Sunday, August 30, 2009

Today I took a ride to....

Well, it was really a ride to Surfside Beach. However, I accomplished the task of pedaling 72 miles in about 3 hours and 45 minutes without ever having to get off my bike. I went through 120 ounces of fluids on the bike and I NEVER GOT OFF THE BIKE...are you catching my drift?

Our tri club was having a SAG supported ride this morning from Moody Gardens (The site of the famous Lone Star Tri Festival) out to Surfside Beach. The road to Surfside has only been open for a few weeks. It had been closed down for almost 9 months because Hurricane Ike had washed it away. Now there is beautiful smooth pavement for long stretches on the other side of the Sabine Pass Bridge. After donating lots of blood to the swarming mosquitoes, Greyhound and I headed out at 6:45 this morning before the sun broke over the clouds hanging on the horizon. About 7 miles down the road the roaring freight train of the other riders in a huge pace line overtook us. I had some guy make a crack about my green fork on my bike and I decided I was going to hop on the train to show the smart ass that I could hang with the big kids. I was able to hang with them for about 10 miles before I got caught behind a gal that had been hanging up near the front and was quickly falling off the back. I was caught off guard and the rest of the group rocketed off. We had been holding a 24+ mph pace and slowing down to 20 mph quickly created a huge gap. I jumped in front of the chick who flew off the back and took the lead. I had been pointing out cracks and holes in the road for her and when we came up on Point West, I sat up to readjust in the saddle and looked back to find no one behind me. Even Greyhound was gone. I was relieved because I had to relieve the extreme pressure on my bladder. I was already through 40 ounces of water and I had been drinking peppermint tea on the way down to Galveston. I was looking for a place to pull over and use a bush but after Hurricane Ike, there are no bushes, shrubs, tumbleweeds, or stands of pampas grass. I thought I was going to bust. The pain was extreme enough that my speed had dropped to just under 18 mph. That was unacceptable! I looked back again to make sure no cars or cyclists were behind me and to be sure that I would only gross out myself. As soon as I had decided to "go with the flow", I shut down the waterworks. The extreme pressure was gone, but the pressure was still intense. I hoped no one would ride up behind me because I am sure that I reeked just as bad as one of the bait shops I had passed a few miles back. My plan became clear. For every slurp or guzzle of fluids I would unload a few ounces. Hydration in, hydration out. I was not doing a good job of the hydration out because the extreme pressure was back and I felt like my eyeballs were going to turn yellow. I spied our tri club president up ahead who obviously dropped off the rolling freight train and made it a point to catch up to her. We had a nice chat and as we got closer to Surfside we wondered when we would see the train rolling back in the other direction. I saw a few guys at a small U-Totem minute mart and pulled in thinking that was the turn around and then saw the club pres. pedal on by. I saw that no one had been behind us and I quickly pulled out of the parking lot after. I could not take the pain any more. I decided to open the flood gates. It was both good and totally grody at the same time. Now I know why they make tri cycling shoes with the holes in the carbon soles for drainage. We saw the freight train rolling in the other direction so I knew that we were close to the turn around.

At the turn around, I paused momentarily to refill my aerobottle and ingest some Shot Bloks and as I was taking off I saw Greyhound coming down the road. He was a couple of hundred yards back at most. As I started pedaling into the sun I saw a few of the fast guys at the side of the road. and further up I saw a whole crowd of people stopped on the road. The freight train had derailed. The co-owner of the tri shop had gone down hard and she was pretty banged up. someone was running back with a folding chair from a beach house and the Surfside police were rolling up on the scene. After a few moments, I decided to get on down the road and Greyhound and I pulled out. I was content to sit three bike lengths back of Greyhound as we made our way back towards the Sabine Pass Bridge. I was working hard and keeping my speed above 18 mph but Greyhound would slowly start to push the pace. We had a few of the "fast guys" pass us, but it was maybe 5 out of the larger group who had been pulled over to the side of the road.

As we approached the Sabine Pass Bridge, Greyhound sat up and I pulled up along side of him. He was happy to see me and said that he had been doing intervals of intense 20 mph work for 20 minutes in length. No wonder he had been pulling away from me on some of those stretches. He said he was going to pull over at the 3 hour mark for some cold water and had about 20 minutes to go. I told him that I would be back behind him and I was going to push it back in to Moody Gardens to get my run in. As we crossed Sabine Pass Bridge I opened up the flood gates again and wished that I had a spare bottle of water rather than Gatorade to rinse off with. I kept Greyhound in my sites just like the last time, as soon as I had "eliminated" my distractions, my speed jumped back up to 19-20 mph.

Once Greyhound pulled off the road and I had the shoulder to myself, I focused on maintaining speed. The entire ride I had been dealing with more pain than just a full bladder. I am still having issues related to the fall off my bike at Buffalo Springs earlier this summer. I have been having tingling in my hands and numbness in my thumbs when I run as well as having my posterior tibialis on my lower right leg give me lots of problems. I have also had super tightness and soreness in my hip flexors and in the muscles behind the knee. I went and saw Dr. H this last week when I woke up the day after a swim workout and could not turn my head left or bend it sideways towards my left shoulder. It seems the facets are jammed and when I have my head in an upright position I experience some weakness in different muscle groups. It becomes more pronounced and I develop painfully sore areas in my muscle tissue when I bend my head back. The muscle weakness and soreness goes away when I bend my head down to my chest and open up the spinus process on the back of my neck. So kids, what position is a cyclist's head in while they are down in the aerobars??? In neck extension! By mile 60 I was in a lot of pain between my shoulder blades, in my right fore arm, my left wrist, the right side of the back of the hips, the muscles on the inside of the legs, the top of my left quad, and the right hamstring. I cannot really ride with my head down, so I had to make the best of it. Even the one time that I pulled over in Pirate's Beach for 90 seconds to grab some Gatorade helped. I was able to get the neck into a normal position and it took the tension out of those muscles just enough that when I got going again, my speed jumped back up 2 mph. My heart rate was low, my power output was sad, my legs hurt, but at least I was keeping the speed over 18 mph.

As I made it back to the Seawall, I pulled over to document the ride. As we all know, if there are no pictures, the training might not have really happened.
Where I came from...33.5 miles back to the west.
Where I was going...2.5 miles back to Moody Gardens.
Whoo Hoo!!! Almost Done!

I got back to Moody Gardens and just as I was about to head out on a run, Greyhound pedaled on in. I handed off my car keys to him and took off. I no sooner got 50 yards down the pavement when my sphincter muscle forgot it's job and I lost it all down my legs. How embarrassing. At least no one was behind me. "Are you pissing on my leg??? YES I AM!" My poor Newtons. I got a 5K in and I was glad to be done because it was now after 11 a.m. and it was HOT. I got cleaned up and changed clothes and Greyhound and I found the first air conditioned deli along the Seawall and pulled in for lunch. AHHH!!! That iced tea was so good and cold.

Well, I got a good workout in and put a deposit into the IMCZ account. I put up with some discomfort and pain, but I focused on maintaining a certain pace over the long haul and I made good on my workout. My bike got a bath before being allowed in the house and everything, including the Newton shoes went into the washing machine. The cycling shoes had to be hosed out and they are drying on the deck.

Well, that's all the fun for now. Later Gators,


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I want more sleep...

I saw this shirt at an expo and it made me laugh.

It has been a busy week for sure! I have not even had a chance to read up on other blogs, let alone keep up with my email. I feel slightly out of touch and not in the groove. I am hoping that I can get more sleep. I feel slightly sleep deprived and it is not a fun feeling.

I had my dad and my step mom in town for a family wedding last week. I had a lot of errands to run on Friday as well as teaching class so I had to king of leave them on their own with the kid while I got everything done. The Wedding on Saturday was very nice. It was great to see family that I had not seen in a long time. The bride and groom were so young. I think that they were only 20 and 21. They seem unprepared for "adult" life, but them again I was only 22 when I got married. At least I had a college degree and had a direction. I got the hint from some gossip from a relative that the groom (my second cousin) had dropped out of school and was pursuing a career in real estate. I wish them the best of luck and a ton of resiliency.

I was able to get my long ride in before going to the wedding so I was rewarded with a day on on Sunday to get some last minute errands in before school started the next day for the Bud. As we were finishing dinner, I was stunned and shocked to hear my son tell me that he was ready to go home at 8 p.m. and start getting ready for bed to get a good night's sleep before his first day of school. !!!!!! Whoa!!!!!! He catches the bus before 7 a.m. and has a few blocks to walk to the bus stop so he has to get up really early compared to last year. That is part of the reason that I am lacking in sleep. I have to get up with him to get him breakfast and make a lunch and make sure he gets up to the bus stop in time.

So far, he is liking Middle School. He did not have a schedule the first day and floated around most of the day in the Counseling office while they got his schedule ready. The school counselor was praise worthy of Bud's maturity and ability to roll with the punches and stay calm on the first day. After they missed sticking him in band, and a quick call up to the school he had another new schedule on the second day. He should be settling into a routine now. Swimming starts back up next week for him and I think he is looking forward to it.

I have been getting some good run workouts in. It is so incredibly hot and humid in H-town right now. I feel like I have stood in a sprinkler and I am dripping all over the place. Some of my workouts have to be at 3:30 and 4:00 p.m. so that I can get acclimated to the extreme heat. I went to the pool yesterday to get my workout in and I was denied! They had the lane ropes out and there was someone testing the water. I was crushed. I was really looking forward to the workout. This week has been pyramid week. My swim workout, my track workout, and my trainer workout has been all about the pyramid. Keep the intensity high as the length of the interval goes up. It is F--KING HARD, but I feel like I really get a good workout in and the sense of satisfaction from finishing the workout is massive.

I am looking forward to a 100 mile ride this weekend down in Galveston so I can get that warm (hot) sea breeze to blow me around and the flat roads to test to see that I can stay in the aerobars for long periods of time. Greyhound will be out there with me and hopefully some of the other people I know that are doing IMCZ. I have been trying to keep on top of my hydration going into this ride. My goal is to get some good sleep. I have to download some music for my cycle class in the morning and get it done early so that I am not awake at midnight getting it done the night before a 5:30 am.

Tonight is another new episode of Top Chef! I have to get busy so I can get to bed on time tonight.

Later Gators,


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yeah, I'm around...

O.K., just a quick update. Yes, more adventures from High Altitude Training Camp are coming. I have been a little swamped with a variety of dull "real world" and "non athletic" chores and functions.

1. I have been cleaning my kid's room: "Why," you ask, "don't you make HIM clean it???" Ahhh! Those of you who are parents know that sometimes, the job gets done better and faster when you do it yourself. This is a big year for the kid. He starts middle school and it was time to go through that room and move out any lingering baby items and toys that do not get played with to make it a room that will stay somewhat clean and a room that I will not be shocked by if he has his any of his friends come over. In the past it has looked like a dump heap with a small trail or path from the door to the bed and there was lots of stuff spilling out of the door into the hall way. His father was always on him and me to clean it, but when it is soooo bad, you get overwhelmed and you don't know where to start.

I have been hard at work now for a week and I have combed through just about all the crap and I have installed a set of Elfa shelfs from the Container Store in the closet and pulled out almost everything that I feel needs to go. I had him helping me, but he wants to keep every little thing. NO WAY! Some of that stuff has to go. It is not finished, but it is close. Oh, please, no more Hot Wheels, Remote Control cars and race tracks, airplanes, Lionel trains, or Army men. I could sell what we have here on EBAY and easily make over $1000.00 but the kid won't part with it.

2. School starts on Monday: I am excited because I get more training time! It has been busy with picking up musical instruments, school supplies, new jeans that fit, Brahma Night to get the schedule, and a doctor's office visit.

3. I have been cleaning house: When you train a lot, the house gets neglected. I have El Esposo coming home this evening after being away in Canada for work for the past 3 and 1/2 weeks. Not only that, my Dad and Step Mom are coming tomorrow to stay the weekend for a family wedding.

4. Yeah, that wedding: I still have to go buy a gift. My cousin's son who was the ring bearer in my wedding is getting married this weekend. That makes me feel a little old. It will be a nice chance to see a ton of family and family friends from my Mom's side of the family who I don't get to see very often. Since my Mom passed away back in 2002, we don't see much of each other and that is sad since many of us live in the same city and in the same state. It is our own faults for being too busy to call and check in with each other. I am guilty of it as well. I am an only child so my cousins were like my big brothers and big sisters. I will have to do better.

I had to buy a dress for this wedding. Not my favorite job. HA! I consider shopping for a dress and wearing it a job. Anyway, I had a few things in the closet, but they were either too casual (sun dress from The Gap) or way too dressy (black off the shoulder silk cocktail dress) for a 3 o'clock in the afternoon wedding. Add to that fact that I had given away almost all of my "real people" shoes and only held on to one pair of black heels, and two pairs of wedge sandals. Shopping was necessary. I found a dress on sale that got the kid's approval and it is (HORRORS!!!) pink. Not princess pink or bubble gum pink but a deep hot pink. Pink with an edge I guess you could say. Found some rockin' Steve Madden shoes on sale and the color on the box says Blush so they are a very pale pink that is almost neutral. Let's just hope I don't twist an ankle.

So that, and some training, is what I have been up to. Got to get off to work now so I will check in soon,

Later Gators,


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's the name of the game...

More high altitude training camp adventures on the way!

Later Gators,


Monday, August 10, 2009

High Altitude Training Camp-Day One

I was in need of a change of pace so when Greyhound ordered me to get my rear end on a plane and head west on a Monday, I booked my flight on a Tuesday, found a bike box ( I had loaned mine out) on a Wednesday, shipped it off at FedEx on Thursday, found a new helmet on Friday because I found a crack in my trusty Giro, did laundry on Saturday after my 3 hour ride, packed on Sunday, and tied up loose ends on Monday before hopping on a plane with the kid on Tuesday morning at 7:23 a.m.

Ahhh! :)
On the way up to Copper Mountain!

Denver was cooler and rainy but as we went into the foothills and up into the mountains, the clouds broke open and we had lovely sunshine and gentle warm temps. Karen and Dutch, who I have ridden with before, and their kids were on the same flight as I was and got to the "dog run" before I did. We caught some time down at the Blue river and a little lunch and when we walked back up the hill to the house, my bike had arrived. I was looking forward to good times with good friends and to get a little relaxation in with all the fun training we were going to do.

On Wednesday, Greyhound and I took off to head to Vail, CO. Once we got there, the plan was to turn around and go back over Vail Pass. All I can say is that it was cold! Greyhound and I must have looked like goofballs wearing so much clothing. About 8 miles into the ride we had to pull over and start peeling off some layers because it was warming up. We had almost the entire way on hike and bike paths! NOTE TO TEXAS: You may be the Lone Star State, but you SUCK in providing alternative transportation options for those who want to "Keep it Green" or be an endurance nut. So we were climbing up to Copper Mountain and you are cleverly fooled by looking ahead and thinking that you are going down hill. But why are we working so hard to go down hill??? One look to the right and the mountain stream is running the opposite direction. D'oh! We are really going uphill!
Water break half way to Copper Mountain...

Copper Mountain is kind of the mid way point to Vail. Now we had some serious climbing to do. We were looking at some dark clouds to the left of the pass and we asked a few people coming down off the path if they encountered any rain. We got reports of sunny skies so we decided to push on. The last place you want to be is caught out in one of these storms because they produce lightning strikes and hail and at over 9,000 feet above sea level, we were not too far away from the clouds!

Again, we were on a hike and bike trail but a few miles after we left Copper Mountain, we did not see any more hikers. As was true of the first stretch, the water was running the opposite direction from where we were pedaling to. There were a few nasty spaghetti like switch backs up to the top of the pass and oxygen was at a premium. I kept trying to distract myself by looking at all the wild flowers along the side of the bike path. I was so glad that there was a Rest Stop at the top because I had been letting the kidneys do more work than sweating off the fluids I had been taking in.
At the top of Vail Pass, 10,700 feet above sea level.

After a snack and a break we headed out because we needed to get ahead of a group of "fun seekers" who had been brought to the top and were riding back down into Vail on mountain bikes. It was too risky to be behind them. There were little kids, people not wearing their helmets, people pulling over without warning to take pictures, etc. Too risky. The first stretch off the summit was fast and fun but then the signs for limited sight distance and curvy-swervy roads started to appear. I was no longer having fun. At one point, the bike path was less than 3 feet from vehicle traffic coming up the mountain in the opposite direction. There were cyclists coming up the opposite side of the path. The clouds had started to roll in and I was having trouble seeing far down the road. Greyhound took off and told me not to pop a tire by heating up the rim using my breaks. I was not having fun. I just fell off the bike 5 weeks ago and I did not want to do it again! We rode the bike path under I-70 and it brought us up on a street wide bike path that would take us the rest of the way down into Vail. After spending some time trying to help some guy change his tire we rocketed down the mountain. I had longer stretches without turns and I could see better, but now it was starting to rain and it was hurting. When I was finally able to slow down and come to a stop, I realized that it was hailing. No wonder it hurt. I made it the rest of the way down, found Greyhound and we pedaled out of the rain, but into the wind as we entered west Vail. It started raining really hard and we took shelter under an overpass on I-70. Once it stopped, the sun came out again and we rode the rest of the way into town.

There were more dark clouds just behind the peaks and we decided that we would call the clan to come have lunch and we would have them take us back home rather than ride in the rain. Greyhound found some coffee and chocolate milk at Starbucks and I found Marble Slab Ice Cream to fuel back up.
Ooo Yummy, recovery yummy!!! Me like recovery!!!

As we were waiting for the group, the thunder started and we decided that we had made the correct decision to not ride back over the pass. We had a great Mexican food lunch, took a peek into some of the shops in Vail and then loaded up the bikes and headed home.

Milage: 37.7 miles
Gain: 1,700 ft. (not accurate) Greyhound said we did more climbing. His Garmin doesn't lie.
Time: 2 hours, 23 minutes

Next up, Loveland Pass!

Later Gators,


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Home to the Houston Humidity...

and I love it! Yes, I am a bit of a freak. As you can see from the new picture on the Blog header, I was in Colorado all last week. I had a wonderful, spur of the moment trip to Breckenridge to stay with Greyhound and his family. Mrs. Greyhound had rented a nice home up on the hill above town and Greyhound had convinced me to come take a respite from the heat while El Esposo was in northern Alberta, Canada for work.

I still need to gather all my thoughts and pictures about my adventures. All I know is that the mountains are quite nice. I am still a beach girl at heart and I might have second thoughts about a Rocky Mountain High in the winter months. Now that I am back at sea level and my skin feels hydrated again, I can say that I truly did benefit from my high altitude training camp. I realized that I am pretty darn good on the bike when it comes to climbing. Descending, not so good. I am a big weenie. I like going fast, but when the roads are unfamiliar, and the curves block the view of what is up ahead, it can get dicey. Slick roads from rain don't help either. I also realized that I might have to go get my vision checked. I can see ok, but in low light things are not very clear. This again was a point that was dicey for me going in and out of the sun and shade on a bike path that had lots of twists and turns. I felt I could not see well. It also does not help that my eyes were burning and I had tears running down my face many times on the way up or the way down a hill. I have had this happen in the past and it is really annoying because it renders me blind until I can pull over and take care of the situation. Many times, there was no convenient place to pull over.
Buddy and his pal Scott sunning on the banks of the Blue River after getting soaked while playing on the rocks.

Anyway, I am home and I had a great break from work and had some great adventures. I will get it all down soon.

Later Gators,