Monday, November 30, 2009

IMAZ Spectator Report, Part 2

The drive from Dallas to Tempe was estimated to be 12-13 hours, and I figured I could leave by 6 am and by there by 7 pm, and that wouldn't be too bad. A thunderstorm rolled through Dallas around 4 am, and woke me up and I couldn't go back to sleep. So I showered and headed out early. The rain slowed me down a little, but I was making good time. The hardest part of the trip is the fact that Texas is 60% of it. I felt like I was way behind because I was still in Texas at 2 pm, and I was pushing it. Luckily the speed limit is 80 in west Texas, and 75 in New Mexico.

And with cruise control set 5-10 mph above the speed limit, it was a relaxing way to travel. I was listening to my iPod- This American Life, NPR Story of the Day, and Fat 2 Fit Radio podcasts, plus my music on shuffle (so glad I got the Glee soundtrack downloaded before I left!) And then Dave Ramsey in the afternoon on the radio. And the scan feature on the radio is a nice diversion. I had meant to get some story tapes, but ran out of time. And it was just an interesting drive, first because my mom's parents lived in Pecos and second because I'm reading Bryan Burrough's The Big Rich. This book details the lives of the Texas oil families- Murchison, Cullen, Hunt, and Richardson. Being a native Texan, I have heard the names and bits of the stories all my life, but this was the first time I've read anything that put them all together. So watching the pump jacks, and drilling derricks west of Midland/Odessa- there was still quite a bit of activity, even after the jump from two years ago when oil prices spiked. And then moving further west into New Mexico and Arizona, you get the new energy source- wind. Fascinating to watch, and even though they look slow, if the blades do 15 revolutions per minute, they are so long, that the tips are moving 200 mph! Enormous, and tons of them!

When I finally crossed the border, New Mexico flew by, and finally into Arizona. The last part into Tempe was tough, coming into town in the dark, and trying to find the hotel. There was a time change, gaining an hour, and altogether it wound up being about 14.5 hours. Not horrible, but I was happy finally be there.

The hotel was called The Hospitality Suites, and I'd found it on Orbitz. All they had left were one bedroom suites, which was great when it was me and Sara, but more space than I needed for just me. And I totally lucked out- the hotel was great, nice rooms, though a little dated, 3 pools, free breakfast, and a complimentary cocktail hour by the pool. Plus tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts. And it's 3 miles from the transition area and 1 block from the bike course. I brought Jamis so I could ride to and from and avoid the closed roads and parking issues. Score!

Next up, Saturday morning swim...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

IMAZ Spectator Report, Part 1

I went to Tempe, Arizona last weekend to watch Ironman Arizona, volunteer, and sign up for 2010. It was an incredible experience. This will be part 1 in a 10 part series. Yes 10! There is so much to cover, from the details of the race, to planning about next year, plus the ~28 hours I spent in my car, thinking.

So the first leg of the trip started on Thursday before last. I left Austin for Dallas, for a brief visit with my parents and older sister, and to leave the Spazdog with them for the trip to Arizona. My family is going through a particularly difficult period right now, and it was just about as crazy as I've ever seen it. I love them, and I want to be supportive, but it was just overwhelming. I won't go into details here, but I was very happy to get on the road the next day and get away from it all as early as possible.

For tomorrow, the drive to Tempe...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

ACA ride: Reagan Ramble

Friday afternoon I picked up my new (to me) bike from Jack and Adam's, a 2001 Jamis Quest that a coworker had kept in her shed for the past 8 years. 200 miles, and aside from a rusty chain and a flat tube, in good condition. A longer stem, new pedals, and swapping out the seat, and it was a good fit and ready to go. My first ride out on the veloway had an unfortunate fall on the big hill when the rear tire slipped out. After the adjustments on the trainer and the ride in the back of the truck, I didn't check it out like I should have. So when I stood up to climb and unweighted the rear wheel it came out and the chain caught and I fell over. A tiny bit of road rash on my elbow and a sore neck from holding my head up were the only injuries. Some cyclists stopped to help me put it back in place, and I rode the loop back to do the hill again, the second time successfully!

And he will be called Jamis, which is not all that creative since it's the brand name, but there's a story there. At the YO Ranch Adventure Camp, one of the best loved directors was named James Rice. On opening day, one of his favorite spiels to the campers was about how it was hard to learn, remember, and pronounce all the new names correctly. For instance, his name was James Rice, pronounced, Jay-miss Ricky. So he understood it when people got his name wrong. So Jamis (aka James) will be the name of this bike.

So Saturday, two other T3ers invited me to go on an Austin Cycling Association ride with them instead of the group ride doing the same old dam loop. I've been a member for about a year, but have never made it out on a ride. It's only $25 and you get access to their maps. And really, you don't have to join, all the rides are open to the public, but I think it's a good idea to support cycling in Austin.

Captain Queso, the leader of Team Queso which is a little group inside T3 that has occasional get togethers over margaritas and queso, and Nancy are both thinking about doing IMAZ 2010 also. And Captain has been really helpful and has offered to be like a mentor to help me get there. So she rode with me on the ACA ride while Nancy went ahead. Jamis was great- amazingly comfortable right off the bat, especially the seat. A three hour ride, and no pain or chafing at all. I think it's the steel, and also the positioning. I don't want to be disloyal to El Sueno, my tri bike, but Jamis is a really nice ride!

So we opted for the 33 mile route, though there were ones from 12- 65 available. We started from the Brushy Creek Lake Park out in Cedar Park, and it was surprisingly busy, almost as busy as the Town Lake trailhead under the Mopac bridge. Lots of runners, and training groups, probably training for 3M and the Austin Marathon. So we get started at 9 am, and it's a great route. Up north on Parmer, and then off into some quiet county roads. There were some surprising hills, one of which I got to the "uh oh, I might not make it up and won't be able to clip out before I fall over" moments, even with the triple! We got a little lost, but not too bad, and then had a little break at the convenience store. And then the cold front started moving in, which wasn't cold so much as windy. And the headwind made the last 10 miles back a little tough, but not horrible.

We met Nancy back at my car, they had ridden from their houses about 15 miles away and planned to finish it, for a total of about 60 miles! I'm not quite at that comfort level, but hopefully after a winter of riding, I will be. And I'm excited to try out some new routes with the ACAers. A lot of them are further away, but I'm happy to drive to get to some clear roads and learn new routes. Plus, Jamis makes me want to ride more too!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Wurst Ride

My longest ride ever yesterday: 62 miles! And I really enjoy the charity ride setup, where you ride a bit, take a break, then ride some more, until you finish and get to celebrate with beer and food. Awesome!

So this ride went from Austin to New Braunfels and was pretty well organized on the day- well marked signs and pretty good rest stops. The not so good things- apparently one little sentence in the FAQ section told about how you could check a bag to have at the finish. And the packet pickup at REI was disorganized and again no fact sheet with anything about the bags. So that was a little annoying. But at the end, there was Ziegenbock beer and sausage! And I tried a bratwurst, which is different from sausage because it is beef and veal, where sausage is beef and pork. Not bad, but I prefer sausage. And there was a shuttle to WurstFest down the road, but I was pooped and just ready to get back home for a shower!

But a nice day that warmed up into the 80s, and a good route that I'd like to try again. Pretty hilly in places though. And I got another flat tire, but had a nice guy help me out with it. And lots of nice, friendly people to chat with both on the bike and at the finish. So a good day, all around!

PS: Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Roller Coaster

It would be impossible to keep the high after the high of finishing Longhorn, but I'm really trying! The swing from really high to pretty normal is a big change, and a little dizzying, even though it's not like I've sunk into the post-event depression. But I can totally understand how that would be easy to fall into.

I feel really motivated right now, and after a week off, I'm back to training. Winter training, which I thought I would focus on running, but after a talk with my coach, instead I'm going to focus on cycling. Hmm, not quite what I was expecting, but apparently my running speed is okay for triathlon, since there is usually walking interspersed anyway. But since the bike is the longest mileage and longest time, <15 mph is not going to cut it. So I love cycling, but I do not love spin classes. In a warehouse, going nowhere on your bike. But Coach M said that his coach told him that if there's something hard you don't want to do, most likely that's what you need to do the most. And his coach was Eddie Reese. Here is a bit of his bio.
Since taking over the men's swimming and diving program at The University of Texas in 1978, Eddie Reese has established a tradition of excellence in Austin and set the standard in collegiate swimming. The 2005, 2006 and 2009 ASCA Coach of the Year, an eight-time NCAA Coach of the Year and three-time United States Men's Olympic Team head coach, Reese has led Texas to nine NCAA team titles in his 31 seasons in Austin.

I will defer to the experts. So, a winter of spin classes, here I come!