WEEKEND RECAP: THE DESERT RIDE...
before i get on with the weekend recap i'd like begin with a little product review:
if you use any sort of salt caps or supplement that comes in pill or capsule form, it's difficult to carry them and then remember to take them regularly while racing. can't carry them in your jersey pockets as they get wet and soggy and deteriorate. in the bento box, they get stuck down at the bottom, and i have to eat everything else in there before i even see them to realize i haven't been taking them regularly, and by then the damage is done. while i didn't purchase the company's salt tabs (i got my own endurolytes), i wanted to test their dispenser, the salt stick, to free up some room in the bento box and have them in a place on my bike that would remind me to take them regularly. here's what my setup looks like with them attached to my aerobars:
my front end setup
turbo boosters all fired up
DOESN'T THAT LOOK SICK?? between the aerobars themselves, the bar-end shifters, the aero drink bottle, the computer and now these two salt sticks, it looks like i'm ready for lift off!!! the sticks each hold 6 caps. they also make a mini stick that just holds 3 caps and can be installed right onto the bar end of most standard road handlebars. seeing as i expect to take well over 7 hours on the bike portion of IM Brasil, and my formula has been to take 2 caps an hour after the first 2 hours of riding, i needed to install 2 of the large sticks. they come with a plastic snap mount that velcros onto just about any type of bar or tube, but i quickly discovered that with my Vision Tech bars, they easily slipped snuggly into the space between the bullhorns of my handlebars and the aero pads. SWEET!!! and just for good measure, i taped them down to avoid any rattling because I HATE WHEN ANYTHING RATTLES ON MY RIDE!!! i coulda used some less conspicuous tape than silver duct tape though. i'll replace that since i need to retape my handlebars before next weekend's ride. they come standard with a red plastic dispenser top and you also get a yellow replacement top to designate in case you race with two sticks filled with different supplements. pretty cool eh?? so once they're mounted, you simply turn the red dispenser button counter clockwise until you feel tension and then start to load the caps in one by one. then while riding, you turn the button clockwise until the cap sticks out. coolest part is that the dispenser doesn't just spit it out, but rather it holds it there for you to grab when you're ready and avoids you losing any to the road below.
PEZ for triathletes
as i mentioned in an earlier post today, i stayed at my friends Marina and David's little ranch house in the high desert of Yucca Valley. since they were also staying over the weekend and had other guests there, i stayed in the Airstream they have on the property so that nobody would have to worry about keeping quiet once i went to sleep, and i wouldn't wake anybody when i got up at the crack o' crack dawn to start my ride. they all made fun of me for being back in the Airstream since that's where i passed out at their post-wedding party a few years back. but yeah, things have changed since then. no booze on this trip...bummer.
my bed and the view at 7am
i intended to take of at 7am, but by the time i got rolling, it was more like 7:45. it turned out to be the perfect time to be carrying 12 endurolytes for saturday's ride cuz IT TOOK FOREVAH!!!! i knew the general route i wanted to take, and it would have me doing 3 major loops kinda in the shape of a clover that would take me through Pioneer Town, Yucca Valley/Landers, and finally Joshua Tree National Park. Marina was really helpful in pointing out the more continuous and less congested roads. each loop would be a long gradual climb for miles followed by a long descent. not so much what COACH intended for me to ride, but i'm running out of flat places to go for so long, and i'll slit my wrists if i have to do 3 repeats of the San Gabriel River Trail again. i started out heading towards the Pioneer Town loop with about a 12 mile warm up on the way. not many cars at this point, but a helluva lot o barkin' dogs in people's yards. i'm not so much afraid of dogs, but the last thing i needed this early in the morning was to be chased by some rabid, high-desert, tweaker of a canine.
the climb to Pie Town
heading up into Pioneer Town, the ride instantly became surreal like something outta 2001: A Space Odyssey. the craggy bolders peppered with various cactus life and burnt out Joshua Trees from last year's devastating lightning fire were both a gorgeous backdrop and a terrible distraction for getting this ride done!!! i couldn't ride 100 yards without stopping to take another picture. i already knew i was doing myself a disservice, but hey, i'm a photographer. i couldn't help myself!!!
it didn't get any better when i finally rolled into town. i got off the bike, put my coffee caps on and walked down the main drag for MORE PICTURES. Pie Town is where they filmed Gunfight at the OK Corral, and after filming commenced, they left the facades of the western town up. some real pioneers (i.e. freaky desert outlaws) came in and built real structures behind the facades and decided to call it home. there's a working saloon, a bowling alley, a post office, and a sorry excuse for a petting zoo.
but alas i carried on. there were still miles and miles of burnt out terrain ahead, but now with hints of spring flowers blooming through. very uplifting, however it'll be a decade or more before the Joshua Trees come back. the California Chaparral has got to be one of the best examples of cycling lifespan and regrowth. kinda like our periodization training as triathetes. we burn and burn to the point of fatigue, then have a recovery week, then come back flourishing and stronger than the last cycle. pretty crazy...
meet my pet ostrich???
i tried to stop taking as many pics throughout the rest of the ride, but i just couldn't resist this OSTRICH. WTF?? all i could think of was "Tina, you fat lard, come get some dinner!!!" from Napoleon Dynamite. oh wait, Tina was a llama not an ostrich. the time factor came more from the long sustained climbs for the better half of each loop i picked. the second loop was the flattest and least picturesque, so i tried to stay aero as much as possible. i was flying at certain points, and with the rollers, really getting a chance to dial in my gearing. back down to the main highway after the second loop, i stopped at the Circle K convenience store to restock on water and mix up some more Gatorade Endurance and Carbo Pro before i was off to Joshua Tree, the final loop of the adventure.
of course, it didn't dawn on me that it was Easter weekend. i envisioned just me and the road and the J Trees, but i found a line of cars a mile long once i made the climb up to the Park Entrance. the campgrounds were full, and people were bummed that they could only get passes to drive through. as i was on my bike, i got to cut the line, pay my 5 bucks and ride on in...
can we just go bouldering instead???
the entire loop into the park was pretty much one long 17 mile graduated climb with short little recovery descents, and i was starting to feel the fatigue, but luckily i'd been taking my endurolytes dispensed via the salt stick since 2 hours in so NO CRAMPS!! i just kept reminding myself that when i got to my turnaround, i'd be rewarded with a 17 mile descent.
but then i also remembered that there was still one last MOTHER OF A CLIMB in the last 10 miles back up to The Ranch.
made it to my final turnaround feeling like i had something left for the last 40 miles...
no wait, the computer says 70 miles...
feeling like i had something left for the last 30 miles??
ok, wait, it's 17 miles back to the park entrance and then 22 miles back to The Ranch.
now i got all the way through Calculus in high school, but i guess when it comes to basic math, i'm a lost cause. i overshot the loop in J. Tree by 10 miles. maybe i didn't do it so subconsciously, because now that meant i wouldn't have to climb the MOTHER CLIMB back to The Ranch. i just needed to get outta The park for my cell to work again and call Marina to bring me my car.
downhill all the way back right?? how does a road turn on you and become all uphill again?? maybe it was the fatigue, but that's what it felt like, back uphill. WTF??? finally, the descent came and i flew it in to the Circle K to meet Marina with my car. she rolled up and looked at me in amazement, in disbelief that i'd been out there riding all day. well, not all day...
ACTUAL RIDE TIME: 7:27
ok, so i stopped A LOT. and maybe this helped me get through the mileage without much incident or pain or cramps or gastro distress, but 9 HOURS??? this is not good people!!! i got 2 months left to dial this in, and i feel like i wasted this ride by not pushing it. climbs or no climbs, I KNOW I COULDA KNOCKED THIS OUT MUCH FASTER!!! so am i hear to take pics or ride?? from now on, no more camera. no wait, i just can't leave the camera at home. ok, how 'bout no more than 10 pics per ride?? no wait, 2 pics per hour?? awe crap...
DISTANCE ISN'T ENOUGH.
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE EFFORT.
i'd have another chance Sunday....
didn't get home from the desert 'til about 11:30 Saturday night, and finally to bed by midnight. y'all know how i feel about sleep, so i planned to get my 8 full hours and get to the beach by 10:00 for the swim/run brick.
for this week's ocean swim, i was joined by the lovely Miss Yanti!! i coached Yanti to run her first marathon a few years back, and she's since run 4 more with either me or another coach in our program. is it 4 more or 5 more, Yanti?? all i can say is that this woman is amazing. so giving, a CRAZY TALENTED WRITER, great listener, and infectious with her love for athleticism and taking on new challenges!!! i can't count how many people she's brought to train with me for their first marathon, and she's already got a few of them doing tris. to top it all off...
when we started out, the water was TOTALLY GLASSY with a little current pulling south but very little rip, perfect conditions. we picked the Venice Pier and the El Porto smokestacks to sight off of, and we took off. i've raced with Yanti in the past, and i'm lucky if i see her at all in the water. we said we'd try to trade off pulling and drafting, but i think she was just being nice by not totally smoking my ass out there. our goal was a half hour out or close to the mile turnaround, whichever came first. we had a good clip going, really zoomin' through the water until...
we hit a really funky, oily brown patch. not like a red tide, but more like some boat dumped their shit right off shore. it looked like we could swim around it, and we did for a few more minutes until we hit another patch, so we decided to turn around and go back as quick as we came. heading back it was more of the same coming at us, oily brown sludge, so at 49 minutes we bagged it, and headed for shore. 49 minutes instead of an hour, so sue me. i'm not gonna contract Cholera just to become an Ironman ya dig?? as we got out, the water was brown and sudsy, and there were all these families innocently bathing in it and enjoying their Easter Sunday. FUCKING GROSS!!! i kept hacking shit up out of my mouth, snot rocketing out my nose, all along the beach to the horror of all the sunbathers, but i wanted that shit OUT.OF.ME. i read somewhere about an old trick surfers use where they gargle with hydrogen peroxide and shoot saline up their noses and in their ears after they've been in the water. basically flush out any orifice where bacteria can settle and make you ill...ok, well maybe not EVERY ORIFICE. ever since, i've carried a small bottle of both in my transition bag for days like this, so we gargled and spat and gargled and hacked and salined and snotted all over that parking lot. kinda sad that it had to come to that....FUCKING POLLUTION.
thumbs down to pollution!!!
it was supposed to be a brick. you know, where you quickly transition from one event to the next?? but noooooooo. i had to gargle, then dry off, then catch up with Yanti while i liberally applied sunscreen all over the bod. has anyone ever taken 30 minutes in transition at Ironman?? i might just set a record.
16 miles. i just needed to run 16 miles including two moderate hills and i'd be done with the long training weekend and onto MY DAY OFF. not knowing how my body would feel after the 100 lazy ass miles the day before, my plan was to run/walk at a 5:1 rather than my typical marathon ratio of 6:1. i was doing great, holding my heart rate at between 155-160, and then i made a FATAL MISTAKE. along the far end of the boardwalk, i came upon the last drinking fountain i'd see for a while. i still had a good 6 ounces of Gatorade Endurance left in the bottle, and i wanted to switch to just plain water for a few miles. not thinking, i quickly gulped down the rest of the Gatorade, rinsed out the bottle, refilled it with water and off i went. now any smart person would have just drank a little bit of the Gatorade and dumped the rest right? yeah, well, NOT THIS GENIUS!!! 30 minutes more of running and the sloshing of the fluids in my stomach and ...OH DAMMIT. here you go, monica, here's that gastro distress you wanted to test out for race day!!! stomach is cramping, no stomach is bubbling, no wait, now it's traveling further south to the bowel region.....now doubling over in pain, i don't think i'm gonna be able to hold it 'til i find a bathroom. this is taking it a little further than just pissing yourself!!! i sat down until i felt like my stomach had settled a little and then continued as gently as possible to the next bathroom about a mile away. even after the pit stop, the last 3 miles were friggin' miserable. once again, some little mistake had totally turned my world upside down. but i finished, holding my pace at just under 11:00 minute miles.
THROW THE GATORADE OUT NOT DOWN!!!