I haven't been up to anything particularly epic since CapTex, so I thought I'd recap a few smaller things I have done into one post. Other than volunteering for two triathlons and participating in two friendly timed events (which I will expand upon), I changed up my training regimen. I've still been swimming twice a week, but have been doing a lot less running and cycling. What I've been focusing on is hiking, with some rock climbing in the gym a couple times a week. All this training is in anticipation of a mountain climbing trip I'll be embarking on very soon that will hopefully take me to the highest points in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. Much like I did to train for Rainier, I've been hiking up and down the "Hill of Life," a trail in a city park near my office with approximately 250 feet of elevation gain from bottom to top. I've added about 5 pounds to my pack every time I've done it, starting with about 35 pounds and working up to 50. The rock climbing has been pretty fun, other than managing to bruise my knees almost every session. I hadn't been on the wall much in the past few months, since I've been busy doing other workouts. I've made progress in my climbing- I recently topped out on the most difficult autobelay for the first time ever, and have repeated it a couple of times since. Also, when I was in recently one of the employees belayed and guided me up a route rated 5.8. So, I think I'm pretty ready for my trip, as long as the conditions are good enough.
On June 5, I volunteered at another women's triathlon, the Danskin Tri. I knew far too little about it when I went out there. I parked by the expo center, where everyone else was parking, not realizing that it was about a mile to the transition (and the "action") by Decker Lake. Clearly I'm not afraid of a little walk, of course, so I took advantage of the cool early morning weather to take a little jog. I checked in and got my assignment for the bike course. I got a ride to the spot, but not much instruction. My job was basically just to warn the riders that they were coming up to a sharp right turn, followed by a relatively steep uphill. I was totally unqualified to do anything else, however. I didn't know the course at all, so couldn't answer any questions about it; I didn't have the contact info for any mechanics to help people with flats (I mostly just got reports of someone having a flat a ways back); and I couldn't do anything when I got reports of someone going down. In the latter cases, I just went to the crest of the hill to see if the incident was close enough that I could actually attempt to help, but it never was. After the last bike, I got a ride back to transition, had some free samples from the vendors promoting sports drinks and foods, and hightailed it back to my car.
On June 14, I participated in an unofficial time trial on South MoPac. It's a stretch of road I ride often, but had never even thought to time myself on it. My coworker IM has done it before, and alerted me to it happening again. I had put my training wheels back on my bike after CapTex, but I wanted to get my best time, so I brought my race wheels along with my bike to work, and drove down in the afternoon from the office. When I started taking off my rear wheel, I managed to pinch my left index finger between the cassette and chain, which hurt but didn't do too much damage. I did a little warmup on the veloway, then went out on the course a little after 6. It was hot and windy, but a pretty normal level of windy- I could feel it, but it didn't mess me up too badly. I did have some problems with the traffic. The traffic on that stretch of road tends to go in waves, and it seemed every time I needed the road to be clear (when the shoulders pinch off, and the turnaround) there were a bunch of cars on the road. That's really just my excuse, though- I don't think I could have gone significantly quicker if the road had been empty. My time wound up being 20:00, which over a slightly over 8 mile course makes an average speed of just over 24 mph. Most likely, it was the closest my time will ever be to IM's, who had an uncharacteristically (for her) slow 19:51.
On Saturday, the 18th, I participated in a walk benefiting the Adult Congenital Heart Association, which a Harley friend of mine helped organize. It was held at a pretty nice new park, Mueller Lake Park. The ~1k loop around the lake is mostly paved, with a stretch of crushed granite. The first lap I did, I had leapt to the front, and had the trail to myself. The second lap, I was mostly on the grass passing the families and other people actually walking. I ran about 2.5 miles at a sub-8 minute/mile pace, then alternated walking and running for another 3 laps. After I was pretty much done and had some refreshments, I joined a friend of mine (who is not athletic) for one more lap walking and chatting.
I woke up even earlier that Sunday and hauled my butt up to Lake Pflugerville to volunteer for another triathlon. I had originally thought about participating in the race, but by the time I was going to actually sign up, it was already full. I was assigned to the bike course, near the end. I didn't have to be there until 7, but I woke up at 3 and couldn't get back to sleep, so I went out to see if I could help with something else. When I got there at 6:20, they didn't really have anything for me to do, so I wandered around. I went to my post just past 7, and even though they barely needed one person at this intersection, they sent another guy over too. We were supposed to be briefed by the bike coordinator (who was also supposed to have a t-shirt for me), but we never saw him. Although there was no real reason for a second person, it was kind of nice to chat with the guy, since he's also a triathlete. Mostly what we did was cheer the racers on (he had actually brought a bell for that purpose) and direct the 5 cars that showed up safely through the intersection. To add to the superfluousness at this intersection, a city cop came a half hour after the first bike and parked there. He did run off to help with a rider who went down, but the rest of the time he didn't really do anything that I could tell. The last bikes came through at 10:20, 2:10 after the first bike, and I went back to the transition to get some food (I was very hungry). I stuck around for a while for no particular reason (I didn't do anything else to help), until awards were handed out, then headed home for a much needed nap.
This Tuesday, the 21st, I participated in the Splash & Dash again. I left the office later that I had last month and took a different route, and wound up getting there at almost the last possible second. I did manage to get a decent parking spot, at least. Once I got my chip, I had to rush down to the lake and get a patch of land to set my towel and shoes on. I barely had time to get my swim cap and goggles on before the start, let alone any kind of warmup. Also, because my bladder was full on the way over, I hadn't been hydrating. I was hoping to improve on my previous time, especially on the swim. I was feeling like I could do it, since I had survived a 1000 yard swim in practice the previous Thursday. As I'm learning more and more, however, what happens in the pool has little to do with what happens in a larger body of water with 100 other thrashing bodies. I swam freestyle for maybe 100 yards before I felt like I couldn't breathe and switched to breast stroke. I did the breast stroke for most of the course, except for a stretch on my back that led me off course. I wound up doing the swim about 1:45 slower than last time, so there was almost no chance of me improving on my overall time. I gave it a shot for a while, but with the heat and dehydration, I walked through the water stop the first two laps. The only positive, really, was that because I had worn my calf compressors, they didn't cramp up as much as last time. My run time was about 45 seconds slower than in May, for a total time of 37:16. One fun thing I learned later was that one of the local pro triathletes, Kelly Williamson, had raced and, by one second, had beaten the best male racer (never mind that the 10th male beat the second place female).
So, as of 6pm, I am officially on sabbatical and don't have to be back to work until July 25th. I hope to keep this blog as up-to-date as possible on my adventures.