Monday, June 30, 2014

2014 Swim Bike Run Goals - The Half Way Point

In January I posted my goals for Swimming, Biking and Running this year.

Today I calculated them using  

2014 Goals (As of 6/30/2104 miles completed)
Swim: 75 Miles (34)
Bike: 5,000 Miles (1,635)
Run: 1,500 Miles (411)

Uh Oh – I better get to work in the next 6 months.
I have some work to do. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Toughman Arizona Long Course Race Report

Originally I was signed up for the double race: Toughman Arizona Long Course on Saturday and Sunday's Xterra Deuces Wild

About two month prior to the race, the race director sent an email cancelling the Xterra; the Forest Service wouldn't give them a permit because the forest would be closing due to fire danger.
I adjusted my training plan, cut out mountain biking and trail running, and concentrated solely on road biking and running.
I decided the day I signed up that I would camp and camping was the best option considering the transition area was a mile from the camp site in Fools Hollow State Park. Check in for the race and camping was easy and I could just relax and go to sleep.

I haven’t been nervous for this year’s races. I just seem to go through the motions prepping food and gear. 

I had heard from other races last year that aid stations on the run could be sketchy so I knew I would run with a water bottle. I carried two water bottles on my bike which I normally don’t do in Ironman races since aid stations are always stocked and reliable. I wasn't sure what to expect on this bike course so I played it safe. 

The Race:
The swim was shortened from 1.2 to about .9 since water levels were low. A racer told me they were pulling water from it for fire fighting. The water was nice about 60 degrees and since there were only about 30 people in the race it wasn't difficult to find a place to swim. Towards the end there were weeds that seemed to want to grab my arm and pull me under, but I have swam in worse so not a big deal.

Out of transition and on the bike, I was expecting long, steep hills and that is exactly what was out there. I felt lucky there was no wind considering that last few weeks the wind was gusting from weather reports I watched. No clouds just blue, blue sky.

I was disappointed that the aid stations didn't have any Gatorade or Heed, but was thankful there was water. I liked their method of swapping out water bottles and hoped they were clean (I’m sure they were.)
I really pushed it on the bike and felt fast. I passed about 15 men and women throughout the 56 miles. I knew that I was pushing it too hard to have anything left for the run, but did it anyway.

Back into transition and off on the run, I should have taken it as a warning when the transition area was out of water, it was hot and felt like 100 degrees but it was only 80. The run started on trails paralleling the lake which I really liked. Once I got to the first aid station they only had Heed. I filled my water bottle and by the next aid station water would have been great, but no water. More Heed. 
The run course ran by my camping spot and I was tempted to stop and get water and ice from my car but decided to wait. I had one more loop to do and if I needed to I would stop during the next loop. By the second loop the aid station had awesome cold, icy, water. 
My legs felt dead and I walked a lot knowing that my time would be slow.
I finished feeling okay and headed back to camp to think about my time and the race: 6:53

Show Low is a beautiful town. Reminds me of the western slope in Colorado. I would like to race the Xterra if they have it next year. The four hour drive from Tucson was LONG! 

A beautiful drive through the Salt River Canyon was spectacular. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Bean Trees - Re-Reading in the Tucson Desert

Now that I live in Tucson I have to re-read all the novels by Barbara Kingsolver since she lived in Tucson when she started her writing career. I read The Bean Trees 20 years ago when I lived in New Hampshire. 

I don’t think an easterner can really appreciate or know what a southwestern landscape is really like from reading a book. Now that I know the area she writes about I see the story in a new way.  

“The whole Tucson Valley lay in front of us, resting in its cradle of mountains. The sloped desert plain that lay between us and the city was like a palm stretched out for a fortuneteller to read, with its mounds and hillocks, its life lines and heart lines of dry stream beds.” "There was a cactus with bushy arms and a coat of yellow spines as thick as fur. A bird had built her nest in it. In and out she flew among the horrible spiny branches, never once hesitating. You just couldn't imagine how she'd made a home in there."

In the story, the main character, Taylor “lands” in Tucson in March; possibly the best time to be here. She meets people, visits area parks, and watches her first monsoon arrive with thunder and lightening. I love how the character learns about Tucson in this book; and I missed it all the first time around.

I love reading about Taylor watching the quail and how wisteria grows in the desert heat. There are so many elements in this book that are symbolic of how to live a good life and why we meet the people we do. The story is simply a good one. You can read plot summaries all over the internet, but for me, I just kept reading the landscape.

"There seemed to be no end of to the things that could be hiding, waiting it out, right where you thought you could see it all."

Taylor is amazed at the life in the desert. An after living here for two years, I am still amazed at the wildlife, the colors, the blooming desert, and all the things hiding in the trees and rocks. And the smells…

“That was when we smelled the rain. It was so strong it seemed like more than just a smell. When we stretched out our hands we could practically feel it rising up from the ground. I don’t know how a person could ever describe that scent.”
― Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Run Gently Out There John Morelock - A Book Review

Since I began reading the book, the Ultra Running Facebookgroup has recommended it over and over for any ultra wanna-be that needs inspiration or wants help getting to the starting line of an ultra. (Ultra is loosely defined at any race longer that 26.2 miles).
Since I am trying for my second ultra I read it to stay motivated for my first 50 mile race that has already came and went.  I couldn’t get my miles up for a February 2014 50 miler even though I was reading the book at the time. Now, I’m hoping to get to the starting line of a 50 mile race in December.

The book was a fun read since Morelock has such a laidback approach to running – he seems to just get to the trailhead and run, run, run. He is not much of a planner which I find interesting since he was miles from civilization on many of his trail runs; and I wonder how he made it through alive.

But this book is not so much an instruction book on how to prepare for an ultra. It is more about a lifestyle approach to ultra running for longevity. When he describes running through the woods in Oregon and Washington I miss seeing great leafy trees and rain; I’m hopesick for the New England forest while I sit in air conditioning writing this review in Tucson in June.

Like the back cover states, “If on leaving a trailhead you only glance at your watch to have an idea of when you need to be back-parts of this book will be for you.”
My favorite chapter defines seven ways you can approach an ultra:  1) pushing hard all the way 2) pushing moderately all the way 3) finishing with increased effort in the later part 4) finishing feeling good 5) just finishing, no time goal 6) doing the survival shuffle 7) ending with a death march.

I love how Morelock defines them all with his examples and I think I have done all 7 in my racing life. I still laugh out loud re-reading the definitions.

He has great chapter names like What I have Learned, Blathering About Long Runs, Pacing At the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, and At Play in the Mud.

Run Gently is a good read and I really enjoyed reading the final chapters about walking El Camino Santiago.

P.S. My 50 Mile training plan starts in August for the McDowell Frenzy.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Race Season 2014 - Game On

I’m so excited about this year’s triathlons.

While I’m completely bummed out that the Xterra in Show Low, Arizona is canceled due to fire danger, I will concentrate solely on the Tough Man Long Course road triathlon and race it; really race it.
I feel so much more ready and committed for racing compared to the St. George 70.3 triathlon in May. I suffered from back pain most of the winter and didn’t get my training in. Plus, I was suffering and didn’t feel good training.I had a great time in St. George and it was a tough course, but I could've done better. 

The back pain issue has been solved with using a Gentle Leader when I walk my puppy.

I feel good running and biking and recovery after each has been effective.

I have started Pilates, Power Yoga, and Relaxing Yoga, each once week.

The Tri Life I desire is falling into place and I’m gearing up for my A Race – Mountain Man Triathlon in Flagstaff coming up in August. 

Yahoo Racing Season – nothing can get me down: not the weather (109 degrees on Monday) or dog emergencies. 

Race season 2014 is on. I can’t wait to see what happens.