Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rancho Sucko: Somewhat the Course's Fault. Race Report

Luna Bar Women's Triathlon
.5 mile swim, 20-mile bike, 4-mile run
Rancho Seco County Park, Herald, CA

Tri-soul-sista Leslie refers to Rancho Seco County Park as "Rancho Sucko" because of the blazing heat that typically shimmers over the park from July through September and the lack of shade on the run course. Still, for some reason, I signed up for Luna Bar there in late August. I was just excited about being back in the sport, I guess. After three years away, I wanted to do a couple of late season races, shorter than Olympic distance, within a reasonable drive. And so I found myself tooling south on Hwy 99 and then east on 104 to the park in the shadow of the defunct nuclear reactor. As I mentioned yesterday, I'd been sick for a week and wasn't sure if I was going to do the full longer course. The Super Sprint was too short, so I thought, well, I'll do the swim and the bike and see how I feel. Amazingly, the weather was way cooler than normal. High temp was forecast for 80-ish when normally it'd be at least 95.

A few rolling hills on the drive into the reservoir area gave me pause: my lazy-ass course scouting on Google Street View had implied that these roads were a bit flatter. But registration was smooth and easy, there was plenty of room on the bike racks, and I had not forgotten how to pack for a tri or set up my transition area. I had even found my Junonia tri top, which I had not been able to locate for the Aquathlon. I chatted to a few people, scouted the bike out, in, run out, in, etc. I stood in line for the portajohns. It felt awesome to be back. I was only slightly miffed by, and was only slightly snarky about, the fact that sizes for the race's tech tees only went up to women's XXL. "There are 3X size triathletes, you know," I commented, but without malice.

I got into the very pleasant water to warm up a little. I was in the last wave (typical), but I had a nice pink swim cap that matched my new pink race belt and white running shoes with pink trim. It makes me nuts how sporting goods people think all women want to wear pink while working out. There was friendly banter and encouragement, a few jokes about glowing fish, and some people with severe jitters while the early waves went off. I was not one of them. I felt totally at ease, with nothing at stake, not even a commitment to finish.

Finally the pink caps lined up and were sent off. We swam out toward the giant cooling towers in the distance. I felt pretty relaxed in the water but was having a hard time keeping my rear end up. Not sure why. I tried to go hard but not blow myself up; I had felt at the Aquathlon that I didn't swim as hard as I could have. Around the first buoy I was still well in the pack, but between the first and second buoys I started to drop back at bit. By the third and basically final buoy, there were only some 20 caps behind me. I was pleased with my open water sighting, though - apparently that skill doesn't atrophy easily. I worked to sprint in the last couple hundred yards, and then regretted it as soon as I got out of the water. Errgh.

My transition was slow, and I had a hard time getting my bike shoes on, but I got out on the bike ok and felt strong at first. There were way too many speed bumps on the road out, and by the time I hit the fifth one, I was already not feeling as strong. Grabbed a GU and sucked it down as I wound out onto the main road, with some other slowpokes around me. The road was, much to my dismay, rolling. Rolling for as far as I could see. It was a pretty morning, and the fields were a lovely gold, but they were all on hills. And the surface of the road was that evil chip seal. Even with the chip seal, though, which is a horrible surface to ride on, I was feeling way more sluggish than I should. Even going downhill, I was struggling to hit 14 mph, when normally on a slight downhill I should easily be going 19-20. I put it down to having been sick and to riding on chip seal, as well as to the rolling hills.

After about 7 miles of chip seal, we got onto smooth asphalt, but I was still suffering like a pug in a greyhound race. I started to think maybe I had a brake pad rubbing, but the front wheel was fine. I inexplicably waited for another two and a half miles before checking the rear wheel. In my defense, it's usually the front brake because that's the wheel you are taking off and putting on. However, when I loosened the rear brake, things got a lot easier.

I was bummed there was no water at the turnaround; somehow I had the idea there'd be water and gel. Having been overly bloated at the Aquathlon, I had underfueled myself slightly and was feeling in need of some calories. But I was completely stoked at how much stronger I felt, even though there were still a lot of hills and I was heading into a breeze. Damn that rear brake anyway. It must have gotten shifted when I threw it in the back of the car.

Even though there was almost nobody left on the road, I was starting to enjoy the ride, finally. The breeze was cool and I was relieved that I could pick up enough speed on the downhills to make the uphills less onerous. Miles 10-17 or so felt pretty good. But with 2.5 miles to go, we turned back off the main road and it all seemed really onerous again. I determined that I was going to go all out on this last stretch and then bail on the run. Be sensible. I had been sick. I hadn't really been training for the run. It would be four miles.

I cranked my pedals around and finally made it into transition, panting. I racked my bike and told a race staffer that I was withdrawing. She seemed a little sad. "Are you sure you don't want to just try and walk the run?" "Yeah," I said. "I was sick last week and I'm just not up to it." She took my number (#106) and walked toward the timing tent. And then, suddenly, I took complete leave of my senses. "Wait!" I called after her. "I think I'll give it a shot." She was encouraging. "Just get some water and a gel, and start slow. You'll be fine!"

I did get some water and I had another GU. I started walking fast, then trotting a bit. Perhaps this would work out after all. I got out onto the dusty fire road that makes up the bulk of the run course. My back felt a little tight, but it often does at the start of a run leg, as I recalled. It would loosen up. I tried to settle into a rhythm of jogging 70 steps, then walking 30. I readjusted to 60 and 30. Then 50 and 30. My back just did not want to loosen up, and it felt awkward to walk, let alone run. Then the hills started. Just little rollers, but as soon as I hit the first uphill, my back got extremely cranky. Ugh. As I crested the second or third little rise, though, I could see a tent in the distance. The turnaround! Well, I could make it that far. It wasn't so bad. I walked and jogged a bit, and reached the tent with relief. I saw some cones and a little turnaround U-turn arrow. I felt OK.

Until I saw that there was a line of women running and walking toward me from way, way beyond the tent. "This isn't the turnaround?" I asked plaintively. The volunteers laughed. I did not. "No, this is the one mile mark." I almost cried. Turned out the turnaround arrow was for some other race from the previous day. Suck.

"Suck, suck, suck." I chanted as I trundled down the next hill. "Suck suck, sucky suck suck." Some women laughed. I thought was too far into it now to turn around. I walked with a chatty gal who helped me get through a half mile or so. After the actual turnaround, though, which took forever to get to, she got a little burst and I was on my own. The trail looped around by the lake, interminably. Finally it rejoined the fire road, which I didn't enjoy either, since the fire road was dustier and hillier. But I was making progress. From time to time I was stopping to try and stretch the back, but it would not be stretched. It was really killing me, and I worried that I was setting myself up for a week of spasms. I kept trying to jog a bit, to walk with bigger steps, with littler steps. Nothing helped. Uphills were the worst.

Finally I made it back to the 1-mile/3-mile tent. More gel (nasty!), fluids. Encouraging Lady was there. "Hey!" she said. "Aren't you glad you didn't quit?" "No." I said. She laughed. I said, "It really would have been a lot smarter to finish the bike and then just hang." "Take a rest in the shade," she encouraged me. "I'm not hot," I explained. "I'm not really even working that hard. My back won't let me move fast enough to get tired."

One more mile and it would all be over. I felt a little better after the brief rest and the drink. About 2/3 of a mile from the finish, though, my right foot started hurting like crazy. I started limping. I started swearing. I heard the clank of the race staff dismantling transition area. "NO!" I yelled, to no one. "Leave the course up! I'm still here!" I limped. I massaged my back. I tried jogging.

Finally, after a month's worth of suffering, I turned onto the grass that lead toward the finish chute. The finish arch was still up. A few picnickers cheered me, which alerted the race PA guy. I reached the chute. "We have a TRIATHLETE!" the announcer boomed. "Let's give it up for number... number 106... Jayne WILLIAMS!" There was a surprisingly loud cheer. I squinted and grimaced and "ran" to the line. God. It was over. "That was awful!" I told the volunteer. She got me some Gatorade and water.

I was drinking greedily when a woman approached me. "Are you Jayne Williams the AUTHOR?" she asked breathlessly. "Yes!" I responded. "Oh my God!" she cried, "You are my hero! I love you!" She stretched out her arms and gave me a huge hug. "You're the one who inspired me to do triathlon!" she continued. "I'm sorry," I replied, but I was feeling pretty chuffed. It's nice to meet a big fan right after you stumble through a hideously difficult race. Angela led me toward the free massage tent and got my name on the list. I kept moving as we talked, getting some Luna Bar (of course), some more fluids, etc. I wandered back to my bike and packed up my stuff. My back was already feeling massively improved. My foot didn't hurt anymore. And because I hadn't been able to go that hard, I didn't have Post-Race Stupidity Syndrome. I was able to pack my stuff, get to the car, find my key, all that. To my amazement, there was someone out on the course behind me, so I didn't even finish last. Wow!

When I got back to the massage tent, Angela was gone. Most people were gone. I stole a sleeve of Oreos out of a van, rinsed the dust off my legs and feet at a faucet, and waited my turn. The massage was a little too intense to be pure bliss, but it was very helpful, and Dave Benevento, the chiropractor dude, was funny and nice. A dose of ibuprofen, and I was ready to drive home.

As I write this, I'm tired, and my stomach hurts from the ibuprofen. For some reason the combo of intense exercise and ibuprofen, even with food, really makes things go haywire in there. But I think this will help me feel a lot better tomorrow.

And my tech t-shirt kind of almost fits.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lunacy Bar? On the Eve of the Tri Comeback

The virus that laid me low last week turned out to be surprisingly evil and persistent, more than just a head cold. It made me weak and dizzy, and it was a full week before I had my zip back. Our friends Mike and Will and Jesse came to stay, and we had a low-key couple of days doing summer Sacramento things. Then I went back to work on Tuesday and sometime around Wednesday I realized that I was scheduled to do the Luna Bar Women's Triathlon this weekend. Finally on Friday I did my first exercise in over a week, a bit of a swim. When I got home, I looked at the website and noted that this race was not the sprint course I was expecting.

One of the idiosyncratic things about triathlon is that there isn't much standardization in the shorter distances. I started out doing sprint races with 400 meter swims, 12-mile bike rides, and 3.1-mile runs. Except when the runs were 2 miles, or 5 miles, or the bike was 16 miles, or the swim was 800 meters. I had gotten it into my head that the Luna Bar was a 800 meter swim, a 12 mile bike and a 3.1 mile run. But no. 800 meter swim, a TWENTY-mile bike and a FOUR mile run. What was I thinking? I really have to research these things better before plunking down the credit card. Certainly I planned to be in better shape at this point in the summer.

The Luna Bar Triathlon Festival festively includes a "super sprint" race also, but that hardly seems worth getting out of bed for, let alone driving 40 miles for: a 200 yard swim, a 4-mile bike, and a 1 mile run. Even I could whip that out in just over half an hour. If I was more motivated overall, I'd go scope the course and see whether the 20 miles looked hilly, pleasant, flat, or lumpy. But we've got a house guest coming this afternoon and I have no urge whatsoever to drive down to Rancho Seco County Park.

I'm thinking I'll see how things go tomorrow. If at packet pickup time it seems like switching to the super sprint will be easy, maybe I'll do that. Otherwise, I'll go out and swim, bike, and run as far as I can. Try not to overdo it, but finish if I can.
I did a quick bike ride this morning, followed by my first brick run in well over three years. I only ran a third of a mile or so, but it felt better than I expected. Not sure how the legs will feel after 20 miles instead of 5.25 though.

I was pleased to learn that the nuclear reactor in the background is not active, and that the lake in which we will be swimming was (supposedly) not part of the plant's water supply but merely an emergency backup. Too, too Simpsonsesque otherwise. Go, Isotopes, go!

I hope to have a report of a complete race tomorrow, or at least sometime next week. But I'll have a report of something. And I'll get a lot of activity in.

Friday, August 20, 2010

But Then Again, No...

I'm thinking that most of you don't like to read about dithering and whining, so this may be a post with small readership. Tough cheese, readers. I have a horrible, eye-watering, throat-clogging, snot-pouring, beat-me-with-a-baseball-bat cold. It's the kind of cold where you think, "Really? A cold? Cause I feel so freakin' awful it must be the flu." It started couple nights ago, and I tried to kid myself that it was just dust from my pathetic attempts at house cleaning. By the next morning, though, I knew. "Ha!" said the cold. "You are my bitch now." I feel like this awesome drawing by Allie Brosh from the even awesomer Hyperbole And A Half Blog, from the story of her pathetic physical meltdown in Texas.

One of the most pissy-offy things about it is that Tim and I were supposed to be camping up at Tuolumne Meadows tonight. I had the day off, and we were going to meet a gaggle of people up there, some of whom number among my favorite people on the entire planet, people who have adorable kids but live on other coasts and are rarely found in California, even seasonally. But Yosemite became a no-go pretty early on in this cold. Couldn't face 8000 feet of altitude, dry air, dust, sleeping on the ground and no nose-hose to fight the sleep apnea. Couldn't even face going into the garage to find the tent or sleeping bag.

But another pissy-offy thing about this cold is that it's a big garish neon sign, saying "See What Happens?" After the Summer Grants Death March, I was running around, going to meetings for Capital Stage driving down to see my folks, doing the San Ramon Aquathlon, and so forth. With madcap frivolity, I turned an afternoon meeting in Pleasant Hill into 30 miles of bike riding interlarded with public transportation.

And then I got sick, which might seem reasonable, given that I had gone through a stressful six weeks and then celebrated its end with a gumbo of socializing, travel, and exercise. But dammit, I want to be able to play hard! Not like thirteen-beers-and-a-curry-and0-chips-afterwards hard, but I want to be able to go see the people I want to see, spend a couple nights here and a night there, go out for walks and shopping and aquathlons, and even play a raucous game of Chickenfoot.

Meanwhile, I spent the middle part of this week dithering about Budapest and the Aquathlon Worlds. I had been planning three days in Bruges with my aunt, but, good sport that she is, she said she'd go to Budapest instead. The USAT promised me that I could buy my Team USA uniform online and that a lovely travel person was helping out with the travel, including a transfer package and custom city tour. So that seemed cool. But the travel lady didn't seem to want to help with my flight, and the Team USA hotel was sold out. There were a zillion hotels nearby, mostly pretty reasonable, but I started searching flights from London to Budapest. They seem to be either (a) expensive –at least $450 per person round trip – or b) leaving from Luton or Stansted, when I'm arriving in Heathrow (c) at the wrong time, e.g. arriving in Budapest at midnight or (d) some combination of the above.

Furthermore - and this should come as no surprise to anyone - Team USA triathlon uniforms do not come in extended sizes. Not even a men's XXL. I'm sure USAT imagined that the only people who would qualify for Worlds would be "normal sized" triathletes. I emailed USAT and they said, oh, no, we don't think we have any other sizes, call the "USAT Store" directly. I did. The woman there suggested I try a men's XL. I said, um, that really won't work. Normally I would take this as a call to arms and a challenge, but right now I feel too sick and tired to fight about that.

And if I could get a reasonable flight leaving Heathrow at a reasonable hour that didn't stop for 10 hours in Milan or Zurich or whatever, I would say, ok, cool. I'd wear my black Junonia swimsuit and tri shorts and if anyone asked, I'd just say loud and clear, "USAT did not have uniforms in my size." And I would have a good time.

But getting to Budapest will be way more expensive than Belgium and there will be a lot of running around (packet pickup Tuesday, aquathlon Wednesday, parade Thursday, in my ill--fitting parade shirt). It might not be as much fun for my aunt as I might hope. She is kind of shy and not someone who will strike off on her own in a big city. And she is my favorite aunt, so I want her to have an awesome time. Also, I now have a stinking rotten cold, which kind of acted as a reminder to me of what happens when I run all over the place like a crazy person. Or like a sane person who just wants to have a lot of fun in a short time frame. And I can’t even get a uniform.

I dunno. This cold is messing with my positive outlook, but maybe the sane thing to do is just to go to Bruges with my lovely aunt on the lovely Eurostar, have a nice little vacation with no schedule at all in a beautiful small city, and then go on over to Wales for some quality time with the extended family, some walks in the hills, and some curry and chips. Maybe then I could come back and go to work without being exhausted and getting sick as a dog after the travel. Maybe.

In my dithering, I asked the Magic 8-Ball online: "Should I go to Budapest?" "Not in a million years," it said. "Should I go to Bruges?" "Outlook is good."

So I think it's Bruges. I'll let you know.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I Am Aquathalete (sic)! Race Report

San Ramon Aquathlon: August 15, 2010. 1.5 mile run, 1000m swim, 1.5 mile run

UDATE: 8/20/2010: That is NOT ME in the pic! I WISH. It's Leslie. And yes, she looks great.

As noted in my last entry, I was facing the San Ramon Aquathlon with a little trepidation. I know I say this about every event, but I was dubious about being able to finish even though the event was quite short (see above). My left foot was hurting; I hadn't run in weeks; and I had read on the website that the course was hilly, which wasn't my fave even when I was fit and lived in an area with hills.

I had three major motivations for signing up. First, most importantly, I wanted to hang with my tri-soul-sista Leslie from Chico (pictured above), who I never see enough of. Second, I wanted to get reintroduced to the multisport world in a relatively non-threatening way. Third, I wanted a t-shirt that said "US Aquathlon National Championships" on it because this little obscure race was in fact the USA Triathlon national championships for this obscure sport and the qualifier for Worlds. One of Leslie's tri-gal friends, Darlene, had already qualified for Worlds in duathlon and sprint triathlon (she's damn fast in the 55-59 age group!), and she was pretty determined to qualify for aquathlon too. I was impressed.

Packet pickup was at the Sports Basement in Walnut Creek, always a bonus for the massive shopping opportunity. While we were there, we learned that there were only some 60 people registered. That seemed cozy. We listened to the tiny race production company (they have 2 events, total) give a little pre-race talk. Apparently there had been some difficulty figuring out how many laps around the 50 meter pool we would be doing, since the swim had to be "open water" style. You'd think that wouldn't be too hard, but you have to figure in the lap distance once you place buoys in the pool... anyway. I bought new running shoes, hoping that the trusty Gel Nimbus model would cushion the ailing foot. Thumbs down on the Gel Kayanos. For me.

Four of us packed into a double room in the Courtyard San Ramon. I tried not to move all night, and woke up in the morning feeling a little stiff, but my bed buddy, Nikki, survived. I didn't roll over and squish her. It was great to be doing pre-race routines again - checking for swim cap, goggles, race number, water bottle, etc. I had been a little troubled about what to wear, since I no longer have a form-fitting tri top that fits my form. I opted for the Enell bra (of course) under the tank-style swimsuit, with a pair of mesh shorts that I would slide off and on as needed. I knew this would cost me a few seconds in transition, but I was not too concerned. In fact, I didn't care at all.

Pre-race breakfast of Smart Start cereal seemed like a mistake right away. I never eat breakfast that early, but I was afraid of skipping it entirely. As we rolled up to Dougherty Valley High School's ridiculously plush pool complex, my stomach felt absurdly full. It wasn't helped by the sight of all the elite age-groupers in their 2008, 2009, and 2010 Team USA gear. Almost everyone was already going to Worlds, it seemed like, or had been. Or both. Darlene knew them all. Leslie and Darlene said that pretty much everyone who finished this event would qualify for Worlds too. The Chico tri-girls keep up on this kind of stuff.

The transition area was tiny, since we didn't need room for bikes, and we each had little designated areas with our names on them. It didn't take long to get set up, so I checked out the pool, the ins and outs of swim and run transitions, and the restrooms. Nothing much happened in the latter. Alas. I jogged around in the unseasonable but welcome fog, trying to force my stomach to feel less bloated and my legs less leaden. It didn't work too well.

The wave start was unusual in that they sent off men and women together, oldsters first. Leslie's and my wave, slightly less old, was second. And of course we missed it cause we were yakking up by transition. We ran down the stairs and started out some five seconds late. Oops.

We had scouted the course the day before and everyone but me was shocked by the length and steepness of the hill that made up the first half-mile or so of the run course. Having read the website, I was merely appalled. I was no less appalled as I turned the corner past the football field and saw the trail looming up into the fog. I started walking almost right away. No point dying on the first half of the first run. My foot felt like I had a big marble stuck in it, right at the front of the ball. Gah. I plodded up, and up, and up. My wave was way in front of me and the wave behind hadn't started yet. I saw a field mouse scurry across the path. I wasn't moving fast enough to scare him.

Finally the hill seemed to level out, and then, oh, bliss, it went down and there was an aid station at the turnaround with two volunteers. I felt a little silly getting Gatorade after less than .75 miles (there was a 2nd turnaround near the end - odd course), but the volunteers were eager so I took a couple sips. In reverse, logically, the uphill was short and the downhill was long. I jogged down the hill, but I didn't feel like I was moving much faster than when I walked up. There was a tiny little out-and-back to the end of the run, where I goofed with the volunteers, pretending I was running in super slow motion. Then a couple turns and a STEEP driveway up to the football field, and another STEEP ramp up to the pool.

My first ever swim-to-run transition. Huh. I hadn't really thought this through, other than planning to shuck the shorts and tee I ended up wearing cause it was cold, and the shoes. Did those things, grabbed the goggles and cap and waddled to the pool deck, favoring the sore foot. Realized I had forgotten a hair elastic and tried to stuff my unruly curls into the cap while walking. This took way longer than it should. Goggles on, into the pool, merging with the swimmers with caution yet decisiveness, like an LA freeway at rush hour.

Ahhhh. Water. Lovely, lovely water. It felt so good to be in there, even with all the thrashing, kicking bodies around me, that I didn't really put a lot of effort into the swim for a while. Maybe a long while. It was hard to get a rhythm, swimming in laps around a rectangular pool with highly competitive age groupers around me. On the other hand, it was fun to be in water so clear I could see who was passing me. And pretty much everyone did, except for the people who were out of the water already. After a lap or two, I sort of found my arms and made them work, but I was still trying to stay so far out of everyone's way that I kept bumping into the side of the pool. Eventually the pool cleared out as all the other swimmers finished their laps, and that was nice. It was just me and Stuart, whose wife Megan had talked him into the event, and Pamela, who was recovering from a serious neurological disorder. Like no kidding. They told her she had ALS and she was going to die, but fortunately they were wrong on both counts.

After my 7.5 laps, I could hardly climb up the pool ladder, but the promised volunteer assistance was not forthcoming, so I scrambled out and duckwalked back to transition, where I spent a ridiculous amount of time getting my shoes on. I eschewed the technical tee for this leg, feeling like I'd enjoy the cool air, but I did slide the mesh shorts on. The running seemed a lot easier this time around, at least until I hit the big hill again. I concentrated on walking a little faster than last time - nothing to save my energy for on this last go-round. I looked down to the little arroyo on the left, where there was a perfectly lovely dirt trail that hardly went uphill at all. I wondered why the race organizers hadn't used that for the run course. I also wondered why I had chosen mesh shorts, which seemed to have absorbed a ridiculous amount of water considering they were, you know, mesh.

Strangely, I had gone directly from feeling bloated and uncomfortable to feeling like my blood sugar was a little low, with no middle ground. I sucked down a gel at the first turnaround, a gulp of water, and then headed back up the little hill before the long downhill. Stuart was coming up the hill towards me. His wave had started long after mine, so he was not going as slow as me, but we high fived and celebrated being the only two people left out on the course.

I really tried to run down the hill this time, and I succeeded to the extent that I wasn't actually walking, but I didn't want to overstride and pound on my feet and knees too much. I checked in with my left foot and found that it was actually hurting a lot less on this lap. Maybe it was some sort of cyst that just needed to be beaten into submission?

The volunteers were cheering as I rounded the second turnaround, which was nice of them. "Good job!" they cried. "Lie to me!" I responded. I really wanted to walk up the steep ramp to the football field, but a volunteer yelled "C'mon!" behind me, so I reluctantly picked my feet up a little. I was actually able to muster a bit of a sprint toward the finish and got a pretty good cheer as the final finisher. I was a little winded, but otherwise unscathed.

All my buds placed in their age groups - Nikki and Darlene third in theirs, Leslie second in ours, though initially the organizers thought that she was third place in the men's 45-49. "Excuse me, I'm a girl!" Leslie called out as her name was announced. Tri DNA sheepishly acknowledged that she was and recalculated the results. Pamela, who had told me earlier that she would be walking the run because she had sprained her foot as a consequence of the still-healing neurological issue, came second. I called her a sandbagger as she went to get her award.

The post race food was darn good, the atmosphere was congenial, but we left right after the awards because most of us had forgotten to bring dry clothes for the post race hanging out portion, and it was still foggy and cool.

Leslie assured me that I had arned a place on the Worlds team in Budapest, but I thought that couldn't possibly be right. Surely there was a minimum standard qualifying time that any Team USA member would have to hit? Leslie said no, and I would get an email from USAT confirming this. Sure enough, on Monday afternoon I received a congratulatory email encouraging me to follow the enclosed link to register for Worlds on September 8. So now I'm in a quandary. Should I go? I'm already booked to be in the UK in September; I'd just have to change my plans from a 3-day trip to Bruges with my aunt to a 3-day trip to Budapest with my aunt. Always wanted to see Budapest, and it would serve USAT right to have me there, with such lax qualifying standards.

What do you think?

Overall I was completely delighted with the experience, my first multisport event since the onset of the mysterious chronic fatigue-y syndrome in 2007. I felt sore the next day, but not very, and I felt pumped up to keep training and do some more racing.

Darlene told me that in Australia (Worlds 2009), they pronounced the sport "aQUAthlon" instead of "AQuathlon," so I decided to call myself an aQUAthlete, or aQUAthalete, as we Amurrikins like to say. I AM aquathalete.

Decision on Budapest to come

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Not Really Training, but I Napped Afterwards Anyway

I've been proud of how I've maintained my modest level of fitness during what I've come to call the Summer Grants Death March. I managed to keep my routine of exercising just about two out of every three days throughout a stretch where most of my colleagues in grant writing went on vacation for most of the time, and we had a major federal grant due every week for six weeks. I'm all in favor of my colleagues taking vacation, but seriously, someone in "management" should do some "managing" when it comes to everyone who can fulfill a certain task being gone at the same freakin' time.

But I didn't open this window to bitch about my day job. Especially since, this being the Internet, someone might conceivably read what I write.

I managed to keep riding to the train, most of the time, and sneaking in bike rides and swims on a regular basis. Last weekend much of my exercising involved walking around San Francisco, and not the seriously hilly bits either. It was going from the BART station to the bar at 15 Romolo, in North Beach, and from there to Giordano Brothers' awesome Pittsburgh-style all-in-one sandwich shop and then, much later, back to BART. Then on Sunday we went to a Giants' game, which always involves a lot of walking if you do it right. In this instance, we walked from the Gordon Biersch
brewpub/restaurant on the Embarcadero to the ballyard, and then afterwards back to the car... Hey, it was my birthday. And at least we did some walking. And the Giants swept the hated Dodgers, which always makes me happy. I actually did feel some soreness in my shoulders and arms the next day from all the clapping I had done.

But my next swim, I swam the fastest 200 of the BFFC to date. Which is good, considering I'm signed up for an Aquathlon next weekend. Eeek!

I say eek because I have not been able to run for several weeks. Not that I've been trying that hard, but every time I have tried, it's felt like I had a marble in the ball of my foot, right between the ball of the big toe and the ball of the other toes, if that makes sense. I think it's the transverse arch of the foot. I've been trying to baby the foot, but even walking barefoot or wearing the wrong flip-flops is a little painful. So I'm not sure how the run part of the run-swim-run Aquathlon is gonna go. It'll be fun anyhow. Going down there with the always amusing Leslie C. and some of her tri-gals. If I DNF, c'est la vie. I ain't goin' down to San Ramon to win a prize.

Today, the day after the official end of the Death March, I did a very brief stint of paddling on a Class 2 section of the South Fork of the American River, in a raft that was a little, um, unstructured feeling. I think the whole escapade took about 40 minutes, but when I got home, I took a nap anyway.

Stay tuned for an Aquathlon report!