Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wildflower - Here it comes!

Wildflower Olympic 2013 was not my best race. This year, I'm upping the ante with the long course. But, mostly, I just want to finish. (Photo credit: Awesome stranger who took this photo.)
Long before the world of Ironman 70.3, there was Wildflower. I read this article after completing the Olympic course last year, and it really inspired me to try the long course in 2014. Before Ironman dominated the long course triathlon scene, Wildflower, or 'The Woodstock of Triathlons,' kind of ruled. Now Vineman 70.3 will sell out in 5 minutes, but Wildflower always has plenty of entries available.

But, that's a gripe for a later post...

Someone told me recently, that even after doing the course multiple times, they've never done Wildflower the 'right' way. Each and every time, something is always off. Then, this video was recently released. "If you can do a half here (Wildflower), then you can do a full Ironman." Really, I kind of hope that is not true. I have not done enough training for a full Ironman.

This year, there is a new and exciting twist on the Wildflower course: Due to low water levels at Lake San Antonio, the swim has been moved two miles to Harris Creek. Now the only way to get to the transition area is to run 2.2 miles back to the first transition. Due to the longest transition in history, they took 2.2 miles off of the run course. Seems fair.

I've decided to go into this event with the "Anything Goes" mindset. It's going to be a long, glorious day. Did I mention 'long?" Seriously, if I think about time, it will ruin me. I must think about finishing.

A few weeks ago, a group from Silicon Valley Tri Club ventured down to Lake San Antonio for a course preview weekend. I was fairly certain I was going to switch my registration to the Olympic course because I didn't feel confident with winter training. After the preview weekend, I was sold - I think I can do this.

Here are some observations I had about the course:

1.) The swim will be a swim. I hope to stay as comfortable as possible and not doubt myself. I didn't do all of those winter swims for nothing!

2.) I need to eat more - in general. Eat when not hungry.

3.) It's going to be hotter than blazes again. Must drink water - multiple sips. Don't guzzle. Sip. A lot.

4.) The 2.2 mile run after the swim could be great. My legs will be fresh, it will be a warm up for the bike, and I'll be happy not to be in the water anymore. So I don't kill my bike ride, I plan to run at an easier pace - faster than my 70.3 run pace, but not a 5k/10k pace either.

5.) On the bike - stay in aero bars as much as possible.

6.) There is a really bumpy part on the bike course. Best to inflate tired slightly lower than the max in order to save my lady bits. I've already replaced my old tires with something more durable, but race-worthy.

7.) Nasty Grade, aka the major bike climb at mile 42, isn't so bad. The worst part of the bike are the climbs AFTER Nasty Grade, when you think you are almost there . . . but you are not . . quite . .  there. . .

8.) The run course is mostly a trail half marathon course. It's going to take me 4 miles for my shins to warm up anyway, so it would follow that the first 4 miles of the run course are the worst. I am prepared to walk, as needed. There is a nice flat section in the middle where I can enjoy the day. I look forward to that.

9.) I want to see naked and drunk people. Last year I didn't see much on the Olympic course. I think they must have partied on the day of the Long Course and stayed in their tents for the Olympic course. Well this year, they had better be fresh. AND since my female 30-39 wave starts late - they had better hold out for the end. I'm ready to have a laugh mid-course, so don't hold back, naked people!

10.) I look forward to the SVTC camp site and aid station. I don't think I'll eat bacon if it is offered to me, but who knows. What sounds disgusting to me now, might look really good at the end of a run.

Due to my current physical shape, the timing (early in the season), and the course. Wildflower will be my toughest challenge yet. I'm ready for anything. Ready to report for duty. Over and out. (I'm going to be out of cell phone range this weekend.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Being dropped

My riding partner for the Solvang Metric Century ride. Deirdre is a lot faster than me, but she decided to have an 'easy day' of cross-fitness for her Boston Marathon training . She agreed not to drop me, but man, I still had to work for it.

  1. 1.
    let or make (some one) fall behind
    "The other cyclists were too fast for Susie, and they dropped her."

  2. 2.
    fall behind.
    "I looked over to enjoy the view, and couldn't catch up. I totally got dropped!"

As a newer cyclist, I've been dropped plenty. Here's the scenario:

You meet up with a group of cyclists for a ride. You think, "This ride will be exiting, fun, hard-core, and there will be some lovely scenery along the way." 

Everyone is chatting before the ride, and so friendly. "This is going to be an awesome day!" 

As you start out on the road, the group generally stays together . .  But, in no time, you are panting to keep up, your front wheel inches further and further from the person in front of you. Maybe you hold back and intend to catch up later, or maybe you stop for a second to check your back tire pressure. . .

and like that . . . they are gone. Every last one of them. You have been dropped.

I went on a club ride last summer from Almaden Park to Morgan Hill that I thought would be a good challenge. Little did I know, that the ride also attracted people who were toward the middle of their Ironman training. The ride started out great, and everything was going fine, until I found myself at the back of the line. And wouldn't you know it - somehow I got off of the back tire, and the other cyclists flew ahead of me like magical unicorns. Suddenly I'm overcome with emotions: I'm a loser, I'm lonely, I hope I know where I'm going etc. Other cyclists spent some time at rest stops along the route. But, I decided the only way to get through this ride was to go through the stops, and just let the group catch up to me again. The ride was personally successful: I got in the miles I needed, I rode with people most of the time, no one had to wait for me, and I only got lost once!

In order to deal with being dropped, I've learned a few things:
1.) Safety: Have the right gear, take a phone, take an ID, and have enough food.
2.) Course: Know the route, and expect to take some detours.
3.) Know yourself: Don't set up for failure, or underestimate abilities either.
4.) Don't blame others: If they are on a different level, that's fine. Do what you can.
5.) Practice: Just keep getting out there, and you'll get better!

After a few years of riding, you typically learn who your best cycling buddies are: who you can keep up with or vice versa, who wants to do the same number of miles, who wants to try the same climbs, etc. But once in awhile a friend takes a confident turn, or takes the steps necessary to improve spectacularly, and unfortunately they are no longer there to wait for you.

And sometimes, this friend is YOU.

I've been dropped numerous times, but I've also dropped some people. Truth be told.

I'm not a mean-spirited person, and I don't intentionally drop people, but I've been out on a stretch of road, comfortable in my saddle, looked back and saw no one. This is a feeling of "Woah, I'm awesome!" paired with "Woah, did I miss a turn?"

In many ways I feel justified in going ahead. Why shouldn't I go at my own pace? I've put a lot of effort into this, and maybe I don't want to have to wait all the time, or have to turn around. But on the other hand I'm not sure if I did something wrong, and it's quite lonely out on the road by yourself.

Clearly being dropped is a proverb for real life too.