all 7 hours and 30 minutes of ride time! 

Without a doubt, Big Sur was my favorite!
HUNDREDS of seals (that look like lumps of sand).  Two big male seals even put on a show for us and started to fight!
Um yeah, this was our view all day long.
Morro Bay was our home for the night.  There is a big rock.  Post card material for sure.
8500 feet of climbing and 7.5 hours of riding calls for ice cream, apple turnovers and cupcakes apparently!  :)
Coast Ride Day #3: “I feel like I could ride forever.”

At some point I stopped worrying if I was going to made it to the end.  I most definitely feared my fitness level going into this weekend but with each day my legs felt better, my body got stronger and I was even convinced that if I had to get on my bike for a 4th straight day of 125 miles, I could do it.  Amazing what our bodies are capable of. 

Day #3 saw us employ the same strategy of Jess, Sonja and I sticking together (we took to calling ourselves the Three Musketeers among other code names) but we also choose to ride with the group some.  After a little coaching from Sonja (I seriously don’t know what I would do without her), I felt ready to attempt some group riding again and so when the train passed us around 50 miles into the ride, we hopped right on!  Funny enough, it’s much easier to ride in the group.  As a threesome working together we were averaging about 18 mph and my HR was in the 140s.  In the group (with strong men pulling up front), we were averaging more like 24 mph and my HR was in the 120s.  It was tough to stay on the train up the hills but otherwise sitting in is the way to go!  That is until a fantastic crash happened right before our eyes going down a screaming descent.  It happened just next and a little back from me but because I was on the outside all I had to do was pull out into the road.  My stomach was in my throat though because I knew it happened right where Jess was riding and I seriously couldn't bring myself to look back because I was so fearful she was one of the people that went down.  Luckily, as we all pulled up, Jess rode up right behind me and I was so incredibly thankful that she was in one piece!  Unfortunately, a few guys were not still in one piece (few broken collarbones) and one man had to be flown to Santa Barbara.  I pray in the end, all will be okay. 
Needless to say, that shook me up a bit.  Sonja, Jess and I regrouped and rode easy into the lunch stop after that.  It’s cycling and it’s what happens but it doesn't make it any less scary!

After lunch we were all in better spirits (especially because we heard the guys in the crash will be fine) and started the last leg of the trip into Santa Barbara together, picking up Hailey along the way to make for an absolutely awesome end to an amazing trip.  As bad as my butt hurt, I didn't want it to end.  Ever.

Wouldn't have made it to Santa Barbara without these girls!
One of the few times we were clean and NOT in cycling shorts!
Coast Ride 2013 was such an adventure!  I gained fitness for sure.  I learned a ton about myself, about my body and about how to ride a bike.  Like really ride a bike.  I saw jaw-dropping beauty, some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen in my life.  But most of all I cherish the amazing friends I met and the friendships I deepened along the way.  I know it is super cheesy to say, but the best part of triathlon and the journey it has taken me on, is the fantastic and interesting people I can now call friends because of it.  Although Jess, Christine and I were seriously scheming how would could DNF after the first day of riding, by the end we were all so sad it was coming to a close.  Which can only mean one thing – Coast Ride 2014 is already on the calendar!  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The (Not So) Frigid Five Miler

Today I ran the Frigid Five Miler.  I also did this race in 2009 (24 degrees w/icy, slushy, snowy roads), 2010 (4 degrees) and 2011 (14 degrees).  Here is a picture of me finishing the race in 2009.  Yes, those are icicles forming on my hat and face.

Today it was 60 degrees.  I told my friend Heather I was going to have to retire from The Frigid Five Miler after today because it was likely never going to be this nice again!

After getting warmed up and stretched out and dressed in the proper attire (shorts!), Oscar and I headed to the start line for some strides.  And then, the GUN!

Off we went.  It is here that I will stop to mention one thing: OUCH!  Holy ouch.  BIG ouch.  I sort of forgot how hard racing is.  Which is a good thing.  Because I think if I remembered how hard it is, I wouldn't keep coming back for more!  :)

Through the first 3 miles, I mostly fixated on how bad I felt.  This perhaps isn't the most positive thing to think about, but it was dominating my mind nonetheless.  I should also mention that the first 3 miles are rolling but net down.  And that's because the last 2 miles are up.  Especially the last mile - it's really up (close to 300 feet of climbing in 1 mile!).  Luckily when I got to mile 3 with just 2 to go, instead of thinking of how hard I was breathing, I became quite obsessed with the thought of beating the girl that was running very closely with me.  And I was also fixating on running a faster mile 4 and mile 5 than I ever have here before.  I usually don't finish too strong on this course!

I'm happy to report that I achieved both of these goals - I held the girl off by a mere 2 seconds (I could hear her breathing down my back the entire way up that last hill) and I set a 43 second PR on the course, thanks in large part to the fact that I ran the last 2 miles 30+ seconds faster (combined) than I ever have before.  I'm certainly not getting faster with age but perhaps I'm getting a little stronger!

It was such a fun morning.  And I'm totally thrilled to be back to racing (even in low key running events) and can't wait for the next one (just 2 weeks away!).

Kim and I decided Frigid Five medals are roughly equal to Olympic medals.

Look at this cutie I found in the parking lot.  I think I'll keep him!  :)

Monday, January 7, 2013


Yesterday I got down to the business of entering all the races I am doing for the first half of the year.  That put a big smile on my face.  This time of year is usually hard for me.  Cold.  Snowy.  And no racing on the horizon.  I'm forced to "race" other people in the grocery store, or up the steps at work.  And yes, I realize I may have a serious character flaw when it comes to competitiveness.  

Anyway, here is the plan for the year:

Oceanside 70.3 - March 30
New Orleans 70.3 - April 21 (there will be a swim this year, there will be a swim this year, there will be a...)
St. George 70.3 - May 4
Raleigh 70.3 - June 2
Eagleman 70.3 - June 9

Yip yip!  As you might be able to tell, I'm focusing on 70.3s this year.  After this set of races, I'll decide what direction I want to go in as based on how the points are looking and how I'm progressing.  

Did you notice the 70.3 double in June?  You can't possibly know how excited I am about trying that.  I'm pretty sure it might not seem nearly as fun when I'm melting slowly into a puddle of death on the EM run course BUT the good news is, when I emailed about registration into Eaglmean, I told the pro coordinator that I was requesting cooler weather for the race this year.  So it will probably only be 95 instead of 10,000 degrees.  You can thank me later for that one.  ;)

Also, that is just my TRI racing schedule!  Dirk wanted me to do a bunch of road races (running) this winter and trust me, he didn't have to tell me twice!  I'm racing quite often actually AND get this - doing a 5K of all things for one of the races!  I haven't run a 5K since March 29, 2008 (had to look it up in the training log) - almost FIVE years ago!  That should be (painfully) fun.  :)  The first running race is actually this upcoming Sunday.  It's a 5 miler that ends on an evil, evil hill that is about 3/4 of a mile long.  I've done this race 3 other times and I have NEVER once broken 7:30 for that last mile.  I kid you not.  That's sad (but really, the hill is so freaking steep and long).  That shall be my goal this weekend - crush 7:30 pace that last mile.  HA!

Happy racing!

This has absolutely nothing to do with the blog post but it made me laugh.  :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Some Workouts

Yesterday I had one of Dirk's staple early season bike workouts on my schedule - the infamous power pyramid.  It's kind of like climbing a big, long hill where you slowly increase intensity (HR) and power over the 50-60 minutes of the workout, all while pedaling in a big gear at 55-60 RPM.  It's not a workout where you breathe hard (my HR never gets that high) but your legs scream out in protest and beg for a minute or two of spinning at a cadence of 90.  I've always been a spinner (if left to my own devices, I would do all riding at 100 RPM) so workouts at 55-60 RPMs challenge me.

I imagine this workout is ideally done outside on a nice climb (like Mt. Lemmon or some other really awesome ride) but when you live in Pittsburgh (no hour long climbs around here) and it's January (and 9 degrees), you do this workout on the trainer.  And if you are me, you stare at the carpet and just envision climbing Lemmon instead.  It's just about the same...  ;)

Oscar was making pizza for dinner as I finished up.  It smelled really good.

The trainer ride was my evening workout.  My morning workout was at Pitt Masters.  In case you are looking for workouts, here is the main set we did:

6x25 on :30 as DPS/build/DPS/hard/DPS/all out 
6x50 as 2 on :45, 2 on :40, 2 on :35
6x75 on 1:20 as DPS/build/DPS/hard/DPS/all out
6x100 as 2 on 1:30, 2 on 1:20, 2 on 1:10 
6x125 on 2:15 as DPS/build/DPS/hard/DPS/all out

We were swimming short course yards in case you are wondering.  Also, DPS stands for distance per stroke, which is actually code for "easy".  Quote of the morning was when Fast Mark said "DPS means easy; counting strokes is for over-achievers".  Well said Mark.  Seriously though, DPS is *supposed* to be a moderate effort where you focus on getting the most distance for each stroke.  Coach Jen will often ask for stroke counts at which point you make something up if you've been slacking and not really counting strokes...  ;)

Of course you can adjust the intervals as needed.  The idea for the 50s and 100s is to swim those last 2 on a very tight interval and then the 25s, 75s and 125s have a very generous interval with a good amount of rest so you can really go hard when you are supposed to.  With warmup, cooldown and the pull set I added after the main set, I got in 4000 yds. 

In between those two workouts I spent the day at the hospital seeing sick people and writing TPN orders so those that don't have bowels (large, small or any combo there of) can still get nourishment.  I like my job.

And there you have it, a day in the life of Beth.  Quite thrilling if you ask me.  :) 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

Last night Oscar and I rung in the New Year with a great group of friends that we are so blessed to have.  Although we get a little older and sleepier each year, we did all make it up past midnight last night (although Matty was definitely falling asleep on the floor...).  I couldn't help but look around and feel so happy to have such wonderful people in my life.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and awesome 2013!!  May it be your best year yet!